• Home
  • /
  • Africa
  • /
  • Top 10 places to visit in South Africa
Top 10 places to visit in South Africa

Top 10 places to visit in South Africa

South Africa is a beautiful and exciting country. It’s home to a wonderful mix of beaches, mountains, wildlife and 2500km of incredible coastline. Famous for its gold and diamonds and also for its fondness for sport – especially rugby. If you get a chance to see the Springboks in action, it will give you a real understanding of passion. Like any country of South Africa’s size, travelling in South Africa can be tricky. To avoid any potential problems make sure you plan your trip well. Here are my personal Top 10 places to visit in South Africa…

1. Table Mountain – one of the best and most famous attractions to explore in South Africa

Table Mountain South Africa

This flat-topped mountain overlooking Cape Town is a key tourist attraction for all visitors to South Africa and when here you’re probably going to want to get to the top. There are a couple of options, you can take a cable car or if you are more of an adventurous type you can hike to the top. The climb is definitely worth it, once you reach the summit the views are spectacular. Table Mountain is also home to rock hyrax (which looks like a mix between a squirrel and a mouse), porcupines, mongooses, snakes and tortoises and some playful monkeys who are always on the hunt for food.

2. Robben Island – the infamous island with a dark notorious past

Robben Island South Africa

Easily one of the Top 10 places to visit in South Africa, Robben Island is located 7km off the coast of South Africa, it’s 3.3km long and 1.9km wide. The notorious prison where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years (1964-1982) is located on Robben Island. The prison is a poignant and moving visitor attraction and a tour here will allow you to see how the prisoners lived. When you arrive at Nelson Mandela’s 7ft by 7ft cell you find a replica chair, mat, bowl and blanket. Outside the cell you will see a list of the food once served in the prison and also the separate menus for black South Africans, mixed-race/Asians and white South Africans. Ferries leave for Robben Island from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town six times a day. Although be sure to book your ferry early as visitors to the island are restricted to 1800 people per day and waiting lists can get long.

3. Garden Route – the famously beautiful place to visit in South Africa

Garden Route South Africa

The Garden Route is a very scenic stretch on the south-eastern coast of South Africa, starting at Mossel Bay and finishing at Storms River. There are various excellent stop-offs along the way including two towns on this list – Knysna and Oudtshoorn. The Garden route has ten different nature reserves which are home to dolphins, seals and the endangered Southern Right Whale. In addition to marine life, there are almost 300 species of beautiful multi-colored birds living here. To see the area it’s probably best to hire a car or the Baz Bus is a good budget option.

4. Knysna – one of the towns to explore in South Africa

Knysna

Knsyna is a charming town in the middle of the Garden Route which deserves a special mention. It’s definitely worth stopping here because it’s such a great place to have fun, relax and enjoy some great food. Knysna attracts many artists due to the lovely views and relaxing atmosphere giving the whole town a bohemian feel. An area that appeals to both artists and water sports fanatics is Knysna Heads. Here you can find a lagoon that is perfect for the fun pastime ‘wave jumping’ and it’s also known for its incredible sunsets. I found Knysna as a perfect place to stop off and relax for a few days, whenever I meet South Africans I always tell them how much I liked Knysna and they all agree it’s definitely one of the country’s true gems.

5. Stellenbosch – home to incredible wine route just waiting to be discovered

Stellenbosch - Top 10 places to visit in South Africa

Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second-oldest town having been established in 1679. The town’s highlight is the incredible wine route which boasts 44 cellars. A vast range of wines are produced in the area and whilst it is classed as ’Cabernet country’ my personal favourite is Pinotage (but each to their own!) As you travel from cellar to cellar you will find the area very visitor friendly. Each cellar’s entrance is clearly signposted and many of the cellars offer tours as well as fantastic lunches in beautiful gardens or restaurants. Naturally, you will have the chance to enjoy one or two bottles of locally produced wine!

6. Oudtshoorn – known as the Ostrich Capital of South Africa

Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn maybe an unusual choice but I still think it’s worth a stop when travelling in South Africa. If you’ve ever fancied riding an ostrich then Oudtshoorn is the place to visit. It’s known as the Ostrich Capital of South Africa and here you can actually ride one or just sample their eggs. Many hotels serve ostrich eggs for breakfast and the eggs are naturally rather large and very rich in flavour. Meat-eaters might fancy trying the ostrich sausages and steaks which are also readily available. Although Oudtshoorn isn’t just about ostriches. Its great scenery makes it popular with cyclists and people looking to wind down after the madness of Cape Town.

7. Durban – a famous place to visit in South Africa which is known for its Golden Mile

Durban - places to visit in South Africa

Durban is South Africa’s third-largest city but it’s also the friendliest. Durban is famous for its “Golden Mile” which is a string of beaches filled with surfers. It’s also a shark free zone which is always a bonus. After a relaxing time at the beach, head to Durban’s promenade where you can find various hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops. Durban has a large Indian community and the Victoria Indian Street Market is very popular. Here you can see mosques, temples, exotic shops and restaurants where you can try some delicious Indian cuisine.

8. Kruger National Park – one of the top attractions in South Africa

Kruger National Park

No trip to South Africa would be complete without visiting theKruger National Park. and this place would be an addition to any Top 10 places in South Africa. The Park is Africa’s oldest national park and was origin ally founded in 1898. The Kruger is located five hours north of Johannesburg and is home to a huge variety of wildlife including the famous “Big Five” (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino). When visiting you can hire a 4×4 to explore the park and choose to stay in either a bungalow, caravan, chalet, cottage or campsite. Personally I opted to go on a tour. This allowed me to be taken around by professionals who knew every aspect of the park and the resident wildlife (as opposed to me heading into the park on my own-where I could potentially be eaten by a lion!)

9. Soweto – an important place to visit in South Africa

Soweto South Africa

Whilst Soweto is not the best-looking location it’s classed as one of the most important and educating sites in the country. Soweto is a huge township where 3.5 million people call the 90 square mile sprawl home. The area is broken into three different areas – the rich, middle class and the poor. There are vast areas covered by shanty huts, most of which have been made by the people who occupy them. A tour of Soweto is very humbling and is the safest way to visit a township. On my tour, I was introduced to one of the residents in his own home and taken to a shebeen (once an illegal drinking hole in South Africa) where I sat and chatted with the locals. I was also taken to Nelson Mandela’s old residence and to the Hector Pieterson Memorial.

10. The Drakensberg Mountains – a beautiful natural attraction

Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg Mountains stretches for approximately 600 miles along the entire length of KwaZulu-Natal’s western boundary. It’s an incredible location where you can hike, bird/wildlife watch, horse ride or go on a safari. There is also the opportunity to follow 4×4 trails, go quad biking, rock climbing or white water rafting. I also recommend the Royal Natal National Park which is rated as one of the most beautiful parts of the Drakensberg. It is home to Mont-aux-Sources (one of the highest mountains in the Drakensberg) and the stunning Tugela Falls. There are many eco-tours on offer including the Karkloof Canopy who offer a steel cable tour located 30metres above the forest floor. This allows you to witness the incredible scenery and bird-life.

South Africa is an incredible and diverse country and there are many great places to visit. Hopefully, my top ten will help you plan your trip. After I left I remembered how true the Big Five Safari website description of the South Africa experience is. In its opening paragraph it states: “Be warned – once you have visited our country, you WILL spend the rest of your life longing to return!”

Avatar

Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter

27 Comments

  • Avatar

    Emna Sophia

    26 July, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    great list of south africa places it’s really amazing places natural beauty i love water falls and beach wish to visit this places soon 🙂

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Zintra

    3 October, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    It is an informative page for traveller.
    Is Kruger National Park okay for children below 6 to visit?
    Any train service from Cape town to KNP?
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Avatar

    siphiwe

    20 April, 2015 at 8:17 am

    wow south Africa is a beautiful country I never knew that its have beautiful areas and place wow I will travel to all of this places

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Missy

    23 August, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I THINK ALL THE COUTRY’S IN THE WORLD ARE NICE KOOL AND GOOD BUT IN AFRICA THERE CAN BE NLY ONE BEST COUTRY AND THAT COUNTRY IS ALGERIA IV’E BEEN THERE TUNE’S OF TIME AND ITS amazing the food is abously dilious and there reception is great and african feast’s are terefec i think in my opinion you should try going there (:

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Accommodation East Coast Tasmania

    15 March, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I haven’t visited any other place in Africa but Table Mountain is the place i have spent some hours. This is a dream place for hikers but do take proper safety measures before you go to hiking. We’ve had really hard times when the sun went down so try to do all the fun when sun shines.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      JP

      11 December, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      I have been at 9 out of the 10 places in South Africa. Still need to do the Garden route, will be hitting 10 after Dec. A must do for all of the above. You will not regret one of them!!

      Reply
  • Avatar

    Mark Benson

    2 December, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Beach lovers behold, take flights to Durban and spend some luxury time of your life at the exotic beaches. There are ample water activities in Durban which are quite fondly enjoyed by the tourists.

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Ranthambore National Park

    30 November, 2011 at 6:47 am

    No doubt, these ten places of South Africa are too crazy and comes among world’s most beautiful places. Its Kruger National Park and Durban is also too good for coming visitors. This experience is too good. Thx and good luck.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Scott Balam Cancel reply