Top 10 Things To See In South Africa

Limiting this list to only 10 things is incredibly difficult to do for such an amazing country like South Africa. But we think we put together the top 10 must see places when visiting South Africa, or just living in South Africa and wanting to explore your home country.

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Map

South Africa occupies 1 221 037 square kilometers (471 445 square miles) and stretches 1 600 kilometers (994 miles) from north to south and over 1 000 kilometers (621 miles) from east to west at its widest point. It’s coast line stretches 2 798 kilometers (1 739 miles) along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. This makes it the 25th largest country in the world.

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English, and it is the only country to have three capital cities: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). All of this put together creates a phenomenally diverse place filed will different cultures, people and amazing natural wonders to explore.

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa - Table Mountain

1. Table Mountain

Table Mountain is one of the seven new natural wonders of the world and can be found in Cape Town ( a.k.a The Mother City ) near the South Western tip of Africa. Table Mountain rises up out of the city and is famous for its summit which appears very flat like a table. During windy days in summer the South Easter wind creates a table cloth like cloud that forms over the mountain and appears to pour down into the city.

The top of Table Mountain is found at MacClears Beacon , 1 085 meters (3 558 feet) above sea level. There are a number of amazing Table Mountain hikes that travel up, around and down the majestic feature. Some of these include Skeleton Gorge, Kasteelpoort & India Venster hiking trails.

If you do not like hiking or want a more relaxing trip on Table Mountain then you can opt to go up on the fantastic Table Mountain Cable Car. The cost of a cable car ticket varies but is about R 395 return for an adult and R 195 return for a child younger than 17 years old. You can enjoy incredible views from the top of Table Mountain, relax at the restaurant and even work in their wifi lounge at the top of the mountain.

Another great way to take in Table Mountain is from Blouberg and Tableview beaches, which is where the famous images are taken of the mountain. While you are out there you can enjoy great restaurants, walks on the beach, shopping or you could take part in some water sports like surfing lessons or kitesurfing lessons when the wind is blowing.

2. Kruger National Park

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa  Elephants - Kruger National Park

For our next highlight we travel to the other side of the country far away from the ocean to the world famous Kruger National Park. The park is one of the largest games reserves in Africa and is bigger than Wales & Qatar. The park offers incredible interactions and viewing of Africa’s wild life in a number of experiences which include luxury African safaris, walking safaris and self drive safaris.

The park offers viewing of the famous Big 5 which includes Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos and Rhinos. We suggest opting to go on at least some guided experiences so you can full appreciate this beautiful African wilderness. If you budget allows it, we highly recommend spending time at some of the Greater Kruger National Park’s private game lodges which promise unbelievable wildlife encounters and expert guides.

If this is something that interests you please contact us and we can set up an incredible experience for you.

3. The Garden Route

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Garden Route

The Garden Route forms part of the Western Cape which is also home to Table Mountain, Cape Point, Robben Island & the Stellenbosch Wine Route from this list. It is an incredibly beautiful stretch of coastline that runs from Mossel Bay to the Storms River. This amazing area includes rugged coastline, dense forests, and picturesque towns making it the prefect place for a scenic multi day road trip.

The Garden Route offers stunning natural beauty, incredible sunsets, fun outdoor activities, wildlife experiences, cultural and historical attractions, beautiful beaches and dramatic ocean vistas.

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Garden Route Whales

Some great towns and places to visit include Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Sedgefield, Wilderness, Nature’s Valley, The Tsitsikamma Forest & Storms River Mouth.

Make sure to take it slow along the Garden Route so you can enjoy everything there is to offer.

Fun activities include river rafting, bungee jumping, wine tasting, whale watching, shark cage diving, hiking, delicious food, golf, snorkelling, diving, mountain biking, trail running and lots more.

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Garden Route 2

4. Cape Point

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Cape Point

Cape Point can be found at the South Western tip of Africa just outside the city of Cape Town. The headland is part of the Table Mountain National Park and is known for its dramatic cliffs, wild beaches, rugged coastline, and panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It also forms part of the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve and is a must see while visiting Cape Town.

While driving through Cape Point you can spot ostriches, zebra, eland, baboons and more local animals. Also keep an eye out for the amazing bird and sea life, which includes whales and penguins.

At Cape Point there are a number of hiking and walking trails visitors can enjoy. There are a bunch of view points on the cliffs of Cape Point which provides stunning views of the beaches and ocean below. You can even walk along the tops of the cliffs to the Cape Point lighthouse. The lighthouse at Cape Point was built in 1859 and is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in South Africa. It is an iconic landmark and a popular spot for photography. There is also a funicular railway that takes visitors to the top of the headland and more amazing views.

It is a common misconception that Cape Point is the meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and when you are there you almost wish it were true. However the oceans actually meet further down the coast to the east at Cape Agulhas which is more South than Cape Point. Another fallacy is that Cape Point is the south western most tip of Africa, but it is actually the Cape of Good Hope ( just around the bend ) which stretches slightly more south and west than where the lighthouse sits.

You can make a fantastic day trip to visit Cape Point from Cape Town and include visits to the scenic towns of Kalk Bay, Simonstown, Muizenberg and see the amazing penguins at Boulders Beach.

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Penguins

5. Robben Island

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Robben Island

Robben Island is a small South African island located off the coast of Cape Town. The island is well known for its use as a jail during the apartheid era, when it housed numerous political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. Robben Island is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a famous tourist destination.

Robben Island has a lengthy and complicated history that dates back more than 400 years. In the 17th century, Dutch settlers utilized the island as a jail to keep political and criminal convicts. During the apartheid era, the island housed political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, who stayed for 18 years. Mandela later remarked that Robben Island was “the hardest, most iron-fisted outpost in South African penal system.”

Visitors to Robben Island can now enjoy guided tours given by former political prisoners. The excursions include a visit to the prison, where tourists can see the convicts’ small cells as well as the quarry where they were forced to labor. The trips also include a visit to the museum, which chronicles the tale of the island’s history as well as the South African struggle against apartheid. There are only a few survivors of the Robben Island prison left, so these unique tours are coming to an end.

Aside from its historical significance, Robben Island is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life, including penguins, seals, and other bird species. The Atlantic Ocean surrounds the island, and tourists can enjoy breathtaking views of Cape Town and the surrounding coastline.

Overall, Robben Island is a powerful and important site that offers visitors a glimpse into South Africa’s past and the struggle for freedom and equality in the country.

To get to Robben Island you take a ferry which runs from the V&A Waterfront. the Ferry leaves from the Nelson Mandela Gateway on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. The frequency of ferry operation is determined by the time of year and ticket demand. The ferry usually leaves at least twice a day, with additional voyages during peak season.

The ferry may travel three or four times per day during the peak tourist season, which spans from December through January. The ferry may only run once or twice each day during the low season, which runs from May to September.

6. Stellenbosch Wine Route

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Stellenbosch

South Africa is famous for it’s wines, and we highly recommend taking some home with you when your travels are complete. The wine route is just a short drive from the city of Cape Town in and around the town of Stellenbosch. The route is made up of more than 150 wineries, each with its own distinct wine tasting experiences, tours, and activities. It is known for its beautiful scenery, with vineyards set against a backdrop of majestic mountains, rolling hills, and blue skies.

Visitors to the Stellenbosch Wine Route can partake in a variety of activities, including conventional wine tastings, cellar tours, gourmet food and wine pairings, and outdoor sports such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Several wineries also host art exhibits, live music, and other cultural activities.

The region is most renowned for its red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, a varietal that is unique to South Africa. The region, however, also produces superb white wines such as Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.

Here are a few wineries along the Stellenbosch Wine Route:

  • Spier Wine Farm – A historic wine farm founded in 1692. The farm provides wine tastings, cellar tours, restaurants, and outdoor activities.
  • Delaire Graff Estate is a premium wine estate noted for its award-winning wines, modern art collection, and fine dining restaurant.
  • Waterford Estate – A family-run winery producing a variety of high-quality wines. Wine tastings, vineyard tours, and a popular chocolate and wine matching experience are all available at the farm.
  • Rust en Vrede Wine Estate – A small winery specializing in red wines. The property boasts a historic cellar going back to 1785 as well as a restaurant serving traditional South African cuisine.
  • Jordan Wine Estate – A beautiful winery that produces a variety of wines such as Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The farm also features a bakery where fresh bread and pastries are sold.
  • Kanonkop Wine Estate – One of South Africa’s oldest and most respected wine farms, known for its excellent red wines. Wine tastings and cellar tours are available, as well as a picnic area with wonderful views of the neighboring vineyards.
  • Simonsig Wine Farm – A historic wine property that was one of the first in South Africa to make Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine. During the year, the farm hosts wine tastings, cellar tours, and a variety of activities.
  • Warwick Wine Estate – A family-owned winery that produces a variety of wines, including the well-known Cabernet Franc. A restaurant on the farm provides wood-fired pizzas and other casual food.

Another fantastic wine area just around the corner from Stellenbosch is Franschhoek. Franschhoek is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains and is well-known for its stunning beauty, world-class wineries, and rich cultural legacy.

French Huguenot refugees fleeing religious persecution in Europe created the town in the late 17th century. The Huguenots took their French culture with them, including winemaking techniques, and helped to establish the region as one of South Africa’s best wine producing places. Where Stellenbosch has a more Cape Dutch feel, Franschhoek has more French influences and celebrates Bastille Day is fantastic fashion. Many Cape Town locals prefer the farms of Franschhoek as they are often less touristy and charming.

Some of Franschhoek’s wine farms include:

  • La Motte is a historic winery dating back to the 18th century. Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon are among the wines produced by the farm. It also features a restaurant serving modern South African cuisine.
  • Grande Provence is a boutique winery that makes award-winning wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Shiraz. The farm offers a restaurant serving seasonal cuisine as well as an art gallery featuring modern South African art.
  • Boschendal – A historic wine vineyard founded in 1685. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot are among the wines produced by the farm. It also features a few restaurants and a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and mountain biking.
  • Haute Cabrière is a family-run winery specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The farm features a tasting area with a variety of wine experiences, as well as a restaurant serving French-inspired cuisine.
  • Chamonix – A beautiful winery that produces a variety of wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The farm features a tasting area with a variety of wine experiences, as well as a restaurant serving seasonal cuisine.
  • Rickety Bridge is a small winery that produces a variety of wines such as Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz. The farm features a tasting area with a variety of wine experiences, as well as a restaurant serving casual cuisine.

7. Blyde River Canyon

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon is a natural wonder in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. It is the world’s third largest canyon and is noted for its beautiful scenery, diverse fauna, and unusual geological formations. It is a fantastic addition to a road trip to the Kruger National Park.

The canyon was formed over millions of years by the Blyde River, which cuts through the rocky topography. It is around 26 kilometers (16 miles) long and up to 800 meters (2,600 feet) deep. A must see spot along the Blydde River Canyon is God’s Window, a picturesque viewpoint with panoramic views of the surrounding terrain, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a collection of cylindrical rock formations produced by the Blyde and Treur Rivers’ swirling waters.

Another highlight is the Three Rondavels, a series of three round peaks that resemble traditional African huts.

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Potholes

Visitors can reach the Blyde River Canyon by car or bus from Johannesburg or Nelspruit, both of which have airports with regular flights from major South African cities. The canyon is around four hours away from Johannesburg and two hours away from Nelspruit.

There are various towns and villages in the canyon’s vicinity, including Graskop, Sabie, and Hoedspruit, that provide visitors with lodging, restaurants, and other services.

8. Soweto

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Soweto 2

A lot of our must see things in South Africa relate to natural beauty, but South Africa is full of cultural beauty as well, and it is home to beautiful people with a complex and diverse history.

Soweto is a township in Johannesburg, South Africa, located southwest of the city center. Soweto is an abbreviation for “South Western Townships,” and the neighborhood has a long history dating back to the early twentieth century.

Soweto was founded as a dormitory town for black South Africans working in Johannesburg during the apartheid era. During this period, the neighborhood was afflicted by poverty, overpopulation, and social inequality, and Soweto became a symbol of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid and for human rights.

Some important destinations within Soweto include:

  • Hector Pieterson Monument and Museum – A museum commemorating the 1976 Soweto Rebellion, in which black schoolchildren challenged the apartheid government’s decision to require Afrikaans as the medium of teaching in schools. Hector Pieterson, one of the youngsters slain during the demonstrations, inspired the museum’s name.
  • Mandela House – Nelson Mandela’s former residence, which has been converted into a museum. With images, relics, and audio-visual displays, visitors can learn about Mandela’s life and the struggle against apartheid.
  • Regina Mundi Church – A historic Catholic church that played an important role in the anti-apartheid campaign. The church was a gathering place for activists and the scene of several significant events, including Hector Pieterson’s funeral.
  • Vilakazi Street is the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize winners have lived: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Boulevard is studded with restaurants, boutiques, and galleries and serves as a social hub in Soweto.
  • Orlando Towers – Two cooling towers that have been converted into an adventure center, with activities like bungee jumping, zip line, and paintball.
  • Kliptown Open Air Museum – A museum that depicts the narrative of Kliptown, a historic community in Soweto where the Freedom Charter, a statement of key anti-apartheid beliefs, was adopted.
Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Soweto

A fantastic way to explore and enjoy Soweto is on a guided bicycle tour of Soweto’s streets, stopping at historic sights and local shops along the way.

9. The Apartheid Museum

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Museum

The Apartheid Museum is a museum in Johannesburg, South Africa dedicated to documenting and educating tourists about South Africa’s history of apartheid. The museum is near the former site of the Johannesburg prison, which was used to detain political prisoners during the apartheid era.

The museum, which opened in 2001, is regarded as one of the best in South Africa. It tells the apartheid story through exhibitions, displays, and multimedia presentations. Visitors are led on a tour through apartheid’s history, from its beginnings in the early twentieth century to its eventual demise in the 1990s.

The museum’s key exhibits include a section on the rise of apartheid, which explains how the government instituted the system of racial segregation and discrimination; a section on the struggle against apartheid, which documents the resistance movements and political leaders who fought against the system; and a section on the transition to democracy, which shows how South Africa transitioned from apartheid to a democratic government.

The museum also includes a number of interactive displays, such as a reproduction of a jail cell in which visitors may feel what it was like to be a political prisoner during apartheid. There is also an exhibition of some of the detained activists’ belongings, as well as a collection of images and film recordings documenting major events in South African history.

10. Durban Beachfront

Top 10 Things To See In South Africa Durban Beach Front

Durban offers beautiful sandy beaches, the warn Indian Ocean and the beautiful culture of Durban’s people. Some highlights from the Durban Beachfront are:

  • The Golden Mile is a 6-kilometer (4-mile) length of beach that stretches along the Durban Beachfront. It is a popular swimming, sunbathing, and surfing area.
  • uShaka Marine World – A theme park and aquarium with a variety of aquatic animals such as sharks, dolphins, and penguins. There are also various water rides, restaurants, and stores at the park.
  • Moses Mabhida Stadium – A contemporary stadium built for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. At the top of the stadium, there is an observation platform with panoramic views of Durban and the Indian Ocean.
  • Durban Funworld – An amusement park including rides and attractions such as a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and a haunted house.
  • Little Town – A scale model of Durban that includes sights such as the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban Harbour, and the city’s beaches.
  • Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World – A casino and entertainment complex with restaurants, bars, and movies.
  • Durban Beachfront Promenade – A pedestrian path that extends along the Durban Beachfront and provides access to many of the area’s attractions as well as views of the ocean.

These are some of the most popular and so must see places in South Africa, and is just a taste of what South Africa has to offer. However because they are popular they can be touristy, keep reading our blog to fid some of the lesser known things to do in South Africa and come and explore our beautiful country.