Updated: Mar 23
Encompassing the southernmost tip of Africa, South Africa is one of the world's laid-back and charming nations laying claim to a diverse number of tourist attractions that anyone wouldn't want to miss. Visitors travel to South Africa for its natural beauty, breathtaking views, spectacular mountains, beautiful beaches, and amazing wildlife. The accomodating surroundings are complemented by the country's pleasant climatic conditions that consist of mostly warm and sunny days throughout the year. Durban, an enormous Indian-influenced harbor city and a popular surfing venue, is considered to be one of the sought-after tourist destinations in the country. South Africa is often referred to as the 'Rainbow nation', a title that sheds light on the cultural richness of the country with its multi-ethnic and racial groups living in harmony since the post-apartheid era. English is generally spoken everywhere you go.
In case you're anticipating travel to South Africa in a post-covid-era, you're likely to search for subtleties on the best places to visit around the country. Below is a brief outline of such places that you shouldn't miss.
If you only had the time to visit a single place in South Africa, that should definitely be Cape Town. Also called the 'Mother City', Capetown is the country's oldest city founded in 1652 and unquestionably one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Make sure to visit Table Mountain and Cape Point in the Cape Peninsula during your stay in Cape Town. Arrive at these spots at least a couple of hours before sunset and stay long enough to enjoy one of the world's most stunning sunsets.
Cathedral Peak, which is bordered by the Drakensberg wilderness areas of Mdedeleo and Mlambonja is one of the must visit places in South Africa. It's a refuge for hikers, nature lovers, rock climbers, and mountain bikers, with a range of winding trails suited for different levels of experience. Be enchanted by the mountain scenery and valleys of wonder peppered with streams, waterfalls, and peaceful pools that invite you to take a relaxing swim while on your journey. Enjoy the sights and hints of nature in the quietness of the mountains.
Kruger National Park
If you find solace or enjoy observing the wonders of wildlife, a top priority place on your bucket list should be Kruger National Park. Visitors to this park get the chance to see lions, panthers, buffaloes, elephants, and rhinos in their natural habitat in addition to a fantastic assortment of other wild animals. You can pass through Kruger Public Park on its broad organization of fixed streets, go on a walking safari, or take a hot air balloon ride over the vast grasslands, gallery forests, and river systems. The fact that Kruger National Park has accommodation to suit all budgets is one of its best features. You can remain in a basic camping area, covered cottage, or an extravagant hold-up.
Blyde River Canyon
In addition to being titled the world's biggest green canyon, Blyde River Canyon is also one of the world's most profound natural canyons. The canyon is loaded with distinctive areas of interest – from cascades to remarkable geography – and is arranged along a sensational traveler drive known as the Panorama Route. The lavish valleys and mountainous scenery make this a perfect spot to explore around by foot or horseback. It's also one of Mpumalanga's best bird-watching spots. The scenic driving routes and extensive hiking trails are perfect ways to discover this magnificent park as well. Three Rondavels and the appropriately called God's Window are panoramic viewpoints that you shouldn't miss when visiting Blyde River Canyon.
The Garden Route
The Garden Route, which runs for about 200 kilometers along South Africa's southeast coast, passes through some of the country's most beautiful coastal scenery. This all-around voyaged street goes through green hills, enchanting waterfront towns, lagoons, lakes, and cliffs. The charming town of Knysna, settled between thick timberlands and a shimmering lagoon; the excellent Garden Route National Park, with its canyons, lagoons, and thick woods; Oudtshoorn's ostrich ranches and Cango Caverns; and the Robberg Nature Hold's seal state are altogether features of the Garden Route.
One of the most interesting places to visit in the Western Cape of South Africa is Robben Island. This is the location of a high-security prison where political leaders like Nelson Mandela were held until Apartheid ended. A day trip from Cape Town would be easy to arrange; the ferry takes about 45 minutes depending on sea conditions and departs from the harbor near the V&A Waterfront. Make sure to buy ferry tickets ahead of time and choose the earliest one because sea conditions deteriorate throughout the day.
Kalk Bay Harbor
Visit Kalk Bay, a seaside village with a quirky mix of bohemian boutiques, vintage bookstores, cobblestoned streets, antique galleries, quaint cafes, and historic buildings. The Kalk Bay Harbor is a bustling landmark with a long history coupled with character and charm and offering a host of unique things to do. Take in the sunset views from the pier, catch a glimpse of the resident seals, or stop by Kalky's for an authentic fish and chips meal. Its biggest feature is the lovely white sand beach, which is lined with brightly colored beach houses that are fun to photograph. It's likewise one of the nation's best-surfing spots.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is one of South Africa's greatest parks and a tourist attraction you shouldn't miss out on. As the park has evolved and developed over the years, it now has five separate areas, each with its own distinct features. The main game reserve is in the Colchester section. Elating self-drives or camp-run game drives are available to view the recreation center's tremendous populations of elephants, zebras, and antelopes. The Darlington section features a dam that attracts a variety of wildlife, while the Kabouga section is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Although boat trips are marketed on a regular basis at Hermanus, whale watching from the cliffs is just as impressive! Home to a number of beautiful beaches, this town is considered one of the top places to visit in South Africa. In this part of Walker Bay, southern right whales give birth to their young every year.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Formed in the year 2000, this park consists of one of the world's largest wilderness areas. Portraits and game watching are enhanced by the gnarled camel thorn trees, red sands, golden grasslands, and deep blue skies. The iconic black-maned Kalahari lion, stately gemsbok with their V-shaped horns, sprawling nests of sociable weavers, meerkats, and numerous birds of prey call this vast conservation area home.
The Drakensberg, which means "Dragon Mountains" in English, is a popular tourist destination in South Africa that is home to the country's highest peaks. The Royal Natal National Park and the World Heritage-listed uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park are both situated here. Drakensberg's landscape changes with the seasons. In the summer, you'll find lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and rushing rivers. It's going to be very cold and snowy if you come in the winter.
Pilanesberg National Park
If you want to see animals, Pilanesberg National Park is easy to locate – and since it's much smaller than Kruger, it's also a lot easier to explore. It's just a 2- to 5-hour drive from Johannesburg and nearby to Sun City. The park is situated in an extinct volcano crater between the Kalahari Desert and the wet climate, resulting in a large variety of wildlife. You should also be able to see zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and possibly wild dogs.
The heat, sand, and waves are the order of the day in the picturesque town of Jeffrey’s Bay. The town is known for attracting surfers from all over the world to test their skills on its waves, as well as being a hotspot for water sports such as scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and more. If you'd rather keep your feet dry, visit the Kabeljous Estuary & Nature Reserve, which offer twitchers a chance to see a variety of birds as is definitely one of the must visit places in South Africa.
If you're a wine expert, the Cape Winelands in South Africa needs to be right up your alley. Being one of the most attractive and breathtaking wine producing regions in the world, the area boasts of shimmering vineyards and stunning mountainous views. Hundreds of wine estates deliver one-of-a-kind experiences ranging from wine and cheese or biltong platters to outdoor picnics with bottles of estate wine amid rows upon rows of vineyards. When deciding on what exact locations to checkout at Cape Winelands, keep Franschhoek and Stellenbosch in mind and we will talk about the latter a bit later. Cape town is just a 45-minute drive away.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
At the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, an oasis on the outskirts of Johannesburg, you can relax and reconnect with nature. The gardens feature red-rock cliffs and hiking trails that lead to the Witpoortjie Waterfall, which cascades into tranquil pools. Throughout the well-kept park, there are several picnic areas while don't forget to keep an eye out for the abundant birdlife nestled among the towering trees.
With fields, old oak trees, and white-washed Cape Dutch houses, it's one of the best-preserved towns from the Dutch East India Company period. It is now a university town with a vibrant atmosphere and beautiful scenery and renowned as one of the most scenic towns in South Africa. Foodies too will adore this place as Stellenbosch is home to some of the best restaurants in South Africa, as well as several sidewalk cafés. For history buffs, the Stellenbosch Village Museum, a collection of four restored houses and gardens dating from 1709 to 1850, is a must-see. The Rupert Museum houses important works by South African artists, and a stroll through the University of Stella Maris Botanic Garden is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Cape Agulhas is considered a must visit place in South Africa as it is the southernmost point of Africa, and it is here that the two oceans meet! This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country, but it's a little out of the way, so it doesn't get nearly as many tourists. Cape Agulhas can be seen on the road to Garden Road. It's about a two-hour drive from Hermanus, and a three-hour drive from Mossel Bay.
If you're wondering when's the right time to visit South Africa, it all comes down to what you really want to do and see. When the weather is dry during the months of June to September, it's the perfect time to visit national parks. Winter would be the perfect time to go whale watching, and if you're a surfer, this is when the big swells reach the coast. Sightseeing in cities and along the coast is enjoyable all year round, though winters can be chilly, especially in the South. The best time to visit Cape Town and the Garden Route would be during the summer, just to lounge on South Africa's gorgeous beaches and soak up the sun.