Looking for a South Africa travel guide? The Rainbow Nation offers many paradise-like places — so many that it can be difficult to choose from the overwhelming number of options. To help you narrow down your itinerary, we’ve compiled a list of what to see in South Africa for you below!
Rainbow Nation Expedition: A South Africa Travel Guide
Things to Do in Cape Town | South Africa Travel Guide
1. Dive with the Sharks in Gansbaai
Here’s an adventure adrenaline junkies won’t want to miss! If you love diving and looking at marine life, how will you feel about being among some of the most dangerous creatures of the ocean? Gansbaai is the white shark capital of the world, so it’s not surprising that one of their biggest attractions is shark cage diving. The waters of Cape Town are home to about 40 shark species, making it the perfect venue to see a wide variety of the fascinating marine predator.
2. See Marine Life at the Two Oceans Aquarium
If shark cage diving is a little too intense for you, no need to worry. You can still meet sharks and more marine life at the Two Oceans Aquarium. In fact, their Predator Exhibit allows you to view various species of sharks without having to swim with them. They also offer several other exhibits, such as one on environmental education, animal feedings, a specific penguin exhibit, and more.
3. Visit the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point
When in Cape Town, a visit to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point is an absolute must! Keep in mind that the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point will take about an hour to drive to from Central Cape Town and is a part of the Table Mountain National Park. For just 85 ZAR for adults and 30 ZAR for kids, you get to see an unparalleled view of the wonders of nature.
4. Head Over to Table Mountain
One of the city’s most popular landmarks is a flat-topped shaped mountain called Table Mountain. There are several ways to enjoy this unique mountain in Cape Town. For one, you can catch a cable car and enjoy the fantastic view. You can also take their free audio tours and discover the stories and legends of the mountain. And when you’re tired and hungry from all the hiking, you can also simply grab a bite at the Table Mountain Cafe.
5. Go Hiking in Lion’s Head
Even if you aren’t a sporty traveler, this is a trip you must not miss. This trail gives an amazing view from all directions, allowing you to see everything from the ocean to the Twelve Apostles and from the city bowl to Table Mountain! Fortunately for novices, it’s a relatively easy hike that can be completed in two hours. Beginners are more than welcome to do the hike and experience the stunning views!
6. Visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Resting on the eastern slope of Table Mountain is one of the best botanical gardens in the world, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Established in 1913, Kirstenbosch was created to conserve and promote South Africa’s rich and diverse flora. For just 65 ZAR for adults, 35 ZAR for students, and 15 ZAR for kids between 6-17 years of age, you can walk in this majestic garden and nature reserve.
7. Go Shopping at the V&A Waterfront
This evening at 8.15pm, join the Elves & other festive characters like Merry Clause, the Candy Cane Dancers, traditional Carollers, & the beautiful Snow Fairy in Victoria Wharf, as they whisk everyone away on a wonderful Christmas journey filled with festive joy & celebration. pic.twitter.com/q7jw5zcDeN
— V&A Waterfront (@VandAWaterfront) December 12, 2017
When you’re ready for a hiking break, you can get some Cape Town city vibes at the V&A Waterfront. The harbor was built by Queen Victoria and her son Alfred in the 19th century as a stopover point for European ships. It now opens its doors for tourists to come by and enjoy a grand view of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean while they shop, dine, or otherwise enjoy the numerous activities the place has to offer.
8. Relive History in Robben Island
Standing several miles off the V&A Waterfront is Robben Island, which serves as a reminder of South Africa’s troubled past. Tagged as a unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering, and injustice,” the island gets thousands of yearly visitors who are eager to understand South Africa’s history. The Robben Island Museum uses two ferries to transport its visitors and staff to the island.
9. Visit the Castle of Good Hope
At the heart of Cape Town lies a star-shaped fortress, which happens to be the oldest existing building in South Africa. The Castle of Good Hope was built in the 17th century as the center of Cape Town’s administration and the armed forces. Even today, the castle remains a military stronghold while also housing several museums.
10. Go Wine Tasting in Constantia Valley
Just beneath Table Mountain National Park, you can find Cape Town’s vineyard, the Constantia Valley. With nine wine farms just 20 minutes away from the city center, Constantia Valley is the perfect place to go wine tasting. Each venue has its own features and comes with different prices. However, if you’re there just for the sightseeing, then the valley is free to explore.
Things to Do in Johannesburg | South Africa Travel Guide
11. Take a Stroll in Nelson Mandela Square
Nelson Mandela is one of the most celebrated presidents of South Africa, which is why you’ll find so many locals named after him. For example, Nelson Mandela Square used to be known as Sandton Square but was renamed in the year 2004 to honor the late president. Tourists can shop in several stores, dine in the many available restaurants, and even have a photo taken next to the statue of Nelson Mandela.
12. Have a Blast at Gold Reef City
Where a gold mine once stood is now a huge entertainment complex with a theme park and several casino facilities. Gold Reef City is one of the most popular entertainment places in South Africa. Aside from all the thrilling rides and fun casino games, Gold Reef City also gives you a taste of African culture. Not only can guests choose from various African cuisine while at the amusement park, but they’ll also learn about African dances, music, and history.
13. Visit the Lesedi Cultural Village
South Africa is referred to as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ because of its diverse people and culture. A visit to the Lesedi Cultural Village lets you explore and appreciate just that. When traveling the world, immersing in the country’s local culture is one of the most enjoyable and educational things you can do.
14. See the Animals at the Johannesburg Zoo
The Johannesburg Zoo often gets overlooked by tourists, but the upgrades it has gotten over the recent years makes it worth a visit. It’s probably one of the oldest zoos, having been established in 1904. With 140 acres of land, it houses 320 different species of animals.
15. Go See the Lions at Lion Park
If you’re in Africa to see the wild, then you shouldn’t miss out on a trip to Lion Park. Lion Park is an eco-tourism spot that cares for the endangered Wild Dog. While here, you can also expect to see giraffes, zebras, and other wild animals.
Things to Do in Durban | South Africa Travel Guide
16. Visit uShaka Marine World
As the fifth largest aquarium in the world, it’s no surprise that uShaka Marine World is one of the most popular attractions in Durban. Among the unique activities is the chance to dive among the surrounding shipwrecks. They also offer dolphin shows where you can see these adorable mammals in action.
17. Bring the Family to Addington Beach
Because of its subtropical climate, every day is a perfect day at the beach whenever you visit Durban. With this in mind, Addington beach is perfect for the whole family, especially if they love to surf! As an extra bonus, it’s entirely free!
18. Take Pictures at Mini Town
Ever wanted to know how it would feel to be a giant? Well, wonder no more and visit Durban’s Mini Town! Mini Town is a replica of Durban scaled down to 1:24 its size. Now there’s a perfect place to take wacky photos!
19. Take a Boat Tour with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board
Even though the waters of South Africa are filled with sharks, shark attacks are rare in Durban. That’s because their coastline is protected by shark safety gear maintained by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Center of Excellence. Take a boat tour with them in the morning and see them set up their safety systems. At the same time, you’ll get to learn more about the sharks lurking in the waters of South Africa.
20. Gaze at Faith47’s Murals
Faith47 is a South-African born artist who expresses her sense of social justice through her murals. Though she is originally from Cape Town, she has graced the streets of Durban with her artwork. You can see her amazing art in Warwick Junction.
More Spots to Visit in South Africa | South Africa Travel Guide
21. Addo Elephant National Park in Port Elizabeth
For just 200 ZAR for adults and 100 ZAR for kids, you get to enter the Addo Elephant National Park. Not only does it house about 550 elephants, it’s also home to black rhinos, lions, hyenas, zebras, and many other wild animals. Hot days at the waterholes will give you the best elephant viewing experience.
22. Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn
If you’re a fan of spelunking, then you’ll love the Cango Caves. The 20 million-year-old caves contain limestone rock layers and stalagmite formations. Keep in mind that because it has become such a popular spot, it’s important to book your tour in advance!
23. Big Tree in Tsitsikamma
Nature lovers shouldn’t miss out on a chance to be awed by the Big Tree in Tsitsikamma. The 36.6-meter high tree is around 600-800 years old. The forest where it stands in is the perfect place for a Zen walk and is highly recommended in every South Africa travel guide.
24. The Big Hole in Kimberley
As majestic as it is, the Kimberley Big Hole is actually a man-made structure. This spot was just a quiet, plain hill until word got out there were diamonds beneath it. After that, people came in droves to find diamonds. It now serves as a tourist spot, famous for its status as one of the largest excavations in the world dug without machines!
25. Palace of the Lost City in North West Province
If it’s luxury you seek, then you ought to hit the Palace of the Lost City! Inspired by a lost African tribe, the design is just enchanting. It’s currently one of the leading hotels in the world. So if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, this is the place to stay in!
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South Africa is a traveler’s paradise. There’s just so much to explore in a nation of diverse culture and people! In fact, it’s one of the perfect places for a dream couple trip! So get your partner, pack your bags, bookmark this South Africa travel guide, and then go explore the beauty and the many colors of the Rainbow Nation!
What are the other places you want to see in this South Africa travel guide? Let us know in the comments!