Over the past three months, I’ve visited South Africa twice. The country is well-known for its remarkable biodiversity, with grasslands, beaches, and deserts that are home to a stunning array of animals and plants.
Many people come to South Africa to go on a safari, where they have a chance to see mongooses, rhinos, lions, zebras, and leopards, all within a few miles of each other.
Yet South Africa is also home to a variety of urban centers, featuring delicious food, thrilling nightlife, and relaxing accommodations.
I think South Africa is one of the most underrated tourist destinations. People often view South Africa through its tremulous history, but if you look closely, you can see a resilient country that has a lot to offer travelers.
I’m going to take you on a tour of some can’t-miss landmarks that will hopefully give you a better sense of the country, and maybe even inspire you to visit! Here are some of the best places to visit in South Africa:
The Kruger National Park is one of the most exciting in South Africa. Rhinos, impalas, elephants, buffalos, and leopards are some of the amazing animals you’ll see at this reserve. Travelers can book private experiences to see white lions solely in the comfort of family and friends.
There are also plenty of game viewing routes on the property, allowing visitors to see crocodiles and white rhinos from the safety of their vehicles!
Over two million hectares, Kruger National Park is enormous, and should ideally be experienced over the course of a few days to ensure a satisfying visit (and allow for as many giraffe and zebra sightings as possible)!
Many types of accommodations are offered within the park, from private lodges offering spa treatments to rest camps with communal kitchens. For those looking for a more specialized accommodation experience, the Pezulu Tree House Lodge is only a 45-minute drive away.
The Stellenbosch wine country is known all over the world for its production of pinotage and cabernet sauvignon. Located in the Western Cape, the area is home to more than 200 wine and grape producers.
Many offer unique tasting experiences to tourists, and the Waterford Wine Estate represents some of the best, with cellar door tours and drives through vineyards located on a beautiful 120-hectare property. And whether on a wine walk, or eating in the in-house restaurant, there are plenty of opportunities for tastings.
The Estate’s Wine and Chocolate Experience was developed out of a collaboration between cellarmaster Kevin Arnold and Belgian-trained chocolatier Richard von Geusau. A lot of thought seems to have been put into the development and sustainability practices of the Estate as it continues to cater to guests from all over the world.
While the Western Cape is home to many gorgeous wine regions, including Paarl and Franschhoek, a visit to Waterford is guaranteed to put an unforgettable touch of class and elegance on your trip with its incredible selection of wines.
To really understand the history of South Africa, it’s essential that you visit this property, which documents the racial oppression that governed the country from the late 1940s until the early 1990s.
The museum tracks the existence of apartheid in South Africa with bold, creative, and at times heartbreaking exhibits, which serve to give viewers a better understanding of how such a system impacted the lives of its citizens.
There’s an exhibit that explores Nelson Mandela’s life as a central figure in the anti-apartheid movement, as well as a variety of signs designed to give viewers a palpable understanding of how this system affected all aspects of existence within South Africa during the era.
For a more comprehensive understanding of South Africa’s past and present as a nation, pair your trip to the museum with visits to the Nelson Mandela House and Constitution Hill. Both are public heritage sites that allow viewers better glimpses into the country’s continuing fight for democracy through preserved spaces, artworks, and memorabilia.
This is where many tourists go when they want to experience a slice of paradise in South Africa. It’s easy to understand why. With beautiful beaches, a terrific food scene, and plenty of boutique shops, Cape Town is a great place for travelers looking to get away from the grind and enjoy themselves!
Picking one spot to visit in this port city is difficult, but a visit to the city centre might be a great place to start. The Pan-African Market contains wares from all over the country from friendly traders, including beaded dolls and tribal masks that make for excellent souvenirs.
Restaurants like The Pot Luck Club are putting new and inventive takes on South African cuisine, and Eastern Food Bazaar and The Burner both have some of the best bunny chow in the city.
Folks interested in the outdoors should absolutely take a cable car up Table Mountain, where its signature, flat-topped summit provides travelers with excellent views of the city.
UNESCO deemed the mountain and its surrounding national park a world heritage site, due to its beautifully diverse floral ecosystem that makes for some incredibly scenic hikes and photo spots.
Hopefully this list will inspire you to seek out more great places to shop, rest, eat, drink, and explore within South Africa! This country has been a best-kept secret for travelers for many years.
With such a layered history, beautiful wildlife, incredible landscapes, and rich culture, South Africa definitely won’t be overlooked for long! If you want to find out more about planning an Africa Safari, types of safaris, what do expect and what to take, check out our free guide.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Have you travelled to South Africa in the past? What places have you seen? What places would you recommend to others?