Best attractions in South Africa: Top 25

South Africa is one of the richest countries of the African continent, a country of contrasts, combining primitive and modern. Guides to South Africa presents visitors to the country all the most interesting and beautiful in this country - stunning beaches, magnificent mountains, deposits of precious stones and metals, wildlife and other unique attractions of South Africa. Millions of tourists know what to see in South Africa, coming here for new experiences, where they are warmly welcomed by local residents and modern hotels in South Africa open their doors. Each of the 9 provinces of the republic has a unique landscape, the best attractions, nature, interesting places and its ethnic composition, which attracts a huge number of tourists, educational tours to South Africa.

What to see in South Africa first

Of course, a trip to South Africa, as well as any other trip, should be well planned in order to know in advance, say, what to see in South Africa in 1 day. To this end, we recommend to read the rating of the main sights of the country worthy of attention. Where to go in South Africa first of all?

1. Johannesburg

One of the areas of the city of Johannesburg

Johannesburg is the largest population center in South Africa, with about 4 million people living there today. The city’s ethnic composition is diverse, but nevertheless 73% of the population is black. It is the richest city, providing about a third of the gross product of the republic. Johannesburg owes its achievements mainly to the richest gold deposits located in the surrounding areas. Today, Johannesburg is the business center of South Africa and is divided into the affluent north, the center, which has a lot of attractions, and the insecure, extreme south.

2. The Apartheid Museum

Museum of Apartheid in Johannesburg Francisco Anzola

At one time racial discrimination was a serious political problem in South Africa. The Apartheid Museum is a South African landmark that testifies to these sad milestones in the country’s history until the 1990s. Today, there are 22 rooms inside the museum, of which the most unpleasantly impressive is the Political Execution Room, filled with many gallows loops that testify to the troubled fate of the anti-apartheid fighters. Other rooms display photographs and hold temporary exhibitions. The museum’s exterior resembles a prison, making a strong contrast to the nearby Gold Reef City Theme Park.

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3. Cape Town

Panorama of Cape Town

Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa with a population of about 3.5 million people located right on the Atlantic Ocean where wildlife happily coexists with ultra-modern shopping malls and Dutch mansions. The oldest building in the city, as well as in the whole of South Africa, is the Fortress of Good Hope - it was around it and started building the city. In 1936 the premises of the fortress is a museum, which is now in demand among tourists. In addition to the museum, South Africa’s National Gallery, displaying works by French and Dutch masters, is also worth a visit.

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4. Victoria & Alfred waterfront

Victory and Alfred Waterfront from a bird's eye view

Today this waterfront is one of South Africa’s most popular attractions in Cape Town. The old port was restored and improved in the early 1990s, and since then a whole tourist complex has been organized on this area. Today the waterfront is a lively place with an abundance of restaurants, bars, stores and entertainment venues. Right along the waterfront are organized various performances, live music and African drums. And the old historical buildings side by side with the most modern shopping and entertainment centers and other buildings, designed in the same style “for the old times”.

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5. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

A small section of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

It turns out that one of the largest botanical gardens in the world is in South Africa - it’s Kirstenbosch, and it’s safe to say that seeing this attraction in South Africa is a must-see. A rich world of extraordinary flora and fauna lies at the foot of Table Mountain. The history of the botanical gardens goes back to the 15th century, when the first conquerors of this land decided to settle here. The land went through many owners when in the 19th century it was bought by Cecil Rhodes, who became the founder of the botanical gardens. Today, just the plants alone there are about 7 thousand species, and well-developed infrastructure, there are cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops.

Official site:

Check out the wonderful views of South Africa in this fascinating video!

6. Kalahari Desert

Sand dunes of a reddish hue in the Kalahari Desert

There is something to visit in South Africa and among the sweltering deserts. Kalahari is located in the namesake depression with an area of about 600 square kilometers, covering in addition to South Africa, the territories of Botswana and Namibia. Kalahari is characterized by a particularly hot arid climate with a maximum average daily temperature of +40 ° C. The presence of iron oxides in the Kalahari sands gives the desert landscape an incredibly beautiful pink, brown, red, brown and orange hues. The Okavango River flows through the desert, whose delta is home to most of the desert fauna - giraffes, gazelles, zebras, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, as well as many rodents and birds.

7. Kruger National Park

Elephant in Kruger National Park

Kruger Park is one of South Africa’s key attractions, as it is one of the largest nature reserves in the world. The vastness of its territory defies description - about 20 thousand square kilometers, located in the northeastern part of South Africa. The park is crossed by many roads, attractive for tourism - representatives of various flora and fauna can be observed from here. Large animals include leopards, lions, hippos, elephants, buffalo and antelope. Everyone can choose different ways to explore the world of the park - by renting an off-road vehicle, with overnight stops at campsites, and a host of other options.

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8. Tsitsikamma Marine National Park

The suspension bridge over the mouth of the Storm River in Tsitsikamma National Park

There is much to see in South Africa among other national parks - for example, Tsitsikamma is unique in being the first marine national park on the mainland. It is an 80-kilometer strip of beautiful coastline with rushing rivers, ravines, bays, waterfalls, relict forests and a variety of animals. It is also a major center of tourism with excellent opportunities for diving, rafting on violent rivers, rock climbing, rope rappelling over gorges, hiking tours and other outdoor activities.

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9. Pilanesberg National Park

Scenery in Pilanesberg National Park

About 2 hours from Johannesburg, right in the crater of a former volcano, is another natural attraction in South Africa - the Pilanesberg Reserve. This park is unique in the fact that more than 1 million years ago there was an active volcano, today it is reminded by the rings of hills diverging from the crater. Today the former natural element is home to dozens of large mammals, over three hundred species of birds and more than 60 species of amphibians. Today, the park has many picnic areas as well as observation areas and hiking trails.

Official website: http://www.tourismnorthwest.

10. Dragon Mountains

The natural beauty of the Dragon Mountains

The Dragon Mountains are South Africa’s highest mountain range and have become a favorite hiking destination among mountain lovers. Not surprisingly, this place can be called one of the most beautiful places in the whole world: the mountain range, solidly composed of basalt, stretches for about a thousand kilometers. The western and eastern slopes of the ridge have different climates: if the west is dominated by drought, over the eastern slopes falls a lot of rain. Every year, more than 2 million tourists visit these areas, equipping themselves with tents or staying in hotels provided for recreation.

11. Table Mountain

Table Mountain and Cape Town Harbor

South Africa’s recognizable landmark and the republic’s calling card is Table Mountain. It towers over Cape Town, is its symbol and is depicted on the city’s flag. It is 1.087 km high and its summit is a gentle plateau surrounded by cliffs, which are often shrouded in fog. Table Mountain National Park, where the mountain itself is located, was recently recognized as one of the 7 new wonders of the world. Tourists flock here to admire the extraordinary local scenery.

12. Lyons Head Rock

A stunning view of the city of Cape Town from the top of Lyons Head Rock

The name Lyons Head means “lion’s head,” literally. The fact is, when coupled with nearby Signal Hill, it creates a shape somewhat resembling that of a lion. This small height cliff rises above the sea at 670 meters, and from the observation deck, organized on top of it, offers an excellent overview. This is why it has become a favorite place for visitors to take photos of Cape Town’s panorama and the magnificent African sunset, and for paragliders to fly from here.

13. Big Hole Kimberlite Pipe

The Big Hole Kimberlite Pipe filled with water

The town of Kimberley in South Africa is known for a kimberlite pipe called the Big Hole, which is a depleted diamond deposit. This place of extraction of precious stones is recognized as the world’s largest open pit mined by hand - about 40 years at the mine worked for about 50,000 workers who extracted the earth from the quarry with simple shovels, picks and crowbars. During those years, about 22 tons of earth and about 2.7 tons of gemstone were extracted, which translates into 14.5 million carats.

14. Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon is covered in lush subtropical vegetation

Blyde River Canyon, part of the Dragon Mountains, is a unique nature reserve. It was formed by the carving of a deep gorge by the waters of the Blyde River into the bedrock. The gorge is 1.4 km deep and about 25 km long. Unlike other canyons, Blyde River has a rich vegetation and fauna. A notable place in the canyon is the Three Sisters Ridge, which consists of three round-shaped twin cliffs. Another interesting place is the observation deck “God’s Window”, which offers a beautiful panorama of the mountains of Kruger National Park.

15. Cradle of Humanity

The Cradle of Humanity Information Center Building flowcomm

The Cradle of Humanity is an archaeological monument consisting of limestone caves with a total area of almost 500 square kilometers. In total, there are about 3 dozen caves, each of which is of great historical value - it is assumed that this is where the first African tribes were born. Thus, in the process of excavations in the caves the remains of human ancestors - Australopithecus, dated 2 million years BC, as well as fragments of various implements used by ancient man were discovered.

Official website: https://www.gauteng.

16. Garden Route (Garden Route)

View of the oceanfront from Garden Route

Garden Root National Park is a popular attraction among wildlife enthusiasts in South Africa. The Garden Route runs 200 km along some of South Africa’s most scenic coastlines and offers a beautiful and varied landscape, from mountain peaks to azure beaches, serene coves, lush forests and mountain rivers. Garden Route offers a wide range of opportunities for nature-based recreation, such as fishing, diving, and climbing.

17. Cape of Good Hope

The beach and observation deck at the Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is the famous southern tip of the African mainland and has its own unique history. In order to open the way to India across the ocean, since the 15th century mariners set sail many times, repeatedly crashed and failed, but continued their search. The reason for the wrecks was a natural disaster - the waters of the two oceans, the Indian and Atlantic, collide exactly at the southernmost tip of the continent, forming frequent storms. The weather at the Cape is unfriendly, there are always strong winds blowing, but nevertheless, streams of tourists invariably rush here to see the legendary place with their own eyes.

18. Kango Caves

Tourists at the "Organ Hall" shaped by stalactites

The Kango Caves are several grottoes with a total length of about 4 km. Especially striking is the age of the caves which is about 20 million years old. There are many very narrow passages and difficult sections which are not easy to overcome. Inside, visitors can see a real magical land - a complex of halls, decorated with natural formations of limestone. Coupled with the successful illumination of all this looks truly fabulous. Some of the halls are astonishing in size: the height of some reaches 30 meters, the length of 100 meters, and the largest stalagmite is 9.5 meters long.

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19. Franschhoek Wine Farms

Franschhoek Wine Plantations and Wineries

It’s worth noting that South Africa is the world’s 3rd largest supplier of wine to the world market. And one of the best local wines is produced in the farms of Franschhoek village. This place is in great demand among the connoisseurs of wine - the grapes here grow in sandy soils and the ideal natural conditions allow them to acquire an unparalleled taste. Every year up to 8 thousand tons of wonderful wine comes from the farms of Franschhoek. There are a number of wineries with their own centuries-old traditions of wine making, dating back to the 17th century.

20. Robben Island

View of Robben Island and Cape Town from the mountain

12 km from Cape Town lies Robben Island, which is an open-air prison museum. During 400 years this island was a place of confinement - since 17th century lunatics and leprosy patients, political and social outcasts were exiled here and in 20th century Nelson Mandela, a famous fighter for blacks’ rights spent 18 years in prison. Today the prison is a national monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the territory of the former prison there is now a museum that clearly demonstrates the living conditions of the prisoners.

Sightseeing in South Africa: what else to visit in South Africa

Every sightseeing in South Africa is worthy of attention, and even after a trip to the main interesting places that form the first impression of the country, there is always something to see in South Africa, in addition to that. To that end, here is a review based on the positive reviews of tourists and including recommendations for other, no less interesting sights.

21. Sun City Resort City

The fabulous Sun City among the rainforest

What to visit in South Africa for a comfortable vacation and entertainment? In the northeastern part of the republic, in the heart of a dormant volcano today is an entertainment tourist complex with all the possibilities for a good rest. Its area of 150 occupied by comfortable hotels, tropical gardens with a rich collection of flora and fauna, artificial lagoon, and all kinds of casinos and restaurants. Recreation opportunities here are incredibly diverse - from gambling and spa procedures, to active recreation of water skiing, golf and windsurfing.

22. Augrabis Falls

The streams of Augrabis Falls, rushing into a rocky gorge

Augrabies is one of nature’s wonders: the strongest torrent of water rushing down the high cliffs at the rate of about 1000 cubic meters per second plunges into the abyss. It is not easy to admire the waterfall with your own eyes: the place is surrounded by the sands of the Kalahari Desert. The Orange River, originating in the Dragon Mountains, on its way merging with the Vaal River, first splits into many streams, the main one of which falls into a narrow rock gap and plummets down to the granite foot. The splendid spectacle is completed by a rainbow glistening in the water spray as the sun appears.

23. Tugela Falls

The narrow ribbon of Tugela Falls falling from the precipice of the Dragon Mountains

Surprisingly, on the hottest and driest African continent, there is something to see in South Africa among the waterfalls - such as one of the world’s tallest waterfalls, Tugela Falls, located in Natal National Park. This waterfall is a cascade waterfall, and its water flows down through five ledges. There are two ways to get to the falls. The extreme route to the top leads from a nearby parking lot and ends at the last section with high suspended ladders, while the other path, about 8 km long, leads through the national park forest and a suspension bridge.

Official website: http://www.nature-reserve.

24. Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is a famous penguin beach

Boulders Beach, home to thousands of penguins that have been inhabiting the area for about 30 years, is located in the Table Mountain National Park. It should be said that the penguins get along peacefully with the many tourists who come here just to look at these charming beach dwellers. Apart from the penguins, Boulders is also famous for its natural scenery and views of the sea. Another notable feature is the huge boulders that protect the beach from strong winds and sea waves.

25. Golden Mile Beach

The Golden Mile Beach is a coastline in the city of Durban

One of South Africa’s popular attractions around the town of Durban is Golden Mile Beach, which is a broad edge of golden sands by the seashore where you can enjoy the soft subtropical sun and warm waters of the Indian Ocean. At the northern end of the beach is the Sunny Beach Casino for all the gambling enthusiasts. It is so customary that during the holiday season, various colorful events are constantly held on the beach.

Thick subtropical forests, warm coastlines, savannah, sultry deserts and snowy caps of high mountains - all these riches are ready to share the friendly state of South Africa. Hospitable people of all colors and religions inhabit the republic, and not without reason the symbol of South Africa is a prothea flower, whose name comes from the deity who can take the form of thousands of living creatures. Read also about Tunisia’s best sights and get inspired for your next trip to Africa!