Top Tourist Destinations

Last updated: May 19, 2017

South Africa has a truly diverse range of attractions, activities and experiences to offer the visitor. From game viewing and outdoor activities to shopping, wining and dining and a range of adventure activities to suit any adrenalin-seeker - there really is something for everyone beneath South African skies.

Cape Town

Cape Winelands


Kruger National Park

Oudtshoorn & Klein Karoo

Garden Route


Port Elizabeth

East London & Wild Coast



St. Lucia

Panorama Route

West Coast & Namaqualand

Cape Town

Visit Cape Town and experience the beautiful 'Mother City' with Table Mountain as its backdrop. Travel to the top of Table Mountain by cable car or on foot and get a birds eye view of the city and Table Bay. Take a ferry trip to Robben Island and visit the prison where Nelson Mandela spent many years of his life.

Soak up the sun on white, sandy beaches; hike amongst forest and fynbos; visit Cape Point Nature Reserve and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Shop till you drop at world-class shopping malls and, at the end of the day dine at excellent restaurants offering everything from ostrich to oysters.

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Cape Winelands

The rich and fertile vineyards of the Cape produce some of the best wines in the world. Visit the wineland regions of Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and the Breede River Valley and enjoy wine tasting and cellar tours in picturesque surroundings. Sample other fresh produce such as cheeses and olives, go horse riding or enjoy a picnic in the vineyards and dine at a quaint French Bistro in Franschhoek.

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The seaside town of Hermanus, just an hour away from Cape Town, is known for its fantastic land based whale watching. The best whale watching months are from August to November when the giant Southern Right Whales come into the bay to calve. The cliff paths that hug the shoreline surrounding Hermanus are the perfect vantage point for watching the whales spouting and breaching in the bay.

Hermanus is a popular holiday and weekend destination and offers plenty of other activities including golf, walking and hiking and canoeing on the nearby lagoon. There is also a weekly craft market on Saturday mornings, as well a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from.

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Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is the largest in South Africa and this world-renowned park offers a diversity of wildlife, terrain and vegetation that cannot be matched by any other park. Traversing through both the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in the northern part of South Africa - the 2-million hectare park is open for exploration and discovery and offers an unforgettable safari experience. Here the wildlife roam freely and in their natural habitat - the park boasts all of the Big Five as well as other big game, large herds of antelope and over 500 types of bird.

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Oudtshoorn and the Klein Karoo

The Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, ringed by the majestic Outeniqua- and Swartberg Mountains, is the ostrich capital of the world. Many of the sandstone 'feather palaces' of yesteryear are still standing and are a reminder of the ostrich feather trade boom of the early twentieth century.

Today there are four ostrich show farms in Oudtshoorn where visitors can come face to face with these unusual birds, take part as a jockey in an ostrich race, sample ostrich meat dishes and buy hand-made ostrich leather items.

Each year in March and April Oudtshoorn hosts the annual Klein Karoo National Arts Festival where over 250 000 people gather to enjoy arts, crafts, theatre and music. Oudtshoorn is also home to the famous Cango Caves - one of the world's natural wonders. The three limestone caverns that make up the Cango Caves are filled with stalactites and stalagmites and visitors can enjoy guided tours through the caves. Also in Oudtshoorn is the Cango Wildlife Ranch and a range of activities from walking trails and birding to 4x4 trails in the rugged Klein Karoo terrain.

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Garden Route

Stretching between the coastal towns of Mossel Bay and Nature's Valley in the Western Cape the Garden Route is named for its lush greenery and dense Tsitsikamma Forest. This picturesque stretch of coastline is a popular holiday destination and is well worth visiting with activities on offer to suit outdoor enthusiasts, adrenalin junkies and families or those simply looking to sit back and relax.

The Garden Route begins at Mossel Bay, and then journeys through George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay before ending at the beautiful Nature's Valley. Each of these small towns has its own charm and attractions and each has a wide variety of accommodation to choose from. The Garden Route region is ideal for a self-drive holiday and all of the towns are within easy driving distance of one another. Choose between having one base and making daily day trips to the nearby towns and attractions, or alternatively spend one or two nights in a few different towns.

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Addo Elephant National Park

Only 50 kilometres north-east of Port Elizabeth, the Addo Elephant National Park is situated in the tranquil and malaria free Sundays River Valley - known for its elephants as well as its citrus orchards and roses. The park is home to over 300 elephant and visitors can experience game drives by day or night to come into contact with herds of elephant, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope and extensive birdlife.

Also nearby is the private Shamwari Game Reserve where visitors can see a full range of wildlife including the Big Five of elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard.

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Port Elizabeth

The coastal city of Port Elizabeth is also known as the 'friendly city' and rests on the shores of Algoa Bay. Port Elizabeth is a popular summertime holiday destination and with warm waters and calm seas the beaches are popular amongst families. There are over 40km of safe beaches to choose from as well as many water activities including sailing, windsurfing and scuba diving. Pay a visit to the oceanarium and snake park for fun and entertainment.

Port Elizabeth provides a good base from which to explore the other highlights of the area including the lush coastal forests of the Tsitsikamma region, the world-renowned surf spot of Jeffreys Bay and further inland the historic university town of Grahamstown.

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East London and Wild Coast

East London is South Africa's only river port city and is set on the banks of the Buffalo River. Miles of white beaches are fairly untouched and unspoilt providing excellent opportunities for many watersports and the various lagoons and river mouths are a haven for anglers. Further along the coastline from East London is the Wild Coast region where some of South Africa's truly wild and untamed beaches can be found.

This region is steeped in rich Xhosa tradition where rolling hills give way to thick indigenous forests, craggy outcrops, sheer cliffs and white sandy beaches. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails and bird watching, fishing, swimming and horse riding - all while absorbing the spirit of the Wild Coast.

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With a subtropical climate, sunshine all year and the warm Indian Ocean lapping on its shores, Durban is a popular holiday city with beaches, activities and attractions to suit all ages. This bustling city is the third largest in South Africa as well as being the biggest port in Africa - it's a melting pot of cultures with strong British, Indian and Zulu influences.

Laze away your day on the beach or enjoy a range of sporting activities from surfing to golf and when the sun sets make the most of balmy summer evenings to take in Durban's nightlife. Durban is also a good access point for the coastal resort areas of the North Coast and South Coast, the beauty of the Midlands with its popular Midlands Meander and the majestic mountains of the Drakensberg region.

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The extensive Drakensberg mountain range stretches along KwaZulu-Natal's Western border creating a semi-circular border with the adjoining Lesotho. These majestic mountains are known to the Zulu people as Ukhahlamba meaning 'Barrier of Spears' and its sharp peaks rise up to over 3000 meters in places. The Drakensberg - "Mountain of the Dragon" provides kilometres of spectacular escarpment, peaks, trails, streams, pools and solitude to explore and enjoy.

In 2000 the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park was declared a World Heritage Site. Not only is the park one of great scenic beauty, but it is also home to a rich collection of rock art - a legacy to the San people. There are over 600 sites within the park where the rock paintings can be seen, and the work is better preserved than in any other area south of the Sahara.

Visitors to the Drakensberg area can choose from a wide range of activities to enjoy from hiking and climbing to horse riding and fishing. The area is one of great rest, relaxation and solitude with a variety of accommodation on offer including quaint country inns and lodges, luxurious hotels and ample camping facilities.

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St Lucia

The town of St Lucia is an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding region - in particular the wonders of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. St Lucia itself is situated at the estuary of Lake St Lucia and offers plenty of accommodation as well as a wide range of activities from whale watching in winter and turtle tours in summer, to boating, canoeing, horse riding and bird watching. Alternatively, sit back and relax or enjoy some shopping at one of the nearby craft centres.

The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and is an eco-tourism haven offering amazing outdoor and wildlife experiences. Incorporating various national parks, game and marine reserves the park covers an area of more than a quarter of a million hectares, making it the third largest reserve in South Africa. Encompassing five eco-systems the park offers one of the most exciting eco-experiences in the world.

The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park offers everything from bird watching and walking to hiking trials and diving. Experience scuba diving with the giant Manta Ray at Sodwana Bay, and the birth of Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles in the Maputaland Marine Reserve. Mangroves, swamps, lakes and rivers provide opportunities for sightings of hippo, crocodiles, leopard, antelope, bush pig and warthog as well as an amazing array of birdlife.

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Panorama Route

Set along the eastern slopes of the escarpment in Mpumalanga, the Panorama region is one of breathtaking views and vistas. Here you will find the Blyde River Canyon - the largest green canyon in the world. The breathtaking canyon with soaring cliffs of up to 700m creates a vast 'green' chasm, at the bottom of which a river winds through sub-tropical vegetation home to variety of wildlife.

Also in the region is the aptly named God's Window, as well as Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Three Rondawels. While in the Panorama Region, pay a visit to the towns of Sabie, Hazyview, Graskop and Pilgrim's Rest dating back to the heydays of the gold rush. Discover crashing waterfalls and beautiful scenic trails or try your hand at bungee jumping or white water rafting.

The Panorama Region is also a good base from which to explore the nearby Kruger National Park and its wildlife.

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West Coast and Namaqualand

The stunning displays of wild flowers that transform the West Coast and Namaqualand regions in early Spring each year are a sight well worth seeing. The dry and lifeless scrubland of the north-western region of South Africa is transformed after the winter rains into a carpet of wild flowers - mostly daisies - in white, yellow, orange and purple. The flowers are at their best in the Namaqualand region in the Northern Cape, but can also be seen all the way down the West Coast of the Western Cape towards Cape Town.

In Namaqualand pay a visit to the towns of Garies and Kamieskroon and visit the Namaqua National Park and the Goegap Nature Reserve. Although renowned for its wild flowers, Namaqualand has far more to offer and is also a popular eco-adventure destination including 4x4 and mountain biking trails and river rafting on the mighty Orange River. The stark desert landscape of the Richtersveld National Park is home to an astonishing variety of succulent plants, leopards and lizards and strange rock formations sculpted by years of sun and wind.

In the Western Cape, the wild flowers can be seen at a variety of locations along the West Coast road from Clanwilliam to Langebaan, Yzerfontein, Paternoster and Darling and at the host of nature reserves in the region.

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