Must see attractions in South Africa

  • Top ChoiceSights in Southern Suburbs

    Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

    Location and unique flora combine to make these 5.28-sq-km botanical gardens among the most beautiful in the world. Gate 1, the main entrance at the Newlands end of the gardens, is where you’ll find the information centre, an excellent souvenir shop and the conservatory. Added for the garden's centenary in 2013, the popular Tree Canopy Walkway (informally known as the 'Boomslang', meaning tree snake) is a curvaceous steel and timber bridge that rises through the trees and provides amazing views.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Johannesburg

    Constitution Hill

    Do not leave Jo'burg without visiting Constitution Hill. One of South Africa's most important historical sites, the deeply moving and inspirational exhibitions here are split across four locations: the Old Fort, which dates from 1892 and was once a notorious prison for white males; the horrific Number Four Jail, reserved for nonwhite males; the Women's Jail; and the Awaiting Trial Block – now mostly demolished and replaced by the Constitutional Court. Tours depart on the hour and provide essential context.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Simon's Town & Southern Peninsula

    Cape of Good Hope

    This 77.5-sq-km section of Table Mountain National Park includes awesome scenery, fantastic walks, great birdwatching and often-deserted beaches. The reserve is commonly referred to as Cape Point, after its most dramatic (but less famous) promontory. Bookings are required for the two-day Cape of Good Hope Trail, a spectacular 33.8km circular route with one night spent in a basic hut. Contact the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre for further details.

  • Top ChoiceSights in South Africa

    Kruger National Park

    In terms of wildlife alone, Kruger is one of the world's greatest national parks. The diversity, density and sheer numbers of animals is almost unparalleled, and all of Africa's iconic safari species – elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and zebra – live out their dramatic days here, along with a supporting cast of 137 other mammal species and more than 500 varieties of bird.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Johannesburg

    Apartheid Museum

    The Apartheid Museum illustrates the rise and fall of South Africa’s era of segregation and oppression, and is an absolute must-see. It uses a broad variety of media to provide a chilling insight into the architecture and implementation of the apartheid system, as well as inspiring stories of the struggle towards democracy. It’s invaluable in understanding the inequalities and tensions that still exist today. Located 8km south of the city centre, just off the M1 freeway.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blyde River Canyon

    Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

    This stunning 260-sq-km reserve centres on the 30km-long Blyde River Canyon, where epic rock formations tower above the forested slopes and eagle-eye views abound at the dramatic meeting of the Drakensberg Escarpment and the lowveld. It's one of the world's largest canyons and one of South Africa’s most outstanding natural sights. Most visitors drive along the canyon’s edge, where Rte 532 offers plenty of viewpoints for gazing in awe. If you have enough time, however, the canyon is even better explored on foot.

  • Sights in The Kalahari

    Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

    Welcome to the African safari of your childhood daydreams. Packs of entertaining meerkats scurry across the sand, antelopes wander the dry river beds munching on thorny vegetation, and as dusk nears the implausibly large sun dips behind orange and white sand dunes leaving behind a star-filled sky. Best of all though are the predator sightings: prides of black-maned lions relaxing in the shade, spotted hyenas roaming in pairs and cheetahs prowling for their dinner.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gardens & Surrounds

    Table Mountain

    Around 600 million years old, and a canvas painted with the rich diversity of the Cape floral kingdom, Table Mountain is truly iconic. You can admire the showstopper of Table Mountain National Park and one of the 'New 7 Wonders of Nature' (https://nature.new7wonders.com) from multiple angles, but you really can’t say you’ve visited Cape Town until you’ve stood on top of it.

  • Sights in Sea Point to Hout Bay

    Table Mountain National Park

    Stretching from Signal Hill to Cape Point, this 220-sq-km park is a natural wonder, its range of environments including granite and sandstone mountains, giant-boulder-strewn beaches and shady forests. For the vast majority of visitors, the main attraction is the 1086m-high mountain itself, the top of which can easily be accessed by the cableway, which runs every 10 to 20 minutes.

  • Sights in Private Wildlife Reserves

    Sabi Sand Game Reserve

    Within the borders of the large Sabi Sand Game Reserve are some of Southern Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges and the best wildlife watching on the continent. The area is routinely selected by safari connoisseurs as their destination of choice. As there’s no fencing between the various private lodges within the greater Sabi Sand area, all share the same wealth of birds and animals, but they're all far enough apart that no-one gets in each other's way.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blyde River Canyon

    Three Rondavels Viewpoint

    The area's highlight, with a staggering view of these enormous rounds of rock, their pointed, grassy tops resembling giant huts carved into the side of the canyon. There are short walks in the surrounding area to points where you can look down to the Blydepoort Dam at the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve's far north.

  • Top ChoiceSights in North West Province

    Madikwe Game Reserve

    Madikwe is the country’s fourth-largest reserve and one of its best, covering 760 sq km of bushveld, savannah grassland and riverine forest on the edge of the Kalahari. It offers Big Five wildlife watching and dreamy lodging among striking (and malaria-free) red sand and clay-thorn bushveld. Madikwe does not allow self-drive safaris or day visitors, which means you must stay at one of its upmarket lodges to explore the reserve, but you get what you pay for at these exclusive bush hideaways.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Soutpansberg

    Mapungubwe National Park

    Stunningly stark, arid, rocky landscapes reverberate with cultural intrigue and wandering wildlife at Mapungubwe National Park. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Mapungubwe contains South Africa’s most significant Iron Age site. The birdwatching here is excellent, as is the wildlife, which includes lions, leopards and elephants. But the park is as much about history as wildlife – archaeological finds from the 1930s are on display at the excellent Interpretative Centre and the site itself can be visited on a tour.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kimberley

    Big Hole

    Although the R50 million that turned the Big Hole into a world-class tourist destination came from De Beers, touring the world’s largest hand-dug hole gives an honest impression of the mining industry’s chequered past in Kimberley. Visits start with an entertaining 20-minute film about mining conditions and characters in late-19th-century Kimberley, and a walk along the Big Hole viewing platform. The open-air steel contraption, jutting out over the 1.6km-round, 215m-deep chasm, enhances the vertigo-inducing view of the 40m-deep turquoise water.

  • Top ChoiceSights in The Elephant Coast

    iSimangaliso Wetland Park

    iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a sprawling, diverse ecosystem comprised of hundreds of kilometres of beaches, lakes, wetlands and forests to explore. The size of the park can be intimidating, but it is well worth taking the time to explore this verdant wonderland from top to bottom.

  • Top ChoiceSights in North West Province

    Pilanesberg National Park

    Occupying an eroded alkaline crater north of Sun City, in a transition zone between the Kalahari and wet lowveld vegetation, the 550-sq-km Pilanesberg National Park is a wonderfully scenic place to see a stunning variety of South African wildlife. Conceived in the late 1970s as a back-to-nature weekend escape for nearby city dwellers, Pilanesberg remains a haven where lions, buffaloes and day-trippers still roam

  • Top ChoiceSights in Green Point & ­Waterfront

    Robben Island

    Used as a prison from the early days of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) right up until 1996, this Unesco World Heritage site is preserved as a memorial to those (such as Nelson Mandela) who spent many years incarcerated here. You can only go here on a tour, which lasts around four hours including ferry rides, departing from the Nelson Mandela Gateway beside the Clock Tower at the Waterfront. Booking online well in advance is highly recommended as tours can sell out.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Paarl

    Babylonstoren

    This 2.5-sq-km wine and fruit farm is on the north slope of the Simonsberg mountain between Klapmuts and Paarl. Its highlight is an 800-sq-metre, formally designed garden; inspired by Cape Town’s Company’s Garden, it is an incredible undertaking, featuring edible and medicinal plants, lotus ponds and espaliered quince trees, chicken coops and a maze of prickly-pear cacti. Reserve a place on one of the garden tours (10am).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Simon's Town & Southern Peninsula

    Boulders Penguin Colony

    This picturesque area, with enormous boulders dividing small, sandy coves, is home to a colony of some 3000 delightful African penguins. A boardwalk runs from the Boulders Visitor Centre at the Foxy Beach end of the protected area – part of Table Mountain National Park – to Boulders Beach, where you can get down on the sand and mingle with the waddling penguins. Don’t, however, be tempted to pet them: they have sharp beaks that can cause serious injuries.

  • Sights in Garden Route East

    Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma Section)

    Cut through by dark, coffee-coloured churning rivers, deep ravines and dense forests, the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park encompasses 650 sq km between Plettenberg Bay and Humansdorp, as well a Marine Protected Area covering 80km of coastline. Elusive Cape clawless otters, after which the Otter Trail (a multiday hike) is named, inhabit this park; there are also baboons, monkeys, small antelope and furry little dassies. Birdlife is plentiful, including endangered African black oystercatchers.