South Africa is diverse and beautiful country, about the size of France and Spain combined or roughly twice the size of Texas. Its varied cultures, intriguing wildlife, stunning scenery, and remarkable beaches make it a haven for travelers from around the world. Visitors quickly discover that the rich history and colorful inhabitants ideally complement the top tourist attractions in South Africa, which creates an unforgettable experience.
Known regionally as Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure, Sun City Resort is a luxury casino and resort, situated about two hours’ drive from Johannesburg. The complex contains four hotels, two championship golf courses, two casinos, an atmospheric South African cultural village and more than 7000 crocodiles within a sanctuary. The adjacent Pilanesberg Game Reserve is the most popular public Game Reserve in South Africa.
As the only park under a formal conservation effort in KwaZulu Natal where you can see the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceros – the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve offers visitors wildlife viewing opportunities second to none. Wildlife enthusiasts may enjoy the vast expanses of native plants and native animals during guided walks, self-guided drives, or opt for a thrilling viewing experience by boat along the Hluhluwe dam.
Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, although it is much greener due to its lush subtropical foliage. Walking treks through the rich diversity of flora and fauna filled canyon offer views of magnificent escarpments, waterfalls and ancient geological phenomenon. Visitors have the opportunity to encounter all five of South Africa’s primates here, as well as hippos and crocodiles near the wetlands of Swadini Dam.
The fertile valleys of the Cape Winelands are surrounded by majestic mountains, sleepy villages, brilliant monuments, fruitful orchards and some of the lushest scenery in South Africa. Visitors can follow the Wine Routes of the Cape to visit the vineyards of the country’s finest winemakers, whose sherries, ports, brandies and intriguing whites and reds are world famous for their delicate flavors and savory palatability.
Read more: Cape Winelands Guide
As one of Cape Town’s largest tourist attractions and most visited destinations, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront invokes images of the earliest days of the harbor. Situated within an entertainment mecca filled with restaurants, specialty shops, pubs, and theaters, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Beyond amusements, there are also some attractions including the infamous Clock Tower, Chavonnes Battery, the South African Maritime Museum and the coastal Seal Landing where Cape Fur Seals reside.
The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions and is generally thought to stretch from Mossel Bay to St Francis along the Indian ocean and also includes parts of the inland. A trove of indigenous canopied forests, mountains, rivers, tranquil lakes and golden beaches grace this extensive South Africa region.
One of the Garden Route’s best known travel destinations, Knysna is situated between lush forests and the shores of a peaceful lagoon. Extensive opportunities for outdoor adventure are easily accessible in Knysna, as well as plenty of leisurely strolling paths filled with authentic dining and shopping venues. Visiting the heads – two cliffs guarding the mouth of the lagoon – is a must, and each one offers spectacular views of the adjacent colorful cliffs and the brilliant lagoon where seasonal whale watching is top-notch.
Often compared to Miami Beach, Durban’s beaches provide a vibrant atmosphere that pulses with energy. Boasting balmy weather year round and sporting a genuine beach culture, Durban beaches are lively areas that are remarkably clean and safe, and many of the beaches offer varietal entertainments throughout the day. Also known as the Golden Mile, there are expansive stretches of soft, golden sands and subtropical sunshine along Durban’s South and North Coast beaches.
Read more: Durban Guide
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to 3,482 meters (11,420 ft) in height. The name is derived from the dutch and means “dragons mountain”. The Amphitheatre is one of the geographical features of the Northern Drakensberg, and is widely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth.
Situated within a national park, reaching the pinnacle of the Table Mountain is an thrilling experience that offers phenomenal, birds-eye views overlooking the city of Cape Town, Robben Island to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south. Peaking at 1,086 meters (3,563 ft), reaching the top is simple via an ingenuous cableway, and each Rotair car features revolving floors allowing passengers to enjoy 360-degree views during the trek to the top.
Read more: Table Mountain Guide
The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve on the continent and one the main tourist attractions in South Africa. The park boasts more species of mammals than any other African game reserve which includes the Big Five, cheetahs, giraffes and more. Unlike most other safari parks, Kruger is a self-drive destination with an excellent infrastructure and many places to stay inside the park, from tented camps to luxury lodges.
Read more: Kruger National Park Guide
More South Africa tourist attractions can be found in the Explore South Africa page.