South Africa is one of the most prominent travel destinations in the world. It is often described as "the bride of the dark continent, the cradle of humankind, a country rich in its vibrant and proud culture". South Africa offers a diverse and captivating experience for travelers who want to explore its natural beauty, wildlife, history, arts, and culture. In this article, we will highlight some of the reasons why you should visit South Africa and what you can expect from this amazing country.

 The Main Cities

South Africa has many cities that are worth visiting for their unique attractions and atmosphere. Some of the most popular ones are:

  •  Cape Town: The legislative capital of South Africa and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Cape Town is famous for its stunning views of the Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town also has a rich cultural heritage, with influences from the Dutch, British, Malay, and African communities. You can enjoy the city's museums, art galleries, markets, restaurants, and nightlife, or take a trip to the nearby winelands, beaches, or national parks.
  •  Johannesburg: The largest and most populous city in South Africa and the economic hub of the country. Johannesburg is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that reflects the diversity and dynamism of South Africa. You can visit the historical sites related to the apartheid era, such as the Apartheid Museum, the Constitution Hill, and the Mandela House. You can also explore the modern and trendy neighborhoods, such as Sandton, Rosebank, and Maboneng, where you can find shopping malls, art studios, restaurants, and bars.
  •  Pretoria: The administrative capital of South Africa and the seat of the government. Pretoria is a city of contrasts, where you can find elegant colonial buildings, such as the Union Buildings and the Voortrekker Monument, alongside modern skyscrapers and shopping centers. Pretoria is also known for its gardens and parks, especially during the spring when the jacaranda trees bloom and create a purple carpet across the city.
  •  Durban: The third-largest city in South Africa and the main port on the Indian Ocean. Durban is a city of sunshine, beaches, and surf, with a warm and humid climate all year round. Durban is also a city of culture, with a strong Indian influence, as well as Zulu, British, and Portuguese. You can enjoy the spicy cuisine, the colorful markets, the mosques and temples, and the festivals and events that celebrate the diversity of the city.
  •  Port Elizabeth: The fifth-largest city in South Africa and the gateway to the Eastern Cape province. Port Elizabeth is a friendly and relaxed city that offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors. You can enjoy the sandy beaches, the scenic coastal drives, the wildlife reserves, and the historical and cultural landmarks. Port Elizabeth is also a popular destination for water sports, such as sailing, surfing, diving, and fishing.

 The Nature and Wildlife

South Africa is a country of incredible natural diversity, from the majestic mountains to the vast plains, from the lush forests to the arid deserts, from the tropical coasts to the temperate highlands. South Africa is home to a rich and varied flora and fauna, with many endemic and endangered species. Some of the natural wonders that you can experience in South Africa are:

  •  The Table Mountain National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers the Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula. The park offers spectacular views of the city, the ocean, and the surrounding landscapes. You can hike, bike, or take a cable car to the top of the mountain, where you can see the famous flat-topped formation and the diverse vegetation. You can also visit the Cape Point, where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet, and see the lighthouses, the cliffs, and the wildlife, such as baboons, antelopes, and penguins.
  •  The Kruger National Park: The largest and most famous wildlife reserve in South Africa and one of the best places to see the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo). The park covers almost 20,000 square kilometers of diverse habitats, from savanna to woodland, from riverine to mountainous. You can explore the park by car, by guided safari, or by walking trails, and see hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants. You can also stay in one of the many lodges, camps, or private concessions that offer comfortable and luxurious accommodation and services.
  •  The Garden Route: A scenic route that stretches along the south-eastern coast of South Africa, from Mossel Bay to Storms River. The route passes through some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the country, such as lakes, lagoons, forests, mountains, and beaches. You can stop at the charming towns and villages along the way, such as Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and George, and enjoy the activities and attractions that they offer, such as golf, whale watching, canopy tours, and bungee jumping. You can also visit the Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can see the ancient forests, the dramatic gorges, and the marine life.

 The Cultural Heritage

South Africa is a country of rich and diverse cultural heritage, with a history that spans from the ancient times to the modern era, and with influences from various ethnic, racial, and religious groups. South Africa's culture is reflected in its monuments, arts, music, and cuisine, which showcase the creativity and resilience of its people. Some of the aspects of South Africa's cultural heritage that you can explore are:

  • The Robben Island: A UNESCO World Heritage Site that was used as a prison for political prisoners during the apartheid regime. The island is a symbol of the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa, as it was the place where many prominent leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Ahmed Kathrada, were incarcerated and tortured. You can visit the island by ferry and take a guided tour of the prison, the museum, and the memorial sites, and learn about the history and the stories of the inmates and the wardens.
  • The Cradle of Humankind: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers an area of about 50,000 hectares in the Gauteng province. The site is considered to be the birthplace of humanity, as it contains some of the oldest and most important fossils of hominids, the ancestors of modern humans. You can visit the Maropeng Visitor Centre, where you can see the exhibits and the interactive displays that explain the evolution of humankind and the significance of the site. You can also visit the Sterkfontein Caves, where you can see the excavation sites and the fossils of some of the most famous specimens, such as Mrs. Ples and Little Foot.
  • The Cape Malay Quarter: A historic and colorful neighborhood in Cape Town, also known as Bo-Kaap, where the Cape Malay community lives. The Cape Malays are descendants of slaves and exiles from Southeast Asia, who were brought to South Africa by the Dutch colonizers in the 17th and 18th centuries. They have preserved their culture and identity, which is evident in their architecture, clothing, language, religion, and cuisine. You can walk along the cobblestone streets and see the brightly painted houses, the mosques, and the museums. You can also taste the delicious Cape Malay dishes, such as bobotie, breyani, and koeksisters.


South Africa is a great place to shop for souvenirs, gifts, and local products. You can find a variety of items, such as handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, art, wine, and spices, that reflect the culture and the diversity of the country. You can shop at the malls, markets, boutiques, and galleries, where you can find both local and international brands and products. Some of the best places to shop in South Africa are:

  • The V&A Waterfront: A popular shopping and entertainment complex in Cape Town, located on the waterfront of the Table Bay. The complex has over 450 stores, ranging from fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, to electronics, books, and toys. You can also find many restaurants, bars, cinemas, and attractions, such as the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Cape Wheel, and the Robben Island Museum. The complex also offers a stunning view of the Table Mountain and the harbor, and hosts many events and festivals throughout the year.
  •  The Rosebank Mall: A modern and stylish shopping mall in Johannesburg, located in the trendy suburb of Rosebank. The mall has over 150 stores, offering a mix of local and international brands and products. You can also find many eateries, cafes, and cinemas, as well as a rooftop market, where you can buy handicrafts, antiques, and curios. The mall is also close to other attractions, such as the Rosebank Art and Craft Market, the African Craft Market, and the Goodman Gallery.
  • The Gateway Theatre of Shopping: The largest shopping mall in Africa, located in Durban, in the Umhlanga Ridge area. The mall has over 400 stores, offering a wide range of products and services. You can also find many entertainment options, such as cinemas, arcades, bowling, laser tag, and a wave pool. The mall also has a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars, where you can enjoy the local and international cuisine.
  • The Greenmarket Square: A historic and lively market in Cape Town, located in the heart of the city. The market dates back to the 18th century, when it was used as a slave market, a vegetable market, and a parking lot. Today, the market is a popular spot for tourists and locals, who come to buy and sell handicrafts, art, clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs. You can also enjoy the street performers, the musicians, and the atmosphere of the market.
  •  The Nelson Mandela Square: A prestigious and elegant shopping center in Johannesburg, located in the Sandton area. The center has over 200 stores, offering high-end and luxury brands and products. You can also find many fine dining restaurants, bistros, and cafes, where you can savor the exquisite food and wine. The center also features a six-meter bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, the iconic leader and former president of South Africa, who stands as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

 The Hotels

South Africa has a wide range of hotels to suit every taste and budget. You can find hotels that offer comfort, convenience, and quality service, as well as hotels that offer luxury, elegance, and exclusivity. You can choose from hotels that are located in the city centers, near the main attractions and amenities, or hotels that are located in the countryside, near the natural wonders and wildlife. You can also find hotels that have a unique character and charm, such as historic hotels, boutique hotels, and eco-friendly hotels. Some of the best hotels in South Africa are:

  •  The Oyster Box: A five-star hotel in Umhlanga, near Durban, that overlooks the Indian Ocean and the iconic lighthouse. The hotel has a colonial style and a refined atmosphere, with spacious rooms, suites, and villas, that are decorated with antiques, artworks, and fabrics. The hotel also has a spa, a fitness center, a cinema, and several restaurants and bars, where you can enjoy the delicious cuisine and the panoramic views.
  •  The Silo Hotel: A five-star hotel in Cape Town, that is located in a former grain silo, next to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The hotel has a modern and eclectic design, with colorful rooms and suites, that have floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, that offer stunning views of the city, the harbor, and the Table Mountain. The hotel also has a rooftop pool, a spa, a gym, and a restaurant, where you can savor the contemporary food and the cocktails.
  •  The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa: A five-star hotel in Johannesburg, that is situated in a tranquil and lush garden, in the Sandhurst suburb. The hotel has a sophisticated and elegant style, with spacious rooms, suites, and villas, that are furnished with African art, fabrics, and furniture. The hotel also has a spa, a fitness center, a library, and several restaurants and lounges, where you can indulge in the gourmet food and the wine.

 The Main Tourist Attractions

South Africa has many tourist attractions that showcase its history, culture, and natural beauty. Some of the most popular ones are:

  •  The Cape Winelands: A region in the Western Cape province that is famous for its wine production and its scenic . The region has over 200 wine estates, where you can taste the award-winning wines, learn about the wine-making process, and enjoy the views of the vineyards, the mountains, and the valleys. You can also visit the charming towns and villages in the region,landscapes such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl, and see the architecture, the museums, and the art galleries.
  •  The Blyde River Canyon: The third-largest canyon in the world and the largest green canyon in the world, located in the Mpumalanga province. The canyon is a natural wonder, with spectacular rock formations, waterfalls, rivers, and forests. You can admire the views of the canyon from various viewpoints, such as the Three Rondavels, the God's Window, and the Bourke's Luck Potholes. You can also explore the canyon by hiking, biking, rafting, or flying.
  •  The Soweto Township: The largest and most famous township in South Africa, located in the south-west of Johannesburg. The township is a place of contrast, where you can see the poverty and the hardship, as well as the vibrancy and the hope, of the people who live there. The township is also a place of history, where you can see the sites related to the anti-apartheid movement, such as the Hector Pieterson Museum, the Regina Mundi Church, and the Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived.

 The Unique Tourist Experiences

South Africa offers many unique tourist experiences that you can not find anywhere else in the world. Some of the most exciting and memorable ones are:

  •  Diving with sharks: South Africa is one of the best places to see and interact with sharks, especially the great white shark, the most feared and admired predator of the ocean. You can join a shark cage diving tour, where you can get close to the sharks in a safe and controlled environment. You can also dive with other species of sharks, such as tiger, bull, and hammerhead sharks, in various locations, such as Aliwal Shoal, Protea Banks, and Sodwana Bay.
  • Surfing: South Africa is a paradise for surfers, with some of the best waves and beaches in the world. You can surf in different spots along the coast, such as Jeffreys Bay, Muizenberg, Durban, and Cape Town, where you can find waves for all levels of surfers, from beginners to experts. You can also enjoy the surf culture, the festivals, and the competitions that take place in South Africa, such as the J-Bay Open, the Cape Town Pro, and the Ballito Pro.
  •  Safari: South Africa is a dream destination for wildlife lovers, with some of the most diverse and abundant wildlife in the world. You can go on a safari in one of the many national parks and private reserves, where you can see the Big Five and many other animals, such as giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, and hippos. You can also experience the safari in different ways, such as by car, by foot, by boat, or by hot air balloon.
  • Visiting cultural villages: South Africa is a country of many cultures, with 11 official languages and various ethnic groups. You can visit some of the cultural villages, where you can learn about the traditions, the customs, and the lifestyles of the different communities, such as the Zulu, the Xhosa, the Ndebele, and the Basotho. You can also enjoy the music, the dance, the food, and the crafts that they offer.

 The Tips and Guidelines

South Africa is a wonderful and welcoming country, but it also has some challenges and risks that you should be aware of and prepared for. Here are some tips and guidelines that can help you have a safe and enjoyable trip to South Africa:

  •  Visa and passport: Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa to enter South Africa. You can check the visa requirements and the application process on the official website of the South African Department of Home Affairs. You also need a valid passport that has at least two blank pages and that expires at least six months after your date of departure from South Africa.
  •  Health and safety: South Africa has some health and safety issues that you should take into consideration, such as crime, diseases, and natural disasters. You should always be vigilant and cautious, especially in the big cities, where you should avoid walking alone at night, carrying valuables, and using public transport. You should also get the necessary vaccinations and medications, such as for malaria, yellow fever, and hepatitis. You should also check the weather and the road conditions before you travel, and follow the advice and the warnings of the local authorities.
  •  Money and budget: The currency of South Africa is the rand (ZAR), which you can exchange at the airports, the banks, or the bureaux de change. You can also use your credit or debit card at most places, but you should inform your bank before you travel and check the fees and the exchange rates. You should also have some cash for emergencies and for tipping, which is customary in South Africa. The cost of living in South Africa is relatively low compared to other countries, but it depends on your travel style and preferences. You can find accommodation, food, and transport for all budgets, from backpackers to luxury travelers.

  • Culture and etiquette: South Africa is a diverse and multicultural country, where you can encounter different people, languages, and religions. You should respect and appreciate the diversity and the uniqueness of the country, and try to learn some basic words and phrases in the local languages, such as hello, thank you, and please. You should also be polite and friendly, and greet people with a smile and a handshake. You should also be aware of some cultural differences and sensitivities, such as the history of apartheid, the racial issues, and the political opinions, and avoid making assumptions or judgments.


South Africa is a country that has something for everyone, whether you are looking for adventure, culture, nature, or relaxation. South Africa is a country that will surprise you, inspire you, and make you fall in love with it. South Africa is a country that you should visit at least once in your lifetime, and that you will never forget. South Africa is the sparkling gem in the crown of African tourism.