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Things to do in South Africa

Things to do in  South Africa

Welcome to South Africa

One of the largest countries in Africa by area and population, South Africa entices travelers with stunning landscapes, incredible diversity, unique cuisine, and unforgettable experiences. Johannesburg is one of the main international gateways and home to the acclaimed Apartheid Museum, which is not far from Soweto township. You can visit both on guided tours, which include transportation and provide insider information from a guide. Cape Town on the western coast of the country is one of the oldest cities in South Africa. The iconic Table Mountain looms over the city, and the famous winemaking towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are in the nearby Cape Winelands. Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, sits just off the coast from Cape Town and is reachable by ferry. Durban, on the eastern coast, offers another look at South African life with its Zulu and Indian influences. Garden Route tours during the spring give visitors a chance to see a profusion of local flora in bloom, while safari tours are one of the most popular activities in South Africa, from the enormous Kruger National Park to smaller game reserves all over the country. Choose to visit on a day trip or opt for longer multi-day tours to enjoy game drives in search of Africa's "Big Five." South Africa is also a common starting point for tours that visit other nearby countries, such as Zimbabwe or Zambia to see the mighty Victoria Falls, or Botswana to explore Chobe National Park or the Okavango Delta.

Top 15 attractions in South Africa

Robben Island

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Robben Island—where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years—was a place of isolation for nearly three centuries, housing many political prisoners and serving as both an asylum and leprosy colony. Today, the island remains a tangible symbol of political freedom and a reminder of the difficult road to South African democracy.More

Soweto

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For most, Soweto (short for South West Townships) is synonymous with resistance to apartheid, South Africa’s former policy of racial segregation. The township’s complex past is visible in Soweto’s moving museums, historical monuments, and strong traditions.More

Bo-Kaap

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Lined with brightly colored houses and lively streets, Bo-Kaap is as vibrant as it is culturally rich. The historic neighborhood, set just outside central Cape Town on the flanks of Signal Hill, is a dynamic melting pot of Malaysian, India, Sri Lankan, and African culture. It was one of the first settlements of freed slaves and Muslim immigrants in South Africa.More

Cape Point

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Panoramic ocean views, towering cliffs, and 100-year-old lighthouses define Cape Point, located at the tip of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. Set within the Cape Floral Region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Table Mountain National Park, the reserve is a haven for hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography.More

Boulders Beach

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With pristine white sands and calm turquoise waters hemmed in by gigantic granite boulders, Boulders Beach is one of the Cape Peninsula’s most magnificent beaches. Located just outside Simon’s Town, the beach is protected as part of the Table Mountain National Park and renowned for its African penguin colony.More

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve

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With its huge sea cliffs, bays, and valleys, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve—situated at the very tip of the Cape Peninsula—is one of the most scenic spots in South Africa. A trip to Cape Point and the reserve, part of Table Mountain National Park, is an easy must-do when visiting Cape Town and highlights include animal sightings, scenic drives, and deserted beaches.More

Table Mountain and Cableway

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Table Mountain is a must-see for all Cape Town visitors. The panoramic views from the top of its 3,563-foot (1,086-meter) peak are well worth the climb—though you won’t have to break a sweat thanks to the mountain’s two cableways, each with a revolving car ferrying passengers to the summit. Once at the top, a series of hiking trails show off Table Mountain National Park’s geographic features, while daredevils can test their mettle by rappelling from the upper cable station.More

Chapman’s Peak Drive

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Chapman's Peak is a mountain on the Cape Peninsula with a 5.5-mile (8.8 kilometers) road, said to be one of the world’s most scenic drives. The road winds from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, clinging to the side of the steep mountain almost the whole way. Traveling this road’s 114 turns is a must-do in Cape Town.More

Voortrekker Monument

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The granite Voortrekker Monument towers 200 feet (60 meters) above Pretoria. The monument was built to honor the Great Trek—a 19th-century exodus from the then British-ruled Cape Colony to central South Africa. The monument depicts the treacherous journey in the Hall of Heroes, and an empty tomb represents the lives lost on the trek.More

Apartheid Museum

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The Apartheid Museum details the injustice, cruelty, and absurdities of white minority rule in South Africa. Apartheid, meaning “separateness” in Afrikaans, was officially in effect from 1948 to 1994, though segregation had been a cornerstone of South African politics since the country’s inception. The museum is dedicated to helping South Africa overcome its oppressive past and look toward the future.More

Table Mountain National Park

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Table Mountain's distinctive plateau is the backdrop for iconic Cape Town views, but that's just the beginning of its namesake national park. Stretching the length of the Cape Peninsula, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to hiking trails, diverse flora and fauna, and—of course—South Africa’s most famous coastal and mountain vistas.More

Kragga Kamma Game Park

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The forests and grasslands of Kragga Kamma Game Park on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth provide a place for white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, and other South African wildlife to roam freely. Get the classic safari experience as you enjoy the park’s game drives, picnic areas, restaurant, and overnight accommodations.More

Union Buildings

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The neoclassical Union Buildings house Pretoria’s government headquarters and presidential offices. Designed in 1908, the sandstone wings represent South Africa’s Afrikaners and English people—joined by a central courtyard. While the building isn’t open to the public, you can always enjoy the surrounding gardens and statues.More

Sun City

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Sun City is a resort and entertainment complex located north-west of Johannesburg. One of South Africa's top leisure destinations, the resort complex is conveniently located on the South African Garden Route and next to Pilanesberg National Park. Highlights of Sun City include a casino, spa, water park, and golf courses.More

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (V&A Waterfront)

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Originally a jetty built in 1654 to provide fresh water and produce to the sailors of the Dutch East India Company, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is now one of the most-visited attractions in South Africa. The area is a development consisting of two harbors, retail shops and museums, seascapes and mountain views, and plenty of places to bed down, drink up, and eat away.More

Trip ideas

Wildlife Safari Tours from Cape Town

Wildlife Safari Tours from Cape Town

Cape Winelands Tours from Cape Town

Cape Winelands Tours from Cape Town

How to Spend 2 Days in Cape Town

How to Spend 2 Days in Cape Town

How to Spend 1 Day in Johannesburg

How to Spend 1 Day in Johannesburg

How to Spend 3 Days in Durban

How to Spend 3 Days in Durban

Top activities in South Africa

Cape of Good Hope and Penguins Full-Day Tour From Cape Town
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Full-Day Franschhoek Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram Tour from Cape Town
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Robben Island, Table Mountain and Cape Town City Private Day Tour
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Table Mountain, Boulder's Penguins & Cape Point Private Tour from Cape Town
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Full Day Ultimate Pilanesberg National Park Safari from Johannesburg or Pretoria
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Cape of Good Hope & Penguins Small Group Tour from Cape Town
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Cape Town Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
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Cape Town Hop-on Hop-off City Tour

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African Story Wine Tours in the Cape Winelands
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Soweto Half Day Tour

Soweto Half Day Tour

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Tandem Paragliding in Cape Town

Tandem Paragliding in Cape Town

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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in South Africa

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Fascinating tour with Emmah
meir_r, Aug. 2022
Full Day Private Tour in Johannesburg and Pretoria
It was a great opportunity for us to get to know her and to see Pretoria and Johannesburg with her.
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Ray Day
Steve_E, Jul. 2022
Cape of Good Hope-Cape Point & Penguins Private Tour from Cape Town
Some of that was due to our trip being in the winter.
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An introduction to the world of south african wine
Fernando_A, Apr. 2022
Full-Day Franschhoek Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram Tour from Cape Town
It was exciting to see the places and taste the different types of wines produced in South Africa.
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Big 5 memories
Lucas_H, Sep. 2022
4 days Kruger Park Big 5 Safari and Awesome Panorama Route
His booking skills are also top notch as each camp put us in the best position to see certain animals on sunset tours and the accommodations were always comfortable and easily accessible.
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A great experience for a complimentary tour
Frederic_C, Sep. 2022
Soweto and Johannesburg Guided Day Tour
We have agreed a complimentary tour to visit The Cradle of Humankind in Maropeng as well as the Sterkfontein Caves, to which I am very appreciative.
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Most informative and genuine Soweto tour
Celia_G, Aug. 2022
Soweto Half Day Tour
If you want to see the real Soweto do this tour, you will not be disappointed.
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Floating Safari
Pamela_T, Aug. 2022
Safari Flight
Views of South African rivers, plains and rocky hillsides are certainly beautiful, but for us the slightly higher cost of the “safari” balloon ride was truly worth it for the chance to see wildlife while floating above a game preserve.
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Fantastic experience
Daniel_W, Jun. 2022
Table Mountain, Penguins & Cape Point Small Group Tour from Cape Town
Treasure has a wealth of knowledge about South Africa including all of the different sights and about the country’s history and attractions.
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Insightful , fun day In soweto
Natalie_S, May 2022
Soweto Half Day Tour
Although it was quite sad to see some of the conditions of the people of South africa , thabang made the tour very lighthearted and we still had lots of fun.
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Friendly and enjoyable tour - recommended!
Andrew_Z, May 2022
Cape of Good Hope & Penguins Small Group Tour from Cape Town
We got to see Table Mountain, Bo Kaap (the colourful houses), camps bay, Boulders beach (penguins), Cape point, and Cape of Good hope all in one day.
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Story tour welcomes returning US visitors
Darrel_S, Apr. 2022
African Story Wine Tours in the Cape Winelands
Bruce picked an incredibly diverse set of wineries to visit.
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Amazing experience. Can't wait to go back!
Derick_M, Apr. 2022
Pilanesberg Game Reserve 6 Hour Sunrise Safari from Johannesburg or Pretoria
We were lucky enough to see rhino, elephant, giraffe, jackyl, hippo, springbok, wildebeest, zebra, impala, baboon, a ton of birds, and more.
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Great experience, very friendly guide
Amy_F, Mar. 2022
Cape of Good Hope & Penguins Small Group Tour from Cape Town
We got to see plenty of what Cape Town and South Africa have to offer - would highly recommend!
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Extremely fun and knowledgeable guide
Devin_G, Mar. 2022
Half day African Penguin Tour
Great guide Views of South Africa on the way to see the penguins!
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Awesome.
NEWTON_D, Jul. 2019
Soweto & Johannesburg Half Day Tour
It was important for us to visit Soweto, and what an amazing time it was!!
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Definitely do this. This tour is...
Mell O, Apr. 2017
5 Day Best of Garden Route and Addo: South African Safari Small Group Tour
This tour is jam packed with lots of various activities!
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Fantastic tour, Titus was our guide...
Ryan_P, Jun. 2016
Cape Town Township Tour including Robben Island - Walk to Freedom Tour
It was an eye opener to see the contrast between the rich and the poor of the townships in modern day, South Africa.
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A brilliant way to see the big 5...
Stephen W, Sep. 2016
African Big- 5 Safari Full Day Guided Private Transfer At Aquila From Cape Town
A brilliant way to see the big 5!
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This tour was awesome. The guide...
Patricia L, Mar. 2016
Cape Town Super Saver: Cape Point Highlights Tour plus Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch
I enjoyed being able to see South Africa without the stress of having to figure anything out!
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Great group to travel with and a...
Joseph R, Dec. 2015
6-Day Garden Route & Addo South African Adventure from Cape Town
Sometimes I prefer chilling out a bit more but this is a whiz bang tour to see and do as much in 6 days as possible.
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All about South Africa

When to visit

The high season in South Africa runs from December through early March—the summer season in this part of the world—and it’s an ideal time to visit if you’re trying to take a break from a cold Northern Hemisphere winter. However, if you want to go on a safari, it’s better to come between June and October, when the weather is dryer and your chances of seeing animals in the wild are much higher.

Getting around

South Africa has a well-developed road network and an excellent rail system. If you want the freedom to make lots of stops along the way, renting a car is a good way to go, though many prefer the speed of flying or the comfort of taking a train. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of long-distance bus options.

Traveler tips

While many visitors come to South Africa to see penguins and ostriches or go on safaris, there are plenty of other great ways to get out in nature. If you like flowers, head over to Namaqualand on the border of Namibia. Namaqualand National Park is best known for its wildflowers and succulents, many of which are endemic to the region.

Currency
South African Rand (ZAR)
Time Zone
SAST (UTC +2)
Country Code
+27
Language(s)
Afrikaans
Frequently Asked Questions
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