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6 Best Places to Visit in South Africa

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Cheetah in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Cheetah in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, South Africa

South Africa brims with diversity and dynamic experiences across the six best destinations that can range from “Big Five” safaris to cities and centers that teem with wonder.

Embark on wildlife adventures that include game drives and nature walks complimented by breathtaking scenery, take in spectacular coastal drives and white, sandy beaches, magnificent wine country and vibrant village squares.

Gather unforgettable memories with an insight into these captivating destinations across South Africa.

Overview

  1. 1. The Greater Kruger Regions, Mpumalanga
  2. 2. Cape Town
  3. 3. Cape Winelands
  4. 4. The Whale Coast & Garden Route
  5. 5. Zululand
  6. 6. The Panorama Route
  7. Explore the Best Places to Visit in South Africa

1. The Greater Kruger Regions, Mpumalanga

Lioness and her cub in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Lioness and her cub in Kruger National Park, South Africa

It is no secret that one of the main reasons for visiting South Africa is to embark on a safari and the Greater Kruger Region in Mpumalanga delivers on every level.

Home to the “Big Five” and an abundance of other wildlife thriving amidst natural beauty, Kruger and its popular surrounding private game reserves of Sabi Sands and Timbavati invite guests to experience the thrill of the bush, the vast open spaces, and the bliss the quiet environment brings.

Safaris start early and end within hours of the African sun setting, as you embark on closed- or open-vehicle game drives. Lap up the luxury of your safari accommodations, often described as “art galleries of the bush” and each with its own unique appeal, and bask in the excitement of simply being on safari in one of the country’s key provinces.

Highlights: Kruger National Park • Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve • Timbavati Private Game Reserve • Klaserie Game Reserve • Thornybush Game Reserve

Recommended Length of Stay: 4-5 days are recommended to fully experience the abundance and variety that each game park and reserve has to offer. At least 4-5 days will give you the chance to combine open savannas with thick bush for the ultimate safari experience.

Best Time to Visit: May to September is the ideal time for a safari in South Africa. April and October are also worth considering, as the grass is low and the nights cool, but the days are mild and game viewing is at its optimum.

2. Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Discover a cosmopolitan city dramatically located at the tip of Southern Africa, offering urban chic against a backdrop of mountain splendor.

Promenades and picturesque parks border the glistening Atlantic Ocean, with sidewalk cafes spread out along a breathtaking shoreline and through colorful neighborhoods. Vineyards at the edge of the city center invite you to sip well-known Western Cape province varietals, while one of the most incredible botanical gardens, Kirstenbosch, allows you to stop and catch your breath.

Travel around famous Table Mountain and along a unique winding coastal road that leads to the very edge of the African continent, with each new experience demonstrating the remarkable connection between opulence, beauty, history, and culture.

Highlights: Table Mountain • V&A Waterfront • Boulders Beach • Cape Point • Robben Island • Green Point Park • Kirstenbosch Gardens • Camps Bay Beach • Sea Point Promenade • Groot Constantia Wine Farm • Chapman’s Peak

Recommended Length of Stay: 3-5 days is the average stay in Cape Town and surrounds, although you could easily spend up to a week by using the city as a base to explore other regions of the Western Cape.

Best Time to Visit: Cape Town is a year-round destination. Enjoy long summer days with stunning beaches between November and March or quieter restaurants and wineries in the winter months of July and August. This time sees fewer visitors due to the rainfall that occurs in the province.

3. Cape Winelands

Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch, South Africa

From intimate boutique wineries that offer private tastings in charming cellars or picturesque outdoor settings to larger, experience-oriented wine farms, the Winelands of the Western Cape offer a wondrous adventure inside the bottle and out.

Tantalize your taste buds with food and wine pairings in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.

Feel the romance and relaxed ambiance as you step through the rich history of wine-producing regions that lie among bold mountain ranges and frame quaint historic towns.

Highlights: Stellenbosch • Franschhoek • Paarl • Wellington • Robertson • Elgin

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days will provide time to taste, tour, and take time out in this beautiful region of South Africa.

Best Time to Visit: The Cape Winelands is a year-round destination. In the warmer months, you could be sipping your favorite chardonnay on a patio facing a mural of natural beauty, while in winter a crackling fire will keep you company as you try South Africa’s signature Pinotage.

4. The Whale Coast & Garden Route

Cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa

Cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa

Just under 200 miles of scenic wonder, the Garden Route runs along the east coast of South Africa.

From the quaint town of Hermanus, famous for whale watching, to the adventure-rich Tsitsikamma Forest that boasts treetop canopy experiences, the route demonstrates the majesty of South Africa’s coastline, dotted with towns and vacation escapes.

With beautiful beaches, water-filled activities, and delicious culinary discoveries, you can capture the spirit of the region and marvels of the Rainbow Nation as rivers and waterfronts give way to wildlife havens for elephants, monkeys, and outstanding birdlife.

Add a visit to this South African must-see to your safari, or stay in Cape Town to catch a glimpse of the sheer beauty the country has to offer.

Highlights: Hermanus • Wilderness • Sedgefield • Knysna • Plettenberg Bay • Tsitsikamma Forest

Recommended Length of Stay: 5–6 days are great for exploring the Garden Route and including the Whale Coast in your discovery. Those looking for a simple beach escape will only need a few days, while those wanting to leap into more adventurous experiences can spend nearly a week discovering what’s on offer.

Best Time to Visit: Soak up the sun in the summer months, with some rainfall between November and December, or take a hike and travel between treetops in fall from March to May.

5. Zululand

Rhino grazing in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, South Africa

The wonderful kingdom of Zululand has a vast amount of scenery dedicated to the preservation of wildlife, a coastline that stretches for miles along the warm Indian Ocean, and rich cultural history.

Visit the country’s oldest game reserve, a national park offering sightings of the “Big Five”, and explore incredible dive sites, coastal forests, and UNESCO World Heritage wetlands.

Combining a stay in the bush with a nearby coastal town is perfect for exploration, as you discover the spirit of a region that embodies the majesty for which safari, cultural heritage, and pristine beaches are celebrated.

Highlights: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi • Isimangaliso Wetland Park • Thonga Beach • Sodwana Bay • St Lucia

Recommended Length of Stay: 5-6 days is an ideal amount of time to explore the northeast coast of South Africa, offering a mix of safari, culture, and coastal charm unlike anywhere else in the country.

Best Time to Visit: May to September is the best time to visit Zululand. While the Indian Ocean remains mild year-round, safaris are brilliant in the winter months of June and July, providing the perfect chance to combine experiences.

6. The Panorama Route

Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

The Mpumalanga Province is full of surprises, boasting some of the most dramatic scenery and sites in the country. The picturesque Panorama Route unveils beauty in a variety of shapes and sizes, with adventure and aesthetics at every stop.

Take a short walk to the edge of one of the largest canyons in the world, with a hike around the circumference of this glistening gem unveiling unique rock formations that seem to jump out in front of you. Take a few steps up towards heaven and gaze out over an endless vista, marveling at naturally-formed potholes that boggle the mind as you cross bridges suspended high above.

Whether you choose to drive the route, with short walks to viewpoints, or take to the many walking trails in the area, swing across a forested gorge, or take in 360-degree views of mountains and bushveld from a hot-air balloon, the Panorama Route delivers adventure and beauty to all who visit.

Highlights: Blyde River Canyon • God’s Window • Bourke’s Luck Potholes • Three Rondavels Rock Formations • Lisbon Waterfalls • Graskop Town

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days in nearby Hazyview or Sabi will give you enough time to explore this magical region.

Best Time to Visit: The route is marvelous at any time of year, but the clear, cool, and dry fall days of late April and May provide a fantastic time for exploring. The fresh spring month of September is also a great time to discover the region.

Explore the Best Places to Visit in South Africa

Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast Region, Eastern Cape, South in Africa

Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast Region, South Africa

South Africa combines wildlife and wilderness with culture and beauty to create evocative landscapes that have inspired tradition.

Rich in history and brimming with forward-thinking that’s demonstrated in luxury escapes, South Africa offers romance, adventure, relaxation, and culture across the country. Whether looking for the perfect safari getaway or eager to participate in a moving view of rugged coastline, the wilderness comes alive with wonder and urban life shares exciting new perspectives.

Our South Africa Travel Guide has helpful tips and information for planning your perfect experience.

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