As one of the continent’s most popular nations to visit, South Africa is rich in cultural, historical, and natural attractions. A majestic land with many fascinating places to see, South Africa captivates travelers and vacationers alike. The following top ten places are must-see South African destinations.
Not only is Cape Town South Africa’s most popular destination, it is also considered the continent’s most popular tourist destination. The historic city, nicknamed the Mother City, boasts many revered attractions such as Table Mountain National Park, the Cape Floristic Region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), famous beaches, and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
Caves of Gauteng Province
Dubbed as the Cradle of Humankind, this area is an archaeological treasure trove. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the caves contained some of the oldest hominid fossils ever discovered; some date back 3.5 million years ago. The famed Sterkfontein Caves contained more than one third of the early hominid fossils ever discovered, including the world-famous Australopithecus
africanus. The recently built Maropeng Visitors Center is the ideal place to begin an exploration of the area.
Kruger National Park
One of Africa’s largest game reserves, this world-famous park is situated on 7,523 square miles. Occupying a north-east section of the country, Kruger National Park is home to lions, elephants, African wild dogs, leopards, giraffes, African buffalo, and many more large and small fauna as well as a large variety of flora. The park is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Durban’s Golden Mile
The city of Durban offers many attractions, but its Golden Mile, a stretch of beaches, is world-renowned for its golden sands, surfing scene, nightlife, and restaurants. Popular among vacationers, the beaches of the Golden Mile boast warm waters that are protected by shark nets and lifeguards.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this famous park includes many natural attractions such as the St. Lucia Game Reserve, St. Lucia Marine Reserve, False Bay Park, Sodwana Bay National Park, and Lake Etrza Nature Reserve. With its diverse biodiversity, the entire region is treasured for its beauty. Hippos, Nile crocodiles, and black rhinos are among the fauna that make their home in the park.
Museums of Johannesburg
The city of Johannesburg has many attractions, but its various museums are among the city’s most culturally rich venues. When visiting Johannesburg, be sure to check out the Mandela Museum, the Hector Pieterson Museum, the Apartheid Museum, and the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Kimberley and the Big Hole
Boasted to be the largest hole ever excavated by hand, the Big Hole, also known as the Kimberley Mine, has been associated with diamonds for the last 150 years. Digging began in 1871 and lasted in earnest until 1914; over this span of the time, the mine produced more than six thousand pounds of diamonds. Today, Kimberley’s historic mine is a major tourist attraction that features buildings and relics from the mine’s heyday as well as shopping venues that cater to every taste.
Nicknamed the Jacaranda City, Pretoria is famous for its purple-blossomed trees as well as its museums and botanical garden. As the administrative capital of the country, Pretoria features many historic buildings and monuments. Be sure to check out such favorite venues as the Transvaal Museum, the Pretoria National Botanic Gardens, and the city’s zoo. Cultural attractions such as ballets, operas, and musical performances are also part of the city’s appeal.
The nation’s winelands, located to the east of Cape Town, attract many visitors with their promise of enchanting vistas and wine-tasting events. Touring the vineyards and wineries is a favorite pastime among visitors to this part of South Africa. The tours often include popular examples of seventeenth-century Dutch architecture, too.
A symbol of the fight for civil rights, Robben Island is famous as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The island had historically been used as a prison since the middle of the seventeenth century. Due to the volatile nature of its surrounding sea, it has also been the site of many shipwrecks. Today, Robben Island is a World Heritage Site and travelers come from far and wide to visit its museum and see the place where Nobel Laureate and South African President served much of his sentence for anti-apartheid activities.