Welcome to South Africa - one of the most culturally and environmentally diverse countries in the world, not to mention friendly too. We’re a proud country, with a rich heritage; and home to one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders - Table Mountain. But that’s not all we have to offer. Each province is unique, and visitors can expect to find something different in each one; from our blue flag beaches, mountainous regions, dry savannahs, and national parks - you’ll find a place that speaks to you.
Things to do
South Africa is known for many things, but it’s mountain ranges are one of the most spectacular. For those of you heading to Cape Town a trip up Table Mountain is a must. If you’re a hiker, it would be worth your while to go up it’s many paths and come down via Cable Car. For those less inclined to climb, the cable car goes both up and down, giving you spectacular 360 degree views of the Mother City. And Table Mountain is merely the start; the majestic Drakensberg and Magaliesberg mountain ranges are something to behold.
While our gorgeous scenery will enrapture you, our wildlife will enthrall you. Voted the world’s number one safari destination, South Africa is the place for awesome wildlife sightings. The Kruger National Park is by far the most popular destination, and promises frequent Big 5 sightings. For those wanting to avoid large crowds, the private game reserves which surround the Kruger are ideal. To truly escape into the wilderness, and away from people, then Sawbona in the Western Cape or Hluhluwe in KZN should be on your list. Both are award winning safari destinations, that offer Big 5 sighting, spectacular natural wonders, and close encounters with South Africa’s wildlife.
If you’re more of water-baby than a land-lover then South Africa’s multitude of coastal towns should keep you happy and busy. The sub-tropical climate of the east-coast and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean makes Durban, Margate, Ballito, and Jeffreys Bay, to mention just a few, ideal places to stay if you’re in search of an island-feel to your holiday. Surfing and bodyboarding are by far the most popular activities along the coast, and for those with experience, you’ll get to enjoy the thrill of surfing two of the best surf spots in the world with two international surf competitions held in Durban and Jeffreys Bay respectively. For those just starting out, there are plenty of places to take fun-filled lessons. Other popular activities include swimming, snorkelling and swimming - regardless of the time of year. For those intune with waterlife Hermanus is a must visit is the month of September, where the Southern Right Whales come to birth.
While the water is colder along the west-coast, the untouched beaches, wild natural surrounds and high-thrill adventure activities make it a truly unique african adventure. The coastal towns of Paternoster, Elands Bay, Langebaan, and Arniston are among favourites of the locals and offer activities such as surfing, kitesurfing, diving, and even shark cage diving!
Where to eat
Each province in South Africa offers truly unique local fare, which reflects both the culture of the people and the place, as well as South Africa as a whole.
If you’re visiting the Mother City (Cape Town) the Mzolis is the place to go! Here you’ll tuck into traditional braai meat, pap and local beer, while enjoying a vibey party atmosphere with the locals.
Get stuck into traditional Cape Malay dishes at Joburg’s District Six Eatery. The historically named restaurant offers a selection of dishes that will open your eyes to a whole new culture, while tantalizing your taste buds.
Dining in Bloem you’ll find a blend of BaSotho and traditional Afrikaans food blending together to bring you a truly unique gastronomic blend of the Free State. De Oude Kraal Country Estate, serves up hearty traditional dishes, that have been refined to set even the most delicate taste buds a-watering.
The Jock Pub and Grill is the place to go if you want a true local experience. Named after beloved South African legend, Jock of the bushveld, the restaurant serves food that has itself become legendary in the Mpumalanga city.
For a respite from the Northern Cape heat, slide into a stylish table at the Lemon Tree in Kimberley. The cool, relaxing ambiance, modern interior, and good old fashioned fare make the restaurant a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.
Tuck into truly South African seafood dishes, all fresh from the day’s catch at Barnacles restaurant in Port Elizabeth. Fresh Kingklip, Hake, oysters and mussels are all on the menu, along with a fine selection of shellfish. And the best part, other than the food of course, the stunning ocean views.
Get hot and bothered with delightfully (and sometimes painfully) spicy food in Durban. The city which has the largest Indian population outside of India, is famed for it curry dishes and restaurants. For truly tantalizingly hot plate pop into local favourite House of Curries.
If you’re keen for lunch with the lions, then make Pilanesberg Centre, in the North-West’s Pilanesberg National Park. Situated in the very middle of the park, this historic building provides gorgeous views of the surrounds, enjoys visits from the locals, oh, and serves the best boerie roll in the country!
Craft beer tasting, delish freshly-made dishes and a friendly vibe make Dewside Restaurant and Brewery one of the most well known, and highly recommended spots to go for lunch or dinner in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo. All their craft beers are locally made, and capture the very flavour of South Africa, while their menu offers a variety of South African favourites to tuck into.
Where to stay
South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, lifestyles and habitats. Our four most popular cities offer their own experience as well as act as gateways to the rest of the magic this country has to offer.
Those in search of the hip city-life vibe, should definitely add Cape Town and Joburg to their places to go and see. Each city offers it’s own urban culture, history and experiences. Cape Town, with it’s stunning mountain ranges and famed beaches, offers a relaxed and artistic take on life. Join the hipsters in one of the many artisan coffee shops and art fairs, or chill at the seaside restaurants and cocktail bars of Camps Bay and Green Point with the socialites. The surfers and skaters are super friendly and welcome visitors to their local spots and hangouts; and everyone comes together at the many Saturday and Sunday Markets taking place in Gardens, Grand Parade, Woodstock, Muizenberg, Hout Bay and Milnerton.
Joburg, the City of Gold, is often called the New York of the Southern Hemisphere. Sophisticated, fast-paced and super-trendy, it offers visitors a multitude of upmarket experiences - the South African way. Disappear into Sandton and spend your days browsing high-fashion stores and fine art galleries, while a trip to Melrose will see you relaxing in leafy courtyards enjoying brunch or visiting the Saturday NeighbourGoods Market. Rosebank is the place to stay in the city, and is central to all the major destinations in the city centre. Of course Joburg is on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park, making it a favoured gateway to South Africa’s most famous Wildlife Sanctuary.
Durban and Port Elizabeth are the two major South African cities you can visit to just get away from it all. Durban offers a totally laid-back way of life, with city life tending to flow like the ocean’s tides. Find solace in the waves, or just on the beachfront of one the cities six blue flag beaches. If you’re not keen to head into the sea, check out the wavehouse, where you can ride simulated waves, sans sealife and wetsuits. A drive along the coast will not only allow you to take in the sub-tropical scenery of the city, but also stop at on of it’s many weekend markets. You'll find anything from authentic Indian curries, to locally made surfwear and trinkets.
Quiet, relaxed, friendly, and gorgeous; these are the words used to describe one South Africa’s smaller cities. Port Elizabeth, or PE as it is called by the locals, is the place to go if you want to feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but with all the comforts and safeties a city provides. This is the place to go for lazy days on the beach, hikes and horse riding; or anything to do with being out in nature. For those wanting just a little more, there are the a variety of markets to pop into on the weekends, as well as the Aquarium and Dolphin arena, and the games, restaurants and activities offered at the Boardwalk.
South Africa offers a wide variety of accommodation types; which suit every need and budget you can imagine. Click here to browse through and find what you’re looking for!
Air: South Africa has three major international airports; O.R Thambo in Johannesburg; King Shaka in Durban, and Cape Town International Airport. All three of these are gateways into the country for International visitors. If you prefer to fly from destination to destination, not to worry, there are airports in and around the country's most popular locations and cities, in which both charter and local airlines use.
Car Rental: For the most part it is best to rent a car when visiting the country, as the local transport is known to be unreliable. It is easy enough to book car rental online or, if you decide you need it after arriving, in any of the major cities or towns.
Trains/buses/taxis: Most bus services in and around the country or relatively cheap and easy to use, although outside of the major cities they are quite infrequent. That said, the Myciti Bus in Cape Town, is highly recommended if you need an easy and affordable way to get around town and to and from the airport. Mini-bus taxis are often unreliable and adhere to their own schedules. They can also be rather unsafe, and are best to avoid. Taxi cabs or Rikkis are great for short trips, but like most countries, they become quite pricey if you are travelling more than a few kms. Most trains in country are reliable during the week, but often don’t stick to schedule over the weekends. However, the Gau-train that runs through Joburg and Pretoria, is safe, reliable and an inexpensive way to travel through these major cities.
Did you know?
South Africa has many names and is often called the Rainbow Nation, RSA, SA, and Suid-Afrika. It’s official name is the Republic of South Africa.
There are eleven official languages in South Africa.
The country has only been a democracy for 21 years. Before 1994 South Africa was a minority ruled Apartheid (meaning separate) state.
South Africa is home to three Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, two of which lived on the same street - a world first. Former Presidents Nelson Mandela and F.W De Klerk were jointly awarded the 1993 Peace Prize, but it is Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was awarded the prize in 1984, who shares the same street address as Nelson Mandela.
The Cradle of Life, where it is scientifically believed that human life began, is in the country’s Mpumalanga province.
South Africa is home to the Big Five.
In 1967 Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
The country is comprised of nine province, namely: Gauteng; Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal,; Eastern Cape; Mpumalanga; Limpopo; Free State; Northern Cape; and North-West.
South Africa landlocks two countries - Swaziland, and Lesotho.
The country is home to some of the world’s most diverse, indigenous plant and animal life, making South Africa sixth in the world’s declared 18 Megadiverse destinations.