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  • Writer's pictureIne Vandenwyngaert

South Africa Travel: 15 Beautiful Places To Visit (+ Travel Itineraries & Tips)

Updated: Apr 15

South Africa is a beautiful country where you can find world-class beaches, idyllic vineyards, majestic mountains, and savanna teeming with wildlife. But its magic goes far beyond landscapes. South Africa's cultural tapestry is woven with history, vibrant cities, and a warmth that makes you feel instantly welcome. We spent over two months exploring this diverse country, and in this travel guide, we share our top 15 places to visit in South Africa. We'll also share a few travel itinerary options, travel tips, as well as a map with great places to stay, eat, and drink.

Amphitheater in Drakensberg south africa
Amphitheater, Drakensberg


Check out our video about South Africa to see these fascinating places to visit through our camera!

Table Of Contents

Best Places To Visit In South Africa

15. Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Nestled in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in South Africa's Free State province, Golden Gate Highlands National Park offers dramatic natural scenery. The most impressive views come when the sandstone cliffs bathe in the golden hues of sunrise and sunset. But besides taking in the scenery from your car, you can also go hiking, biking, horse riding, and much more.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park South Africa
Golden Gate Highlands National Park

14. Cederberg Wilderness Area

Located about 200 km or 124 miles north of Cape Town, the Cederberg Wilderness Area is a nature paradise. Boasting a landscape sculpted by time, this park is home to amazing rock formations, like the Wolfberg Arch and Maltese Cross. You can explore these by hiking a network of trails. The Cederberg also boasts an abundance of wildlife as well as hundreds of San rock paintings, offering a glimpse into the lives of the indigenous people.

cederberg south africa

13. Ballito

Just north of Durban, along South Africa's Dolphin Coast, lies the charming seaside town of Ballito. Unlike the bustling energy of Durban, Ballito offers a laid-back atmosphere, perfect for families as well as travelers just looking to relax. Unwind on golden beaches or hit the waves for some surfing. There are also many tidal pools along this stretch of coastline, which are perfect for swimming. Our favorite pool was at Thompson’s Bay (Thomson's Bay Tidal Pool) where you can also find the Hole In The Wall rock feature.

Ballito is also a great base for exploring the city of Durban, which is known for its delicious Indian cuisine and rich cultural heritage. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit it was not recommended to go there by locals due to safety concerns.

uMhlanga Rocks south africa
Lighthouse in uMhlanga

12. Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park

Situated about 280 kilometers or 173 miles north of Durban, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa. Here, you will find a diverse landscape of rolling hills and savannah grasslands. This area is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering the chance to witness the Big Five in their natural habitat on a guided or self-drive game safari. The park is renowned for its rhino conservation efforts, making it a crucial stop for those passionate about animal welfare. We visited this park as a guided day tour from St. Lucia, which also included breakfast and lunch amidst the wildlife.

11. Cape Whale Route

Winding along the southwestern coast of South Africa, the Cape Whale Route is a stunning scenic drive that stretches from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas. Crossing villages, rivers, bays, and valleys, this route offers a lot of different scenery. Explore the charming seaside village of Betty's Bay, where you can see the endangered African penguin colony waddling along the shores of Stony Point. You can also visit Hermanus, which is considered the heart of the route. This town boasts stunning cliffside walks with some of the best whale watching opportunities in the world. Complete this section of your journey in Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.

hermanus south africa coast
Hermanus shoreline

10. Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park is located near Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape. It’s a sanctuary for the country's magnificent elephant population. Once on the brink of extinction, the park's success story is a testament to conservation efforts. Today, the elephant population thrives, offering visitors the chance to witness these gentle giants up close on guided game drives or self-drive safaris. But Addo is more than just elephants. You might be lucky enough to encounter lions, buffalo, zebras, and a variety of antelope species.

9. Cape Peninsula

Jutting out dramatically at the southwestern tip of Africa, the Cape Peninsula is another highlight of the country. The vibrant city of Cape Town forms the peninsula's northern base. From there, scenic drives take you along coastlines with pristine beaches and charming seaside villages. Explore the penguin colony at Boulders Beach, where these cute animals waddle freely. Then, drive to Cape Point for a glimpse of the tall cliffs or check out the colorful beach huts at Muizenberg beach, one of the most photogenic spots in South Africa.

  • Highlights: Chapman's Peak drive, Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, Muizenberg Beach, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, Noordhoek Beach

  • Where we stayed (Simon’s Town): Penguins View Guesthouse ($$)

Boulders Beach Penguins south africa
Boulders Beach Penguins

8. Panorama Route

The Panorama Route is a scenic drive located in the northeast of South Africa. The route stretches over 100 kilometers or 62 miles from the foot of Long Tom Pass to the Echo Caves and gets its name from the panoramic views of deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and natural rock formations. The most popular sight is undoubtedly the Blyde River Canyon, which boasts amazing green, blue and brown colors. Other highlights include God's Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Lisbon Falls, and the Three Rondavels, which resemble three traditional African-style houses.

  • Highlights: Blyde River Canyon viewpoint, Three Rondavels, Berlin Falls, Lisbon Falls, Mac Mac Falls, Graskop Gorge Lift Co., Misty Mountain, Bourke's Luck Potholes

  • Where we stayed (Graskop): Mi Casa ($$)

three rondavels panorama route south africa
Three Rondavels

7. Garden Route

Nicknamed for its lush vegetation, the Garden Route is a breathtaking area stretching over 300 kilometers or 186 miles along South Africa's southern coast. Winding its way from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, this scenic route has charming towns, lush forests, dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, and diverse wildlife. Hiking enthusiasts can explore numerous trails in Tsitsikamma National Park, the Robberg Nature Reserve, and the Wilderness area. Sea lovers can take a boat tour in the Knysna Lagoon, swim with seals in Plettenberg Bay, or drive a boat on the Keurbooms River. For the adrenaline junkies, bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge is a must-do.

knysna lagoon south africa
Knysna Lagoon

6. uKhahlamba/Maloti-Drakensberg Park

Spanning the border between the country of Lesotho and South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to the vast Drakensberg mountain range, this park can be divided into different sections - the Northern, Central, and Southern Drakensberg. Each region offers different hiking trails and unique activities.

One of our favorite adventures in southern Drakensberg was a guided 4x4 tour of Sani Pass from Underberg. This challenging road connects South Africa to Lesotho and includes a border crossing. On the top of the pass, we took in breathtaking views, had lunch at Africa’s highest pub, and visited a Basotho village.

drakensberg south africa sani pass
Sani Pass Road

5. iSimangaliso Wetland Park & St. Lucia

Hugging South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast, iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a sprawling paradise for all different types of animals. Here, you can cruise the estuary while spotting hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of birds, or drive to the beautiful beach of Cape Vidal while seeing animals from the road. The town of St. Lucia, which sits at the edge of the park, is an excellent place to base yourself from. You can find a variety of accommodation options and restaurants here, and during the night, hippos often come through town to graze, which is a unique sight to say the least.

hippos at iSimangaliso Wetland Park south africa
hippos at iSimangaliso Wetland Park

4. Cape Winelands

Located just outside of Cape Town and tucked between tall mountains, the Cape Winelands beckons wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. This region boasts a rich history of winemaking dating back centuries. Explore charming towns like Paarl, Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek, known for their award-winning wineries. Indulge in vineyard tours, hop on the Franschhoek wine tram, savor delicious pairings of food and wine, or simply relax and take in the scenic landscapes. Beyond the vineyards, you can also find many different hiking trails.

3. Royal Natal National Park

Located in the northern Drakensberg area, Royal Natal National Park boasts some of South Africa’s most striking scenery. Witness the awe-inspiring Amphitheatre, a colossal cliff face which is best experienced on the challenging Chain Ladders Hike. From the top, you can see the Tugela Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls plunging 948 meters or 3110 feet. And while we visited when the waterfall was dry, the views were still definitely worth it. If you’re looking for a more relaxing hike in the area, there are numerous other trails down in the valley. One we can highly recommend is Tugela Gorge trail, which is well-maintained and has relatively minimal elevation gain compared to other hikes in Drakensberg.

chain ladder hike royal natal south africa
Chain Ladder hike

2. Cape Town

Cape Town sits at the southwestern tip of the country, where Table Mountain's flat peak dominates the landscape. This lively city is a must-visit for its natural beauty and multicultural flair. A must-do is ascending Table Mountain on foot or by cable car for panoramic views of the city. We also recommend exploring the Robben Island Museum, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, diving into Cape Malay history in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, hiking up Lion’s Head, walking through Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, or relaxing on pristine beaches like Camps Bay. Cape Town caters to all interests, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventure.

 Camps Bay south africa
Camps Bay & Bakoven

1. Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is located in the northeastern part of the country and is Africa's crown jewel of wildlife safaris. Encompassing over 19,000 square kilometers or 7,520 square miles, it boasts the continent's greatest density of animals. Embark on an unforgettable game drive to spot the Big Five, whether it’s on a guided or a self-drive safari. The park's varied landscapes include savannah plains and lush forests, making for amazing game viewing opportunities. Stay overnight in camps or lodges, listening to the sounds of the African bush at night.

Map South Africa

Find all the places to go, eat, drink, and stay in South Africa on Google Maps. To follow and save the list, do the following:

  1. Tap on the link to open it (click button below)

  2. Tap Follow. This list will now be added to the group of lists you follow.

  3. Optional: To unfollow a list someone shared with you, tap the list Saved.

If you follow the list we made, all our saved places of Cambodia will show up in Your Places. The places will also appear as suggested locations in Google Maps.

Travel Tips South Africa

Tip 1. Hit the road

First, we recommend renting a car for the ultimate freedom to explore the country’s incredible parks and nature reserves, many of which aren't reachable by public transportation. We have a video on our YouTube channel which suggests a 3 week road trip itinerary around the country. 

South African roads are generally good, but some areas have potholes or dirt stretches. Consider renting a high clearance vehicle, especially if you plan on venturing to more remote areas, like Drakensberg and the Wild Coast. Some national roads are also toll roads, so keep some cash handy.

Tip 3. Embrace the schedule

Third, you should embrace the power schedule of the country. Planned power outages are a reality in South Africa and this is called load shedding. Download the Eskom App to stay informed about planned outages so you can plan your days accordingly.

Tip 4. Stay connected

We also recommend grabbing a local SIM card upon arrival, like Vodacom. This way, you’ll have data access throughout your trip. WiFi is reliable in most areas, but a SIM card provides extra flexibility.

Tip 5. Cash vs. Card

Finally, the South African Rand (ZAR) is the local currency. Carry some cash for tipping and smaller purchases in remote areas. The Rand is also accepted in the nearby countries of Eswatini and Lesotho. Major credit cards are widely accepted for accommodation, meals, groceries, and tourist attractions.

Travel Itineraries South Africa


  • 10 days: Cape Town & Cape Peninsula (4 days), Cape Winelands (1 day), Garden Route (5 days)

  • 2 weeks: Cape Town & Cape Peninsula (4 days), Cape Winelands (1 day), Cape Whale Route (2 days), Garden Route (5 days), Addo Elephant Park (2 days)

  • 3 weeks: Cape Town & Cape Peninsula (5 days), Lambert’s Bay & Cederberg Conservancy (3 days), Cape Winelands (3 days), Cape Whale Route (2 days), Garden Route (6 days), Addo Elephant Park (2 days)


  • 10 days: Panorama Route (2 days), Kruger National Park (3 days), Maloti-Drakensberg (3 days), Royal Natal National Park (2 days)

  • 2 weeks: Panorama Route (2 days), Kruger National Park (3 days), Eswatini (2 days), St. Lucia & iSimangaliso Wetland Park (3 days), Ballito (2 days), Royal Natal National Park (2 days)

  • 3 weeks: Panorama Route (2 days), Kruger National Park (5 days), Eswatini (2 days), St. Lucia & iSimangaliso Wetland Park (3 days), Ballito (3 days), Maloti-Drakensberg (3 days), Royal Natal National Park (2 days), Johannesburg (1 day)


  • 3 weeks: Cape Town (3 days), Cape Winelands (1 day), Garden Route (4 days), Addo Elephant National Park (1 day), Ballito (2 days), St Lucia (2 days), Eswatini (2 days - CROSS BORDER), Kruger National Park (3 days), Panorama Route (2 days), Johannesburg (1 day - fly out)

  • 4 weeks: Cape Town (3 days), Cape Winelands (1 day), Garden Route (4 days), Addo Elephant National Park (1 day), Maloti-Drakensberg (4 days), Royal Natal National Park (2 days), Johannesburg (1 day), Panorama Route (2 days), Kruger National Park (4 days), Eswatini (2 days - CROSS BORDER), St Lucia (2 days), Ballito (2 days - fly out of Durban)


Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To South Africa


Are you having a hard time planning your trip to South Africa? Get our Interactive Travel Planner to keep it all organized.

travel planner for south africa trip

Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations and articles about South Africa:

World Wild Hearts

Hi! We are Ine & Zac. An international travel couple from Belgium and the US. We created World Wild Hearts to inspire life-changing travel experiences like we've had. Use these tips, stories, and guides to inspire your next adventure of a lifetime!


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