25 South Africa Tourist Attractions Not to Be Missed

If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, chances are, you’ve already run into a big problem.

You’re probably wondering where to go and what to see in a single trip with limited time.

To help you decide, we’ve compiled this list of 25 of the best South Africa tourist attractions.

25. Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City by George Groutas (CC)

Gold Reef City is a themed entertainment complex with 1880s-reminiscent architecture.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Because its offers amusement rides, restaurants, and a casino, as well as live music and theater performances.

Need something a bit more high-brow? Built on the site of an old gold mine, the complex is more than a Disneyland clone–it also includes a mining museum.

24. Birds of Eden

A Channel-billed Toucan at Birds of Eden by Snowmanradio (CC)

A paradise for both birds and bird lovers, Birds of Eden provides a safe home of over 200 winged African species.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Encompassing an entire forest and a gorge, this is the largest free-flight aviary in the world. The giant sanctuary features elevated walkways, so you can observe the birds from a range of perspectives.

In addition to flamingos, swans, and cranes, the sanctuary houses miniature monkeys.

23. Clifton Beaches

Clifton 4th Beach by Warren Rohner (CC)

A playground for affluent Cape Towners, Clifton Beaches feature some of the most sought-after real estate in the world.

Why it is one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

These coastal spots are ideal for beach sports, relaxing, people watching, and working on that perfect vacation tan. And, thanks to Cape Town’s long daylight hours in the summer, you can enjoy the sunshine until well after 6 p.m.

22. Emperors Palace

Inneres Casino, Hotelkomplex Emperor Palace, Kempton Park by Bgabel (CC)

Opulent is the only way to describe Emperors Palace, one of the country’s top venues for entertainment.

Why it’s one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The complex includes a hotel and casino offering a variety of slot machines and card games. But the best part about the place is that it caters to the whole family with its kids’ play area, movie theater, and spa.

21. Cango Wildlife Ranch

Sleepy crocs at Cango Wildlife Ranch by Alison Johnstone (CC)

If you’ve come to Africa to see wildlife, then you really shouldn’t miss Cango Wildlife Ranch.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The ranch is actually a zoo and a conservation facility with over 90 different species. A guided tour will provide a chance to touch and feed some resident animals. An extra fee gets you closer to crocodiles and lemurs.

20. Knysna Heads

East Head, Knysna Heads from Featherbed Nature Reserve Knysna by Vaiz Ha (CC)

Iconic South Africa tourist attractions rarely get better than Knysna Heads, two sandstone cliffs watching over the eponymous lagoon.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The British Navy once considered this harbor entrance one of the most dangerous in the world. Today, the headlands inspire postcard-like photos by shutterbugs from around the world.

Most cruise options come with free meals and drinks. They’ll also take you to a little beach where you can watch the waves and, yes, take a few stunning photos.

19. Nelson Mandela Square

Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg by Anagoria (CC)

A giant bronze statue of the former president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient towers over Nelson Mandela Square, one of the biggest public spaces in South Africa.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The statue pays homage to the country’s history, but the area’s upscale shopping and dining options cater to modern tourists.

Look for a variety of stores selling everything from books to designer clothing, or sit down at one of the restaurants, serving cuisines from every corner of the world.

18. Knysna Elephant Park

Elephant Park – Knysna by TravelingOtter (CC)

Wouldn’t it be great to hang out with the Animal Kingdom’s gentle giants in a safe, controlled environment?

At Knysna Elephant Park, you can do just that.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Because it’s more than a gimmicky tourist attraction. The park shelters rescued and orphaned elephants, providing a chance of survival for animals that wouldn’t make it in the wild.

17. Camp’s Bay Beach

Camps Bay Beach by Nithin bolar k (CC)

Relaxation is what Camp’s Bay Beach is all about–the spot is overlooked by the towering Table Mountain and flanked by shady palms.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

People don’t just come here to kick back on the sand. Nearby, you’ll find many bars and restaurants, ideal spots for making new friends.

If you plan to swim here, get ready for cool Atlantic waters, capable of giving you goose bumps even in the middle of summer.

16. Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park by Brian Snelson (CC)

Despite its name, Addo Elephant National Park is so much more than an elephant park. There, you can spot lions, leopards, whales, and great white sharks, among other species.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The sprawling park contains five of the country’s seven major biomes. It’s home to Africa’s “Big Seven” wild animals and intersected by many hiking trails.

Modern amenities abound, too–plenty of accommodations ensure a comfy overnight stay for those looking to extend their safari.

15. Hout Bay

Hout Bay by Vaiz Ha (CC)

You may not have heard of it yet, but Hout Bay is on the verge of becoming a top South Africa tourist attraction.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

First of all, it boasts a scenic harbor and a thriving dining scene. And as if that’s not enough, it also offers a sandy beach and one of the world’s top big-wave surfing spots.

Bring your “A” game if you want to test those 14 m (47 ft) swells.

14. Kruger National Park

Giraffe at Kruger National Park by bowkerb (CC)

There’s probably no better place in the world for spotting big game than Kruger National Park, the continent’s biggest animal sanctuary.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

It not only boasts well-maintained roads–ideal for guided safaris–but also offers numerous lodges, campsites, stores, and restaurants.

Basically, everything you need for a comfortable vacation in Africa’s wilderness.

If you add Kruger to your South Africa itinerary–and you probably will–read the informative “What To Expect On An African Safari Family Vacation” before you go.

13. uShaka Marine World

uShaka Marine World by South African Tourism (CC)

You’ll have no trouble keeping the kids entertained at uShaka Marine World, home to an aquarium, water park, and a rope adventure course.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Adults can start with a dolphin and seal show, and end with a guided snorkel among colorful schools of fish. Yes, both can also be enjoyed by kids.

That’s the great thing about this place–every activity and attraction caters to the entire family.

12. Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head and Signal Hill from the Summit of Table Mountain by Hilton Teper (CC)

One of the more dramatic South Africa tourist attractions, Lion’s Head overlooks Cape Town and provides great views of Table Mountain National Park.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Because a scenic–and relatively easy–trek to the top ensures plenty of memorable photo opps. Steep but suitable for kids, the hike will also reward you with a terrific picnic spot.

11. The Cango Caves

Cango Caves, Western Cape by South African Tourism (CC)

When you enter the illuminated halls and chambers of The Cango Caves, you’ll see stalactites and stalagmites assuming some of the most ornate shapes found below the Earth’s surface.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

These underground rooms are accessible by guided tour, so you’ll stay safe–and well informed–while climbing, crawling, and squeezing into claustrophobia-inducing passages.

It’s a great way to learn about speleology and feel like an expert spelunker for a day.

10. Two Oceans Aquarium

Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town by Kim Nowacki (CC)

Residents of cold and warm seas find shelter at Two Oceans Aquarium, home to seven big galleries.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Plants and swarms of fish from both the Atlantic and the Pacific fill the aquarium tanks. In addition to the requisite penguins, other notable denizens include cape fur seals and turtles.

And the best part? If you get your hand stamped upon entry, you can come back throughout the same day FREE OF CHARGE.

9. Cape Point Nature Reserve

Cape Point by African Budget Safaris (CC)

Not only is Cape Point Nature Reserve an ideal place for amateur photographers, but also the perfect spot for families with nature-loving kids.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The reserve is a veritable paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The protected area encompasses fynbos, the region’s native vegetation, and shelters baboons, zebra, buck, and over 250 bird species.

8. Apartheid Museum

Outdoor exhibit at the South African Apartheid Museum by Katangais (CC)

An important history lesson awaits you at Apartheid Museum, narrating the rise and fall of the country’s imposed system of racial segregation.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

It’s not the cheeriest place you can visit in South Africa, but it is one of the most significant ones. The exhibits will help you understand the tensions and inequalities that continue to plague this fascinating country.

7. Gautrain

Gautrain by Nithin bolar k (CC)

Gautrain is Africa’s first high-speed train, linking Pretoria, Jo’burg, and O. R. Tambo International Airport.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

This rapid-transit railway system offers a slick way to go between two major urban centers. It’s not only one of the most cost-effective ways to travel, but also one of the more eco-friendly ones.

Most importantly, with trains departing every few minutes, you never have to lose time waiting for your transportation.

6. Boulders Beach

Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach by leyla.a (CC)

It’s not just another sandy spot on the coastline. Boulders Beach is home to a world-famous colony of African penguins.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

This place really has a lot going for it. Big boulders protect it from waves and violent winds. The sand is always clean and rarely crowded. Most likely, it’ll just be you and your friends.

And a bunch of cute birds wearing tuxedoes.

5. Robben Island

View of Table Mountain from Robben Island by South African Tourism (CC)

Nelson Mandela served much of his prison sentence on Robben Island, a World Heritage Site.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

There’s much to learn here. Used as a prison since the 17th century, the island also housed a leper colony once. In World War II, it protected Cape Town with BL 9.2-inch guns. Today, it’s a memorial to everything this land has gone through over its history.

Guided tours provide a peak into Mandela’s actual cell. Don’t miss it.

4. Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope by Stefan Schäfer, Lich (CC)

First sighted by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, Cape of Good Hope is as appealing to birds as it is to tourists.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Over 250 different bird species have been discovered here. Don’t care about birds? Then come for some great walks, awesome photo opps, and deserted beaches.

3. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront by flowcomm (CC)

In a country packing a giant punch when it comes to breathtaking views, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront contends for the top prize in the category “postcard-like vistas.”

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

The harbor promenade was designed to be tourist-friendly and diverting. As a result, you can east, shop, jog, walk, or ride the Ferris wheel steps away from the ocean.

And under the watchful eye of the towering Table Mountain.

2. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens by South African Tourism (CC)

Biodiversity makes Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden special, but it’s the range of trails that seems to appeal to most visitors.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

Few of the world’s botanic gardens can match the natural majesty of Kirstenbosch. Nestled against a mountain, the garden is the perfect home for over 7,000 plants, many of them rare or endangered.

1. Table Mountain

Table Mountain Cableway by Paul Scott (CC)

Table Mountain is such a prominent feature, the only way you’ll miss it is if you arrive in Cape Town blindfolded.

Why is it one of the best South Africa tourist attractions?

It’s not only an iconic natural landmark of South Africa, but also one its most photographed features. And due to its mind-boggling variety of plants, hugely appealing to nature lovers, bird-watchers, photographers, and scientists.

Here’s the best part–you can take the cable car to the top.

Creating a Personalized Itinerary for a Trip to South Africa

You’ve just read about 25 South Africa attractions we think you shouldn’t miss on your next vacation.

And here’s the kicker–you can discover hundreds more using Inspirock’s South Africa trip planner.

Use it to organize them into a personalized itinerary, which will save you time and stress when you set off on your great African adventure.

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