1- Cape Town is SA’s oldest city and it is for this reason that is known as the Mother City. There’s plenty to see and do in Cape Town, the legislative capital of SA. Take a trip through the Cape Winelands, visit Table Mountain or hang out at the V&A Waterfront.
Cape Town’s attractions have made it a famed destination for many Hollywood movies and European travelers alike.
Take a trip to on the Cape Winelands and taste our homegrown wines; see the world from your vantage point on the top of famed Table Mountain; dine like a king at any of our fantastic restaurants and celebrate the great outdoors even during the winter months.
For some great retail therapy why not head to the V&A Waterfront. It’s a super spot shopping and eating, and its attractions include the Two Oceans Aquarium, a craft market and an amphitheatre where local artists perform. From here you can take a harbour cruise or strike out for Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent many years in imprisonment.
The treacherous Cape Point promontory – a witness to many a shipwreck – enhances Cape Town’s reputation for dramatic scenery. It’s a trip well worth making, the last part up to a lighthouse completed by funicular. The journey to Cape Point includes a 10 km drive over Chapman’s Peak which, with its hairpin bends atop sheer cliff drops, sets the stage for scenic awe. The drive also links the city to Hout Bay and Noordhoek beaches.
Cape Town has activities aplenty for more sedate natural encounters in Cape Town. On the eastern slopes of the mountain are the celebrated botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch, with walks of all levels to tackle, landscaped picnic spots and restaurants serving as a refined break with their offerings of tea and scones (or a glass of good Cape wine).
Its striking beauty and rugged landscape makes Cape Town the ideal holiday spot for those seeking adventure, relaxation and entertainment. The city offers something for everyone and all accommodation tastes and budgets are welcomed.
2- Grape escapes in the winelands
Ever wondered how that precious ‘Cab Sav’ you’ve laid down so carefully was made, or sipped wine so heavenly you’d like to bathe in it? Now you can! From grape stomping contests, to wine baths and end of harvest festivals – uncork the best of the winelands on these grape escapes.
At the Robertson Wine Valley Hands-on Harvest Festival, roll up those trousers and go grape stomping – who needs a personal trainer when exercising is this much fun? Skip the leg-work and ride a stallion to the highest point overlooking the whole Robertson valley, or trot down to the Breede River for a gentle river cruise and a generous country lunch. Take the kids on a vineyard tractor trip; make your own verjuice and vinegar, or slurp and spitbraai in a Bedouin tent. You’ll never forget this vintage harvest experience.
In Tulbach, feast on a 3-course harvest dinner overlooking the moonlit vineyards of the Twee Jonge Gezellen wine estate with 40 fellow sybarites for company. As the ebullient Krone family recounts how their grandfather’s legendary night-harvesting process turned the wine making industry upside-down, their Krone Borealis Methode Cap Classique fills your champagne flute with shooting stars. Small wonder moon-struck guests return year after year.
The best-kept secret on the Bot Rivier harvest festival calendar, join friends, family and neighbours at Beaumont Wine Estate for a night of country conviviality by candlelight. Delight in the company of down to earth wine lovers and the unexpected pleasure of soon-to-be Port between your toes – it’s pure pagan fun that’ll warm you to the tips of your wine-stained feet.
Give your servants a break, tell the butler he’s got the night off, and escape to Mont Destin in Stellenbosch, where you and your beloved can soak like royalty in an outdoor Pinotage wine bath. With the whole vineyard to yourselves, relax in the warm, anti-oxidant packed liquor, sipping estate wine and revelling in the beauty of nature. It’s bacchanalian bliss, au naturel, of the highest order.
Feast on boerekos and dance the day and night away at the Solms-Delta end of harvest festival in Franschhoek. Cape vernacular music draws together farm workers, wine producers and music lovers for the winelands most inclusive cultural heritage celebration. Enjoy this bountiful gathering of waterblommetjie bredie, bobotie, boeremusiek, ghoema, Nama stapdans and good cheer!
3- South Africa’s coastal playground
The Garden Route
The Garden Route is a mix of modern golf courses, ancient forests, secluded artist communities, retirement estates, modern malls, craft centres, mountain hideaways and beach holidays. A large number of interesting and creative people have come to live down here, drawn to this magnificent stretch of coastline.
The main arterial highway of the Garden Route in South Africa – a highlight on most visitors’ itineraries – is the N2 stretch running from Heidelberg in the southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border.
While the Garden Route road is extremely scenic, it is the hidden destinations on its side roads that are the secret of this region.
That’s probably how Oudtshoorn – the ostrich capital of the world – has found its way onto the Garden Route. In reality, both early inhabitants and elephants have been crossing the Outeniqua Mountains from Oudtshoorn to the coast for many centuries.
Other towns well worth visiting include Calitzdorp, Sedgefield, The Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
Many interesting and creative people have come to live on the Garden Route, drawn to this magnificent and mountainous stretch of the South African coastline. A classic example of a new addition to the area is the Bramon wine Farm just outside Plettenberg Bay, an empowerment project bringing wine making to this new region. But over the ages old woodcutter clans, fishermen, artists, businessmen and top chefs have all found their niches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.
The Garden Route is famous for is hardy fynbos floral kingdom, its secluded little bays and its year-round holiday frame of mind. And it’s conveniently accessible from Cape Town.
Don’t forget to look seawards for the Southern Right whales, the humpback, bottlenose and common dolphins, and even killer whales that frolic close to shore, especially near Plettenberg Bay.
An exciting new development is the new Garden Route National Park, which weaves together the existing Tsitsikamma National Park’s ancient forests and wild coastline with the Wilderness National Park via a chain of lakes and preserved sections of fynbos. It’s a fascinating mix of ecosystems. And don’t forget to listen for the raucous cry and vivid scarlet wings of the Knysna turaco.
4- Johannesburg attractions
In Johannesburg, wining and dining is superb; the championship golf courses are of the highest standard; and there seems to be an ongoing party all day, every day. In addition, the city boasts beautiful natural surroundings, adventure sports and the world’s foremost palaeontological site at Sterkfontein.
Jozi, Jo’burg or Egoli to its friends – the city is a vibrant melting pot of humanity that ensures you won’t walk alone when exploring the city’s many cultural and leisure attractions. The City of Gold welcomes you.
The area where Johannesburg stands was once grassland, but is now one of the biggest man-made forests in the world. The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden at Kloofendal conserves a piece of the original grassland as well as succulents and ferns. It is home to over 120 bird species, including the only pair of nesting black eagles in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens off Thomas Bowler Avenue in Emmarentia is famed for its Rose Garden and numerous waterfowl found in the reed beds of Emmarentia Dam.
Cutting through the northern suburbs from the Westdene Dam is the 25 km Braamfontein Spruit, the longest parkland stretch in SA. There are numerous sporting activities like walking trails along the river and adjoining areas, such as Melville Koppies, where an Iron Age village and smelting works are to be found.
Johannesburg, founded in 1886 with the discovery of gold, has had a somewhat turbulent past. Of most interest to the history buff are Newtown, Constitution Hill and Soweto. Mary Fitzgerald Square is also worth a visit in the CBD which includes Museum Africa, the Bensusan Museum of Photography and the Market Theatre in the restored Fresh Produce Market building, as well as the Workers Museum in the revamped Electricity Department Compound and art galleries, craft shops and restaurants.
For contemporary African sounds, try the Bassline in Newtown or head out to one of the funky jazz joints in Soweto. The thriving local music scene caters for all musical tastes. Africa’s most cosmopolitan city, Johannesburg is also the wealthiest and most entertaining city in South Africa’ Gauteng province.
5- Kruger National Park
This world-renowned park of nearly 2 million hectares features 16 ecosystems. Spot the Big Five on a 4×4 game drive or walking safari.
6- Durban attractions
Durban offers excellent urban vibes, including a mix of design, art, music and food – peppered with fascinating cultural influences. Even in winter there’s lots to experience, especially with snow-capped mountains, top game reserves, country meanders and loads of other top attractions nearby.
Durban is South Africa’s most popular domestic holiday city and it’s easy to see why. It has miles of soft, sandy swimming beaches, great surfing and warm weather all year round. There’s everything from B&Bs to world-class hotels, and you’ll never run out of fun things to do.
Head to the ocean for a fishing charter or chill out on a sunset sundowner cruise. Take in the marine life at Ushaka Marine World and burn up some energy at Water World.
Durban is green all year round, thanks to its subtropical weather. To see the city and coastline at its best, head to La Lucia Ridge, preferably early on a clear morning. Look south to view the beach arcing around Durban’s bay. See a different angle of the same view by looking north from atop the Bluff at the harbour entrance.
Durban is recognised for its well preserved art deco and Victorian architecture, particularly along Victoria Embankment and on the Berea. Many events, cultures and nations have shaped Durban and you’ll find more than a dozen museums that tell its unique story.
You can even pack in some adrenalin activities at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping
Go for an early morning walk along which is close to Durban’s main entertainment drag. It has a powerful wavehouse and an indoor climbing wall, which at 23 metres is the highest in the world. Plus, there are fast go-karts and a Tony Hawke-designed skate park. Stroll along the Umhlanga Rocks paved beachfront walkway and you may see dolphins surfing the waves just offshore. Or take to the air as a microlite passenger for a flip along the coast.
We call it Durbs or Surf City or “Thekweni”, which means “sea” in Zulu, and that suggests what life’s like here – one long holiday.
7- Robben Island
Robben Island has always been a site of heartbreak. At times a leper colony, mental hospital and defence training base, this World Heritage Site is more famed as the prison to which anti-apartheid activists were banished. A ‘university of the struggle’, its graduates went on to lead South Africa into democracy.
Perhaps the most impressionable aspect of a visit to Cape Town is a boat trip out to the former prison at Robben Island, a South African World Heritage Site that represents a critical chapter in the country’s path towards democracy.
Here the leaders of the struggle against racial oppression, imprisoned for many long years, developed their concepts for a post-apartheid South Africa. Isolated from family and friends, the Mandelas, Sisulus, Mbekis, Kathradas and Sobukwes of the time proved heroic men of steel, never wavering in their hope of a new day. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has chosen to mark this location for its “triumph of the human spirit’.
The sombre Robben Island prison buildings are now the home of the Robben Island museum. A standard tour of the site commences at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. The ferry ride takes a half hour each way, leaving the tourist 2.5 hours to absorb the emotive atmosphere of the island. Tours of the former maximum-security jail are generally led by former political prisoners, who draw a vivid picture of life in incarceration. The history of Robben Island is also sketched in a 45-minute bus tour. The island also has interesting bird and marine life.
As one of the world’s great cultural world heritage destinations, Robben Island South Africa is memorable for both its tragedy and exultation, and its testimony to faith and spirit in the most humiliating of conditions. It is an excursion that stirs the soul and inspires.
Known the world over for its role in the struggle for democracy, Soweto hums day and night, and its vibe is electrifying. It’s Gucci and ghetto, Hummers and hip hop, Loxion Kulcha (a sought-after local fashion brand that originated in the townships) and livestock, glamour and gogo’s (grandmothers).
Trend-setting Soweto loves to have a good time, and its suburbs abound with local eateries, shebeens (taverns) music venues and pumping nightclubs. Grab a bite to eat at a shisanyama (hot food) roadside barbeque, and if you’re up for it, try a smiley (boiled sheep’s head), it’s considered a local delicacy; or go to Wandie’s Place, a Soweto restaurant institution; celebs from across the globe have dined on its local specialities and booking is essential.
Meet the city’s elite at Nambitha or indulge in delicious quantities of food, beer and loads of atmosphere at Sakhumzi’s on Vilakazi Street, across from the Nelson Mandela Family Museum.
Follow the bling and the BEAT – marabi, kwaito, funk, blues, and house all jostle for ear-space on the jam-packed ultra-stylish dance floors of this mega-party town. Jazz has been at the heart of Soweto since the 1960’s, and performances happen all the time at local community halls, shebeens or in someone’s backyard, so pull up a chair.
Attend a local football match, the passion with which the beautiful game is worshipped here is infectious; and if you’ve backed the winning team expect things to remain raucous until sunrise. Complete your experience with a night or 3 in a local B&B, you’ll instantly become one of the family, and truly ‘see’ this amazing township.
9- Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Most famous for God’s Window, the panoramic splendour of the Blyde River Canyon makes it ideal for scenic drives and hiking trails.
10- The Wild Coast
The Wild Coast is an unspoiled natural treasure. Visitors can explore its renowned beauty on foot, by 4×4 or horseback before embarking on fishing expeditions or snorkelling and diving outings.
The Wild Coast in South Africa stretches along the Eastern Cape province’s coastline. As its name suggests this strip of coastline, which reaches from the Mtamvuna River in the north to the Great Kei River in the south, is an untamed wilderness. It offers incredible views of the dramatic coastline, jagged cliffs, sheltered bays, wild beaches and rolling hills and valleys.
The Transkei, a former homeland, forms part of the Eastern Cape Wild Coast and is an underdeveloped area with low population that cannot be easily accessed, but is a hikers’ paradise and can be enjoyed on horseback. The area is also one of the areas most hardly fought for by British colonialists. It is renowned for being one of the most beautiful places on the planet and is the heartland of the Xhosa nation.
Ancient forests filled with cycads and yellowwood trees abound with bird and animal life. Bird watchers can go in search of the approximately 320 species that make this area their home while anglers can catch the big one whilst deep sea, rock, surf, fly and spear fishing. Fishing licenses must be acquired from any local Post Office.
Due to its incredible natural beauty the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast is ideal for hiking, but a multitude of 4 x 4 trails allow for those that prefer travelling in comfort. Due to their delicate ecosystems beaches are off limits for drivers.
The Wild Coast is also known for its shipwrecks – a legacy of its wild and tempestuous nature. The entire coastline can be seen on foot on what is known as the Wild Coast Hiking Trail. Water activities like snorkelling and diving give a spectacular experience of the world beneath the waves while spotting lost treasure and other relics from shipwrecks.