Activities / Attractions / Destinations

36 Things You Must See and Do When in South Africa

Updated Monday, 4 February 2019

South Africa is vast. It is also jam-packed with things to do and see, and places to visit.

Once you open the guide books you’re lost in a maze of options – anything from our eight World Heritage Sites to Mandela-infused icons and Table Mountain.

We’ve narrowed it down to a list you cannot afford to be without.

The definitive list of things you must see and do when in South Africa …


1. Nesting Turtles On The Elephant Coast

The Elephant coast between St Lucia and Kosi Bay is known as turtle country. Visit the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, for a tour. See leatherbacks and loggerheads.

Track turtles in Kosi Bay

2. Mainland Penguins

South Africa has two mainland African penguin colonies  – Stony Point, near Betty’s Bay, and Boulders Beach in Cape Town.

3. The Addo Elephants

Addo Elephant Park is home to one of the densest elephant populations on earth.

Addo Elephant Park

4. The Tugela Waterfall From Above

Climb to the top of the Drakensberg’s Amphitheatre to view the world’s second-highest waterfall  (arguably the highest) from above (find out if it has recently rained, or the falls could be dry).

5. The Blyde River Canyon

The only true canyon in South Africa, the Blyde River Canyon is one of South Africa’s 10 natural wonders.

Bourkes Luck Potholes

6. The Meerkats Of The Kalahari

The huge semi-arid and sandy savannah that is the Kalahari is home  to most of Africa’s meerkats.

7. Rhinos At Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve

The home of Operation Rhino, Hluhluwe Imfolozi is renowned for its black and white rhino populations.

Rhino Tracking

8. Whales In Hermanus

Some of the world’s best land-based whale watching happens on the cliffs overlooking the bay in Hermanus.

9. Namaqualand Daisies

The best place to see the annual (August/September) explosion of wild flowers is Namaqualand.

Whale watching at Walker Bay


10. Maboneng, Johannesburg

Maboneng is a seriously trendy, downtown live/eat/sleep experience, this is one place you must head to when in Johannesburg.

11. Florida Road, Durban

The heart of Durban’s eateries.

Durban Botanic Gardens

12. Long Street, Cape Town

Pubs, clubs, restaurants, markets, cafés, coffee shops and cocktail bars – Long Street pumps day and night.

13. Franschhoek

In Franschhoek they are so into food they have an exclusive Artisan Food Route and a Food and Wine Route.

Spring in Franschhoek

14. Snoek Barbecue, West Coast

It doesn’t get better than open-air seafood; restaurants like Die Strandloper , Muisbosskerm and Bosduifklip.

15. Craft Beer

Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, a craft beer festival in Clarens, SA on Tap  – if you didn’t know it before; South Africans are seriaas about their craft beer.

Craft Beer


16. Ride An Ostrich In Oudtshoorn

The Karoo town of Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the country.

17. Surf At J Bay

The list of where best to surf along our coastline  depends on whom you ask; but Jeffreys bay continuously tops the list as one of the best surf spots in the country.

Jeffreys Bay

18. Hike The Wild Coast

This unspoilt, undeveloped coastline is a hiking mecca  and one of the most beautiful parts of the country to which to escape.

19. Dive With Great Whites

The great white shark gets a bad rap (electrocution by your toaster is more likely than an attack by a shark) yet shark cage diving is one of South Africa’s biggest tourist attractions.

Ragged Tooth Shark

20. Take The Blue Train

Do it in style with Rovos Rail (experience the luxury of a bygone era).

21. Canoe The Orange River

Because it really is the definitive river experience.

Orange River Rafting

22. Meditate Up Sani Pass

Known as the ‘roof of Africa’, Sani Pass gives you unbelievable up-close views of the Drakensberg peaks, 3200 metres above sea level; if you can manage it when others are not around.

23. Party In Newtown

An entire precinct alive with arts and cultural activities; expect anything in Newtown  – from theatre to dinner at Gramadoelas.


24. Climb Lion’s Head By The Light Of The Moon

A popular Cape Town ritual because it takes only 90 minutes to reach the top (pretty strenuous uphill). Return by the light of the full moon.

Cape Town Sunset

25. Swim In The Sea

South Africa’s coastline is beach mecca; Durban’s beaches, the Dolphin Coast, the Eastern Cape’s beaches or the Atlantic beaches.

26. Drive Chapman’s Peak

Drive Chapman’s Peak for some of the best views in the world.

Chapmans Peak Drive

27. Take The Cable Car Up Table Mountain

One of the top tourist attractions when in Cape Town.

28. Drive The Akkedispass

Because the arid beauty of the Richtersveld deserves exploring.

Rock art - Bushmen

29. Discover San Rock Art

South Africa has one of the richest collections of rock art in the world.

30. Zipline From Tree To Tree

South Africa has at least three forests offering canopy top tree slides.

Lion at Kruger National Park

31. Go On Safari In The Kruger National Park

The largest game reserve in the country promises one of the best wildlife experiences.

32. Discover Our Ancestors At !Khwa ttu

Descendants of the ancient hunter-gatherers, and some of the earliest people on earth, the San culture remains a living tradition, celebrated at Khwa ttu.

Whale Watching Garden Route

33. Drive The Garden Route

The southern coast’s scenic coastal corridor (aka the Garden Route) is a Pandora’s box of ancient forests, rivers, wetlands, dunes, beaches, lakes, mountains and indigenous fynbos.


34. In A Treehouse

In a Limpopo conservancy, at a game lodge, in Tulbagh or just outside Sedgefield. (See some ideas here – Amazing Treehouse stays in South Africa)

The Peech Hotel

35. Under The Stars

In the southern Sabi Sand Game Reserve , Mapungubwe, in a riverside sandstone cave near Barkly East, or on a walking safari in the Kruger.

36. On A Boathouse

Floating accommodation in style.

South Africa Travel Plans