South Africa is a beautiful country that offers a mesmerising tapestry of experiences for visitors. From the famous safaris where you can spot the “Big Five” animals – lions, leopards, elephants, African buffalo and rhinoceroses – in their natural habitat, to the beautiful beaches along the Garden route, there’s really a lot to take in and enjoy. 

Here are some of my favourite places to visit in South Africa, and things to do to in some of the most popular cities – from Cape Town to Johannesburg – to maximise your adventure.

1. Learn about South Africa’s turbulent history at Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum

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If you’re looking for the best things to do in Johannesburg, a visit to the Apartheid Museum should be at the top of your list. Learn about apartheid in South Africa, and explore interactive exhibits about the country’s past.

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Exterior view of the Apartheid Museum, a must-visit for any South Africa itinerary

Start your trip by flying into Johannesburg, the biggest city in South Africa – which flourished as a gold-mining settlement in the 19th century.

If you’re looking for things to do in Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum is definitely at the top of the list. The museum, a sprawling complex with many interactive exhibits, documents apartheid in South Africa, and Nelson Mandela’s life.

The museum is about a 40 minute drive from the city centre. Do cater at least two hours to explore this space, as there’s a lot of exhibits to cover.

You can factor in a short 1-2 day stay in Johannesburg, before driving to Kruger National Park (about 4-5 hours away)

Apartheid Museum
Address: Corner of Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Roads, Ormonde, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Opening hours: 9:00am-5:00pm from Wednesdays to Sundays and on Public Holidays

2. Soak in the scenery at God’s Window Mountain View

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View of the Blyde River Canyon from God’s Window Mountain View, a popular tourist attraction for sightseeing in South Africa.

God’s Window is a very popular tourist attraction and landmark within the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, found along the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga. It is also one small section of a 250km long formation of cliffs. This is a must-visit pit stop enroute to Kruger National Park, when you’re driving over from Johannesburg. 

From the carpark, a short and relatively easy 10-15 minute climb will bring you to the viewpoint (with a 700m drop down to a lush forest below!). The viewpoint offers sweeping views of Blyde River Canyon.

God’s Window Mountain View
Address: R543, Ehlanzeni, South Africa
Opening hours: 7:00am-5:00pm daily

3. Visit one of Africa’s largest game reserves – Kruger National Park

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View of zebras from a safari at Kruger National Park, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions.

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View of giraffes from a safari at Kruger National Park, one of the best places to visit in South Africa for untouched wilderness and wildlife.

Kruger National Park is a giant game reserve that’s almost 2 million hectares. This huge safari has a very high density of wild animals, which are free to roam within the park. Here, visitors try to catch a glimpse of the “Big Five” animals – the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo. 

To access Kruger National Park, you can drive in with your own rented vehicles, but you will have to stay on the main driving path. If you’re not staying within the park, you will need to leave before the gates close – this happens between 5.30pm to 6.30pm (depending on the month). 

There are also plenty of accommodation options within the national park, including luxury lodges for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Accommodation within the park have their own camp perimeters (to keep large animals out), and you will not be permitted to leave the grounds when the gate locks in the evening, unless you’re with a camp ranger. Costs range from about R455 (S$32) for a hut, to R6,268 (S$442) for big guest houses. 

You will also need to pay conservation fees for each night of stay.

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Make your South Africa itinerary truly unforgettable by glimpsing some majestic lions during a night safari drive in Kruger National Park.

I would recommend at least 2 to 3 nights of stay within the park, with at least one Night Safari game drive with the park rangers, when you have a higher chance of spotting the Big Five – like the lions in the picture above! I stayed in two different types of accommodation, one which was more basic (a semi-permanent tent at the Orpen Rest Tamboti camp), and one which was in a chalet-like building in Lower Sabie camp. As Kruger has many different landscapes, you should also base off different camps to spot different types of animals. 

And if the sights at Kruger aren’t enough for you, here are even more must-visit game reserves in South Africa to add to your itinerary!

Kruger National Park
Address: There are 9 entrance gates, so it depends on where you’re going and coming from
Opening Hours: 6.00am-5.30pm depending on season. See here for the current timings.

4. Wake up to wildlife at your doorstep at Marloth Park

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View from my accommodation, Kudus Crest Bush Retreat, within Marloth Park. Marloth Park contains several accommodation options which you can choose from, before planning your South Africa trip itinerary.

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View of zebras outside Kudus Crest Bush Retreat in Marloth Park, a tourist attraction and wildlife sanctuary in South Africa ideal for animal lovers.

Once you’ve finished your leg in Kruger, travel to Marloth Park on your way towards South Africa’s south-eastern coast. Marloth Park is a wildlife sanctuary and holiday town, located just south of Kruger National Park. The Crocodile River forms a natural boundary between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. 

Unlike Kruger, where game is not permitted near accommodations, Marloth is special as a large number of game (e.g., zebra, giraffe, impala, warthogs) can freely roam. As such, it’s common for you to wake up to zebras and impalas at your doorstep, which is definitely an experience you will never forget! This is also a unique experience where you can also feed the animals (only with approved feed).

I stayed at Kudus Crest Bush Retreat (as seen in the picture above, left), which was a huge and comfortable house. At sunset, eat at the “Amazing Kruger River View Restaurant” within Marloth Park, which offers unblocked views of Kruger and Crocodile River.

Marloth Park
Address: It depends on where you stay – please check with your accommodation for specific directions. The two main entrance gates are located at Crocodile Bridge Gate 14 Kilometers and Malelane Gate 35 Kilometers.

5. Road trip down the South African Garden Route

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Bloukrans Bridge, which is 216 meters above the Bloukrans River, is also a spot for the brave souls to bungy jump from. A definite must-add to any adrenaline-seeking South Africa itinerary.

If your trip planners run out of things to do in Cape Town, it’s time to escape the city and go for a breezy romp through the South African shoreline. Drive down the south-eastern coast of South Africa on the Garden Route – spanning 300km. The route, which starts at Mossel Bay (4 hours 25 minutes outside of Cape Town) and ends at Storms River, boasts spectacular coastline views and you can also explore national parks, forests, and beaches. You can also visit Knysna, known as the jewel of the Garden Route and famous for its oysters. When visiting Knysna Waterfront, drop by O Pescador for some of the freshest oysters.

For the thrill seekers, you may also wish to bookmark Bloukrans Bridge bungy, which is among the world's highest commercial bungy jumping sites. I tried it myself and it was an amazing, heart-stopping experience. Get your sports camera ready because it comes complete with a zipline adventure to the middle of the bridge, while you wait for your turn, and a sky walk back to the starting point. The bungy workers keep a lively atmosphere up on the bridge, and you would definitely be entertained while waiting for your turn to step off the bridge!

6. Embrace nature at its best at Tsitsikamma National Park

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View from Storms River bridge in Tsitsikamma National Park along the Garden Route, constructed in the 1950s. Tsitsikamma is ideal for trip planners who want to experience a diversity of activities in one location, ranging from hiking to diving.

Located along the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park is an all-in-one tourist attraction with its lush forests and dramatic coastal sights. You can also experience the National Park through a myriad of activities, such as hiking, diving and snorkelling.

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Stay at Storms River Rest Camp for a beautiful seaside view. South Africa is full of natural sights and wonders that make the perfect break from the more common tourist attractions in your itinerary.

I stayed in a cottage at Storms River Rest Camp – one of my favourite spots on this trip. It’s located right next to the ocean and comes with its own kitchen and balcony where you can grill food.

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View of the Storms River Suspension Bridge in Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa, a breathtaking oceanscape worth travelling to!

A short hike from the accommodation will bring you to the Storms River Suspension Bridge, with fantastic views of the ocean.

7. Wine and dine at one of the many vineyards in Cape Winelands

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Looking for leisurely things to do in or near Cape Town? Set aside a few hours to visit the wine estates just outside the city for a lazy afternoon sampling the many types of red, white and sparkling wines available.

Cape Winelands, not far from Cape Town, is an area in South Africa that is known for their vineyards and delicious food, with hundreds of wine producers. The towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek (French Corner) are two of the more popular and famous towns in this wine region, with many wine estates to choose from.

I visited the La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek – for R80 (S$5.70), you can sample 6 different varieties in a half-day wine tasting experience – a superb deal for wine lovers. There is even a hop-on, hop-off tram in Franschhoek which you can use to explore the different wineries and things to do!

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View of grapevines at Mymering Wine & Guest Farm vineyard outside Cape Town. Budding oenophiles and expert wine connoisseurs alike will have no shortage of varieties to try and things to do while out in the Cape Winelands.

Apart from sampling some of Cape Town’s finest wines, you can also book a stay at some of the vineyards; I stayed at Mymering Wine & Guest Farm, located in Ladismith – a farming community in the area. As the area has little light pollution, you’re bound to also get to see beautiful night skies!

8. Take in Cape Town’s natural sights and sounds

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Cape Town is one of the places any tourist needs to visit in South Africa, and it’s full of tourist attractions, nature spots, and sightseeing vistas to behold. For the best sunset views, visit Clifton Beach in Cape Town.

End your trip in Cape Town, a beautiful and lively city surrounded by nature. Cape Town is South Africa’s legislative capital and is a must-visit for any tourist coming to South Africa for the first time. The most spectacular sight in Cape Town would be the flat-topped Table Mountain, which looms over the city, and can be seen from many vantage points. Do remember to set aside time in your trip planner to climb Table Mountain for unparalleled views of Cape Town city. 

However this isn’t to be confused with Table Mountain National Park, which is located along the Cape Peninsula leading out of the city. If you’re paying a day trip to the Peninsula, make sure to set aside time to visit the iconic Cape Point at the Cape of Good Hope, where panoramic views of the sea and an intriguing 19th century lighthouse await.

Meanwhile, towards the northern coast of the city, Clifton Beach is another popular tourist attraction for its amazing sunsets, with views of the coastline from Hout Bay!

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African penguins at the Boulders Beach Penguins Sanctuary in the Cape Peninsula, just north of Cape Point. Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s must-visit tourist attractions and destinations for animal lovers.

For the penguin lovers, you will thoroughly enjoy Boulders Beach Penguins Sanctuary along the Cape Peninsula, home to the rare African penguin. Here, the boardwalk takes you up close to the adorable penguins, as they swim and search for food. This is an all-year round destination, but opening hours differ depending on the month so make sure to get the timing right before planning your day trip.

Things to do, note and prepare in advance for your trip:

  • Driving is a must in South Africa to get around, as there is minimal public transport.
  • Your usual travel adaptor doesn’t work here – you need to purchase one of their own when you land at the airport.
  • The best month to visit South Africa would be April/May and Sep/Oct, when there is less rain – makes it easier to spot game at the nature reserves.
  • Bring along powerbank(s), as South Africa has a “load-shedding” system in place. For certain periods throughout the day, there is no electricity – you won’t be able to charge your electrical devices.
  • Stay connected throughout your travels with an overseas WiFi router, so you won’t have to worry about poor data signals out in the bush
  • Ensure you’re up to date with the essential travel vaccinations before your trip, so you can stay protected and healthy and avoid those holiday flus.


If you’re wondering how many days you need in South Africa, I would say plan out an itinerary of 12-14 days to cover the “essentials” including any game drives you’ll want to take – start at Johannesburg, head on to Kruger National Park, drive down the Garden Route, and end at Cape Town. 

Do plan a visit to this beautiful country to enjoy its many experiences, attractions, and panoramic views!


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