From the picturesque Garden Route towns of the Western Cape, the raw subtropical coast of northern Kwazulu-Natal to the vast Karoo semi-desert stretched across its center, South Africa remains one of Africa’s best tourist destinations. Playing host to one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, the Kruger National Park, sprawling along the northeast border, South Africa’s big cities attract thousands of tourists from around the world, making the country a bubbling arena of cultural and social life.

As the southernmost country on the African continent, South Africa is renowned for its topography, great natural beauty, including a rich cultural diversity, all of which has made the country one of the best lists of travelers both inside and outside the continent. It has three cities that serve as capitals; Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial). The largest urban city in the country; Johannesburg is also the center of commerce sitting at the heart of the populous Gauteng province.

South Africa has a total of 11 official languages namely Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Ndebele, Sotho, Setswana, Swati, Venda and Tsonga. With a total population of 56 million people, the black Africans make up the majority of the population while the white people make up just under 9% with other mixed-race descendants. With a land area of 1.221 million km2, South Africa is twice the size of France and Spain combined.

Tourist Attractions in South Africa

From the Cape vineyards to the baobab-dotted Limpopo, through the Karoo and Drakensberg mountains, visiting South Africa either for work, tourism or vacation is very rewarding.

Here are some of the best places to visit in South Africa:

  1. Cape Town

EM Travel Guide - South Africa 1As one of Africa’s most beautiful cities, the rich urban texture of Cape Town is distinct through the beautiful nature and varied architecture making it one of the most beautiful cities in Africa. It is the oldest and second-largest city in South Africa, coming after Johannesburg and it’s also the seat of South Africa’s parliament. To acknowledge the architectural beauty of the city, it was named the World Design Capital for 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, and also named the best place to visit in the world by the New York Times and The Daily Telegraph.

  1. Kruger National Park

EM Travel Guide - South Africa 2One of the best tourist centers on every tourist list in South Africa is the Kruger National Park. Home to scores of elephants, lions and thousands of other magnificent animals, the park sits on over 20,000 square kilometers, the size of Israel al or El Salvador. The Kruger National Park is the easiest African game park to drive around solely, with different accommodation options.

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  1. The Garden Route

EM Travel Guide - South Africa 3The Garden Route in South Africa is a thin stretch of coastal plain between the Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth, taking the title as South Africa’s paradise. The Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are the three bays that dominate the Garden Route. Mossel Bay is the starting point of the drive, Knysna is filled with forest-cloaked hills while  Plettenberg Bay is filled with good swimming beaches.

  1. The Winelands

South AfricaIf you are visiting South Africa for its delicacies and cuisines, then the Winelands is the best place for this. It is for indulgence when it comes to eating, drinking and relaxing. Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and the Somerset West serve as the Winelands and they all have their wine routes. The Winelands are one of the best places in South Africa when it comes to food and wine as it has a concentration of some of the country’s top restaurants.

When is the best time to visit South Africa?

To enjoy your journey to South Africa, it is best to decide on the best time to travel. The warmer months (November to April) are the best time to visit the west of South Africa, while the eastern part of the country is best visited in cooler months (May to October). The period between June to August is the rainy season in Cape Town and also the Western Cape. Even though the prices of accommodation are low during this period, they are great months to visit the arid lands of South Africa like the Karoo.

Best things to do in South Africa

  • Live music in Johannesburg
  • Rafting the Great Usutu
  • Safari
  • Hiking
  • Watersports
  • Whale watching in Hermanus and the southern Cape coast
  • Watching dunes, zebras, bontebok and whales at the De Hoop Nature Reserve
  • Encounter herds of majestic elephants in the Addo Elephant National Park

What to pack for a trip to South Africa?

Here’s a brief list of the essentials for any South Africa packing list:

  1. ID documents (passport, visa, driver’s license)
  2. Money, credit cards
  3. Bathing suit, sunscreen
  4. Basic toiletries
  5. Power outlet adapter
  6. Anti-malaria medication

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