South Africa – the safari superpower! Lapped up by two ocean on either side, this peninsula is blessed with some of the most incredible scenery and awe-inspiring tourist attractions. You can bask under the shimmering lights of the star-studded desert skies, soak in the immensity of the jagged mountains, and encounter the most exotic wildlife. Moreover, South Africa has vibrant cities, friendly people and even some incredible adventure sports for the adrenaline junkie in you. No matter your taste, you’ll find numerous fantastic things to do in South Africa.
South Africa is a country of astounding diversity. You will find people from all cultures, ethnicities and walks of life here. But not just the cities – this diversity extends to their wildlife as well! South Africa is one of the world’s best destinations for a safari. This is because it is a humble abode to the Big Five, which constitutes of the Lion, the Leopard, Buffalos, the Elephant and the Rhino. Here, you have the freedom to drive right through exalting wilderness at Kruger, Kgalagadi and other such parks – or join the khaki-clad rangers on guided drives and walks.
But safaris here are more than just big game sightings, no! Here you can cherish the finer things as well; such a baby tortoise ambling across the road, a handshake with a seal, or a rendezvous with a Great White Shark. Furthermore, South Africa’s ever-changing scenery makes it the perfect playground for you to plan an action-packed trip! You can try out some exciting adventure sports such as rock climbing, surfing, abseiling from Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain, or bungee jumping.
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Best Things to do in South Africa
- Hiking Table Mountain, Cape Town
- Bungee Jumping off Bloukrans Bridge
- Taking a bath on a cliff in Hogsback
- Surfing in Jeffreys Bay
- Safari at Kruger National Park
- Helicopter Tour of Cape Town
- Visit Robben Island
- Go Whale Watching in Hermanus
- Visit some African Penguins in Simonstown
- Shop at the Watershed
1. Hiking on Table Top Mountain (Cape Town)
All nature lovers out there, listen up! While most people either plan their holiday revolving around the coastline or spend most of their trips going on different safaris and tours; those who are truly adventurous at heart should explore this different side of South Africa.
A multi-day hike to Table Top Mountain is guaranteed to award you with two things – an adrenaline rush, and a breath-taking view! The Table Top Mountain in Cape Town is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World! Scale all the up to reach its extraordinary summit, and you will have bragging rights over your friends for the rest of your life.
Cost: $3.50 for adults, $2 for children below 12 years of age.
2. Bungee Jumping off Bloukrans Bridge
Up next is this extremely thrilling thing to do in South Africa – Bungee Jumping! Awaken the adrenaline junkie in you here. Most tourists leave with a sense of such pride, accomplishment and a healthy dose of adrenalin and energy that you wouldn’t get in another way. This is because Bloukrans Bridge is the highest bridge bungee in the World! But don’t worry, you won’t sustain any injuries of any kind. Face Adrenaline – the agency – has been running successfully for over 23 years, and in that time, they have faced 0 casualties or incidents of any sort. Come down to Bloukrans Bridge for one of the most awe-inspiring things to do in South Africa.
Cost: $45, and only for those who have a legal age of 21 years or above.
Suggested Read: 7 Best Safaris in South Africa
3. Taking a bath on a cliff in Hogsback
For an experience of tangible excitement and childlike wonder, there is no better place to go than to Hogsback Cliff. Venture down to this wondrous quaint little town and stay at the Away with the Fairies resort.
“What makes this any different from all the other hotels in the world”, you ask? Well, this hotel is located on a plateau, and perched right on the edge of the cliff; overlooking the oldest forest in South Africa – you will find the world’s most famous Bathtub! You heard that right! At the edge of the cliff at World’s End, is this tiny little tub where you can take a peaceful bath while watching the splendour of the earth unfold before you. This is an experience you likely to never forget.
Did you know: This place is also known as Hobbit Mountain because it served as the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings!
Cost: $25 if you are a resident at the Away with the Fairies resort, otherwise $50.
4. Surfing in Jeffrey’s Bay
Another interesting thing to do in South Africa is a trip down to Jeffery’s Bay. Albeit small, the panoramic surfing mecca of Jeffrey’s Bay boasts a prestigious reputation of being one of the greatest surfing sites in the world, not just South Africa. In this town, you get a feeling of endless summer dreams! The town itself is quaint, friendly and exotic in diversity. It also hosts annual Surfing competitions and regularly holds surfing shows.
Tourists come here to learn surfing from some of the best academies with some of the most competent guides, or you may even choose to sit back, dig your toes in the pristine white sand and enjoy the show! Evenings are blissful here and the people are extremely friendly. You can take a stroll along the beach, and you will see many barbeques and campfire sites. Tourists are more than welcome to join the locals in this merriment. A place unlike anything you have ever seen before, Jeffery’s Bay will touch your soul!
Cost: $35 if you wish to surf, but free for everything else.
5. Safari at Kruger National Park
Next up on the list of top things to do in South Africa, is what everyone has been waiting for – the Safari. And what better place to go on a safari than the Kruger National Park. Here, tourists can find a high density of wild animals ranging in shape and size, including the Big 5 – namely lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. There are only about 15 such reserves in the world which can claim this title.
If you wish, you can even choose to stay the night at the national park. The clear sky at night looks like a tapestry of stars, shimmering down giving a dull glow. And what’s more? Campfire songs and scary stories will regale you. Coming to this vibrant land and not visiting Kruger National Park should be considered a sin!
Cost: $105 per person for a day-long safari.
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6. Helicopter Tour of Cape Town
Cape Town is a magnetic city! Its charm will entice anyone, and its beauty stupefies most. Of all the cities in all the world, Cape Town is one of the most aesthetically pleasing, especially when viewed aerially. The city is planned out so beautifully and symmetrically.
You can take panoramic aerial shots of the V and A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Table mountain and the all the pristine beaches! Exciting, thrilling and adventurous, this is definitely one of the most memorable things to do when in South Africa.
Cost: $75 per person for a 15-minute helicopter ride
7. Visit Robben Island
Robben Island is a must visit place in South Africa! While most other places on this list are about the exciting things to do in South Africa, this one is special. If you wish to learn more about this country, get a flavour of its troubled history and understand its cultural heritage – then visit Robben Island.
It will only take you half a day’s trip, but you will explore one of the most significant places on Earth. It was this island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 20 years of his life! The tour of the jail cell is fascinating, albeit melancholic. The most amazing part about this visit, however, is that the tour guides here are none other than the very men who were once upon a time imprisoned here for fighting for the rights of their fellow citizens and their country itself. (Click here to more about Robben Island)
Cost: $22 per person for a guided tour (lasts from 10 AM to 4 PM).
8. Go Whale Watching in Hermanus
Recognized as one of the best whale watching destinations in the World, Hermanus is one place you must visit. A quaint seaside town merely a 2-hour drive from Cape Town, you can charter a small whale watching boat and sail into the sea. You will get to see these magnificent creatures up close. You can get awestruck by its sheer size and the subtle gentleness of these whales. This is certainly an activity that should be in the top 10 list of things to do in South Africa!
Note: This activity is relatively seasonal. Most whale sightings happen in the months of September, October and November, so plan your trip accordingly.
Cost: $60 during peak season, $45 during offseason.
9. Visit some African Penguins in Simonstown
Who doesn’t like Penguins?
This marks one of the most sought after things to do in South Africa. The gigantic African Penguin colony in Simonstown should definitely be on your South African holiday itinerary. You will be treated to hundreds of adorable flappy little creatures here, just lounging in the cool breeze, under the brilliant African Sun, perhaps getting a tan?
But while the colony is the most visited spot, did you know that if you venture a little further down the coast, you will find a beach where you can go for a quick dip with these amazing creatures! Now that is an experience you are never going to forget, for sure.
Cost: $5.65 for an Adult ticket into the Penguin Colony.
10. Shop at the Watershed
Finally, let’s talk about shopping in South Africa. This is one of the most popular things to do in South Africa. Come to The Watershed in Cape Town, at the V&A Waterfront to find some of the most magical gifts, tee shirts, key chains, and other souvenirs to take back as a memento of your phenomenal time here.
The beauty of this particular place is that you won’t find many mass-produced souvenirs here. Instead, you will find individual trinkets that have a history and story to tell. You can even have some tailor-made for you. Be it clothes, jewellery, art and craft or pieces of furniture – at the Watershed, you are guaranteed to find something special!
Well, there you have it! These were 10 of the most captivating things to do in the beautiful country of South Africa. Visit these places and you will undoubtedly have a spellbinding time. Come down to the Rainbow Nation – you may not find yourself a pot of gold, but you certainly will make some golden memories!