They say, you find the whole world in South Africa. From its rich culture and complex history, its amazing food, award-winning wine and bustling art scene to its beautiful nature and wildlife: South Africa really has a lot to offer. This is our holistic guide on what to do in South Africa. Get to know South Africa’s diversity with these highlights and hidden gems.

1. Immerse yourself into Cape Town’s vibrant art scene on “First Thursdays”

If you are looking at what to do in Cape Town, you might get overwhelmed with the abundance of activities. When in the Mother City and given the timing is right, don’t miss out on “First Thursdays”: Every first Thursday of the month, the vibrant South African art scene opens its doors for after-hours visitors.

First Thurdays art exhibition Cape Town

With a glass of wine in your hand, you have the chance to get an extensive impression of the creativity South Africa has to offer. First Thursdays are a “walking event”, which enables you to explore various art galleries and museums by foot in one night. This is a great experience, especially when you don’t know anything about South African art. It is also nothing like your normal museum visit. “First Thursdays” provide an opportunity to mingle with artists and other fun-loving people in a casual environment.

Make sure to have a look at the current programme on their website, as they often have exciting pop-up shows, performances or live music.


2. Where time stands still: Experience the remoteness of the Eastern Cape in Coffee Bay and Mdumbi

While one of the more remote places in South Africa, the Wild Coast surely is one of the most beautiful ones. The gem of the Wild Coast is a small town called Coffee Bay. The tranquillity here is hard to describe, it seems as if time stands still. You will see simple rondavels all over, which are the traditional houses of the Xhosa, who live in the area and show their warm hospitality to guests. On the quiet streets, you can make friends with cows, pigs, chickens, and much more livestock. Rugged cliffs and scenic views make it a perfect hiking spot. This is also a famous destination for surfing.

Make sure to visit Mdumbi beach, which was voted one of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches. Despite these praises, there is a good chance that you will be here all by yourself – thanks to its remoteness, not many travellers make it all the way to the Wild Coast. Stick your feet in the soft white sand, take a dip in the crystal-clear water and take a moment to take a break from the rest of the world.


3. Fish restaurant the South African way: Die Strandloper

Are you still wondering what to do or where to eat in South Africa? Die Strandloper is a well-known fish restaurant just outside of Cape Town. Located in Langebaan, directly at the beach, it is well worth the 2-hour drive. But this is not just a normal fish restaurant, it’s an experience: While sitting at the beach, you can indulge in an all-you-can-eat fish “braai” (a real South African barbecue). The food is prepared in true “West Coast style”, by real West Coast people. The meal consists of ten courses, so make sure to go easy on that freshly baked bread to leave some room for all the fish. You can bring your own drinks. Pack a cooler box to keep them cold.

Die Strandloper fish restaurant

A visit at Die Strandloper can easily become a full day trip. The most convenient thing to do is to book a shuttle that brings you safely there and back. We advise making a booking with the restaurant a bit in advance, as the popular lunch spots can sometimes be booked out.

While in the area, make sure to also pay a visit to the West Coast National Park. There are so many things to do and see here. You will find beautiful white dunes, rare fynbos and green wetlands. The national park’s highlight is its azure blue lagoon.


4. Hang out with Hippos and experience South Africa’s tropical side: Santa Lucia and iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Did you know that South Africa has two climate zones? When visiting KwaZulu-Natal, you will feel it, too! This province of South Africa borders on Mozambique and is home to the Zulu people. With its long shoreline along the Indian Ocean and its tropical climate, you find many popular holiday spots here. Santa Lucia is one of these spots. And it is not only a popular place for humans: Hippopotami are frequently seen roaming the streets here (watch out, they’re wild animals and dangerous), you might hear bush babies crying at night and even a leopard has been spotted on the streets of St Lucia. No wonder, Santa Lucia was declared South Africa’s very first world heritage site.

Hippos in St Lucia eastuary

While in St Lucia, take some time to explore the “10 Jewels” that make up the surrounding area of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. iSimangaliso is Zulu for “miracle and wonder”, which is an apt description of the rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems occurring in this relatively small area. Don’t miss out on the crocodiles, turtles, whales, and all the other wildlife and natural beauty this area has to offer.


5. What to do in Johannesburg? Visit Soweto!

When you happen to have a few days in Johannesburg, you should really plan a proper visit to Soweto. Soweto, which is short for South Western Townships, is South Africa’s biggest township. It is synonymous with Black resistance during Apartheid. Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu lived here, and today you can still get a sense for the energy of these days when visiting Vilakazi Street. In fact, Tutu still lives here and can sometimes be seen wandering the streets with his wife. When visiting Vilakazi Street, grab a bite in one of the many restaurants here that serve local cuisine. Vilakazi Street has also become a famous party spot for the Johannesburg youth.

Johannesburg Skyline

Soweto has developed from struggle to suburbia. It draws large crowds for a variety of events. The country’s largest stadium is in Soweto, where also a part of the soccer World Cup was hosted in 2010. Soweto is a magical place where you can feel the heartbeat of the country.

 What to do Soweto signboard


6. Enjoy South African “champagne” in a beautiful mountain scenery: Wine Tasting in Tulbagh

The pretty little town of Tulbagh is nestled in a valley among the stunning scenery of magnificent mountains. Established in 1699, you still find many historic buildings here today. Only a mere 1.5 hours’ drive away from Cape Town, Tulbagh lies in the heart of the Cape Winelands and is particularly known for its bubbly. Beneath the dramatic backdrop of the Witzenberg range, you will come across many beautiful places to stay and eat.

Mountain scene Tulbagh

Treat yourself to a nice glass of M.C.C. (short for Méthode Cap Classique), which is the South African “champagne”. If you want to cool yourself down while sipping some bubbly, you should visit the Montpellier Wine Estate and take a dip in their pool. Right around the corner, you will find some more excellent M.C.C. Sparkling Wines, at “The House of Krone”. At the foot of the mountain with the same name lies the Saronsberg Cellar, which is known for their high-quality white wines.


7. Mountain Feeling in the Drakensberg: The stunning scenery of South Africa’s largest mountain range

The Drakensberg is the largest mountain range in South Africa and its cliff formations are truly one of a kind. The area is a dynamic wonderland of rugged cliffs, dramatic waterfalls, river valleys and high peaks. You can also discover over 35.000 examples of ancient rock paintings of the San here. Further, it is the ideal terrain for hiking, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding or to simply take in the views. In winter, the mountains are dusted with snow, making it even possible to do winter sports in Africa.

Peak in Drakensberg

However, the Drakensberg is better known for offering some of the best hiking opportunities in South Africa. And there is something for everyone: From gentle half-day hikes and multiple-day trips to more challenging climbs or even technical mountaineering. We recommend staying at the Greenfire Drakensberg Lodge in the Northern Drakensberg.

Drakensberg South Africa

Here you can observe a colony of Cape vultures or simply enjoy the striking views over the Sterkfontein Dam, the Drakensberg Mountains and Lesotho’s Maloti Mountains from the highest point.


8. The ultimate safari experience in the wilderness of the Kruger Park

When planning what to do in South Africa, this is a destination you should definitely put on your list. The Kruger Park in the northeast of the country was South Africa’s first national park. The park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa – it is larger than Tanzania’s Serengeti. A visit to the Kruger Park is the ultimate safari experience. The endless wilderness and over 140 mammal species (including the Big Five), make for memorable wildlife experiences.

Leopard in Kruger Park

We recommend staying at the Skukuza Rest Camp, the “capital” of Kruger National Park. This camp is situated in the southern area of the park and lies right in the heart of Big Five territory; you will overnight here on our guided-tour Fascinating South Africa. Lions are spotted frequently in this area. Go on bush walks and game drives to discover a myriad of birds and wild game. Skukuza camp is located next to the Sabie River. From the camp you have beautiful views of both the river and the wildlife that regularly visits for a sip of water.

Get in touch with us for your ultimate South Africa trip. Our team is happy to help you plan your perfect travels. We advise you on what to do in South Africa and make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the beautiful spots in this beautiful country!