18 of the most beautiful places in South Africa

18 of the most beautiful places in South Africa

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Here at HA, South Africa is the first destination we ever designed holidays to, so it will always have a very special place in our travel-loving hearts! However, although we might be a little biased, the beautiful places in South Africa really do speak for themselves. And, with unmissable highlights such as…

✓ Pinch-yourself wildlife encounters
✓ Some of the best driving roads on earth
✓ Bustling, cosmopolitan cities to explore
✓ World-class wines
✓ Endless photo-worthy landscapes

 

…it’s impossible not to love it.

 

This country is oozing beauty at every turn. Don’t believe us? Have a scroll through these most beautiful places in South Africa… 

 

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1. The Garden Route

South Africa’s Garden Route really is a road trip to add to the wish list. If the idea of getting behind the wheel of your own car, with nothing but the open road and countless breathtaking viewpoints and stop offs ahead of you, you won’t be disappointed here. You could take to the water for a whale watching tour, visit one of the many wildlife sanctuaries, take long sunset strolls along stretches of white sand beaches, or even explore the impressively cavernous Cango Caves. With countless highlights, chat to one of our South Africa specialists about how to make this remarkable stretch of road fit perfectly with your holiday and your interests. Take me there > 

 

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2. Bo Kaap, Cape Town

How you ever seen a street more colourful? A visit to Bo Kaap, the rainbow heart of Cape Town, is sure to brighten up your day (and your photo album!) Literally translated, Bo Kaap means ‘above the Cape’ was formerly known as the Malay Quarter and is the oldest residential area in Cape Town. With its vibrantly coloured homes (that are repainted every year!) and cobbled streets, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most photographed areas in Cape Town. Take me there >

 

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3. Knysna

Knysna is a beautiful place in South Africa to stop during your time on the Garden Route. Would you just look at how inviting that turquoise water is? Drive to the stunning viewpoint at Knysna Heads and watch the waves crashing below you, book a sunset cruise up the lagoon, unwind on the stunning beaches, visit the orphaned elephants at Knysna Elephant Park or visit the Featherbed Private Nature Reserve. Find out more > 

 

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4. Tsitsikamma National Park

Walking over the swaying Tsitsikamma suspension bridges at Storms River is a must for a stop off on this part of the Garden Route. Park at the top and make your way down the paved trail towards the iconic bridge where the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Lush green hills cascade down to the jagged coastline, and the hung bridges lead you over the impressive rocks as they’re battered by the powerful impact of the surf. The bridges move quite a lot even on a calm day, so brace yourself! Find out more > 

 

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5. Table Mountain

Table Mountain is as beautiful as it is iconic. Synonymous with South Africa, this mountain really is a sight to behold. We recommend taking a ride (or a hike if you’re feeling adventurous!) up on a clear day to take in the magic views from the top, and prepare to be spellbound as you follow the paths surrounded by far-reaching 360 degree beauty. As shown in the picture above, Table Mountain is often covered by a thick layer of clouds – called the ‘tablecloth’ by locals – and they wouldn’t do much for the view! But, on a blue-sky day you’ll see all the way out over the city towards Robben Island if you look one way, or down the rocky spine of the Cape Peninsula if you look the other.

Keep your eyes peeled for the local dassies whilst you’re exploring, too. These furry critters look a little bit like inflated guinea pigs, but – fun fact – their closest relatives are the African elephant!  Take me there >

 

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6. The Winelands

South Africa’s stunning Winelands are worth a visit whether you’re partial to a tipple or not. The towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are each full of fantastic foodie-worthy experiences to be enjoyed, whether you choose to take a wine tour with a local legend, hop onto your own two wheels for a cycling tour, or treat yourself to the ultimate Winelands experience: a ride on the Franschhoek wine tram! What’s more, this delicious destination is easy to reach on a day trip from Cape Town, or makes the perfect stop off on the way to your Big 5 safari! Tell me more >

 

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7. Cape Town

Cape Town is undeniably one of the most visually beautiful and culturally varied cities you could hope to visit in our wonderful world. It’s also, quite rightly, the foundation of any South Africa trip! Take the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, explore the V&A Waterfront, get a flavour for the local cuisine on a food tour, take a cruise around the harbour or pay a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent many years incarcerated. There’s so much to do and see here, it’s without doubt a stop you’ll be raving about after to everyone you meet. Take me there > 

 

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8. Kruger National Park

No ‘most beautiful places in South Africa’ round up would be complete without including the iconic wildlife haven that is Kruger National Park. It is THE place to encounter Africa’s ‘Big 5’, with countless lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino all calling this 19,000 square kilometres of stunning nature, home. The beauty of nature is at play in a big way here and, whether you experience it in ultimate luxury or camp out under the stars, Kruger really is the dream playground for animal lovers. Imagine walking in the footsteps of a pride of lions on a walking safari, pulling up next to a watering hole where an elephant family are taking a drink or driving through the bush as the bright orange African sun slowly sinks beneath the horizon. It’s magic. Take me there >

 

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9. Cape of Good Hope

A drive along the Cape Peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope is something we always recommend adding to a stay in Cape Town. Head up to the top of the lighthouse for an unbeatable view of the dramatic, rocky headland jutting out into the blue of the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll feel like you’re at the end of the earth here! The journey here is just as impressive as the destination though, with many stops worth making on the way – Llandudno Beach, the penguins of Boulders Beach and the stunningly beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive to name a few!) Take me there > 

 

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10. Valley of Desolation

The Valley of Desolation is a geological phenomenon found in South Africa’s Camdeboo National Park on the Eastern Cape. The impressively sheer cliff face that glows golden in the light of the setting sun along with the sweeping views over the Klein Karoo are well worth the easy walk up to the viewing points. There’s not a huge amount to do here, but if you take some refreshments spending an hour or so taking in the fantastic views would be well worth the trip. Take me there >

 

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11. Pretoria’s Jacaranda lined streets

Between late September and the middle of November, more than 70,000 Jacaranda trees cover Pretoria in a sea of purple, making it a city worthy of any ‘most beautiful places in South Africa’ roundup – and your holiday snaps! What’s more, many South African students believe that if a purple petal falls on your head, it’s good luck for those exams! Take me there >

 

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12. Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg Mountains span an incredible 700 miles, two countries and five South African provinces and are best enjoyed from the western corner of KwaZulu-Natal where they rise to their imposing best, forming the impenetrable border with Lesotho. The spectacular scenery is best enjoyed on foot, taking in one of the countless hiking trails that wind their way through the rolling hills, jagged mountains and up to iconic landmarks such as the AmphitheatreTake me there >

 

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13. Chapman’s Peak Drive

This road often features on ‘best road trips in the world’ list, and we’re very much behind that decision! Weaving around the jagged coastline between Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, if you love the feeling of the wide-open road leading you somewhere new, you won’t forget your drive around Chapman’s Peak in a hurry!  Take me there >

 

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14. Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town

Boulders Beach is a must-stop on any road trip from Cape Town to the Cape Peninsula. Simon’s Town itself is a charming naval town, but its biggest draw for sure is the African Penguin colony which lives on its shores. The beach is home to hundreds of penguins who you can watch going about their daily business – there will be waddling, washing, swimming, playing and potentially mating! It’s a great excursion for all the family! Take me there >

 

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15. Blyde River Canyon

Would you look at that landscape? No roundup of the most beautiful places in South Africa would be complete without mentioning the sprawling, lush, mountainous views to be found at Blyde River Canyon. Blyde River Canyon is in the heart of the Mpumalanga province and is the third largest canyon in the world. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy endless stunning scenery, fresh air that’s truly good-for-the-soul and, if hiking is your thing, some truly breathtaking walking trails (just watch out for the baboons!). Take me there > 

 

 

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16. The Wild Coast

South Africa’s Wild Coast really is what it says on the tin. A jagged coastline complete with rocky cliff faces, hidden coves, sheltered beaches, beautiful rock formations (like the Hole in the Wall) and so much beautiful open space to explore. If you’re a fan of hiking, there are some staggering trails that lead you around the cliff edge. Plus, if you like to balance your active adventures with cultural ones, you can pay a visit to the Nelson Mandela Museum in his birth town of Mthatha or visit one of the villages of the Xhosa tribe to learn all about way of life in this remote part of South Africa. Take me there > 

 

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17. God’s Window

God’s Window found in Mpumalanga on the Panorama Route, will treat you to breathtaking vistas from the edge of a cliff face that drops a dizzying 700 metres to the valley floor below. You’ll see from the edge of the Great Escarpment out across the Kruger National Park to the distant Lebombo Mountains that share a border with Mozambique. We recommend trying to visit on a clear day if you can, to make the most of the far-reaching views and intimidating drop below you. The surrounding area with its waterfalls (Mac Mac Falls is a must!), river canyons and huge swathes of forest and wildlife make for a great stopover destination if you’re travelling between the Kruger and Johannesburg, and is also a good place to combine with time on safari. Take me there > 

 

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18. Bourke’s Luck Potholes

This beautiful spot is the perfect place to marvel at the hand of Mother Nature. Found in the Blyde River Canyon area, these natural rock formations have been beautifully carved by the flow of the river and really do look like potholes! Take me there > 

 

So there we have it, 18 of the most beautiful places in South Africa, just waiting for you. Fancy it? Give us a call on 01242 253 073 and have a chat to Cat or Kirsty, our South Africa Specialists (fanatics), who will be delighted to help design your perfect adventure. Alternatively, pop an enquiry in here and they’ll be in touch soon! Browse all Holiday Architects destinations