While there are some wonderful vacation destinations that can be found throughout the entire world, there is something about a trip to the mysterious nation of South Africa that excites even experienced international travelers. The country is famous for its safari treks into the mountains and out across the savannah.
There is so much beauty along the shores and inland, that it is hard sometimes to think of other potential destinations in the country. The cities of South Africa though also offer some great experiences.
One of the best parts about visiting South Africa is experiencing the different cities that are there. Each one seems to have a culture all its own, and all of them are filled with wonderful attractions and experiences that cannot be had elsewhere. Visiting the communities of South Africa, both the large cities and the small towns, is also a great way to get a look at the real side of the country the way the people that live there see it every day. The cities of South Africa are vibrant, colorful, and incredible places to experience. They are definitely one of the most valuable assets that the country has.
Five Great Cities to Visit during a Trip to South Africa:
The largest city in South Africa is the city of Johannesburg. More than three million people live in the city and the surrounding suburbs and it is one of the main cultural centers of the nation. One of the first things most travelers notice when coming to Johannesburg is the high level of street entrepreneurship. Whether walking along the city’s sidewalks or driving through the streets, nearly everything anyone would ever need can be purchased from a street vendor, sometimes even while sitting at a red light. The Soweto suburb is a very popular stop for travelers as it tells the story of the time when South Africa was governed by Apartheid. Other great things to see in Johannesburg include the Apartheid Museum, Top of Africa observation deck, South Africa Military History Museum, Johannesburg Planetarium, Mandela Family Museum, and the South Africa Museum of Rock Art. There are a number of ways to view wildlife while in Johannesburg including visiting the Montecasino Bird Gardens, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, and Johannesburg Lion Park. Johannesburg is a wonderful city with a great many things to offer those that come its way.
Durban is an important city, not only to South Africa, but also to the entire continent of Africa. Durban sits on the east coast of the country and is the third largest city in South Africa. This is a popular destination for both tourists and business travelers as Durban is also the busiest port in all of Africa. The city has influence not only from Europe and Africa, but because of the large number of people who have moved there from India over the years, there is a good amount of Indian culture also on display. Like much of South Africa, both English and Zulu are spoken regularly in Durban, but there is no language barrier to speak of that would prevent Western travelers from making the trip there. Durban has a number of attractions that are popular with vacationers including the Durban Botanical Gardens, Durban City Hall, Crocodile Creek, Mahatma Gandhi Settlement, Durban North Japanese Gardens, KwaZulu Natal National Parks, and the uShaka Marine World. Berea is a unique area that is fun to visit. This long ridge overlooks the city, waterfront, and beaches and is filled with restaurants and shops. Another popular destination in the city is known as the Golden Mile. This stretch of beaches separates downtown Durban with the waters of the Indian Ocean and is a great place for sunbathing, people watching, beach games, surfing, swimming, and diving. There are other beaches throughout the area and their presence makes Durban a popular destination with both locals and international travelers alike.
Cape Town is one of the most popular cities to see in South Africa thanks both to what the city has to offer and the atmosphere that can be found there. Cape Town is a lively city with an active social scene. Visitors are encouraged to join in for local celebrations and the city is known for its hospitality. The colorful buildings that Cape Town is famous for make the atmosphere of the city seem even more friendly and inviting. The waterfront area is very active and there are a number of fun things to do there including eat out, go shopping, watch the seals that swim and play there, go for a walk, take a boat tour of the harbor, or even take a helicopter tour of the area. Boats also leave the Cape Town waterfront bound for Robben Island, a popular place to take tours of.
Robben Island sits just offshore of Cape Town and for years was used for housing political prisoners during the time of Apartheid. Other attractions in Cape Town include the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town City Hall, Castle of Good Hope, Two Oceans Aquarium, Table Mountain, and the South African Parliament. There is a cable car ride available that takes visitors from the base of Table Mountain up to the top. This is a fun activity, especially when enough time is taken to enjoy the walkways and trails that are found on top of the mountain. Cape Town is a very special place and offers a classic South African experience.
One of the more interesting cities to travel to in South Africa is Polokwane. Polokwane is a small city that offers a great location and an experience that is wonderful for anyone wanting to see the non-tourist side of the country. Here, life is a little bit slower, but the surroundings are beautiful and there are many forms of outdoor recreation that can be participated in. Exploring the local area both by hiking and by road trip is very popular and a good way to see the scenic countryside. There are also many opportunities to see local wildlife in the vicinity. The city offers some wonderful things to do too, but the best thing to do in Polokwane is to experience an authentic South Africa.
Shopping and dining out are both ways in which a visitor can experience true South African experiences. There are a number of great restaurants to choose from, many offering dining experiences that cannot be had outside of South Africa. There are also a great many places to go to purchase locally made goods including clothing, handbags, and other accessories. One of the more popular attractions in the city is the Meropa Hotel and Casino, home to a great place to stay, good food, and fun adult activities. Polokwane also offers some great authentic accommodations including the African Roots Guest House, Cycad Guest House, the Town Lodge, and Bloemtuin Lodge. Polokwane offers a South African experience that most travelers to the nation do not get.
The city of Port Elizabeth is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The city is on the East Coast of the country and is located right between Cape Town and Durban. It is known for its hospitality and has hundreds of years of experience taking care of travelers and all of their needs. It is a beautiful city that is set right on the Indian Ocean. It makes use of this setting by offering everything a good seaside city should including boat tours, parasailing, surfing, swimming, sunbathing, harbor tours, charter fishing trips, ocean kayaking, jet skiing, beach combing, and more.
The two biggest treasures that most visitors come to Port Elizabeth for are the incredible clean beaches and the relatively safe wildlife areas nearby. The boardwalk area of Port Elizabeth is a lively and popular area where visitors can shop, eat, enjoy the scenery, and see a number of different kinds of entertainment. There are other popular places to see in and around Port Elizabeth including the Donkin Reserve, Alexandria Dune Fields, Oxford Museum, South Africa Airforce Museum, No. 7 Castle Hill Museum, and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. Bayworld is a popular marine animal exhibit that features hundreds of species of marine life on display including dolphin shows, a snake park, and much more. There are other attractions in the area where nature and wildlife can be viewed too including the African Dawn Sanctuary, Addo Elephant National Park, Kragga Kamma Game Park, and the Roseate Tern Hiking Trail. It is very easy to come to Port Elizabeth and have a great time. There are more than enough unique and incredible things to do and see there to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Whether desiring a trip to a large metropolis that comes complete with internationally recognized restaurants and accommodations and a whole host of tourist attractions to see or wanting to travel to a smaller area that is less traveled to and offers a better look at the authentic side of the country, there is a city in South Africa that is right for nearly every traveler heading there. The main destination cities in South Africa not only offer the best in accommodations, restaurants, museums, historical sites, and tourist attractions, they are also very close to other more natural attractions including beaches and national parks. Even a picky traveler can have an awesome vacation in any of the main cities of South Africa.