Tourist Attractions of the Western Cape
Tourist Attractions of South Africa
South Africa is a vast and extremely fascinating country that packs a powerful tourist punch. Few countries can match it for variety and diversity in attractions, activities and cultural groups. From art and history to food and wine, wildlife and nature, nightlife, shopping and even places of worship – there is so much on offer to attract, entice and entertain.
The Western Cape with its mountains and oceans offers scenery that has inspired thousands of descriptions. It has great beaches, World Heritage sites, romantic winelands and museums that celebrate a rich cultural heritage. You can’t talk about a trip to Cape Town without discussing the fabulous cuisine and shopping options that draw tourists time and time again.
Gauteng’s brash exterior belies its depth, uncovered at numerous cultural and historical attractions. Places like Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto feature alongside chi-chi restaurants, funky galleries, shopping malls and fascinating visits to the Cradle of Humankind, where all our stories began.
In Mpumalanga you’ll find a host of nature-related attractions, arts and crafts outlets, country towns, cultural villages and stupendous scenery along the well-known Panorama route. Of course one of the major attractions is the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Limpopo shares this wildlife sanctuary - the size of a small country - and has many of its own nature reserves. It also boasts the fascinating Mapungubwe, where once an ancient kingdom developed a field of influence that spread beyond the continent. Intriguing groups such as the Venda and the Balobedu still practise culturally-rich traditions in the far north of this region.
The North West is all about Sun City, and the Pilanesberg and Madikwe Game Reserves, but don’t forget the mampoer farms and the idiosyncrasies of the Marico, the cultural mélange at Lesedi on the shores of the Hartebeespoort Dam or the little town of Taung where the famous skull of the same name was discovered. From the Margaret Roberts Herbal Farm (De Wildt) to Sol Plaaitje’s house in Mafikeng, there’s much to explore.
Immense skies and enormous spaces characterise the Northern Cape, along with attractions such as the Big Hole in Kimberley, the Loeriesfontein Windmill Museum and the myths and legends as taught by the ancient San. The Augrabies Falls National Park, the Ais/Ais Richtersveld National Park and the Riemvasmaak community all offer interesting experiences and insights.
KwaZulu-Natal has its own brand of uniqueness when it comes to tourist attractions. Here you can visit a Hare Krishna temple in Durban, pay your respects at the Battlefields in the Midlands, come face to face with Zulu culture and celebrate some of the finest beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline. Sunny year-round, the province has great places to shop, eat, and discover.
The Eastern Cape is a place of rich heritage and struggle sites. Here historic monuments find their place alongside fun aquariums and beachside establishments. Malaria-free game sanctuaries and numerous nature reserves thrill adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.
Small towns and homegrown hospitality are the distinctive attributes of the Free State. Visit the Basotho Cultural Village on the way to the spectacular Golden Gate National Park, visit the Choet Visser Rugby Museum in Bloemfontein or the Fertility Caves (outside Clarens). Make your way to the fun galleries of Clarens, feast visually on the sandstone sights of Ficksburg and drink in the fascinating history of the provincial capital, Bloemfontein.
Wherever you go around the country, you’re bound to find a fun attraction, a moving museum, a great place to enjoy the local vibes. Enjoy surfing the Nightjar site for the best attractions on offer in each of the provinces.
Articles & Blogs
Growth Opportunities9:55pm 19 May
Words and pics Nancy Richards
Thank the lord it’s not me. A negative sentiment, true – but exactly what I felt as Jason and Signonne from New York plunge down 300m of steel cable off one narrow platform smack onto another on the opposite cliff face, 1000m up from sea level. I’ve had the zipline experience, so am more than happy just to witness this time. Much easier to appreciate the drama of the surrounding mountain ranges and fynbos infinity without the distraction of rushing adrenalin. The Cape...
A Sunset on a Clifton Rock9:30am 24 Feb
I couldn’t believe that it was 8pm in the evening and yet here we were, still waiting for the sun to make the world go dark. The mountains were bathed in an orangey glow, and the ocean was still, waiting for the painting that is created when it is met by the setting sun.
Everyone has heard about the glory of Clifton beach during the Cape summer and naturally everyone has heard that it's the place to be to watch sunsets. But I have discovered that the actual beach is not the best place to watch the sun kiss the ocean. Slightly to the right of the beach lies an array of massive rocks...
Signal Hill Sunset9:30am 8 Jan
Signal Hill Sunset
Being the famous and most popular viewpoint of Cape Town, next to Table Mountain, Signal Hill attracts a group of us at least once a week to watch the sun setting. We pack a bottle of red wine, cheese and crackers, a blanket, and four excitable friends. On arrival we were at first disappointed to realise that we couldn't drink our red wine in a public place, but then we made do with cheese and crackers while watching the sun sink behind Cape Town’s blue horizon. The sea encompasses your view, spreading from Camps Bay to the CBD and onto the suburbs...
Arderne Gardens9:30am 25 Dec
Arderne Gardens, Kenilworth
We used to live just behind these gardens, yet only discovered them late into the year. Our cameras were begging to be let out after gathering too much dust, and so we waited until the golden hour before sunset, and entered the Arderne Gardens. It’s a magical place. Moss-covered paths lead you onto intimate lawns surrounded by indigenous plants that hang over your head in a thin canopy. After lying on the lawns and wondering at the flora, we happened across the lower section of the gardens. Wooden walkways stem out of a bricked area that...
The Bronze Age9:30am 9 Dec
The Bronze Age, Woodstock Foundry
I was sitting at Tribe Coffee, trying to ignore work by glancing through the window. Outside, some men were gathering from out of The Bronze Age’s foundry opposite me. The air was expectant. I looked past them, inside the foundry, and saw a young man firing a flat rod and then beating it across an anvil – the industry of it made the men’s wait more exciting. Something big was happening. Ten minutes later, I was sated. A life-size bronze horse was offloaded from the back of a pickup, and two of the men went to work on it. Refining,...
Mossel Bay Point9:30am 27 Nov
Mossel Bay Point
We were on our way to George when we stopped off at Mossel Bay’s popular ‘Point’. It was midday and surfers were still committed to the windswept waves, oyster catchers scrambled on the rocks, an elderly couple shuffled through the coarse sand trying to find good shells, and the little café set up for visitors was thriving. Watching this scene, we never guessed that the town was really an industrial place, and couldn’t believe it when we found out. It was the white foam blowing off the backs of the waves that did it for us, made the place natural and...
University of Cape Town9:30am 25 Nov
University of Cape Town
Any place that’s 185 years old is probably a must-see. The University of Cape Town fits into this assumption well. Six campuses make up the school, but Upper Campus, lying against the famous mountain and just below Rhodes Memorial, is where I sit to admire the fiery city. It’s night, something like eight thirty: the sky is black with little white spots, the city is sparkling in coloured lights, and UCT is lit softly. Only corners of the vine-covered Elizabethan buildings catch the light, or just the fronts of Jameson Hall’s giant pillars...
Kirstenbosch Canopy Walkway9:30am 20 Nov
Kirstenbosch Canopy Walkway
It is shorter than you expect, but who actually cares? I didn’t. The Boomslang Walkway, modelled after a twisting snake, sits above the trees’ canopy and, on its greatest curve, offers a view of Cape Town’s southern suburbs that sates your childhood wish of flying. It feels like that – when the walkway sways with people’s heavy steps, you can imagine yourself flying over the gardens and toward Cape Town’s southern suburbs. Then it twists back, under the thick branches, and leads you onto green lawns and blooming flowers. But, like me, you’...
Cycling Around Cape Town9:30am 28 Oct
Cycling Around Cape Town
Sure, there are a lot of things to see and places to go in Cape Town, but one of my favourite things about this city is that even the means of getting to these places is a great experience. Whether you are in the Southern Suburbs or the streets of Woodstock, cycling is a MUST. I love all the interesting people I get to meet when I go bicycling into town, and the fact that there is such a massive bicycle culture here. Recently, cycling around my block, I discovered hidden roads that led to beautiful street art and secret parks. I have realized...
Five Reasons to go Topless in Cape Town6:30am 3 Sep
Five Reasons to go Topless in Cape Town
Nicole Biondi for Cape Town Tourism
What better way to experience a deliciously warm Cape Town day than by going topless? Picture it: feeling the kiss of the sun on your skin... the whisper of a gentle breeze… Wait a minute - you do know what I’m referring to don’t you? By topless, I am naturally speaking of the open-topped upper deck of the hop on-hop off Cape Town City Sightseeing Red Bus.
If you haven’t yet tried going topless yet, you're missing out! Here are five reasons why......
Muizenburg Beach6:30am 21 Aug
We woke up before sunrise and drove in the dark towards Muizenburg. When we arrived, I was starving, but Knead Café was still closed. 7:30 a.m. That’s when I get my croissant and coffee. An hour and a half away. So we sat down on the still grey beach, with surfers already slipping their wetsuits on around us, and waited. It starts slowly, the sunrise, with pinks and reds and yellows stripping the night sky – beautiful. The sun rises over distant mountains, and then turns the sea into liquid gold… 8 a.m. hits. It’s that beautiful. But still Knead...
Padstal near Yzerfontein6:30am 8 Aug
Padstal near Yzerfontein
It’s raining when we arrive, but we have spotted the giant sign inviting us to see a tiger and there’s no holding us back from that. In the middle of nowhere (Yzerfontein), we have stumbled across a “padstal” that is full of glorious creatures. I find myself being photo-bombed by a cockatoo and having a conversation with a rainbow macaw. We are served a delicious farm-style breakfast next to a fireplace and the waiter tells us all about the hour-long tour where we get to see a tiger and a panther! It feels like we have stepped into this...
3 Cool things to do at Table Mountain this winter6:30am 30 Jul
3 Cool things to do at Table Mountain this winter
Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism
As a visitor to our fair city, you’ve probably been told if not once, then a million times, that you simply MUST visit Table Mountain, Cape Town’s wonder of nature. Sure, that’s relatively easy to do in the summer, but just what is there to do at this iconic attraction in winter? Oh, if you only knew…
Grab your comfy, warm jackets and join me for the following cool things to do at Table Mountain this winter:
Your Top New Things to Do This Winter6:30am 11 Jun
What’s New in Cape Town: Your Top Things to do this Winter
Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism
Thought Cape Town only had really cool new things to do in summer?
Ha! Winter in the chilly Mother City is my favourite time of the year because not only are there unbelievable specials on offer but there is also a feast of GREAT fresh events, activities and products to experience.
Now, quit your moaning about how it’s too cold to go out and join me for these belly-warming, soul-rejuvenating, heart-racing new things to do in Cape...
Wintering with the Whales6:12am 26 May
Wintering with the Whales
It’s started: the first of this year's Southern Right whales have arrived at the De Hoop marine reserve!
Every year from around June the Southern Right whales leave their icy feeding grounds in Antartica and head for African shores, particularly favouring the de Hoop marine reserve in the Western Cape.
According to whale biologist Katja Vinding, the 71 km stretch of coastline ranks as the most important nursery area for right whales worldwide, where they give birth, nurture their calves and engage in mating and social...
More Cape Town for Less2:30pm 22 May
Cape Town’s value-for-money offering truly peaks in winter with many hotels, restaurants, tour operators and attractions discounting their rates heavily. The low season also means fewer tourists with less traffic and queues.
Love Cape Town Winter Campaign Kicks Off
In celebration of Cape Town’s ‘cosy season’ Cape Town Tourism has launched a Love Cape Town Winter campaign, aimed at South Africans to make experiencing the magic of the Mother City accessible to more locals.
In association with Thompson’s Holidays, top value travel packages are offered from...
City Sightseeing at Sunset6:30am 9 Apr
City Sightseeing at Sunset in Cape Town
Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism
Cape Town, our gorgeous Mother City is amazing to explore during the day but have you ever seen how spectacular it is from aboard the City Sightseeing Bus at dusk? Now, with their amazing Night Tour, you can!
Running until May 5, 2014, this magical experience gives you the wonderful opportunity to take a leisurely drive along the Atlantic Seaboard, before stopping off for a picnic of your own making and an unparalleled view of the Capetonian sunset from the...
Table Mountain Cableway Special8:30am 22 Mar
"The cable car floor is about to revolve in 1… 2… 3…" Time stands still, as you you glide into the air, your receding view of the city and harbour below gradually giving way to a magnificent 360-degree panorama amid gasps of amazement from the sixty-five or so locals and tourists in your car. Dizzying up-close rock formations herald your arrival at the top of what early Khoi San inhabitants called Hoerikwaggo, 'Mountain of the Sea', formed below the ocean more than 600 million years ago.
I have a vague memory of a rather terrifying trip...
Chapman’s Peak11:55am 31 Dec
I have probably done the Chapman’s Peak Drive in Cape Town over ten times – not because I had to but rather because I just couldn’t get enough of it. For about thirty bucks, you travel on this windy road around the edge of a mountain, stopping at certain points along the way to take photos of some of the most breathtaking views the Western Cape has to offer. It will feel as though you are in Europe... in fact, it’s probably better than Europe. There is also a place where you can park your vehicle and hike up to the very peak of the mountain. Take a packed lunch and make a day of it....