If South Africa is on the list of destinations you want to visit you might want to make a few stop offs to experience the very top rated cities.

You could travel independently and put together you own itinerary, or lots of local and international travel companies offer South Africa tours all year round where you can see all the main highlights. 

Here are our top recommendations for the main cities to see.


1. Cape Town

Camps Bay, Cape Town

Cape Town is the largest city in South Africa with a population of 4.6 million people, and it is also somewhere you shouldn't miss on any trip.

If it is going to be your first time travelling to South Africa and you have limited time fly to Cape Town. This really is one of the worlds most beautiful cities with stunning scenery and so many of South Africa best tourist attractions.

In Cape Town you will find the striking backdrop of Table Mountain, glorious beaches and enchanting vineyards, rugged landscapes and exotic wildlife combine to offer endless choices.

Explore the scenic Bo-Kaap neighbourhood with colourful houses, see penguins on Boulders beach, go surfing, climb Table Mountain or see wildife on a safari are just some of the highlights.

Related Article: Top things to do in Cape Town during summer.


2. Durban


Durban is a city located on the south coast of South Africa in eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

Durban was one of the host cities for the 2010 Football World Cup and it is well known for its African, Indian and colonial influences.

This is a great city to visit if you like warm weather and surfing, the beach is 6 kilometres long and includes popular tourism attractions like the Ushaka Marine World, the worlds 5th largest aquarium.

Other popular places to see include walking the seafront promenade, the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Durban Botanical Gardens.


3. Johannesburg

Johannesburg skyline

Johannesburg is a huge sprawling city which in the past had quite a negative reputation. But over the past decades, Johannesburg has become a cultural hive of activity with so many bars, restaurants, galleries and museums to visit. 

If it is your first time in the city you might want to book an eye opeing tour of the Soweto township and see where Nelson Mandela used to live.

Try to watch a live “Springboks” rugby union game. South Africa have one of the best teams in the world and a live game at the Ellis Park Stadium (known as Emirates Airline Park for sponsorship reasons) is amazing.

If you are keen to volunteer in South Africa there are lots of community based projects working in townships helping disadvantaged people. This is a really eye opening experience.

Johannesburg is also a popular city to visit due to proximity to the stunning Kruger National Park which is one of the best places in the world to see exotic wildlife. View our Kruger National Park driving tips for more information. 


4. East London

East London

South Africa has a city named East London? Yes, and it really is worth visiting.

East London is popular with tourists due to beaches and tropical scenery. A visit to the East London Museum is a must where you can see fossilised human and animal footprints, plus historical artefacts from the Xhosa people.

One of the main reasons to visit is because the city is a great transition stop off for gateways to the stunning Wild Coast. East London also  has lots of safari parks nearby where you can see animals like elephants, lions, zebras and other exotic African animals.

East London is a safer and less busy city compared to others on our list, it feels small like a town especially compared to a city like Johannesburg.


5. Pretoria


Pretoria is in a stunning setting, nestled between the Apies River and the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains.

This is South Africa's administrative capital, and where all foreign embassies in South Africa are located. This city is a popular place to live with expats and foreigners seeking to work in South Africa.

Pretoria doesn't get the love cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg get, but it really is a hidden gem with museums, nature reserves, botanical gardens and lots of attractions to keep you entertained.

Must see attractions include Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria National Botanical Garden, Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Union Buildings, Freedom Park and the Rietvlei Nature Reserve.



There are hundreds more towns and cities you check out, special mentions go to Gqeberha, Bloemfontein, Knysna, Kimberley, Mossel Bay, Rustenburg, Polokwane, Upington, Makhanda, Plettenberg Bay and Stellenbosch.

If you have more time and a flexible schedule you could try to fit more of these locations into your itinerary, but you'll need to research and see where appeals to you. 


Plan Your Break to South Africa

There are so many reasons to visit South Africa, you really will fall in love with this country. Whether you are looking for your next holiday, fancy a city break or are planning a gap year in Africa, you really need to search flights to South Africa today.