The African continent has one of the most dazzling countries, capable of leaving us with our mouths open and that little by little has earned the respect of tourists who love nature: South Africa. The rainbow nation is perfect if you are looking to disconnect, get away from the noise and hustle and bustle of cities and find secret landscapes full of greenery with a majestic sun. Today at NaijaXtreme want you to join us on a walk through the 10 must-see cities in South Africa!
Surely when you talk about South Africa you think of safaris, wine and beaches, but the truth is that it is a multicultural and multiethnic country. In fact, in this territory there are 11 official languages and, also, it has the largest community of European and Indian inhabitants.
South Africa is a diverse country! In addition, it highlights the mega variety of flora and fauna that has made the cities of South Africa something interesting to see. Do you want to know more about this country? Continue reading!
Top 10 South African Cities to Visit
1. Cape Town
About 2 million tourists visit South Africa’s second-most populous city each year. In that sense, Cape Town is a quite interesting city, whose main attraction is Lion’s Head or lion’s head, a mountain 669 m above sea level, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park.
On this mountain you can find the best views of Cape Town, making it a mandatory stop. The more adventurous can paraglide from some of the points of this mountain. On the other hand, depending on the days of the week you can join in fun activities. For example, in Kirstenbosch Garden on Sundays, there are free concerts or you can also go to Mzoli’s, a very popular bar.
Cape Town has one of the best beaches among all the cities in South Africa; so we recommend Clifton Beach or Camps Bay Beach. This city, named as the best place in the world to be visited, according to The New York Times, is close to Robben Island, an island famous because Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner, was imprisoned there for 27 years. Would you like to visit it?
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Golden Place, Johannesburg, is one of three cities in Africa listed as a global city and one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world. Johannesburg was founded in 1886 after the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand and is currently a major financial center of the country, home to the Constitutional Court.
Now, 25 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg you will find one of the favorite sites of foreigners, paleontologists and archaeologists: the Cradle of Humankind, a set of paleontological and archaeological sites famous for its richness in hominids. You’ll love it!
The cities of South Africa offer us an unconventional type of tourism, an example of which is Pretoria. In this sense, in the streets, parks and gardens of this city you will find an immense variety of jacarandas, which is why it is known as “the jacaranda city”.
The reason why it receives so many visitors each year is that, unlike other cities in South Africa, Pretoria is not very unsafe and its main sites are easily accessible. You won’t even have to take a taxi or hitch a ride as you can walk on foot without any fear! You cannot miss the symbol of the city: the Church Square or the City Hall and its 32 bells.
Pretoria is the favorite of people who decide to study abroad in South Africa because it is home to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of this country. In addition, Pretoria has an extensive offering of courses, training, university degrees and more. Pretoria is also home to the University of Pretoria, the University of South Africa and the Tshwane University of Technology.
On the shores of the Indian Ocean, there is a real gem: Durban, also known as the Miami of South Africa or the Costa del Sol of Africa. It is perfect if you are looking for hotel tourism, where the days are full of sun, blue skies and beaches with a perfect swell both to take a good dip in the water and to practise some water sports. Durban is one of the cities in South Africa that we must visit at least once in our life!
Do you love the outdoors, the sea breeze and nature? In Durban, you will find an excellent temperate climate that will make you want to stay in this city for a long time. Your vacation will seem really short! In this way, you can relax by taking a cruise and watching the beautiful sunsets. To the south of Durban you will see the rustic Wild Coast, with long stretches of dunes and to the north you will find the spectacular Big Five wildlife reserves.
But Durban is also lively, elegant and with very intense nightlife. You can have a drink or dance in one of its pubs or bars. This ambitious city has been singled out as a prime location for setting the lifestyle trends in South Africa.
Bloemfontein is one of the three capitals along with other South African cities such as Pretoria and Cape Town. This city, also known as the “city of roses” and whose name means “the place where cheetahs dwell”, is a city where different specimens of roses of all colors abound.
This city, founded in 1846, is the seat of the judiciary and plays a crucial role in the development of the country. Among the best sights in this city is the Anglo-Boer War Museum, if you enjoy history, the Sand du Plessis theater, the Naval Hill Planetarium and the Oliewenhuis Art Museum.
In our selection of the cities in South Africa that are worth visiting, we moved to Soweto. The city has a fascinating history, as it was built so that black Africans could stay during the apartheid era. Rapid population growth resulted in overcrowding being common in the city, as well as oppression.
However, today it has been recovering little by little and is beginning to receive visitors from all over the world who are interested in the struggle that was waged there against apartheid. In addition, some upper-middle-class neighborhoods such as Orlando West and Dube are consolidating in Soweto.
What to see in Soweto? The Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum, named after one of the students who died during the 1976 riots. Also, go to Freedom Square, where you will see a statue of Mandela, this space has been designed as a reminder that they must preserve peace and freedom.
7. Port Elizabeth
Known as the Friendly City or the Windy City, Port Elizabeth is one of the cities in South Africa that arouses the most curiosity among visitors. In this way, Sir Rufane Donkin, the governor of the Cape Colony, was the one who founded the city in 1820. Port Elizabeth has become the largest port in South Africa, where you can join interesting excursions that will increase your interest for this country.
Port Elizabeth is also considered one of the largest cities in South Africa in terms of land area. And it is the cradle of one of the most impressive beaches on the entire African continent! In the Bay of Algoa there are 40 km of beaches with protected areas, ideal for fishing, diving, snorkeling or sailing.
You’ll also come across one of the most amazing casino-filled areas in all of South Africa: Boardwalk. Here you can spend hours of entertainment that will make you lose track of time, while you play, eat a delicious South African dish or bet a little money. And don’t forget to go to Nelson Mandela Bay, through art you will understand the years that this leader dedicated to politics!
Nelspruit is located in the northeast of South Africa. Founded in 1905, it is the manufacturing and agricultural center of this country. Also, the economy of this city receives constant stimulation because its airport is an important stopover for tourists heading to the Kruger National Park and Mozambique. It is said that the best oranges and citrus fruits in the world are grown in this area.
One thing to do in Nelspruit is gambling at the Emnotweni Casino, one of the top sites for gambling fans. In Nelspruit, there are many agencies that will offer you the possibility of participating in safaris, depending on the time you have… There are even three-day safaris in Nelspruit!
9. Saint Lucia
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is the largest estuary on the African continent, home to hundreds of hippos and crocodiles. In Saint Lucia, there is one of the three protected parks in South Africa: the Isimangaliso Park, an enviable ecosystem with many beaches.
On the other hand, if you have two hours available and can pay 300 rands, do not hesitate to take the hippo tour, where you can interact with these animals. Saint Lucia is one of the cities in South Africa perfect for spotting birds, fantastic animals (such as rhinos and leopards), beaches, reed beds and swamps. All under a subtropical climate!
One of the largest South African cities in the KwaZulu-Natal Province is Pietermaritzburg. Among the most important historical events that happened in this metropolis is that Mahatma Gandhi decided to protest against the discriminatory laws against Indians in the country after he was expelled from a train in Pietermaritzburg for traveling in a first-class wagon as an Indian.
The options for sightseeing in Pietermaritzburg are diverse, from botanical gardens to the countryside and nature-filled suburbs. You can marvel at the exquisite mix of Zulu, Indian, Boer and British cultures. Not to mention the historic center of this city, where about 50 monuments are located! On the other hand, in the Butterfly House, you will see hundreds of species and some monkeys. Magnolias, figs and tulip trees await you in Pietermaritzburg!
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What are the cities in South Africa that you can’t wait to visit? Do you know others? Do you think we missed mentioning any? Your contributions are important to us! So feel free to share your impressions with everyone in the comment section.