14 Days in South Africa: Itinerary with Top 15 Things to Do

What to do in South Africa?

Have you chosen to visit South Africa on your next vacation?

Between sea, mountains and wine walks, the Rainbow Nation has many assets to offer travelers, such as superb panoramas, good weather and magnificent wild animals to admire. Flagship attraction, the safari is an essential step, to be carried out in one of the many reserves of the country.

Discover now our top 15 places of interest and unmissable activities to do in South Africa.

Where to go and what to see in South Africa? Thanks to our complete guide to the country, do not miss any tourist attraction!

Visit South Africa: the essentials

1. Soweto, Johannesburg

 Johannesburg is where we begin our guide to things to see.

The gigantic city has many districts with vertiginous skyscrapers. But the most famous district of Johannesburg remains undoubtedly that of Soweto.

Discover the historic district where  Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived , sadly famous for having been the scene of several battles during apartheid. To visit the township of Soweto, I recommend that you take a guide because its history is very rich and explanations are always interesting.

To see in and around Soweto:

  • The apartheid museum : a visit full of emotions, recreating living conditions at the time of apartheid. Segregation, resistance, student riots, the release of Mandela, everything is very well explained.
  • The Nelson Mandela Museum : the former home of the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been converted into a museum. A good way to discover his life and his fight!
  • Vilazaki Street where Nelson Mandela’s house and Desmond Tutu’s house are located.
  • The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, a 12-year-old schoolboy killed in the Soweto riots and later an icon of the uprising. The photo of his death has gone around the world and has become the symbol of this dark period.
  • The Orlando towers  where you can get your adrenaline pumping while bungee jumping.
Hector Pieterson memorial, in Soweto


2. Kruger National Park

It’s hard to miss the Kruger National Park and its 19,485 km² during a circuit in South Africa  It is one of the largest nature reserves in Africa, and one of the most visited in the country. A safari in the park is a must do activity in South Africa.

You can hope to see the “Big Five” there. These five famous animals are the kings of the jungle, as well as every safari lover’s dream. The following 5 species are part of the Big Five:

  • Lion
  • the elephant
  • Rhinoceros
  • The leopard
  • the buffalo

As you will have understood, your goal will therefore be to bring back a photo of each! 🙂

Depending on your budget, you can choose to visit Kruger Park with your  own vehicle in the form of a self-guided tour  or to be accompanied by a guide, and even sleep in the heart of a lodge! The advantage of this last solution is clearly to maximize your chances of seeing wild animals thanks to an experienced guide who knows the habits and behavior of animals. 

To get to Kruger Park, located in the North East of the country:

  • There are 4 airports located in the North, South and in the heart of the park. Some lodges also offer a private connection.
  • If you rent a car from Johannesburg, count 5 to 6 hours drive. Remember to take Rands, the local currency, to pay the tolls!

Information to organize your visit can be found on the official website.

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:
Before visiting Kruger Park, be sure to take all anti-malaria precautions with your doctor: mosquitoes are particularly virulent between December and March.

South Africa itinerary 7 days
Kruger National Park – South Africa

3. Blyde River Canyon

If you want to leave the dust and heat of the Kruger plains for a while, take a 1 hour drive to discover the Blyde River Canyon!

Considered the  third largest canyon in the world, the Blyde River Canyon has stunning cliffs, forests and waterfalls, perfect for cooling off. The natural landscapes are just superb!

The closest town to the canyon is Graskop, about 40 minutes away by car. From Graskop, take the route of the waterfalls to reach the canyon. You can stop at several points of interest:

  • God’s Window : to enjoy an exceptional view of the canyon and the Kruger nature reserve.
  • Lisbon Falls / Berlin Falls: 2 magnifiques cascades
  • Bourke’s Luck Potholes: giant rock-cut potholes where two rivers, Blyde and Treur, meet.
  • The Three Rondavels: these three cliffs look just like traditional African huts!

This canyon in South Africa is the perfect place to make beautiful hikes. Several trails are laid out, you will only have to choose according to the difficulty and the time you want to devote to the visit of the Blyde River Canyon. The most famous hike is the “Leopard Trail”, because it is considered to be the one offering the most beautiful viewpoints. Count about 4 hours of walking but I advise you to have a good physical condition because the difference in height is important.

The Blyde River canyon is one of the most beautiful places to visit in South Africa, I recommend that you include it in your itinerary!

South Africa itinerary 14 days
Blyde River Canyon – South Africa

4. The Madikwe Reserve

Another reserve not to be missed in South Africa: the Madikwe reserve.

Closer to Johannesburg than the Kruger National Park, Madikwé Private Reserve is also much more confidential and preserved. The safaris are only carried out there as part of circuits, so I advise you to plan a larger budget to take full advantage of them!

During your stay at the reserve, you will be accommodated in high-end traditional lodges. You will live an experience in total immersion: after all what could be nicer than having breakfast in the middle of monkeys and mongooses?

Count at least two nights on site to discover the big five, wild dogs, as well as many species of birds!

5. Swaziland

You have planned to bring back authentic souvenirs from South Africa, but there are many tourist traps in the streets of Jo’burg? Take a detour to Swaziland!

This small country located south of Kruger is one of the last absolute monarchies, with customs and traditions still very present and preserved. The Swazi continue to develop the finest craftsmanship.

Here are three types of souvenirs to bring back that I was able to discover there:

  • Candles: probably the most typical and worked. The candles are sculpted in the shape of animals and tribal objects and the waxes used are very colorful! You’ll find them at Swazi Candle in Malkerns.
  • Shweshwe fabrics: perfect for giving an ethnic touch to a wardrobe or a living room, these are hand-worked printed fabrics, typical of Southern Africa! Most are made by workshops in the Pigg’s Peak area.
  • Sculptures: in wood or stone, they are often full of details. You can find them in the markets of Mbabane, the capital.

In addition to its typical crafts, Swaziland is also famous for its natural parks where you can admire the black rhinos or even go hiking or cycling.

6. Saint Lucia

What other place than Santa Lucia in Africa allows you to observe  hippos, whales, crocodiles, elephants, leopards, rhinos and more than 400 species of birds?

I advise you to take a cruise on the estuary  of Santa Lucia to discover all these species from a different perspective. It is a must during this trip to South Africa, not to be missed under any circumstances! Several companies offer this type of cruise, it’s up to you to choose according to the type of boat used for the visit and the departure times.

The estuary is part of the iSimangaliso Park,  a unique wetland in the world, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site  and including several tourist attractions in the region.

Between two exploration assignments, you will be able to:

  • Discover the beach of Cap Vidal, wild and preserved. Its magnificent coral reef makes it a paradise for snorkeling enthusiasts!
  • Diving in Sodwana Bay : often considered the best diving spot in South Africa, Sodwana Bay offers a superb variety of corals, sponges and multicolored fish.

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:

The best time to visit Santa Lucia is in November, when the turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs.

Located 2h30 from Durban by car, I suggest you rent a 4×4  to go to Santa Lucia, in order to be able to approach the small roads through the marshes and the countryside more serenely.

top things to do in South Africa
Hippos in the water – South Africa

7. Drakensberg 

A trek in the Drakensberg Mountains is one of the must-do things in South Africa.

Right in the middle of the Rainbow Nation, crossing Lesotho (yes, there are two small countries in the heart of South Africa!), you can’t miss these high mountains. They are among the most beautiful in the country. The Grail being of course the Thabana Ntlenyana, whose summit culminates at 3,482m above sea level.

Do not hesitate to organize your expedition with an agency, and plan between three and ten days to enjoy the mountains!

For me, the best season is spring, to avoid the rainy season and the austral winter. However, pay attention to the temperature differences between day and night.

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:
For culture lovers, the Drakensberg is known for hosting  the cave paintings of the Bushmen people , also called San and which  are a must see! This particularity has earned it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

14 days in South Africa
The Maluti (Drakensberg) mountains in Lesotho – Africa

8. Port Elizabeth 

Back to civilization after all these safaris and treks!

In addition to being a very dynamic and modern city, Port Elizabeth marks the entrance to the superb garden route (which I will tell you about in detail just after).

I advise you to visit the city, which has very beautiful colonial houses, as well as some monuments to see. The Campanile for example, a large red tower commemorating the arrival of the settlers, or the historic town center and its statue of Queen Victoria, are not to be missed.

Confirmed or budding surfers, you will also love Summerstand, one of the many beaches in Algoa Bay, whose waves are famous throughout South Africa!

Whether you choose the beach or the visit, don’t forget to bring a windbreaker, as the coast is particularly battered by strong gusts!

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:
Like most towns in South Africa, Port Elizabeth often sees business theft, and the townships are anything but safe for tourists, so be careful with your belongings.

South Africa itinerary 1 week
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

9. The Garden Route 

Notice to romantics: between its coastline bathed by the Indian Ocean, its vineyards, its plains and mountains, the Garden Road  (Garden Road) is a must for a honeymoon in South Africa!

Between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth700 km of roads with superb landscapes await you.

This region having the most pleasant climate in all of South Africa, you will find sunshine in every season. However, if you want to see the whales, the region’s flagship tourist activity, I advise you to come between June -July – September – October.

On the route side, two choices are possible  :

  • If you want to explore the coastline and beaches, take National Road 2 which stops at Knysna, Mossel Bay or Plettenberg Bay. You will find great spots for water sports and port towns!
  • The other solution is to take route 62, which goes inland. Between Mount Tsitsikamma culminating at 1,715 meters, the hot springs of Montagu or Oudtshoorn, the world capital of the ostrich, the panoramas and towns encountered are extremely changeable!

Allow at least three to four days to take full advantage of the route you choose. In any case, the garden route is the ideal route to discover all the sumptuous natural landscapes and the most beautiful places in South Africa. 

South Africa itinerary 2 weeks
Panorama along the Garden Route – South Africa

10. Knysna

After having painted the portrait of the famous Garden Route, here is a little focus on one of my favorite cities during a stay in South Africa!

The town of Knysna is located on the coastline, in a turquoise lagoon framed by stunning cliffs. It is also nicknamed “the pearl of the garden route”. 

If you decide to stop there, don’t miss the speciality, what am I saying, the institution of the city: the oyster! In restaurants, cooked or raw, on the market stalls in the early morning… It comes in all its forms, even having its own festival.

Indeed, each month of July for 10 days, you can discover the oyster through exhibitions and activities. Many friendly sports competitions and concerts also take place in the city.

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:
Do not hesitate to accompany (in moderation) your oysters with a Stellenbosch vintage! 

7 days in South Africa
Knysna, Western Cape – South Africa

11. Hermanus

On the coastal Garden Route , between June and October, you can observe migrating whales offshore . However, to approach them and be sure to see them, here is my best advice: stop at Hermanus.

Located at the southeastern tip of South Africa, 1h30 from Cape Town, this seaside town has developed tourism around its fabulous marine mammals.

I advise you to look for the town crier, who every day reveals the best spots for whale watching. You can simply admire them from dry land or opt for a whale watching tour to get as close as possible.

If you stop for a day on Hermanus, here are the activities to do:

  • The visit of the old port and the whale museum, Old Harbor Museum
  • The Cliff Path, a beautiful 12 kilometer promenade by the sea
  • The beaches and cliffs of Hermanus, perfectly suited for kitesurfing and paragliding.

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:
In low season, you can still enjoy the sight of sea lions and seals, as well as diving with sharks for the most thrill-seekers!

South Africa itinerary
Whale watching in Hermanus – South Africa

12. Stellenbosch

Who would have thought to find the vineyards of Burgundy in the heart of southern Africa?

A few French Huguenots, nostalgic for the country, decided to take some vines with them to the vicinity of Stellenbosch. Today, the region is world famous for its vineyards and one of the must places to visit in South Africa.

There are many grape varieties, and in order to help you organize your visits during your trip to South Africa, here are my five favorite addresses:

  • Waterford Estate : Known for its white Chardonnay, this vineyard can be visited and offers tastings, accompanied by chocolate!
  • Constantia vineyard : Served at the table of monarchs, this vineyard has become a “national monument” in South Africa: a must-have!
  • Vergelen  : from a historic estate at the foot of the Helderbergs, the wines of Vergelen have been awarded many prestigious prizes.
  • Delaire Graaf Estate: Perched on the hillside, the vineyards offer breathtaking views of the surrounding valley during a Cabernet-Sauvignon tasting.
  • Domaine de Trafford : between Helderberg and Stellenbosch, a vineyard nicknamed Mon Fleur still applies artisanal techniques to the production of its red wines.
South Africa itinerary
Vineyards in Stellenbosch – South Africa

13. A Day in Cape Town

At the end of the Garden Route, and South Africa, there is Cape Town. This city was a real crush, between its colorful neighborhoods and its festive, modern and cultural atmosphere!

To help you in your planning, here are five places  of interest that I advise you to visit in Cape Town:

  • Goodneighbour Market at The Old Biscuit Mill: a welcoming market, every Saturday, local creators and producers. Between design objects and fusion cuisine, there is something for everyone!
  • Bo-Kaap : the Malay quarter of Cape Town, famous for its colorful houses. A must-have!
  • Table Mountain : a flat mountain that overlooks the city, accessible via a cable car. You will discover the best panorama of the Cape Province.
  • The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden : this park with more than 7,000 varieties of plants will be perfect for a walk in the fresh air. Music lovers, stop by on Sundays to hear one of the concerts in the park!
  • Robben Island: the former prison island where Nelson Mandela lived has become a museum bearing witness to apartheid. A visit rich in emotions.

Do not hesitate to spend two or three days there to enjoy the different aspects of Cape Town.

South Africa itinerary
The colorful houses of Cape Town in South Africa

14. Cape of Good Hope

Difficult to travel to South Africa without going through the Cape of Good Hope ! This end of the world where two oceans meet is a must in this country.

Take a photo in front of the famous Cape Point sign, climb to the top of the lighthouse by funicular or on foot, come across antelopes during a hike, observe penguins and dolphins… There are many activities to do, so go to the early morning to make the most of the Cape Peninsula!

Allow about 3 hours by car to reach the Cape of Good Hope from Cape Town, and plan 135 rands per person to access the Cape National Park.

Tips for your South Africa itinerary:
Lovers of pirate legends, do not hesitate to take advantage of the panorama offered by the Cape Point lighthouse to try to see the famous Flying Dutchman

South Africa itinerary
Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

15. Live an intense experience at the AfrikaBurn

Do you know Burning Man? You may have already seen this huge wicker man, along with other creations ignite in the skies of Nevada as 70,000 festival-goers celebrate.

This festival has been exported to the four corners of the world, and South Africa has its own Burning Man: the AfrikaBurn.

The event takes place every year, around April, in the Tankwa Karoo National Park, 5 hours from Cape Town.

If you try the experience, do not forget to consult the Survival Guide beforehand : living 8 days in the desert, without water, local shops, under a blazing sun is a real adventure!

South Africa itinerary
Africaburn, in South Africa

Visit South Africa: our itinerary suggestions

To help you prepare for your stay in South Africa, find our itinerary ideas according to the duration of your trip

7 days South Africa itinerary

  • Day 1: You arrive in Johannesburg. Don’t miss a visit to Soweto, an area known for being the center of the Apartheid struggles.
  • Day 2 to 4: Two days of safari in the Madikwé reserve await you, to meet the “Big Five” and other wild animals. Great perspective photos!
  • Day 5: The Drakensberg and its dizzying peaks rise up before you. Do not hesitate to discover the ancient cave paintings that populate this mountain range.
  • Day 6: After a day of adventures in the Drakensberg, you reach Durban to take a flight to Cape Town.
  • Day 7: Discover the Cape of Good Hope, land at the end of the world where two oceans meet and visit the city before your departure.
South Africa itinerary
Bourke’s Luck Potholes – Mpumalanga to Blyde River Canyon – South Africa

14 days South Africa itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival in Cape Town  : take advantage of the day to discover the cultural curiosities of the city.
  • Day 2: Go to the end of the world to reach the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.
  • Day 3: Strolling on the Garden Route, you discover the vineyards of Stellenbosch and conclude your day in Hermanus, meeting the whales.
  • Day 4: Knysna, is a small coastal town, whose walk on the cliffs and tasting oysters enchants all visitors!
  • Day 5: Port Elizabeth, which concludes the Garden Route, is famous for its beaches dedicated to surfing and idleness!
  • Day 6 to 7: After a short domestic flight, you will arrive in Santa Lucia and the iSimangaliso park, registered with Unesco. Do not hesitate to take a short cruise to meet crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
  • Day 8: Take to the skies to discover Swaziland and its capital, Mbabane.
  • Day 9 to 11: You reach Kruger Park. Take advantage of 3 days of safari to discover the animals of Africa, including the famous “Big Five”.
  • Days 12 to 13: In the heart of the North Drakensberg, the Blyde River Canyon is a superb place for nature treks!
  • Day 14: You arrive in Johannesburg. Take the opportunity to discover Soweto, the former district of Nelson Mandela.

So, what are you planning to see on your trip to South Africa? Let me know in the comments!

Steve Batides

I am passionate about travel, writing and music. I like writing books, landing in an unknown country, brassens, beer, cats, jazz and shells. I put a point of honor to seek for you the best information to sublimate your travels. A question about a destination, a visit, a good plan? I'll answer in the comments.

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