Worcestershire may be a real gem to go to – and it’s just an hour’s drive from Birmingham.
At its heart is that the city of Worcester, which is flanked by the Severn and sits within the shadow of the 12th-century Worcester Cathedral.
Steeped in history, Worcester was also the situation of the ultimate battle of English war – the Battle of Worcester – where Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army defeated King Charles I’s Cavaliers.
Other connections to Worcester and wider Worcestershire include that it’s the house of Royal Worcester Porcelain, composer Edward Elgar spent most of his life here, and in fact its synonymous with the name of Lea & Perrins, makers of the normal Worcester sauce .
Here are 16 of the various highlights you’ll absorb on a visit to the present interesting area – and most of them are FREE, or include FREE entry for youngsters . In fact, you’ll quite easily spend days exploring this excellent a part of the planet without spending a penny on entrance fees.
1. The Malvern Hills, Worcestershire
If you wish nothing quite getting call at the good Outdoors, then you’ll do a number of open-air activities within the beautiful Malverns, including a hike up to the highest of the Beacon for an excellent panoramic reward.
There are a couple of walking routes to settle on from here to assist absorb this vast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its ancient hills also as cycling trails. you’ll determine more here.
2. Elgar’s legacy
Where: Various in Worcester, and wider Worcestershire
Cost: liberal to follow the paths . Malvern Museum – Weekday prices are adult £2, child 50p, and on weekends, adults £1, children FREE.
As Sir Edward Elgar spent much of his life in Great Malvern you’ll retrace a number of his famous footsteps and see a number of the marks that his legacy left on the landscape and are still evident today.
Just of the sights connected to the composer include the Elgar Statue and Priory Gatehouse, which is now the Malvern Museum in Abbey Road, and you’ll even follow a suggested driving route around Elgar’s Worcestershire too or Elgar’s Trail on a motorcycle or on foot.
In 2017 the town is celebrating the 160th anniversary of his birth.
As well as visiting the places where he lived, you’ll also absorb the famous venues that he played.
Cost: Prices for guided factory tours are £20 for adults and £10 for youngsters
For car enthusiasts, a tour of the Morgan Motor Factory may be a must.
The company’s famous sports cars are manufactured in Malvern for 100 years.
Visitors can enjoy a guided visit of the factory (weekdays on the reservation and there’s up to 10 hours on some days), visit the tiny on-site museum a good hire a Morgan sports car for the weekend.
4. Severn by Boat
Where: The Boathouse Waterside, Upton upon Severn, Worcester WR8 0HG
Cost: Prices vary counting on sort of cruises booked, but as an example the Upton Fish and Chip Cruises are priced at £16.50 per person.
As the Severn runs through Worcestershire and flanks the historic city of Worcester, you’ll enjoy it on a heritage riverboat tour.
Severn Leisure Cruises is simply one among the businesses offering such trips and there’s a choice of public and personal charter options. Cruises offered to incorporate tea cruises, evening and Sunday lunch cruises, and even fish and chip cruises too.
5. National Trust’s Croome Court
Where: High Green, Worcester WR8 9DW
Cost: Prices vary counting on whether you would like to go to the entire property or simply the park. Prices are changing from January 1, 2019, and can be as follows: Adult £12, child £6.70, family £30, group adult £11, group child £5.50, children under five free.
Croome Court is described together of the “grandest of English landscapes” and was, in fact, Capability Brown’s masterful first commission, which commands views over the fantastic Malverns.
Now within the care of the National Trust , Croome Court was once home to the Earls of Coventry and there are four floors for visitors to explore. because the 6th Earl of Coventry was an 18th-century trendsetter, Croome follows his lead today by using artists and craftspeople within the house to inform the story of its eclectic past in inventive ways.
The site’s visitor center was also once a secret wartime airbase and therefore the park is great to walk around in fine weather.
6. Worcester Cathedral
Located on a bank overlooking the Severn , the cathedral is that the seat of the Bishop of Worcester.
Its official name is that the Cathedral Church of Christ and therefore the Blessed Mary Mary of Worcester and was built between 1084 and 1504.
The cathedral is renowned for representing every sort of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic and features a Norman crypt and unique chapter house, unusual Transitional Gothic bays, fine woodwork, and an “exquisite” central tower.
The cathedral’s west facade also famously appeared, with a portrait of Sir Edward Elgar, on the reverse of £20 notes issued by the Bank of England between 1999 and 2007.
It comes top of out 49 things to try to to in Worcester on TripAdvisor with a 4.5-star rating from reviewers.
7. Worcester Woods Country Park
Where: Worcester Countryside Centre, Wildwood Drive, Worcester, WR5 2LG
As well as an excellent , adventure play area for teenagers of all ages and delightful woodland walks through two nature reserves, where you’ll also go bird spotting, this agency country park also includes the Orchard Cafe where you’ll grab some refreshments and make use of the free wi-fi.
It also scores a high 4.5 rating from TripAdvisor reviewers.
8. Gheluvelt Park
This agency cemetery , inbuilt honor of these lost within the First war , borders the Severn and boasts footpaths through the park, a cafe, water play (splash pad), multi-age playground, ducks to feed, toilets, tennis, outdoor gym equipment and two, free-to-use Ping-Pong tables.
It features a proper park, which is open from dawn until dusk, and an off-the-cuff area referred to as the Riverside Conservation Park which is open 24 hours.
This well-maintained park is great for family picnics in weather and well-behaved dogs are welcome all year round – but they need to be kept on a lead within the formal park area.
You can park for free of charge in Waterworks Road parking lot , and there’s both disabled and cycle parking at the pumping station Environment Centre.
Opening times for the splash pad area vary counting on the time of the year, see the guide below.
9. Tudor House Museum
This timber-beamed museum with leaded windows and decorated plaster ceilings is found on what’s described as Worcester’s “most historic street”.
Inside you’ll discover rooms that are almost 500-years-old and displays specialise in Tudor weaving and brewing which are the activities that when went on within the house.
In later years it had been also used as a cafe for the poor, an air attack Precautions (ARP) office and a faculty clinic. also as hands-on activities there’s also a restaurant on site.[
10. The Greyfriars House and Garden
This National Trust property was originally inbuilt 1480 by a wealthy merchant. Over the years also as being home to wealthy families it had been owned by a baker and later became a mix of homes, shops, and businesses producing goods including clothing, hats, bread, leather goods, umbrellas and china riveting.
It was rescued from demolition after the Second war and has been cared for by the National Trust since 1966.
Cape Town’s naval suburb, Simon’s Town, is one of the city’s best places for young and old to explore.
With fascinating, beautifully preserved history, gorgeous beaches (inhabited by adorable African penguins) and its location within driving distance of tourist attractions like Cape Point – it must be said, Simon’s Town has some pretty choice experiences to enjoy in and around it.
Here are the best activities near Simon’s Town to whet your adventurer’s spirit:
1 Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach
This is pretty much a no-brainer – after all, Boulders Beach is probably the biggest attraction in Simon’s Town!
Not only is it child-friendly and safe but it’s great year-round. So it’s no wonder this beach draws tourists and locals back again and again.
This gorgeous, protected beach – blessed with sheltered coves, marvellous granite boulders and adorable African penguins who live around and swim near the beach – is one of the city’s most special experiences.
If you’re keen to splash in its beautiful waters, swim with the penguins or relax on its smooth, sandy shores or boulders, simply head there today!
Note: Boulders Beach is a paid beach and costs R76 per adult and R41 per child; prices valid until 31 October 2018.
Contact: +27 (021) 786 2329
Address: Boulders Beach, Kleintuin Road, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
2 Make a trip to Cape Point
After Boulders, Cape Point – situated within the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, in Table Mountain National Park – is probably the best place to visit around Simon’s Town.
This spectacular, wild place has it all: rich flora and fauna (particularly its ostriches and baboons!), dual lighthouses, glorious,’ocean-meets-cliff’ scenery, a classy restaurant – and wonderful picnic sites, hiking trails and accommodation, too!
If you do any one thing while you’re in the Deep South, head to Cape Point. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the whole family.
Contact: +27 (021) 780 9010, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
3 Lunch at Seaforth
This outstanding seafood restaurant is one of the best picks in Simon’s Town. Not only does it overlook Seaforth Beach (another local attraction) but it’s within close distance to Boulders Beach too.
But it holds more allure than just that, as it offers some of the best service, interiors and fresh, delectable food you will find anywhere in the Mother City.
When you’re feeling peckish, make a stop at Seaforth and, while you dine, soak up the natural beauty!
Contact: +27 (021) 786 4810
Address: Seaforth Restaurant, Seaforth Beach, Seaforth Road, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
4 Dig around in Scratch Patch
Found in the V&A, Ostrich Farm and Simon’s Town, Scratch Patch is an incredibly fun and educational centre for both parents and kiddies alike.
Discover the magic of minerals, as you dig about among gorgeous gemstones, trying to find the most beautifully coloured, unique or cool ones to take home with you. Yes, that’s right – because you pay for them, you get to keep them!
This space is pretty vast – and the stones are endless! It’s great fun for everyone, particularly for the little ones.
And when you’re done, why not grab a bite to eat or browse for more gemstone-orientated goodies?
Contact: +27 (021) 786 2020
Address: Scratch Patch, Dido Valley Road, Simon’s Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
5 Explore the incredible Warrior Toy Museum
This wonderful toy museum is a delight for young and old. Within its cosy confines, you can find some 4000 model cars, 500 teddies and dolls, two fully operational railroads and so many more toys on display!
Revisit your best childhood memories, as you share in your child’s precious ones… And for those passionate about collecting toys, there is even a sales section.
Whatever tickles your toy fancy, no one will leave without a dash of stardust and childlike wonder back in their eyes…
Note: There is a small per person entry fee of R10 for adults and R5 for children.
Contact: +27 (021) 786 1395
Address: Warrior Toy Museum, St George’s Street, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
6 Visit the SA Naval Museum
Whether you are fascinated by our naval history or not, this museum is an insightful, neat and wonderfully presented slice of local history.
The museum is wonderful – and so is the chapel. What’s more, the curatorship is excellent and really ensures a memorable visit.
The items on display are rich and plentiful, while the venue’s old-world charm enchants and allows you to really step back in time.
Contact: +27 (021) 787 4686
Address: SA Naval Museum, St George’s Street, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
7 Hike to Just Nuisance
The grave of Just Nuisance, a charming dog enlisted into the Royal Navy, might not seem like a really exciting thing to visit – but he made up a unique part of Simon’s Town and forms part of its very real, raw history.
This lovable, clever pooch was a true local legend and was even laid to rest with full military colours and a dignified send-off.
He held a special place in the heart of this naval place and it’s worth climbing the stairs up Red Hill to pay your respects – and enjoy the views.
Note: The hike is suitable for children some ten years and older, and makes for an easy hike/walk overall.
Address: Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
8 Immerse yourself in The Heritage Museum
This unique museum highlights the widespread plight and segregation faced by so many during the Apartheid Era.
Here, you will learn the pain of the past, even as you marvel at its more beautiful side, which includes many special photos and memories.
Each room is filled to the brim with a sense of culture and remembered history, making the museum entirely worth the visit… if only to remember and learn from the terrible mistakes of South Africa’s past.
Drenched in natural beauty, the Western Cape Province arcs enticingly around its capital, Cape Town, which sits in one of the world’s most seductive settings, between mountains and the sea. This incredibly photogenic province claims two of South Africa’s iconic landmarks: Table Mountain and Cape Point, as well as the southernmost point of the African continent, Cape Agulhas, where the mighty Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Along the coast, whales swim in the cool, clear waters; penguins waddle along white-sand beaches, and sightseers can hike trails sliced into rugged cliffs above the pounding sea.
From Cape Town, the hinterland undulates to farming country and charming Cape Dutch towns like Stellenbosch, Swellendam, and the ostrich capital of Oudtshoorn. Farther inland, the stark semi-desert landscapes of the Great Karoo and surrounding parks provide the perfect counterpoint to the lush coast. Here, visitors can photograph contorted russet-hued rock formations; seas of colorful wildflowers; and seemingly endless fields of fynbos, the prolific native scrub. Travelers can also explore part of the Western Cape’s coastline on the Garden Route, which is one of the most famous scenic drives in the country.
Discover the best things to do in this diverse region with our list of the top tourist attractions in the Western Cape.
1. Table Mountain, Cape Town
No self-respecting tourist should leave Cape Town without snapping a picture of Table Mountain, one of the most photographed landmarks in South Africa. This iconic flat-topped landmark towers 1,087 meters above the city center and beckons both locals and visitors to perch atop its panoramic plateau and breathe in the splendor of this ravishing city.
Composed of thick beds of sandstone and slate, the mountain is the crown jewel of Table Mountain National Park, which protects an incredible diversity of plants and animals. The best time to summit Table Mountain is when the peak is clear from the layer of clouds called the “tablecloth,” which frequently forms a fluffy duvet over the mountain’s peak. Choose the right timing, and lucky visitors can soak up spectacular views of Cape Town and the entire Cape Peninsula from the top.
The easiest way to ascend this famous landmark is to hop aboard the revolving cableway, which runs daily-except in high winds. Once on top, sightseers can explore three short nature walks or relax on the deck at the café here and gape at the views. Energetic climbers who wish to ascend the mountain on foot can choose between more than 350 routes catering to different abilities. The climb can take anywhere from two to four hours.
To photograph the mountain itself, rather than the view from the peak, hike or drive up the adjacent Signal Hill or Lion’s Head-both offer fantastic vantage points. In a gorgeous setting on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens belongs to the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage site and is another must-see while in Cape Town.
2. Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay
About eight kilometers from the popular coastal town of Plettenberg Bay, The Robberg Nature Reserve is one of the top attractions on the famous Garden Route, a roughly 200-kilometer scenic drive stretching from Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape, to the Storms River, on the Eastern Cape. This magnificent reserve resides on a four-kilometer-long peninsula at the foot of the Mountain of the Seal, where some of the rocks date back through millennia.
Hikers will be in heaven here. Breathtaking trails of varying difficulty thread throughout the peninsula, but the queen of them all is the 10-kilometer hike around the point, skirting rugged sea cliffs and passing beautiful beaches. Birdlife is prolific-especially water birds, some of which breed here. Seals bask on the beach and splash in the sea, and in season, whales and dolphins swim the waters along the coast. Keep a lookout for great white sharks as well.
3. Editor’s PickBoulders Penguin Colony
A must-see for wildlife lovers is the Boulders Penguin Colony with three beautiful beaches, where these charismatic creatures waddle along the clean white sands. In Simon’s Town, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the beaches are home to a breeding colony of more than 2,000 endangered African Penguins.
As well as viewing the penguins up close, visitors can paddle in the clear, calm waters. Huge granite boulders shelter the bay from winds and currents making this a fabulous swimming spot for children. A short walk from here, Foxy Beach has a boardwalk that leads past the prime penguin-viewing sites. The beaches are part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, and the park charges a daily conservation fee.
4. Cape Point
Cape Point, about 60 kilometers from Cape Town, is one of the most popular day trips from the city. Not only is this the southwestern-most point of the African continent, but it’s also part of the Cape Floral Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the richest areas of flora on the planet. The birdlife is also prolific with more than 250 species.
The view from the Cape Point Lighthouse is spectacular-visitors can climb up the stairs, or better still, take the Flying Dutchman funicular to the top. Other highlights here include exploring the nature trails, whale watching, and wildlife spotting-look for Cape zebra and eland, and watch out for the troops of cheeky baboons.
Traveling to this far-flung strip of land can be just as scenic as the site itself. The drive along the Cape Peninsula passes through pretty beach towns and prime penguin viewing on the beautiful beaches at Boulders Bay. On the return trip, travelers can wind along sheer sea cliffs on Chapman’s Peak Drive and soak up amazing sunset views along the way.
5. Karoo National Park
Just outside the town of Beaufort West, Karoo National Park is a land of haunting beauty, where the flattened peaks of the Nuweveld Mountains rise above vast, red-earthed semi-desert landscapes dappled with greens and golds. Established in 1979, the park forms part of the Great Karoo, South Africa’s largest ecosystem, and is an important fossil site. It protects many endemic species including buffalo and rhino, as well as species that have been reintroduced such as Cape mountain zebras, springboks, kudus, lions, and brown hyenas. Oryx and klipspringer are a common sight here, and the bat-eared fox is perfectly suited to the arid conditions.
Birders are also rewarded with the chance to spot one of the breeding pairs of the rare Verreaux’s Eagle, as well as a startling diversity of smaller species. Park highlights include Klipspringer Pass, the breathtaking panorama from Rooivalle View Point, and the Fossil Trail. To learn fascinating details about the park, stop by the Ou Schuur Interpretive Centre.
Karoo National Park is a popular stopover on the drive from Cape Town to Johannesburg and accommodates visitors in comfortable Cape-Dutch-style cottages. Note that 4WD vehicles are required for some of the tracks.
Beaufort West, the gateway to the Karoo, is the birthplace of the famous heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard. Many prizes and distinctions won by Barnard are displayed in the town’s museum, which stands near the little parsonage where he lived as a child
Elegant Stellenbosch, the second oldest European settlement on the Cape, offers day-trippers from Cape Town a peaceful change of pace from the city buzz. Vine-cloaked fields, old oaks, and cobbled streets greet visitors, and charming Cape Dutch-style buildings lend the air of a bygone era.
Stellenbosch is also renowned for its fertile soils and fresh produce, which visitors can sample at a range of gourmet restaurants and cafés. Stellenbosch University is the oldest and most celebrated university in South Africa, and the students imbue the town with a bubbly vibe. Stop by the University Botanic Gardens to see indigenous succulents, orchids, and cycads, as well as the welwitschias, which are common in the deserts of Namibia.
Also worthwhile is the Village Museum a group of four houses dating from 1709 to 1850, which have been carefully restored and furnished in the original style, and the Rupert Museum focusing on South African art. Not far from town, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve has fantastic hiking and biking trails. While in the region, visitors can feast on more gastronomic treats and breathtaking bucolic scenery at the nearby towns of Paarl and Franschhoek.
7. The Wildflowers and Birds of West Coast National Park
About a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, West Coast National Park is a haven for birders. This coastal park was established in 1985 and encompasses the Langebaan Lagoon, as well as four small offshore islands.
The park is home to more than 250 species of birds, as well as many Arctic migrants in winter. Among the numerous species are cormorants, seagulls, small sandpipers, curlew sandpipers, plovers, gannets, flamingos, and the black-footed penguin.
Wildlife is also abundant, though this is not a park to see Africa’s Big 5. Among the mammals are bontebok, eland, springbok, kudu, and blue wildebeest. An asphalted road runs round the lagoon with bird hides and viewing platforms.
In the old farmhouse of Geelbek, at the south end of the lagoon, an information center doubles as the starting-point of several nature trails. Sightseers can also board a bird-watching cruise on the lagoon.
Besides birding, popular activities here include hiking and biking the nature trails, kayaking on the lagoon, and photographing the kaleidoscopic wildflowers that carpet the barren landscapes here between August and September.
8. Knysna Heads, The Garden Route
The magnificent Knysna Heads is one of the most popular attractions along the Garden Route, the scenic 200-plus-kilometer drive from Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape, to the Storms River, in the Eastern Cape. These two massive crags loom above a sparkling lagoon and provide plenty of panoramic viewpoints overlooking the thrashing surf below and the rugged and rocky coast.
Hiking trails thread throughout the heads and sightseeing boats offer a dramatic vantage point from the sea. Visitors can also linger at one of the cafés in the area and dine with a view. Knysna is also famous for its oysters, which the town celebrates at its annual oyster festival held in late June or early July. In the forests around Knysna, hikers can look for wildlife among centuries-old yellowwood trees and beautiful pink-flowered Cape chestnuts where elephants once roamed.
9. Hermanus: Whale Watching and Water Sports
About 120 kilometers east of Cape Town, Hermanus is a popular holiday resort and one of the best places in the world to see whales close to shore. From July through November, large numbers of southern right whales swim along the coast here, and the town celebrates these gentle giants each September at the annual Whale Festival.
Besides this amazing wildlife spectacle, the top tourist attractions here are the beautiful sandy beaches to the east of town and the excellent water sports facilities. Thanks to some record catch, the coastal waters attract large numbers of anglers. The heart of town around the harbor is quite small and easy to explore on foot with restored fishermen’s houses now occupied by restaurants and shops.
Other highlights include the 12-kilometer-long Cliff Path and the delightful bird-rich Fernkloof Nature Reserve, just outside of town, webbed with hiking trails that thread through native fynbos and proteas. Book accommodation in Hermanus well in advance during the peak tourist season, from December to January, when the population doubles.
About two hour’s drive from here, the De Hoop Nature Reserve encompasses a picturesque stretch of coast and its beautiful hinterland with 1,400 species of plants, some extremely rare, and 63 species of mammals (50 of them on land and 13 in the sea).
10. Cederberg Wilderness Area
About 300 kilometers north of Cape Town, the rugged Cederberg Wilderness Area wows photographers with its wide-open vistas and bizarre rock formations tinged red by iron oxides. The Cedarberg is also famed for its wooded gorges and caves adorned with Bushman paintings, as well as its unique flora, such as the white snow protea, which is only found in this area.
Named for the once plentiful cedars that grew here, the Cederberg is a range of hills extending for some 100 kilometers between Clanwilliam to the north and Ceres to the south, which reaches its highest point in the Sneeuberg (2,028 meters). Hiking trails criss-cross the area, and, not surprisingly, rock climbing is also popular. The best time for a visit to the Cederberg is between September and April-especially September and October when the wildflowers are in bloom.
In the fertile valley of the Olifants River, the town of Clanwilliam makes a great base for visiting the Cederberg Wilderness Area, with its Cape Dutch-style buildings; Rooibos Teahouse; and the beautiful Ramskop Nature Reserve, which ignites in a blaze of colorful wildflowers during August and September.
North of Clanwilliam, a scenic road winds its way up to the Pakhuis Pass with panoramic views. Another worthwhile side trip, 32 kilometers from Clanwilliam, is the beautiful Biedouw Valley with bizarre rock formations and gorgeous spring flowers. Also, stop by the quaint little town of Wupperthal with its white-washed thatch-topped cottages.
11. Cape Agulhas
About 220 kilometers from Cape Town, Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point of the Republic of South Africa as well as the African continent itself. Here, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, a fact that is announced rather unassumingly on a small cobalt blue sign. Although not as scenic as the dramatic coastline at Cape Point (South Africa’s most southwesterly point), this is a place for travelers to tick off their bucket list. It is also a good place to stop and breathe in the crisp sea air on the gently sloping rocky beaches, and snap a photo next to the sign.
Cape Agulhas means “Cape of Needles,” possibly alluding to the fact that compass needles of the early Portuguese navigators pointed due north here; others think that the name refers to the sharp reefs off the coast. The lighthouse, now a museum, was built in 1848 and is the second oldest in South Africa. A radio beacon warns ships rounding the Cape, although visitors will see the rusted hulls of vessels that succumbed to frequent rogue waves. The sea in this area is one of the world’s most productive fishing grounds.
Matjiesfontein, in the Little Karoo, halfway between Cape Town and Beaufort West, is a quirky little town that feels like it’s frozen in time. In 1880, a Scot named James Logan settled here and founded a spa after the dry air cured his chronic lung disease. The spa was a great success, and in the late 19th century, it lured the rich and famous, among them the Sultan of Zanzibar and Lord Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s father).
Matjiesfontein was declared a national monument in 1975, and today, it preserves many buildings of the Victorian era, including the elegant Lord Milner Hotel. Staff dressed in period costumes add to the historical feel. Matjiesfontein is popular with South Africans for weekend trips as well as international travelers who stop here on train journeys from the interior of the country to Cape Town.
Oudtshoorn is all about the ostriches. This quaint old town nestled between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains in the Klein Karoo dubs itself the “ostrich capital of the world.” And indeed you will find everything from ostrich egg omelets to ostrich steaks on restaurant menus, while shops are filled with ostrich feather dusters and ostrich leather purses and even ostrich biltong, which is the South African version of jerky.
There are also numerous farms surrounding Oudtshoorn that breed ostrich and give tours. Highgate Ostrich Show Farm is one such place, 10 kilometers south of town. Back in town, the C.P. Nell Museum tells the story of Outdshoorn’s relation to this flightless bird, tracing its history back to the first ostrich-feather boom of 1865 to 1870.
If you’re sick of ostriches, head north to the Cango Caves. They are a wild network of 20-million-year-old limestone caves that are the largest of their kind in all of Africa. Tours are offered of this awesome underground wonder.
14. Swellendam and Bontebok National Park
Located on the N2 highway about 220 kilometers east of Cape Town, Swellendam is South Africa’s third oldest own and is well preserved. Most of the 50 heritage buildings display the signature white Cape Dutch architecture, and the town hosts a number of good restaurants and small hotels.
The town sits at the edge of the beautiful Langeberg Mountain range. Pay a visit to Two Feathers Horse Trails to explore on horseback. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, they will tailor trail rides for you.
Swellendam also serves as the gateway to South Africa’s smallest national park, Bontebok National Park. The park was established in 1931 for the purpose of preserving the bontebok, which is a medium-sized antelope.
Stellenbosch offers unlimited activities for nature lovers, foodies, and art and culture aficionados. We’ve shortlisted 15 things to do in Stellenbosch that people across all ages will enjoy:
1. Stellenbosch: Visit a food market
Go to Root 44, a historic market that sells savory food, ranging from sushi to boeries and fresh flowers too. On Saturday, you can opt to go to the Stellenbosch Slowmarket to gaze at the bustling market scene and to buy everything from free-range chicken to stroopwafels. Part of the worldwide Slow Food movement, the makers are committed to seasonal, organic, and ethical production. On Sundays, the Blaauklippen Family Market sells a wide collection of world cuisines, ranging from Lebanese, Greek, Indian, and Mexican.
2. Stellenbosch: Pick your own berries
Polkadraai Strawberry Farm is a farm loved by one and all. The homestead consists of huge strawberry fields. You can invest an entire day in the field filling your bucket with juicy strawberries, which you can eat later. It is one of the most interesting things to do in Stellenbosch and we highly recommend it. Remember that picking season is from September to January only. In any case, there are a lot of reasons to head to the homestead in the offseason because it provides many other activities too, like mini-golf and tractor rides.
3. Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens: Wander
Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens is walking distance away from the center of the town. This botanical garden is the oldest university garden in South Africa and houses a wide range of exotic and indigenous plants. Wander in shaded trails and cross small streams and ponds. The gardens also include an exceptional bonsai nursery, koi ponds, and glasshouses. An on-location restaurant is also available. It provides teas, breakfast, and lunch.
4. Stellenbosch: Take an art tour
his tour has recently emerged to provide art lovers an opportunity to investigate the town in all its beauty and splendor. Highlighting 11 significant points, people can take delight in the D-Street Gallery, SMAC Art Gallery, US Art Gallery, and the Rupert Museum. What’s one of a kind about this tour is that since it’s a self-guided tour, the explorers can take as much time required to see and value the various aesthetic portions that the city brags of.
5. Stellenbosch: Head to the Rasta House
This wooden five-story rasta house is a treat for the eyes. The proprietor has been working for more than twenty years on this architectural marvel. He plans to include another two stories to this unique structure. For a tour to Mbekweni with a learned neighborhood guide, include a visit to the Rasta House in your itinerary. Make sure to stop by.
6. Butterfly World: Explore
Butterfly World is a one of a kind park situated outside of Stellenbosch. It is a tropical garden enclosed in a 1000 m sq nursery. With intriguing butterflies, huge iguanas and pythons on show, this place is a must-visit. The Butterfly World runs various informative presentations as well. It also has a large garden for the children to play in, and an eatery where the entire family can enjoy the meal together.
7. Renowned Rupert Museum: Visit
This contemporary art center houses some of South Africa’s as well the world’s finest art, including a permanent Pierneef display. It is among the most remarkable tourist attractions. Despite the fact that you are in the presence of amazing show-stopper art, the setting isn’t at all vainglorious. It is a private display with a simple vibe. We appeal to everybody to come here and appreciate the art.
8. Stellenbosch: Have a picnic
In case you’re searching for a relaxing outdoor activity with your family and little kids, picnicking at Stellenbosch is an incredible choice. What is incredible is that a large number of farms here offer pre-packed picnic baskets. Boschendal is one of Stellenbosch’s most famous outing choices. It provides curated picnics which should be pre-requested.
9. Stellenbosch: Watch the Duck March
The stunning Vergenoegd is home to the well-known duck march. Make sure to reach early to watch a huge number of ducks advance out of the door and simultaneously, march through the estate and past enchanted visitors. Your children will either begin pursuing them or gaze in total wonder at the 50 or more ducks swaying past them. You’ll need to see it to believe it! The event is from 9:30 am and 3:30 pm daily.
10. Stellenbosch: Encounter a hawk
On the Spier property, you can have a close encounter with a hawk or an eagle. The primary aim of the Spier property is the rehabilitation of the birds of prey while teaching both children and grown-ups about wildlife preservation. In addition, children can come across chickens, tortoises, piglets. It is a unique endeavor and we strongly recommend you to participate in it.
11. Stellenbosch: Enjoy the nightlife
Friday and Saturday nights at Stellenbosch is the time when nightclubs host amazing local talent, such as Shortstraw, Al Bairre, Fokofpolisiekar, and aKing, to name a few. If you like to groove and love music, you must visit Bohemia, Aandklas, and Die Mystic Boer. Die Mystic Boer and Bohemia are situated on Victoria Street, at a walking distance from campus, and Aandklas is found on Bird Street.
12. Jonkershoek Nature Reserve: Take a stroll
This wonderful 9800-hectare nature reserve in southern Africa. boasts of lofty mountains and rich fynbos. It is an extraordinary place to fulfill one’s thirst for adrenaline. Vanquish any of the mountain biking routes and hiking trails or savor the fantastic view and cascades, the choices are endless. There are likewise some stunning spots here that are ideal for a casual family picnic or a romantic moment.
13. Stellenbosch: Sip the best espresso
The new hotspot in the local area- Blue Crane Coffee Company recently won the award for the ‘Best coffee in Stellenbosch.’ Ever since then, the Blue Crane Coffee Company has expanded. It has opened another outlet called the ‘Lab’, where you can taste their most recent recipes and view some neighborhood art while sipping your coffee.
14. Stellenbosch: Devour chocolates
Le Chocolatier is a chocoholic’s heaven. Situated on Church Street in Stellenbosch, you will have the chance to taste a plethora of new flavors in little chocolate pockets here. The proprietors of Le Chocolatier do not add any additives to their chocolates. The interesting bistro on the side is a fantastic spot to sip on coffee while you hog on chocolates.
15. Stellenbosch: Step into Oom Samie Se Winkel
As you enter, the smell of dried fish, tobacco, spices, and leather fills your nose. Search through the racks here to discover antiquated boiled desserts, sticky toffees, vintage attire, collectible books, and bona fide old butter churns. You may even exit an antique shop with your shopping bags full of vegetables, fruits, and biltong. Additionally, you can purchase an exceptional gift for your loved ones from here.
This article lists the best places and attractions in Paarl that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. Make sure to stop by these 7 places to visit in Paarl:
1. The Butterfly World
The Butterfly World is one of the best tourist attractions in the Western Cape. It is situated in Klapmuts and came into existence in the year 1996. The Butterfly World is easily reachable because of its prime location. Additionally, it is the biggest free flying park for butterflies. It consists of a ravishing tropical garden that provides shelter to a large variety of native butterflies. The Butterfly World imports around five hundred to three hundred butterflies on a weekly basis. It also offers an exhibition of marmoset monkeys, iguanas, guinea pigs, blue duikers, meerkat enclosure, indigenous spiders, scorpions, and a reptile bay beside stunning and beautiful butterflies. The various tropical plants and dribbling water features enhance the admirable setting of The Butterfly World. The Butterfly World has a gift shop, and the Jungle Leaf Care offers eatable items to the visitors. Besides, the garden is nothing less than a tropical wonderland.
2. Afrikaanse Taal Monument
Afrikaanse Taal Monument or Afrikaans Language Monument was erected in the year 1975 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Afrikaans as an official language. The monument was designed by the popular architect Jan Van Wijk, and it is located on the Paarl Mountain. It comprises three obelisk-shaped pillars and three domes which give it an aesthetic appeal. Afrikaans is one of the earliest languages in the world whose roots are spread across Europe, Africa, and Asia. The origin of this language is Dutch. Afrikaans was recognized as a definite language in the year 1925. The monument is dedicated to the language. The Stellenbosch Mountains and the Table Mountains can be clearly viewed from the Paarl Rock. The monument has a conference center and exhibition area for visitors. Furthermore, a wide range of souvenirs is available at the Curio Shop.
3. Drakenstein Lion Park
Drakenstein Lion Park was built and established in the year 1998 for providing a natural environment to distressed and wounded lions. In fact, it is Western Cape’s only unaffected and genuine lion sanctuary. The reserve is based on a fifty-acre territory and is even home to a large population of lions including white tigers and lions, which are getting extinct day by day. The animals in this sanctuary cannot be set free in the wild because they have been raised in captivity. Tourists can watch how the lions are fed and watch them from a close distance. Furthermore, Drakenstein Lion Park has come up with a facility called Chimp Haven for providing shelter to the lions of Tygerberg Zoo. The food items and beverages can be purchased from the delicatessen. Drakenstein Lion Park also consists of farm animals, picnic areas et cetera. Moreover, feeding takes place on select days.
4. Paarl Vintners
Paarl is renowned for the wide variety of premium and exotic wines that it offers. Paarl Vintners is renowned as the globe’s first red route because of its exquisite and rich wines such as Shiraz, Port, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Roodeberg. Wards such as Franschhoek and Wellington, Simonsberg-Paarl and Voor-Paardeberg come under the district of Paarl. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and several other varieties of grapes are grown in these districts. For cultivation purposes, irrigation is not necessary because the summers are long and the area witnesses plenty of rainfall on a regular basis. Cellular tours and wine tasting is offered by most of the estates, which have some outstanding eateries as well.
5. Paarl Golf Club
Paarl Golf Club is situated in Boschenmeer Golf Estate in Western Cape. It is a twenty-seven hole golf course, and some of the holes are scattered along the Berg River for making it challenging for players of all levels. The beauty of the course is unparalleled because of the natural vegetation, mountain backdrops, water features, and perils. The club has hosted some of the major tour events of South Africa along with national, regional, and local events. Club facilities consist of a swimming pool, golf academy, state of the art clubhouse, playroom for children and so on. Furthermore, the golf course has been designed by David Frost.
6. Limietberg Nature Reserve
Limietberg is a beautiful and ravishing nature reserve situated in the Du Toitskloof Mountains in South Africa. It has a total of nine hiking trails. The reserve is perfect for a casual outing since it is characterized by spectacular views, serene walks, tranquil moments, and rock pools for the convenience of tired walkers. Cape sugarbird, Protea Canary, the black eagle can be spotted in reserve along with baboon, leopard, and klipspringer. Nonetheless, only a hundred and twenty people are allowed in a day into the Tweede Tol Picnic, which is meant for leisure purposes. Tweede Tol Picnic has a jungle gym to keep the children captivated so that the parents can run necessary errands. There are several beautiful and shady spots in the encampment in Bainskloof Pass. It is best to visit the Limietberg Nature Reserve during daylight hours for a remarkable and amazing experience. However, the weather is quite inconstant, and tourists are advised to come well prepared since last-minute rescue operations would not be feasible. Additionally, Limietberg Nature Reserve is extremely beautiful and is highly regarded by experienced hikers.
7. Frater Square
The building came into existence in the year 1985. At first, it was used for a variety of purposes like storing farm implements, but after years of extensive planning, it was transformed into a lifestyle mall by Gerard and Yvette Frater. The shopping center is easily reachable since it is located on the main road of Paarl. Frater Square provides an amazing and remarkable shopping experience that one cannot find anywhere else in Paarl. It changes conventional prospects of lifestyle and shopping with its outdoor concept and remarkable ambiance. Frater Square has a classic village setting and emanates a placid style. The center has a large number of fine restaurants along with decor boutiques, premium wine shops, hair and beauty salons, clothing boutiques for people of all age groups and a lot more. The eateries consist of Bread and Butter, Melissa’s Frater Square and so on. The Frater Square shopping center offers plenty of parking space and twenty-four-hour security. It even has wheelchair access for the convenience of disabled people. The center also offers a free WiFi facility for unending connectivity. Frater Square has a Kids Zone for occupied parents who want to keep their children in a safe and fun environment.
Here is a list of 10 best places to visit in George for a heartwarming experience while you’re holidaying there. Take a look!
1. Outeniqua Transport Museum
Previously, a railway station, The Outeniqua Transport Museum features a unique display of the history the country. The museum has different houses which feature different types of old steam locomotives, privately owned Vintage cars, road motor vehicles, and a brilliant collection of steam locomotive number plates. Beautiful old dining cars with pillars are also on display. Visiting this museum is like dating back to the bygone years and it is a must see when in George.
Special Attraction: A narrow gauge, a coach from the Royal Train of 1947, the impressive GL Garrett, the Emil Kessler, Paul Kruger’s coach, and private saloons. Location: 2 Mission Rd, George Central, George, 6530, South Africa Timings: Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM and Saturday 8:00AM – 2:00PM
2. Montagu Pass
Opened in 1848, the Montagu Pass is the oldest unaltered pass in South Africa. The 8 kilometers long Pass contains 126 bends corners and curves. This pass was constructed in order to replace the deadliest Cradock Pass. The Pass provides the traveler a beautiful alternative way to escape the chaotic life of high-speed traffic and hustle-bustle of horns. From the vantage point, people can look through the mountainside where the old Cradock Pass is located.
Special Attraction: the Old Toll House on the Montagu Pass is a well-renowned heritage site and Built of local stone Location: Between George and Herold. Situated in the Western Cape, the Montagu Pass links George with the village of Herold
3. The Outeniqua Power Van
Rail trips on the Outeniqua Power Van are ideal for family outings and it is one of the most popular attractions in the town. The Outeniqua Power Van offers a unique, breathtaking Eco-friendly experience to the Outeniqua Mountains. The ride also offers a great experience in the forest, Fynbos and Proteas, four passes, waterfalls and seven tunnels, bird, and animal life.
Special Attraction: Delicious, Eco-friendly picnic is also accessible during the power van trip Location: Mission St, Eastern Extension, George, 6529, South Africa Timings: 7:00AM – 9:00PM Booking Costs: 150 Rands for Adults and 130 Rands for Children
4. Victoria Bay
Victoria Bay is one of the smallest and most beautiful bays on the Garden Route. Victoria Bay marks as the smallest yet the most gorgeous Bays located on the Garden Route covered by cliffs. Quietness all around, the Vic Bay is gorgeous and beautiful with a fantastic view of the ocean. Victoria Bay is a top-class surfing spot on the South Coast and many competitions are held here throughout the year. Lovely to go for a walk alongside the bay and watch the surfers or have a swim through the gentle waves. The facility for water sports and water activities make this beach famous among the young generation.
Special Attraction: National and district level Surfing competitions. Location: Garden Route, Western Cape, South Africa Situated on the Garden Route between George and Wilderness
5. The Seven Passes Drive
Drive is one of the coolest places to visit in George in winter and it is one of the loveliest mountain passes in South Africa. The Seven Passes Road, also known as the George Road is a historic and scenic stretch of road between George and Knysna. The Pass was built by adam de Smidt and Thomas Bain. The stretch covers Kaaimansgat Pass, Swartrivier Pass, Hoogekraal Pass, Touw River Pass,, Silver River Pass, the Phantom Pass, and Karatara Pass.
Special Attraction: Milwood, a gold-rush town in the Outeniqua Mountains. Location: Between George and Knysna, Western Cape Winter can be one of the most beautiful time of the year to travel and the Seven Passes
6. Outeniqua Pass
Outeniqua Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 800 meters above the sea-level. The Outeniqua Pass carries N9 national roads through the Outeniqua Mountains. Built in 1951, this pass acts as the bridge to Little Karoo, the coastal town of George and the Oudtshoorn. It compresses curves and corners with the bends of 90 degrees. The pass is a striking natural place and while you drive, you will cross many picturesque town, bridges, and farms.
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
7. Wilderness Beach
Another beautiful beach in the George area that’s an afternoon is Wilderness.The beach is an untouched natural wonder with picturesque landscape. The soothing water of Indian Ocean and its waves are quite frequent in the Wilderness Beach. The scenic beauty and serene atmosphere of the beach. The beach attracts a great number of tourists from all over the world. Wilderness Beach is one of the cool places to visit in St George.
Special Attraction: Ideal for watching Dolphin and Whale.
8. St Mark’s Cathedral
The Anglican Cathedral of St Mark’s is an attractive stone building designed by Sophia Gray following the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of George. The Church was consecrated on 7 December 1850. The brilliant architecture makes this Church look different from every angle. The Cathedral is now a member of the International Community of the Cross of Nails.
Location: 59 Cathedral Street, George, 6529, South Africa Timings: Monday – Friday 10:00AM – 1:00PM
9. George Botanical Garden
Situated at the top of the Caledon Street, the George Botanical Garden is worth a visit for its value. The garden is the brainchild of the of the Garden Route Botanical Society. It plays an important role in both the conservation and study of the critical floral kingdom. Known as the photographer’s paradise, the garden mainly focuses on the plants and animals found in this area. The garden makes a wonderful space for families as somewhere to escape into nature. Definitely worth a visit for a walk, picnic or simply sitting on a bench.
Special Attraction: The Tea Garden, the Botanical Library and the Southern Cape Herbarium Location: 49 Caledon Street, George 6529, South Africa Timings: 7:00AM – 7:00PM
10. Red Berry Farm and Tea Garden
Situated at the heart of the Garden Route, the Red Berry Farm is one of the eye-catching places to visit in George town. The farms is also an cottage which is self-catering cottage located on the strawberry farm. It is standing in a green lush country looking over to the Outeniqua Mountains.The farm offers a range of strawberry products and the Berry Bar and the Red Shed Coffee is an exclusive farm style coffee bar located inside the farm that serves beverages to the guests. A number of restaurants and hotels are available within the 5 kilometers from the farm. The Red Berry farm and tea garden present a delightful family outing.
Special Attraction: Strawberry Picking, Pony rides, Miniature train rides, Bumper boats, and Maze. Location: Geelhoutboom Road, Blanco, George, 6530, South Africa Timings: Monday-Saturday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
March to May and September to December are the time to visit Oudtshoorn and admire its beauty. Here are the lists of amazing things and activities that you can do while you’re traveling to Oudtshoorn:
1. Cango Caves
One of the main attractions near Oudtshoorn is The Cango Caves which are situated in Precambrian limestone. This cave attracts many tourists from around the world. Being a cave, it’s extremely dark inside. So, it’s better you’ll have torch lights before entering there. The cave was discovered in the 1700s and found limelight in 1930 when archeologists found artifacts and some other cultural items during their research, which makes it more fascinating.
You have to pass from the chambers in this cave. Tours for Cango Caves are happening at regular intervals. There are two types of packages named as “Standard Tour”, which takes an hour and “Adventure Tour”, which takes half an hour. The tours let you crawl through contracted routes and jump up the sharp rocks, thereby enjoying the place fully.
2. Cango Wildlife Ranch
It was 1977 when The Cango Wildlife Ranch was started like a crocodile show farm. But later on, it highlighted on crocodile population as well as paid attention to the number of species that were on the verge of extinction. Today, it is home to more than 80 species of animals and reptiles. But what makes it more interesting is the interaction of humans to crocodiles. Cango Wildlife has the world’s first cage diving experience. A person is closed up in a cage and then the helper will take this cage into the water. The whole purpose of this “cage-diving” is, to have a personal understanding of the lives of these species living underwater.
3. Rust en Vrede Waterfall
It is situated 18km from Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo. Rust-en-Vrede means “rest and peace”. Outside this waterfall, many facilities can be seen like Braai (barbeque) and many picnic places are available at the entrance for the amusement. A small entrance fee is charged from people. It’s one of the wonders in Oudtshoorn, and people are advised here to maintain and marvel this nature’s wonder. You can walk over small bridges and look at the fresh crystal clear water coming straight from the mountains.
4. Meerkat Adventures
Another thing you should be doing while in Oudtshoorn is to take part in Meerkat adventures. Meerkat is a place where you encounter wild animals in their natural habitat. You can see and enjoy the fauna. It’s better to visit Meerkat when the day is sunny so that you will be able to see all those species there easily.
5. Mooiplaas Ostrich Farm
This tour will take your 1-1.5 hours to show you how modern day’s commercial farm operates. This tour will give you a chance to meet those amusing ostriches in the farm rings. Then you will get to see how people in farm feed them, their advanced methods and techniques for taking care of ostrich’s eggs and how they hatch them. Then they’ll show you how those chicks brought up and when they are all grown up they’ll send to those big ostriches. Some of the tours will even let you ride on ostrich or watch ostrich races.
6. Karusa Winery
Karusa is a family-owned business that operates and manages Southern Cape Premium Wine and Craft Brewery. It is a wine and fruit farm which is well-known for its Cap Classique and Mediterranean style wines. Karusa winery offers exceptional blends of white and red wines, craft beers and freshly picked fruits. They charge some fees to taste their exquisite wine but if you’re buying them, then tasting is free.
7. Grundheim Cellar
Grundheim wines established in 1858, a family business in which they’re farming in Oudtshoorn for more than a century. The farm uses more than century-old historic wine cellar. Grundheim products include Muscadel, Port, homemade liquors, and “witblits” made in a traditional brandy-still. Grundheim is known for their traditional method of winemaking. It specializes in sweet wines and liquors. Do visit the Grundheim’s and taste their exquisite wine.
8. Guarrie Trail
he Guarrie trail is 700 meters long and will take your 20 minutes to complete it. This trail displays some of the fascinating local bird species and beautiful Klein Karoo’s vegetation. If you are in Oudtshoorn with children, or with old people, then this trail is for you. It is less tiresome and comes to an end in no time. It is rich in flora which eventually makes your mood better.
9. Minwater Trail
The Minwater Private Game Reserve is situated outside Oudtshoorn in the Karoo. It is a must visit place, and is not far away from Oudtshoorn. The Minwater Trail consists three trails. The Rooiberg is the first trail, which is 7km long. Then there is Steenbokrant trail, which is 4.5km long, and the last trail is Sandberg, which is 17km long and has two additional ones, named as, Kloof and Die Gat. The best part about Minwater trails is that you don’t need to hire a guide. With proper preparation, you can manage your routes on your own. And enjoy your visit to Oudtshroon to the fullest.
10. Piet Barbet Trail
This is another must visit area while you are in Oudtshoorn. Piet Barbet Trail is in the Klein Karoo within the Cape Floral Kingdom. This trail is known to be as one of the plant wonders around the world. This trail takes you to the wonderful unmatched plant diversity. Pier Barbet Trail is 4.1km long, where you can see the beautiful vegetation.
11. Gamkaberg Nature Reserve
The Gamkaberg Nature Reserve covers almost whole part of the mountain, which is now a World Heritage Site. It was established in 1974, with the mission to protect a population of endangered Cape mountain zebra. Besides zebras you can find antelope, including klipspringer, red hartebeest, eland, and others. Various birds, reptiles and insects are also found in this reserve. Additional attractions in this reserve include kloofing and rock art sites as well as mountain biking through the 30 kilometers overnight trail, which is best for adventure junkie in you.
12. Swartberg Mountains
The Swartberg Mountains a.k.a. Black Mountain in Afrikaans, situated in a mountain range in the Western Cape of South Africa. The Swartberg Mountains are tallest in the Western Cape and most of the mountains here are ranging up to 2,000 meters tall. These mountains were once called impassable but now it has three passes through it. Swartberg pass was built between 1881 and 1888, plentiful of Swartberg is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You should visit here and admire the stunning scenario ahead of you.
13. Hot Air Ballooning
If you love the feeling of “top of the world” then hot air ballooning is for you. Once you are above in the sky you’ll enjoy the sense of peace and tranquility. You don’t need to put any effort at all, your presence in the balloon will be fine and let the pilot do his job. The feeling of euphoria can’t be explained when you’re 1,000 feet above the earth’s surface.
14. Buffelsdrift Game Park
Buffelsdrift is a game farm in the lower range of the Swartberg Mountains in the Cargo Valley. Buffelsdrift Game Park became part of the 6th South African World Heritage Site in 2004, which offers a treasure of endemic plant species. Buffelsdrift game farm consists of luxurious accommodation, enormous lounge, conference facilities, the charming wooden chapel for intimate gatherings, and a restaurant for your appetite.
The restaurant specializes in local cuisine, an open bar which provides a wide range of local wines and soft drinks. There is a spa to relax your muscles, a novelty shop where you can buy local arts and crafts, clothes and your needed items. With these amenities, you can also enjoy some outdoor activities which include early morning safari drives, Meerkat safaris, or brushing and feeding elephants.
15. CP Nel Museum
The sandstone building with clock-tower, known as CP Nel Museum was built in 1906 by Charles Bullock. This prominent building is famous for the best small town museums in South Africa. This museum mainly focuses on the ostrich industry, concentrating on the ostrich feather boom period which dated back from 1900 to 1914. Ticket price varies, but it’s a must-visit the place to gain some historical insights of Oudtshoorn.
16. Bella Mia Olives & Pottery
A few years ago, Chris and Mariana left their field of expertise and jumped into olive farming and pottery making in a small farm in Schoemanshoek, which is situated between Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves. With their hard work, now both of them are happy with their business of olive farming and pottery skills. You should visit there, enjoy the olive farming, and buy yourself a piece of pottery by Mariana for your return gift.
The places to visit in Georgetown listed below provide a unique insight into the delectable Chinese history that over time mingled with British colonial prowess, and then ultimately a warm-hearted Malaysian cultural embrace. After a small glance at the Georgetown tourist map, travelers can ascertain how this place made its journey from a humble fishing village to a UNESCO World Heritage site that is adored by locals and foreigners alike who take repeated vacations in this vivacious city.
1. Kek Lok Si Temple
Probably among the most revered places to visit in Georgetown, Kek Lok Si Temple holds the honor of being the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia. Apart from being a temple with tremendous religious significance for the large population of Buddhists in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, this temple boasts of a marvelous seven-story pagoda along with its 10,000 Bronze statues of Buddha.
For travelers who love to be immersed in nature, the Kek Lok Si Temple complex is filled with intricate architecture and lush-green horticulture that spreads over 30 acres on the foot of the Air Itam Mountain.
Timings: 7 am to 5:30 pm daily
Entry Fee:INR 35 (for the Pagoda); INR 70 (incline lift to see the statue)
2. Penang Hill
Penang Hill is the most ideal place for adventure seekers, and outdoorsy travelers for an enjoyable weekend of Georgetown sightseeing. With an altitude of 2733 feet above sea level, Penang or Flagstaff Hill is the highest point on the tropical island. The major attraction to this hill is the one-of-a-kind funicular railway in Malaysia that transports millions of people to this breathtaking vantage point.
Over the years, Penang Hill developed from being a British colonial retreat to a tourist attraction that now has a fabulous resort. Travelers who love adventure can choose to hike, bike, or drive to the scenic hilltop.
Ticket Price (for the Funicular): INR 175 (return ticket for adults); INR 85 (for senior citizens and children between age 4-12)
Timings (for the funicular):6:30 am to 11:00 pm (Train service every 15 minutes)
3. Khoo Kongsi
One of the best places in Georgetown Penang is Khoo Kongsi- a spectacular Chinese clan-house that is an architecture lover’s fantasy. Littered with ornaments, gold plated statues, and state-of-the-art Chinese construction work, Khoo Kongsi is an exclamation mark in a long line of decorated and influential Chinese presence in Penang.
The clan-house temple provides the perfect opportunity for all shutterbugs to prize away a few eye-catching images from this 19th century laid-back vacation house.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm (all days)
Entry Fee: INT 175 per person
4. Gurney Plaza
One of the places to see in Georgetown is the swanky Gurney Plaza. Often while traveling people love to indulge in shopping, and Gurney Plaza is the perfect place for that. With a huge surplus of electronic exports, and its duty-free status, Penang is a great place to get good deals on electronics, clothes, and decoration items.
Gurney Plaza benefits from its prime location of Gurney Drive- a spot that is almost impossible to miss on your visit to the small island of Penang. Along with shopping, Gurney Plaza is home to 12 modern cineplexes and a variety of international restaurants that will cater to all kinds of travelers looking for a blend of luxury and entertainment.
5. Street Art Locations In Georgetown
After it received a UNESCO World Heritage site status, the art scene in Georgetown took off like any other. The best part about the street art emergence in Georgetown is that it was initially promoted by government, and not as a form of protest as it has been used around the world.
Spread out all across Georgetown, street art in Penang has gained a lot of traction among tourists, and travel agencies have now started to organize walking tours to visit all of these elaborate masterpieces that add a different dimension to Penang.
6. Penang Botanic Gardens
A list of places to visit in Georgetown would be incomplete without a tribute to the rich flora and fauna that is present on the island of Penang. The Botanic Gardens are a popular hotspot for local residents to go on a picnic, workout, and meditate.
Established by the Britishers near a granite quarry and a waterfall, the botanic gardens can act as a perfect retreat for eco-tourists and travelers who love to spend time surrounded by nature.
Timings: 5 am to 8 pm (all days)
Entry Fee: No charge
7. Batu Ferringhi Beach
The small town of Batu Ferringhi gets a lot of tourists that visit Penang Island due to its gorgeous white sand beach. A relatively unknown place of tourist interest has been a blessing in disguise for Batu Ferringhi Beach- which is still largely unspoilt and virgin.
Adventure sports enthusiasts might like to bookmark this place as water activities like jet skiing, water skiing, parasailing, and deep-sea fishing are conducted on a regular basis around the year. For travelers who would like to spend their nights close to the serene and adventurous beach can also opt to stay at either Golden Sands Resort or Shangri-La’s Sayang Resort & Spa.
8. Street food outlets in Penang
Like so often in other countries around Asia, street food forms a big part of the gastronomical identity of Malaysia (and Penang in particular). The old and rustic streets of George Town is filled with small food vendors along the side of the street that either are run and operated from just outside their own house by people, or in a buzzing community market.
Mouth-watering delicacies like Assam Laksa (a sweet and sour Noodle soup), Popiah ( a vegetarian spring roll), and Nasi Kandar (steamed rice and curry) are worth a go for travelers who are always on the lookout for a truly authentic local treat.
Set seductively between mountains and the sea, Cape Town flaunts its natural beauty with pride. Rising above the city, iconic Table Mountain provides the perfect plateau for panoramic views that stretch to the glittering Atlantic, botanical gardens beckon from its slopes, and the city’s long blonde beaches, backed by towering peaks, are some of South Africa’s best.
Bubbling beneath the surface is an irrepressible sense of adventure, and travelers can join in the fun with a range of outdoor activities, from hiking, biking, surfing, and paragliding to whale-watching trips and cage dives with great white sharks.
As the oldest European settlement in Africa, Cape Town has a rich and, at times, turbulent past. At Robben Island, history buffs can see where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. In the hinterland, elegant Stellenbosch is a Nirvana for foodies. Along the rugged coast, scenic drives slice into mountains that plunge to the sea, penguins waddle on pristine beaches, and Cape Point is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the richest floral kingdoms in the world.
Explore the best things to do in the “Mother City” of South Africa with our list of the top tourist attractions in Cape Town.
1. Table Mountain
Rising 1,087 meters south of the city center, flat-topped Table Mountain is the most photographed landmark in South Africa and a constant reminder that nature is queen in this stunning seaside city. Created from massive beds of sandstone and slate, the mountain forms the northern end of the Cape Peninsula and lies within Table Mountain National Park.
The park protects an astounding diversity of plants and more than 1,470 flower species-the planet’s richest floral kingdom-as well as animals such as cute snub-nosed dassies (rock hyraxes), caracals, and baboons. Within the park, Devil’s Peak flanks the mountain on the east, and Lion’s Head on the west, while the crags known as the Twelve Apostles loom over the beach resorts on the Atlantic coast.
A layer of clouds, called the “tablecloth” frequently cloaks the mountain’s peak, but when the clouds clear, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Cape Town and the entire Cape Peninsula from the summit. Bring a sweater as it can be cold and windy at the top. For those short on time, and energy, a revolving cableway climbs to the summit, covering the distance of 1,244 meters in seven minutes. The cableway runs daily-except in high winds, so it’s a good idea to check the website or call for current conditions before heading out. Also to avoid long lines, try booking tickets online.
At the upper station of the cableway, a café features a small viewing terrace and serves as the starting-point of three short walks, which highlight the gigantic scale of the landscape. Those wishing to summit the mountain on foot can choose between more than 350 different routes varying in difficulty. Depending on the starting-point, the climb takes between two to four hours. For superb views of Table Mountain and the best vantage point to photograph this iconic landmark, hike or drive up Signal Hill or Lion’s Head – both offer stunning views from their summits.
2. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
In a beautiful setting on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage site. The site was bequeathed to the state by Cecil Rhodes in 1902 and the gardens were established in 1913 to preserve the country’s indigenous flora-one of the first botanical gardens in the world with this mission.
More than 20,000 native South African plant species are collected, grown, and studied in the hilly 528-hectare nature reserve of indigenous forest and fynbos. Of particular historical interest are a hedge of wild almond-trees planted by Jan van Riebeeck in 1660 and an avenue of camphor and fig trees planted by Cecil Rhodes in 1898. The flowers, shrubs, and trees are arranged so that a show of blossoms and color brightens the gardens throughout the year.
Don’t miss the proteas; the scented garden; the impressive collection of cycads; the Sculpture Garden; and the Botanical Society Conservatory, a custom-built greenhouse with plants from arid regions. Well-marked trails thread through the wooded slopes, and the Tree Canopy Walkway provides panoramic views across the mountain-backed gardens. One of the trails leads through a ravine to the summit of Table Mountain. In summer, the gardens make an evocative venue for outdoor concerts.
Green thumbs and garden lovers should also visit Company’s Garden, an oasis of exotic trees, flowers, aviaries, and ponds in the heart of the city. While here, visitors can also explore the Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium and the Iziko National Gallery.
3. Signal Hill and the Noon Gun
Five minutes drive west of the city center, Signal Hill offers stunning views over Cape Town, Table Bay, and the glittering Atlantic Ocean from its 350-meter summit. The hill forms the body of the adjacent Lion’s Head peak and was named for its historical use when signal flags were flown from here to send messages to approaching ships.
Many locals and visitors drive up to watch the sunset and stay to see the shimmering lights of Cape Town ignite after dark. At noon every day (except Sundays and public holidays), a cannon activated by an electronic impulse from the Observatory fires a single shot. In earlier days this “noon gun” served to give the exact time to ships anchored in the bay. Tourists are welcome to attend a free presentation on the history of the Noon Gun at the Lion Battery and then stay to watch the firing.
Those headed to the top of the hill for sunset views should take a jacket as it can be chilly after the sun dips. On busy weekends and holidays go early to score a parking spot.
4. Clifton and Camps Bay Beaches
About six kilometers from the city center, the beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton lure the buff, the bronzed, and the beautiful-as well as the big bucks. At Clifton, Cape Town’s St. Tropez, some of the city’s priciest real estate overlooks four gleaming white-sand beaches flanked by smooth granite boulders and washed by sparkling, but crisp, blue seas.
First Beach is a favorite volleyball venue and offers decent surf when the conditions are right. Just south of Clifton, trendy Camp’s Bay sports another stunning beach, backed by the magnificent Twelve Apostles and the distinctive peak of Lion’s Head. People-watching is an art along this pretty palm-lined stretch as well as at the chic cafes and boutiques fringing Victoria Street – especially during weekends and holidays when locals and tourists throng here to soak up the scene.
Camp’s Bay and Clifton’s Fourth Beach boast coveted Blue Flag status awarded for clean water, safety, and environmental management making them a great choice for families as well.
5. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Stretching around two harbor basins, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a buzzing entertainment quarter reminiscent of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Once a scruffy fishing harbor, this reimagined waterfront district is now one of the city’s top tourist attractions, and many of the old buildings have been preserved and restored. Millions of visitors a year flock here to the shops, jazz venues, restaurants, hotels, theaters, drama schools, cinemas, and museums.
Sports fans will love the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum, which traces the story of South African Rugby through interactive exhibits. Two Oceans Aquarium features more than 300 species of fish from the Atlantic and Indian oceans, in particular from the area around the Cape of Good Hope. Highlights include a touch tank, penguin encounter, predator exhibit, and diving experiences, which allow visitors to view fascinating marine creatures up close.
Trips to Robben Island leave from the Nelson Mandela Gateway on the waterfront, but anyone is welcome to explore the museum exhibits here. West of the waterfront, the trendy Green Point precinct is also home to the lovely Green Point Urban Park with its biodiversity garden as well as the Cape Town Stadium, which hosted many FIFA World Cup matches in 2010.
6. Editor’s PickChapman’s Peak Drive
About 25 kilometers from the city center, Chapman’s Peak Drive, affectionately called “Chappies” by the locals, is one of the most jaw-dropping driving routes in the world. Cut into the sheer face of Chapman’s Peak, which plunges to the sea, this spectacular toll road snakes its way for about nine kilometers between Noordhoek and Hout Bay passing panoramic Chapman’s Peak point along the way. With 114 curves carved into the rock face, some perched more than 500 meters above the sea, this is not a route for those prone to motion sickness.
Around sunset, cars cram along the panoramic viewpoints as sightseers stake a spot to watch the sun sink while sipping a cool drink in the time-honored South African tradition known as “sundowners.” Look for southern right whales and dolphins in the sparkling Atlantic Ocean below, and drive slowly and carefully. The road was closed on and off for several years due to rockfall dangers, but it has now been stabilized and is open every day – except during severe weather events.
As well as being used as a location for TV commercials, Chapman’s Peak Drive is the setting for the popular Cape Argus Cycle Race and Two Oceans Marathon. After admiring the magnificent sea views, hungry travelers can feast on fresh fish at one of the excellent seafood restaurants in Hout Bay.
7. Robben Island
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island in Table Bay was a brutal prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in a tiny cell during the apartheid era. Today, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see attraction for anyone interested in South African history. Tours to the island begin with multimedia exhibits in the museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront before travelers board vessels to the island. The boat trip takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on weather conditions and can be rough during big swells.
While on the island, visitors tour the maximum-security prison, Mandela’s former cell, and the lime quarry where prisoners were forced to endure back-breaking labor. The interesting part about the tour is that the guides are former prisoners of Robben Island who share their experiences and offer insight into the atrocities of apartheid and the power of forgiveness.
After leaving this hellish six-square-kilometer island, Mandela said, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” These wise words are even more potent after a tour here.
The Cape Town Townships Tour including Robben Island gives visitors an overview of South Africa’s past and present. The full-day small-group guided tour includes a round-trip ferry ride to Robben Island, a visit to Cape Town’s District Six Museum, and the communities of nearby townships of Langa and Gugulethu.
8. Great White Shark Cage Dives
In the chilly waters off Cape Town’s coast, thrill seekers can come face-to-face with one of the ocean’s most feared predators: great white sharks. Protected by the thick bars of an iron cage, divers score a hefty dose of adrenaline as these magnificent creatures swim within inches of the bars.
Tour operators in Cape Town offer shark cage dives in areas such as Simon’s Town, Dyer Island, Mossel Bay, Seal Island, and Gansbaai, the “Great White Shark Capital of the World.” The best time to see these magnificent creatures is between April and October. No diving certification is needed since divers are enclosed in the custom-built cages, and part of the funds go towards shark research and conservation.
Those who prefer to appreciate these awe-inspiring creatures from a distance can watch all the excitement from the boat. Seal, dolphin, penguin, and whale-watching tours are also available for more timid animal lovers.
9. City Hall & the Castle of Good Hope
History buffs can visit two notable historic buildings within five minutes’ walk of each other in central Cape Town. Built-in 1905, Cape Town City Hall is a striking mix of Italian Neo-Renaissance and British colonial style. The 60-meter-high bell-tower, with a carillon installed in 1923, was modeled on Big Ben in London.
Highlights of the interior include the beautiful mosaic floors, marble staircase, and impressive stained glass. Notice the balcony overlooking Grand Parade where Nelson Mandela, the country’s future president, addressed a jubilant crowd in 1990 after 27 years in prison. Music lovers should also try to attend a performance by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra based here.
Across the road from the Grand Parade, The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving stone building in South Africa. It was built in 1666-79 as the residence of the Governor and for the protection of the early settlers, but the castle, which is in the form of a five-pointed star, was never exposed to attack. A highlight here is the William Fehr Collection, which includes pictures, porcelain, fine glass, ceramics, and furniture of the 17th to 19th centuries from South Africa, Europe, and Asia.
A short walk from the fort up the shopping hub of Longmarket street leads to Greenmarket Square, an atmospheric little cobbled plaza, with a number of Art Deco buildings as a backdrop. Shoppers can browse the small flea market held every day of the week here except Sunday.
10. The Heart of Cape Town Museum
In the Groote Schuur Hospital, The Heart of Cape Town Museum opened in 2007 to honor the 40th anniversary of the first heart transplant performed here by Christiaan Barnard. Knowledgeable docents take visitors on a fascinating two-hour tour to see recreations of the operating facilities in the actual rooms where the surgery took place. The tours also explore everything from the ethical implications of the time to the history of the recipient and the donor. Even visitors with no medical background appreciate learning about the history of this life-saving procedure.
11. Iziko Museums of South Africa
Iziko Museums of South Africa comprises 11 museums governed by a council appointed by the Minister of Arts and Culture. A top museum in this group is the Bo-Kaap Museum in the Bo-Kaap District, an old Malay quarter with brightly-painted two-story houses that are still occupied by the descendants of slaves who were brought to the Cape from the East Indies in the second half of the 17th century. This excellent museum illustrates aspects of 19th-century Muslim life in a rare early Cape-Dutch house circa 1763. A room on the premises houses a collection of carts and carriages.
The Old Town House is another popular attraction in the museum group. It was originally built in 1755 in a Dutch-Rococo style and lies in Cape Town’s hub on the west side of Green Market Square. Formerly Cape Town’s City Hall, the Old Town House now displays a collection of pictures presented to the country by Sir Max Michaelis in 1914, consisting mainly of works by 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, including Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael, and Jan van Goyen.
Another highlight of the group is the Koopmans-de Wet House, built in 1701 on a U-shaped ground-plan, with a façade by Louis Thibault (1771). The original interior has been preserved and gives a vivid impression of the lifestyle of a successful 18th-century businessman. Also in the group, the South African Museum and Planetarium and the National Gallery, in Company’s Garden, are worth a visit for natural history buffs and budding astronomers.
12. The District Six Museum
In 1966, 70,000 residents of multi-ethnic District Six were displaced when the South African government decided the community was to be a white one. This poignant museum honors the people of this now-vanished district. On the museum’s floor is a large-scale map where former residents are encouraged to label their old homes and features of their neighborhood.
13. Zeitz MOCAA
Opened in late 2017, the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) is the largest museum on the continent dedicated to African contemporary art in the world. Housed in a converted 9,500-square-meter grain silo with the backdrop of the iconic Table Mountain on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, this visually stunning museum has nine floors with over 100 galleries.
This world-class museum, on par with New York’s MoMA or London’s Tate, features 21st-century art from all around Africa and its diaspora, including the private collection of Jochen Zeitz, German-born former CEO of Puma and conservationist. Some of the most outstanding collections include a series of photographs featuring intriguing eyewear from Kenyan Cyrus Kabiru, colorful and playful imagery from South African Athi-Patra Ruga, and a fantastic woven wall installation made from discarded materials by Ghana-born El Anatsui.
The museum also houses centers for photography, performing arts, and the moving image; an art education institute; a curatorial training program; and a Costume Institute. Entrance is half price from 4pm to 9pm every first Friday of the month.
Gently rolling streets lined with brightly colored houses greet visitors in the Cape Malay (commonly referred to as Bo-Kaap) neighborhood, located in the heart of the city at the foot of Signal Hill. This vibrant area is home to Cape Town’s Muslim community, consisting of those who have descended from the “Cape Malays,” slaves brought by Dutch settlers from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other African countries. The residents are passionate about preserving their history and the buildings, and visitors often see signs stating, “This Heritage Site is Under Threat,” in an attempt to discourage gentrification.
Learn about the neighborhood’s origin at the Bo-Kaap Museum, housed in the neighborhood’s oldest building. Enjoy authentic Malay curry at a local restaurant and cool off with ice-cream before hitting some stores for a little shopping. Don’t miss taking Instagram-worthy shots in front of the colorful houses (as long as you aren’t capturing the residents in your pictures). Bo-Kaap can be reached by foot from downtown Cape Town or the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront or by cab from other areas.
In the fertile valley of the Apies River, at the foot of the Magaliesberg range, Pretoria is known as the Jacaranda City, thanks to the blaze of purple blooms that brighten its many parks and gardens in the spring. Pretoria is also the administrative capital of South Africa, sharing capital city status with Cape Town and Bloemfontein. The city lies about 55 kilometers from Johannesburg, yet the two cities seem a world apart.
Pretoria is a city of civil servants, diplomats, and trim and tidy residential districts with a large population of Afrikaners. It is also an important industrial town and an educational and cultural hub. The University of Pretoria was founded in 1930, and UNISA, the University of South Africa, is one of the largest open universities in the world.
Top things to do include checking out the city’s many historic buildings, monuments, and museums, as well as its beautiful botanical gardens and nature reserves, some of which offer excellent game-viewing opportunities just a short drive from the city center. For more ideas on the best places to visit, see our list of the top tourist attractions in Pretoria.
1. Pretoria National Botanic Garden
The Pretoria National Botanic Garden, in the city’s eastern suburbs, is a peaceful oasis close to the city. The 76-hectare gardens spotlight South African species, with more than half the country’s tree species, as well as many flowering plants, cycads, aloes, and other impressive collections. A quartzite ridge slices the park into two sections, with vegetation in the warmer north-facing half contrasting with that in the colder south-facing section.
The plants are grouped according to their climatic regions, such as the savannas of the Karoo, coastal forests, and the grassland plains of Namibia. Paved nature trails lead through the natural vegetation of the rocky ridge above the garden. Also on the grounds, the National Herbarium is home to the largest collection of plant specimens in South Africa, with more than a million species cataloged and stored here. After exploring the lovely gardens, visitors can enjoy a meal at the lakefront restaurant.
2. Voortrekker Monument
High on a hilltop south of the city center, the Voortrekker Monument is a South African National Heritage site and one of the country’s most visited historic monuments. It was built in 1949 to commemorate the Voortrekkers, the Boers who pushed northward into unknown territory in the mid 19th-century.
This 40-meter-high square granite structure is a prominent landmark in the city with steps leading up to the Hall of Heroes, where 27 marble reliefs depict the Great Trek of 1838. Surrounding the monument is a wall depicting ox-wagons representing the trek wagons. On 16 December each year, a shaft of sunlight shines through an opening in the dome and illuminates a cenotaph below, which reads. “Ons Vir Jou, Suid-Afrika” (“We are for you, South Africa”).
Occasionally, the hall hosts classical music performances, which highlight its excellent acoustics. Museum exhibits depict snapshots of life during this important period. After browsing the interior, visitors can admire panoramic views of Pretoria from the roof or enjoy a meal at the restaurant.
3. National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
Spanning 85 hectares, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa provides a full day of animal fun for the family. This large zoo encompasses a walk-through aviary, a reptile house with a collection of animals from all over the world, as well as the country’s only inland aquarium where visitors can see many species of fish including ragged tooth sharks.
Among the large mammal collection, highlights include the lion and tiger exhibit, hippos, and elephants. To tour the zoo, visitors can rent golf carts by the hour, ride the cableway for a bird’s-eye view, or stroll along the paths for a close-up look at the animals; wear comfortable shoes as the grounds are expansive. Night visits and overnight camping adventures are also available.
4. Editor’s PickAnn van Dyk Cheetah Centre
At the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, about a 45-minute drive from Pretoria, animal lovers can get up close and personal with some magnificent African creatures. This non-profit center was established in 1971 as a cheetah breeding project and has since successfully bred African wild dogs, Cape vultures, and brown hyenas among other animals.
The center was also the first breeder of the rare king cheetah. Visitors can choose from a variety of educational tours, including a three-hour guided tour and touch experience, where guests accompany keepers on the feeding grounds and enjoy a petting experience with these graceful animals. This is a fantastic opportunity for photographers to capture close-up images, and the cost helps fund conservation projects.
5. Union Buildings
Set in beautiful gardens, the Union Buildings command the highest point of the city on Meintjieskop Hill near historic Church Square, site of the city’s first settlement. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker in 1913, this impressive range of sandstone buildings mixes Italian Renaissance, English Renaissance, and Cape Dutch styles. It’s the seat of government and also houses the offices of the president and the state archives.
In the gardens, which slope down in terraces to Church Street, are the Delville Wood Memorial, commemorating the South African soldiers who fell in the First World War; statues of the South African prime ministers Louis Botha, J. B. M. Hertzog, and J. C. Smuts; as well as a nine-meter-tall statue of Nelson Mandela. Visitors come here to stroll among the gardens, ogle the architecture, and admire the impressive city views. The site also holds a special place in the hearts of many South Africans after former President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration took place here in 1994.
6. Freedom Park
Sitting on Salvokop Hill with panoramic views, Freedom park traces the story of South Africa’s liberation and honors those who played an important role. The site opened to the public in 2007 and encompasses a series of poignant memorials and an impressive museum with exhibits examining the nation’s history from the dawn of humanity to the present day.
The site overlooks the nearby Voortrekker Monument and other key landmarks of the city below. A highlight is the Wall of Names, inscribed with the names of all those who lost their lives in South Africa’s major conflicts; an eternal flame; and the Gallery of Leaders, an inspirational look at role models on the road to freedom. Guided tours take about two hours and provide a fascinating insight into the stories represented here, as well as the symbolic features of the architecture.
7. Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve
A haven for hikers and nature lovers, Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve spans 100 hectares in the foothills of Moreleta Kloof near the city center. In the 19th century, the reserve was a dairy farm, and one of the original buildings has been converted to a restaurant where visitors can dine on a beautiful deck, often with a parade of animals in view.
Springbok, impala, bushbuck, zebra, and ostrich are among the wildlife found in the park, as well as an abundance of birds. A tributary flows through the reserve providing water for the animals, and hiking trails range in length from 1.5 kilometers to more than three kilometers.
Other lovely green spaces close to the city center include Faerie Glen Nature Reserve, part of the Moreleta Spruit Nature Trail, which follows a winding course along the banks of a stream through ever-changing scenery, as well as Groenkloof Nature Reserve with hiking, horseback riding, and 4WD trails. Birders will enjoy the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, named after the South African ornithologist who wrote a popular handbook on the birds of South Africa. Bird hides line the shores of the reservoir, and more than 100 indigenous species make their home here.
8. Melrose House
Melrose House, a National Monument, offers visitors the experience of stepping back in time to the late 19th century. Built in 1866 by wealthy businessman George J. Heys, this handsome Victorian house was where the Treaty of Vereeniging, the Peace Treaty terminating the Anglo Boer War, was signed in 1902.
Filled with antiques, the house is an excellent example of preserved Victorian architecture. Highlights include the stained-glass windows, porcelain ornaments, paintings by British artists, and ornate architectural flourishes. Guided tours are available. The house is also used for art exhibitions, concerts, and antique fairs, and the café serves snacks in the tea garden.
9. Ditsong Museums of South Africa
Ditsong Museums of South Africa is a group of eight national museums with significant cultural collections. The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, formerly known as the Transvaal Museum, has an extraordinary collection of mammals, amphibians, fossils, geological specimens, and archaeological material.
In the Austin Roberts Bird Hall, visitors can see more than 800 species of birds indigenous to South Africa. Another Ditsong Museum is the National Museum of Cultural History with Bushman rock engravings, an ethnological section, Cape Dutch furniture, silver, and archaeological material.
Sammy Marks House is a historic house worth visiting. This grand Victorian mansion was home to the successful industrialist and his family from 1885 to 1909 and still contains most of the original furniture and ornaments. After a tour here, visitors can enjoy tea and scones in the garden.
10. Rietvlei Nature Reserve
On the outskirts of Pretoria, Rietvlei Nature Reserve offers a peaceful escape to nature and great game viewing less than a 20-minute drive from the city center. The dam was built during the Great Depression, and now constitutes 15 percent of Pretoria’s water supply, as well as supporting a range of highveld game that was reintroduced to the area. Eland, red hartebeest, buffalo, blesbok, waterbuck, zebra, black wildebeest, hippo, and even cheetah are among the animals found here. Birders should keep a lookout for the comical secretary birds, as well as the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird, and a breeding pair of fish eagles.
The reserve encompasses 3,800 hectares of rolling hills, sprawling grassland, well-marked roads, and of course, the dam itself, where anglers can cast their lines from the northern and western shores. Other highlights include the lion tours, hiking and horse trails, bird hides, a popular tea garden, and a playground to keep the kids entertained.
11. Kruger House Museum
Inside a modest Victorian on Church Street, the Kruger House Museum is the oldest and best known house in Pretoria. From 1883 to 1900, it was the home of Paul Kruger, President of the former Transvaal Boer Republic.
Today it has been turned into a museum with mementos and exhibits relating to his life and the politics of the time. Note the two stone lions on the verandah. They were gifted to President Kruger for his birthday in 1896 by the Northern Cape mining magnate Barney Barnato.
12. Horseback Africa
From walking with baby lions to horseback safaris, Horseback Africa is a private wildlife reserve just under 50 kilometers from Pretoria and one of top attractions in the area. The Lion Tours are the most special experience here. The mission is to create greater awareness of animal conservation while allowing you to interact with young lions up to one year old.
Begin in the garden feeding the baby lion cubs and learning interesting facts about their species. Then take a walk with the adolescent lions through the reserve. While amazing for guests, the walks are also super important to the lions who need to hone their hunting skills. That said, the lions often ask to stop and cuddle.
Beyond the big cats, the reserve offers horseback riding safaris that let you get up close and personal with other wildlife like zebra, wildebeest, kudu, and giraffe on trail rides. These are suitable for beginners and experienced riders alike, as each group includes at least two guides. Although you can choose to stay the night here, many visits on a day trip and the reserve offers a package that includes a morning horseback riding safari, lunch, and an afternoon Lion Tour.
13. Hazel Food Market
The European-style Hazel Food Market is one of the top things to do in Pretoria on a Saturday. Located adjacent to the Greenlyn Village Centre in the Menlo Park suburb, the market has more than 70 stalls selling everything from artisanal breads to fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, baked goods, and local meats like biltong.
You’ll also find a wide range of prepared food from South Africa and the globe with Thai, Mexican, Indian, and American BBQ all among the international choices. When it comes to a taste of South Africa, try the sosaties (a skewer of BBQ meat) or the koeksisters (deep-fried dough with syrup).