South Africa continues to emerge as one of the most worthwhile countries to enjoy a holiday. In fact, Lonely Planet has declared South Africa as one of the top 10 countries that you need to visit in 2018.
What’s amazing about South Africa is that you can experience a wide array of attractions and natural wonders in a single area. From its lush mountainside and pristine beaches to its exciting culture and history, South Africa should definitely form part of your annual travel goals.
There are so many things to enjoy in this African country, and any traveler might get overwhelmed with the sheer number of destination options. That’s why it’s important to know which South African destinations deserve to get the attention of travelers both casual and frequent.
We asked 17 South African travel bloggers about their favorite destinations. Check out this roundup of responses:
Favorite destination in South Africa (as voted by 17 bloggers):
#1: Garden Route – 4 votes
#2: Cape Town and Wild Coast – 3 votes
#3: Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga Province – 2 votes
One vote each: Midlands, South Coast, Mapungubwe National Park, Coffee Bay, Pretoria, Lowveld, and Cape Winelands
Here are the individual responses of South African travel bloggers on their favorite destinations in South Africa, arranged based on when we received their replies:
Natalie Roos – Tails of a Mermaid
The Eastern Cape
I’m a blogger with a passion for travel, food and Chardonnay.
Verushka Ramasami – Spicegoddess
Midlands Meander. Beautifully set in the province of KZN and just an hour of Durban, the Midlands is home to a variety of arts, crafts and is defo a foodie haven. The area is home to some of the most amazing spas and eateries. There is something for the whole family here and defo a place to suit all budgets. A drive into the lush green country filled with hidden gems is defo one of the reasons why so many keep returning to the Midlands. The Midlands is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Sandy – On Point With Sandy Nene
It has to be the South Coast in KZN. I love how intimate it is, the gorgeous beaches and all the amazing travel destinations such as the Oribi Gorge and Lake eLand do it for me.
I am the founder and editor of SA’s 1st and largest community for bloggers, I love to spend most of my time online. I am also a freelance writer and publicist who has been privileged to work with some of the top brands and publications in the country.
I don’t know if Mapungubwe National Park in northern Limpopo is ‘the best’ travel destination in South Africa, but it’s certainly one of my favourites. Think huge baobabs, fascinating red rock formations and a wealth of cultural history that has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Between 1220 and 1290, some 5000 people lived here, the royal family on top of Mapungubwe Hill and commoners below. Mapungubwe predates Great Zimbabwe further north, and gold discovered in the royal graves showed that the people traded with other parts of the world like Egypt, India and China.
Mapungubwe offers visitors activities such as a treetop walkway, a series of sunset decks with superb views over the Limpopo River into Zimbabwe and Botswana, game drives, guided walks, a 4x4 route, a three-day hiking trail, and a fascinating interpretive centre and museum where you can explore the cultural history of the area. Both the Venda-style Leokwe Camp and the Limpopo Forest Tented Camp have a pool for cooling down on sweltering summer days.
I’m an independent travel writer and book editor with a passion for Africa – anything from African travel, people, safari and wildlife to adventure, heritage, road-tripping and slow travel. I’ve also written four books, two of them about travel.
Lauren Austin – Portfolio
Coffee Bay & Hole in the Wall, Wild Coast
Coffee Bay is a tiny, one street haven on the untamed Eastern Cape coast in the Transkei region. This rural coastline consists of rolling green hills, secret beaches and free-range farm animals who wander the roads. Don’t be surprised if you see a herd of cows ambling onto the beach to investigate your sunbathing! The Wild Coast contains some of the most unspoiled scenery in the country. We especially love its remote location and bohemian visitors – this is the home of nomadic backpackers who arrive and never quite manage to leave. It’s the perfect place to really get away from your life and relax. The bad mobile reception and dodgy roads ensure that you’ll never find hoards of visitors flocking to the best spots, allowing the region to maintain its air of seclusion.
Our favourite spot: the hill between the two beaches next door to Hole in the Wall; men’s beach and ladies beach (not exclusive as the names make them sound!). Sit at the top with a cold beer and watch the sun go down as the ocean on either side turns pink and gold.
At Portfolio, we feature only handpicked accommodation in Southern and East Africa. Each listed accommodation has been visited by us – that means we’ve slept in the beds, checked out the view and dined with the owners ourselves. So we’re proud to give you our personal recommendations of only the very best accommodation spots.
Jacqui Cooks – The Jax Blog
I may be biased being born and bred here in the Western Cape, South Africa, but there truly is no other place on earth quite like it. Cape Town, South Africa has a plethora of mini-destinations on offer. A visual smorgasbord aimed at delighting every person of every age.
We have the longest wine route in the world, route 62, with some of the most amazing varietals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Then there’s our exquisite mountain ranges if you are more of an adventurous soul. The activities from hiking, climbing, parasailing, abseiling, and bungy jumping are endless!
The inner city CBD is a thriving hive of art, culture, food and business. I’d say we rank right up there with cities such as New York and London.
My personal favourite mini-destination has to be our sensational coastlines. My inner mermaids squirms with glee at the thought of a summer seaside sojourn.
Ultimately I could happily die on the West Coast. Pure white beaches stretch on for miles, as the crystal blue waters idly lap the shore. The remote tiny towns of paternoster dotted with fishermen cottages invoke an instant sense of serenity. Here there is no need for WiFi. A great place to just zone out and recharge.
A global gypsy and pleasure purveyor who constantly feeds her insatiable wanderlust & appetite for the eclectic. This proudly south African chick shared her stories through her blog and social media.
Anje Rautenbach – Going Somewhere Slowly
It is always difficult to choose just one favourite South African destination but based on experiences from last year I have to go with one my most memorable journeys, the Wild Coast. The Wild Coast boasts natural scenery that will make your jaw drop to the floor; waterfalls, views, forests, wildlife, cliffs, caves, beaches, hills, local villages, friendly people, incredible sunrises and areas that are still pretty much unexplored. The area is also packed with activities that will get anyone from the adventurer to the history buff excited.
And contrary to popular belief, you actually can visit some spots on the Wild Coast in a normal sedan vehicle; a 4x4-vehicle is only necessary for certain locations.
Caffeinated and curious travel writer exploring the world in slow motion; nature is my natural habitat and off-road or off-the beaten track destinations and small towns are my favourite to discover.
Rose – GoTravelbug
This might sound like cheating but living in the Garden Route of South Africa is a great bonus and I am constantly encouraging people to visit. Why do I love it so much? It’s simple really, from the long white beaches that stretches for miles, so much so that sometimes you never see another person, to the huge indigenous forest on the foothold of the mountain ranges, the Garden Route offers more natural beauty and tranquility than most destinations.
For the adventurous explorer, this is truly paradise and there is more often than most a hike or walk, paddle, ocean excursion or a paragliding flight involved in my daily life. Out there is fresh air to breathe while taking in the spectacular views.
But the Garden Route has a foodie aspect too and almost everything we buy or eat comes from the coffers of the farmlands as our reputation for the food basket of South Africa proceeds us. It’s here among the mountains that we grow, pick and harvest most of what we eat or drink. The artisans of food can be found in our farmers’ markets and earthy slow food restaurants.
I invite you to step into a world that had the most moderate climate on earth and indulge in its beauty and resources, you will truly leave our shores with a smile.
I am a curious wanderer that finds the complexity of life in my constant adventures across my travels. I completely indulge in wonders of culture, food, nature as everything around me unfolds. Every day is a new gift, a new discovery and a new learning curve. I try to embrace it all and let my life be as colourful as my imagination.
Lerato Bambo – My Life From A Bag
Pretoria is my favorite city in South Africa. It has a rich history, amazing architecture and it also happens to be my hometown.
Lerato Bambo is a South African born and New York based travel blogger with a sense for adventure.
Allison Foat – Cape Town Diva
I can’t isolate one particular place in this magnificent country we call home, but a recent discovery that completely captivated me was Mpumalanga Province, tropical, lush and very beautiful. I stayed at a retreat called Tomjachu in the Crocodile Valley Nature Conservancy where I did long walks through the bush, encountering monkeys, giraffe, buck, zebra and abundant birdlife, up close and personal. I can’t wait to return for a dedicated birding tour.
I’m a travel and lifestyle journalist, blogger and photographer based in Cape Town, inspired by excellence with a passion to protect nature and animals and a commitment to treading lightly on the earth. Without travel, my soul would wither.
Tami, Anton, Zac and Zoe Magnin – TazzDiscovers
Our favourite destination in South Africa is the Garden Route. We love it because, as we are based in Cape Town, it is within driving distance and it doesn’t take forever to get there. If you base yourself somewhere like Sedgefield, it offers central access to George and Knysna as well as being within an hour of Tsistikamma National Park – in case you want to tackle the Otter Trail or simply hike to the swing bridge.
We are a family of travel bloggers who have a passion for South Africa. In fact, we are so passionate that we sold our house, swapped mainstream school for home school and road tripped around our gorgeous country for 3 months in our little Polo. Since we didn’t have any special skills or even a 4x4, we hope this will encourage others to also get to know their own backyard. Travel doesn’t need to mean expensive flights with visa and foreign currency – although, that is awesome too (and we are super keen to explore the rest of the world #JustSaying).
Colleen Blaine – Travel.Write.Explore
The Eastern Cape. For its endless beaches, wild coastline, dense bush and friendly locals.
Travel writer, bush lover, olive eater and wine drinker.
Kathryn Rossiter – Becoming You
Ah there are so many to choose from – we are totally spoilt with so many beautiful options. Some of my favourites are the Lowveld for a Big 5 safari, the West Coast for beautiful beach sunsets and quiet contemplation, the Garden Route for non-stop family fun in the forest or on the beach, the Cape Winelands for the incredible vistas and vineyards plus world class food and wine and then, of course, my home town of Cape Town where the list of things to do and see is endless and even locals can’t keep up with all the offerings.
Kathryn Rossiter is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who writes daily over at Becoming you. Her site offers daily information, inspiration and encouragement for women and it is her place on the web to express her dual passions for writing and photography. Kathryn’s stand out travel experiences include exploring the Cinque Terre of Italy solo, cruising on a Klotok through the jungle of Borneo, sunset scootering around the island of Kithnos in Greece, meandering through the back streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar, zipping through the most extreme zipline in the world, walking with cheetah in the Karoo and generally living the good life in Cape Town every day!
Tracey – Journal of a City Girl
Cape Town – From wilderness to wineries this one city has a bit of everything for everyone. A vibrant city alive with creativity, cuisine and scenery
Tracey is the founder of Journal of a City Girl, a travel blog that documents the life of a South African city girl that married her high school sweetheart and together they are travelling and working their way around the globe with their cat in tow.
Meruschka Govender – Mzansi Girl
The Wild Coast. The magical beauty and dramatic landscapes of the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast never cease to amaze me. The area is rich in culture and heritage. The long stretches of unspoilt beaches dotted with cows, rugged cliffs and rural landscapes are a hiker’s dream. Little villages like Coffee Bay, Bulungula, Cinsta & Morgans Bay are the perfect antidote to city life.
I’m an African travel activist, travel influencer and Joburg evangelist. As a cultural explorer, festival fan and amateur foodie, my mission is to visit all the major festivals in Africa!
Bridget – The Wandering Bridge
My favourite destination in South Africa is the Garden Route area. This is mostly because I have been going there since I was little as we had a family house in Plett. The area has so many happy memories of growing up and each time I visit the area I feel like I’ve come home. My favourite would be Plett, but each holiday also includes a trip to Knysna, Stormsriver, Wilderness, and the Tsitsikamma forest.
The Wandering Bridge is a travel blog covering travel adventures, tips and stories along the way. South Africa is home, but the wanderings are slowly reaching further fields.
Sara Essop – In Africa and Beyond
Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most picturesque provinces and one of my favourite local destinations. The province is a haven for nature-lovers like me and boasts spectacular waterfalls, stunning scenery, historic caves and dramatic natural rock formations. The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga is one of the most scenic routes on the African continent – and I’m always surprised at how many South Africans haven’t experienced it yet. Some of the best wildlife reserves in South Africa are in this area too, like the world-famous Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. This is nature at its best – and a must-visit destination in Africa.
I am a travel blogger and writer based in Johannesburg. My blog is about travel, events and experiences around the world focusing mainly on family-friendly places and activities. l especially love showcasing my beautiful country.
A big shoutout and thanks to the bloggers who sent in their responses to our question! The recommendations above should already keep your holiday plans full this year. Make sure that you’re getting the best deals in domestic flights for your next South African travel.