South Africa travel guide

South Africa Tourism | South Africa Guide

You're Going to Love South Africa

In the diverse country that is South Africa, you'll see magnificent lions in the wild, marvel at mountainous backdrops, and enjoy beaches and the ocean.

All those natural beauties are paired with the cultural atmosphere in Cape Town and Johannesburg and the vast wineries in Cape Dutch.

What to do in South Africa

1. Spot the Big Five

South Africa's National Parks are the best spots to go on a safari and observe the local wildlife in their natural habitat. Kruger National Park is one of the country's most famous.

2. Learn About Zulu Culture

The Zulu, the largest ethnic group in South Africa, takes visitors on tours of local villages to learn more about their culture. The experience is enhanced during special ceremonies that tourists are invited to attend.

3. Follow the Liberation Trail

Understand South Africa's recent history with a visit to historical sites on the Liberation Trail between Constitution Hill and Robben Island.

4. Discover South Africa's Winemaking Industry

Explore the most famous wine regions in South Africa around Constantia, Cape Town, Durbanville, and Paarl.

5. Explore Cape Town

Cape Town is the oldest urban settlement in South Africa and one of the most multicultural cities in the country.

1. Spot the Big Five

South Africa's National Parks are the best spots to go on a safari and observe the local wildlife in their natural habitat. Kruger National Park is one of the country's most famous.

2. Learn About Zulu Culture

The Zulu, the largest ethnic group in South Africa, takes visitors on tours of local villages to learn more about their culture. The experience is enhanced during special ceremonies that tourists are invited to attend.

3. Follow the Liberation Trail

Understand South Africa's recent history with a visit to historical sites on the Liberation Trail between Constitution Hill and Robben Island.

4. Discover South Africa's Winemaking Industry

Explore the most famous wine regions in South Africa around Constantia, Cape Town, Durbanville, and Paarl.

5. Explore Cape Town

Cape Town is the oldest urban settlement in South Africa and one of the most multicultural cities in the country.

When to visit South Africa

South Africa in February
Estimated hotel price
$90
1 night at 3-star hotel
South Africa in February
Estimated hotel price
$90
1 night at 3-star hotel

The low season, from June to August, is the perfect time to visit South Africa if you want to observe wildlife.

September is the best month for whale watching and for the festival season in Johannesburg, which lasts for two months.

How to Get to South Africa

Entry Requirements

Passengers are requested to have a return ticket, by air or overland, when entering South Africa.

Citizens from most nationalities are issued a visa on arrival, valid for stays of up to 90 days. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of entry.

Plane

South Africa is served by two major international airports: Cape Town International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Car

You can enter South Africa through Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, or Zimbabwe.

If you're bringing your car, you'll need proof of ownership, insurance, your local driver's license, and a document for international customs. If you're renting a car to cross the border, check with the car rental company first.

Bus

Getting into South Africa overland by bus is one of the most convenient ways. Several bus companies have regular connections with neighboring countries.

At the border, passengers will need to disembark to go through customs and board the bus again after being processed.

Boat

South Africa is part of most large cruise ships routes, which include at least one stop in Cape Town.

Entry Requirements

Passengers are requested to have a return ticket, by air or overland, when entering South Africa.

Citizens from most nationalities are issued a visa on arrival, valid for stays of up to 90 days. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of entry.

Plane

South Africa is served by two major international airports: Cape Town International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Car

You can enter South Africa through Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, or Zimbabwe.

If you're bringing your car, you'll need proof of ownership, insurance, your local driver's license, and a document for international customs. If you're renting a car to cross the border, check with the car rental company first.

Bus

Getting into South Africa overland by bus is one of the most convenient ways. Several bus companies have regular connections with neighboring countries.

At the border, passengers will need to disembark to go through customs and board the bus again after being processed.

Boat

South Africa is part of most large cruise ships routes, which include at least one stop in Cape Town.

Popular airlines serving South Africa

Lufthansa
Good (4,685 reviews)
KLM
Good (843 reviews)
SWISS
Good (938 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,727 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (2,195 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,464 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (471 reviews)
Iberia
Good (1,599 reviews)
Air France
Good (972 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,110 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,951 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,376 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (220 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (6,194 reviews)
Finnair
Good (786 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (784 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (929 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (847 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (5,898 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (438 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in South Africa

South Africa is well equipped with hotels and hostels, that range from affordable to luxury options.

Where to stay in popular areas of South Africa

Most booked hotels in South Africa

Belaire Suites Hotel
4 stars
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
$72+
Blue Waters Hotel
4 stars
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$85+
Signal Hill Lodge
4 stars
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$58+
Cape Town Lodge Hotel
4 stars
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
$60+
City Lodge Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport
3 stars
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$149+
Morning Star Express Hotel
3 stars
Good (7.8, Good reviews)
$52+

How to Get Around South Africa

Public Transportation

Most of the urban areas are well-equipped with local bus networks, efficient and cheap ways to get around.

Larger cities will also be served by private taxis. In some cities like Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, you can also opt for ride-sharing services.

Trains

The Shosholoza Meyl trains connect major cities in South Africa regularly. The tourist and economy classes are the most affordable, with a one-way ticket from Johannesburg to Cape Town costing approximately 690 ZAR (47 USD).

Bus

Most major cities are connected by regular long-distance buses. Ticket prices are calculated by distance, but short distances tend to be more expensive than longer ones.

Car

You can drive in South Africa with your local driver's license if it's in English and has your photo. Otherwise, you'll need to get an International Driving Permit. To rent a car, you need to be at least 21 years old and have a credit card.

Plane

The more airlines flying a route, the cheaper the tickets will be. Local airline South African Airways operates a lot of the domestic flights, alongside its low-cost carrier Mango.

Public Transportation

Most of the urban areas are well-equipped with local bus networks, efficient and cheap ways to get around.

Larger cities will also be served by private taxis. In some cities like Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, you can also opt for ride-sharing services.

Trains

The Shosholoza Meyl trains connect major cities in South Africa regularly. The tourist and economy classes are the most affordable, with a one-way ticket from Johannesburg to Cape Town costing approximately 690 ZAR (47 USD).

Bus

Most major cities are connected by regular long-distance buses. Ticket prices are calculated by distance, but short distances tend to be more expensive than longer ones.

Car

You can drive in South Africa with your local driver's license if it's in English and has your photo. Otherwise, you'll need to get an International Driving Permit. To rent a car, you need to be at least 21 years old and have a credit card.

Plane

The more airlines flying a route, the cheaper the tickets will be. Local airline South African Airways operates a lot of the domestic flights, alongside its low-cost carrier Mango.

The Cost of Living in South Africa

A weekly trip to the grocery store can cost around 300 ZAR (20 USD). A meal at a cheap restaurant is 120 ZAR (8 USD). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, though cash is best for smaller transactions. ATMs are also easy to find.