What to do in South Africa? 10 activity ideas

Marlène, Travel writer and photographer
Marlène, Travel writer and photographer

Travellers looking for diverse experiences, like watching wild animals, including the famous "Big 5", taking in the breathtaking views while on a hike or experiencing real cultural moments and sharing with the locals, will find what they are looking for in South Africa – one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. A wide range of sporting, cultural and gastronomic activities are offered across the country, encompassing the major cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, the coastal towns along the Garden Route, the rugged coast north of Durban and the national parks and reserves across the country where you’ll be spoilt for choice with the wide variety of land and aquatic animals. Whether you're riding the waves, snorkelling, paragliding over the mountains, hiking or exploring the history of the country, every day in South Africa is different with an unrivalled choice of activities and experiences on offer! Discover our selection of the most beautiful things to see and do in South Africa:

  • Hiking
    Hiking to Table Mountain


    South Africa is full of natural settings for the most beautiful hikes. From Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Cape of Good Hope in Cape Town to the Cederberg Mountains or Drakensberg Mountains in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa is a perfect destination to experience a real change of scenery while being at one with nature wherever you go.

  • Try surfing
    Surf in Kleinmond Beach

    Try surfing

    South Africa has a lot to offer travellers looking to try their hand at surfing, such as Muizenberg Beach (for beginners) and Kommetjie Beach (for experienced surfers) in Cape Town, Jeffreys Bay Beach in Port Elizabeth as well as other spots along the Durban coastline.

  • Cage diving with Great White Sharks
    "Shark Alley", to take a really close look at sharks

    Cage diving with Great White Sharks

    Not sure what to do in South Africa? For a good shot of adrenaline, South Africa offers an out-of-the-ordinary, face-to-face “cage diving” encounter with the Great White Shark. In Gansbaai, 150 kilometres east of Cape Town, or south of Durban, you can don your wetsuit and spend a few minutes snorkelling in a cage in the open sea, and perhaps catch a distant or close-up glimpse of the Great White Shark.

  • Find out more about the landmark history of South Africa
    Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

    Find out more about the landmark history of South Africa

    To understand the country’s turbulent history, it’s important to visit one of the museums that retraces this unforgettable story. The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and the District Six Museum in Cape Town both trace the history of the struggle against racial inequality, while Robben Island is another must-see destination to see life through the eyes of a political prisoner during the apartheid years.

  • Take a cooking lesson
    Local cuisine

    Take a cooking lesson

    In one of the colourful Malay neighbourhood houses of Bo-Kaap, spend time with one of the locals to find out more about Malay cuisine and learn how to cook South African dishes yourself. Lessons take place in a warm and friendly atmosphere and at the end of the day you get to taste what you’ve cooked!

  • Sample South African wine
    Wine tasting in Franschhoek

    Sample South African wine

    The vineyard region is world-renowned and located one hour east of Cape Town on the Garden Route. You can stroll through the vineyards and enjoy wine tasting with experts.

  • Enjoy the country’s cuisine
    Typical dish

    Enjoy the country’s cuisine

    Tickle your taste buds with South Africa’s gourmet and local restaurants, ideal for tasting typical South African dishes. Some wineries also offer dining experiences using local and organic produce. In the big cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, the local markets showcase creators and local producers affording travellers the opportunity to discover 100% South African dishes and traditions.

  • See Cape Town from the skies
    Helicopter flight

    See Cape Town from the skies

    Make your dreams come true and discover the city of Cape Town from the skies – it really is possible! Whether you choose paragliding or a helicopter flight, the 15-minute experience promises to be unforgettable. What better way to admire the natural beauty of the city?

  • Observe the wildlife
    Meet the animals of Kruger National Park

    Observe the wildlife

    Enjoy a memorable safari encounter with the array of abundant wildlife in one of South Africa’s private game reserves or national parks, such as the Kruger National Park, and follow the tracks of the "Big 5" and other mammals and birds. It’s also the perfect time and place to take a cruise on the Santa Lucia estuary, where you can enjoy sightings of other animals like crocodiles and hippopotamuses. In Hermanus Bay you can admire the whales. In Cape Town, the African Penguin colonies can be observed on foot or in a kayak.

  • Make the most of the beaches
    Camps Bay beach

    Make the most of the beaches

    With nearly 3,000 kilometres of coastline, exploring the beaches of South Africa will always be a must! The beaches of South Africa are divine despite a relatively cold-water temperature (between 13 and 17 degrees to the west and a little warmer to the east of the country). Most of the beaches are unspoilt and some are great for snorkelling (Sodwana Bay) or surfing (Cape Town).