Things to do in South Africa
Our guide to the best activities and attractions in South Africa
There is so much to do in South Africa that one of the trickiest things about a holiday here is deciding how to see it all. On the coasts, marine tours mean you’ll be with experts for the best chances of spotting whales or dolphins in the wild. You can even get up close to a shark if you’re feeling daring enough. Whether it’s a walking tour with a local in the know or a popular excursion worth booking in advance like the Franschhoek Wine Tram, we have a selection of activities that can be pre-booked by your Personal Travel Expert so you can make the most of your holiday.
Apartheid Museum, Newtown & Maboneng Private Tour
Learn about the some of the most important aspects of South African history and culture on this private Johannesburg tour. Visit the Apartheid Museum to learn about the rise and fall of the segregation in South Africa. After lunch, you’ll get to explore Johannesburg’s inner city area of Newtown, known for its graffiti art, and up-and-coming Maboneng where there’s plenty of music, art galleries and dining options. Your local tour guide will be able to introduce you to local residents who you can chat to and hear all about what living in Johannesburg is like.
Includes: Private Newtown and Maboneng tour, guided Apartheid Museum tour, lunch, 2 x non-alcoholic beverages, 2 x water and transfers.
Canopy Tour, Tsitsikamma
Glide among the treetops in this 30-metre-high zip line tour of Tsitsikamma National Park. Enjoy unrivalled views as you make your way along ten treetop platforms with guides who’ll teach you about the protected forest – one which is populated by giant Outeniqua yellowwood trees up to 700 years old. On your wired flight, you might even be able get a closer look at the park’s brightly coloured birdlife, including the Narina trogon and Knysna loerie. (Ages seven and over).
Around 2½ hours
Cape Peninsula Tour, Cape Town
Dipping in and out of the waves, strolling around town and preening on the sand – the penguins at Boulders Beach are a charming sight. During this Cape Peninsula tour, you’ll experience some of the most spectacular views in the world during a drive along the Atlantic Coast. Pass through the fishing village of Hout Bay, where you can take an optional boat trip to Duiker Island to see Cape Fur seals, and visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
Full day (approx. 8-9 hours)
Includes: Return transfers to City, Sea Point and Camps Bay hotels. Excludes: Food and drink, boat trip to Duiker Island and ticket to Boulders Beach penguins.
Conducted with dual-language commentary in German and English on selected days.
Cape Town scenic helicopter tour
Experience the breathtaking beauty of Cape Town from above with the towering form of Table Mountain looming above the city and the tiny speck of Robben Island just visible. Head out from the Atlantico via Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak and over the lagoon-laced beauty of Noordhoek beach. From here, you’ll continue out over Sun Valley to the pretty False Bay coastline, following it along to the fishing villages of Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay.
Up to 30 minutes
Close Encounter Whale Tour, Plettenberg Bay
Enjoy a breakfast and commence on a venture to get up close and personal to some of the most majestic beings in the animal kingdom. This tour runs between June and November, giving you more chance to see humpback and southern right whales who both visit around these months, alongside the resident Bryde’s whale. (Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed.)
Cradle of Humankind Private Tour
Step back to the beginning of mankind at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, where over 40% of the world’s known human ancestor fossils have been found. Visit the Maropeng Visitor Centre, which was designed to capture the four elements – earth, fire water and air – and is where you’ll go on an underground boat ride to retrace the evolution of our planet. Continue to the Sterkfontein Caves, a site where fossils including ‘Mrs Ples’ and ‘Little Foot’ have been found, giving us vital information about our ancestors and helping us piece together the story of where we came from.
Dolphin Marine Eco Tour, Plettenberg Bay
Take a trip around the bay to try and spot various marine wildlife along South Africa’s Garden Route. Wildlife you might spot includes bottlenose and humpback dolphins; Bryde’s, southern right and humpback whales and a Cape fur seal colony. Tour runs January-May. (Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed.)
Foodies on Foot, Stellenbosch
Experience a taste of historic Stellenbosch on a walking tour and learn about this famous Cape Winelands town with a knowledgeable guide, while sampling signature culinary offerings including South African delicacy beef biltong, artisanal chocolate and wine pairings.
Franschhoek Wine Tram
This is the quintessential way to experience the famous Franschhoek wineries. Hop on and off this nostalgic tram on the popular Blue Route and enjoy sensational views as you stop at some of Franschhoek’s award-winning wineries. Each vineyard offers a selection of experiences including wine, cheese and chocolate tastings, cellar tours and picnics (pre-booking required).
Great White Shark Cage Diving
Come face-to-face with one of nature’s most magnificent creatures during a shark cage dive in the open ocean. Head out on a catamaran in Gansbaai, the ‘great white shark capital of the world', with White Shark Project’s passionate team who are as dedicated to giving you an epic experience as they are to the welfare of these complex predators – all dives are carried out ethically. An experienced dive master will guide you through your dive and a marine biologist is on board to answer any questions. All equipment is provided as well as breakfast, snacks and a post-dive soup to warm you up.
Full day (approx. 11 hours)
Includes: Lunch and transport.
Suntan lotion, hat, sunglasses, warm jacket, swimming costume, towel and comfortable shoes. Sea-sickness tablets are also advisable.
Operator will reconfirm the day before.
Knysna Oyster Cruise
Take a scenic cruise around Knysna and across its famous lagoon. Pass ‘The Heads’, a pair of cliffs that form a natural opening into the lagoon and out into the Indian Ocean. Learn about one of the world’s most decadent foods as you try some of the freshest oysters you can find. A famous delicacy in Knysna, you’ll taste both wild and cultivated oysters and, accompanied with some wine, it’s a luxurious way to experience the local cuisine.
Meerkat Excursion, Oudtshoorn
Rise early to catch the start of a meerkat’s day on this morning excursion. As a clan (or a gang, or mob) of meerkats come out of their burrows to go about their daily activities, you’ll experience some time up-close to these endearing upright creatures with a knowledgeable guide to fill you in on the goings on. Endemic only to Southern Africa, this is a wonderful way to view these animals in their natural habitat.
Newtown & Maboneng Private Tour
Explore two of Johannesburg’s most vibrant neighbourhoods in this full-day private tour. Begin in Newtown, where you’ll take a tour of the graffiti murals before lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, take a short walking tour of up-and-coming Maboneng where you’ll visit notable buildings like Art on Main and 12 Decades to view local artwork. Your local tour guide will be able to introduce you to local residents who you can chat to and hear all about what living in Johannesburg is like.
Includes: Private Newtown and Maboneng tour, lunch, 2 x non-alcoholic beverages, 2 x water and transfers.
Pretoria City Private Tour
See the key sites of Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, also known as ‘Jacaranda City’ after the blue flowering trees that line its streets. Start your half-day private tour at the Voortrekker Monument to find out about the history of the Afrikaner and enjoy the great city views from its vantage point. Next, visit the Kruger House Museum, the last home of President Paul Kruger, and the historic Church Square where you’ll see the Palace of Justice, where President Nelson Mandela was tried and charged with treason. End with a possible photo stop at the Union Buildings.
Sea Kayaking, Plettenberg Bay
Kayak right beside beautiful marine wildlife on this amazing tour. See dolphins as they swim, leap and frolic, and kayak to Robberg Nature Reserve for a close encounter with the Cape fur seal colony. Between mid-June to January, you could find yourself among the visiting whales. Suitable for all levels of ability – you’ll be accompanied by qualified and passionate marine guides who have great knowledge of the ocean. (Ages 14 and over. Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed.)
Around 1½ hours
Sidecar tour of the city
Experience a tour of Cape Town like no other – in the sidecar of a decommissioned military bike. Strap in for a ride along the wondrous landscape of the Chapman's Peak Drive via the Atlantic Seaboard, where you'll pass by the scenic sights of Camps Bay, Hout Bay and the Constantia winelands in this unique adventure. Suitable for all ages, there are also longer sidecar tours available with the option to tailor-make your own two, four or eight-hour routes.
Walk to Freedom Tour
Experience the raw energy of the ‘Rainbow Nation’. You’ll explore the District Six Museum, which chronicles the quashing of this diverse community during the apartheid era, and Tsonga Environmental Gardens. Visit an informal spaza shop, a 'shebeen' (pub) and a hostel for a first-hand taste of township culture, before returning the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for a ferry ride to Robben Island, a World Heritage Site where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.
Full Day (approx. 7.5-10 hours)
Includes: Transport. Excludes: Food and drink.
Ferry ride depends on weather and ferry being in operation.
Transfers to Camps Bay hotels available at extra cost.
Waterfront Sunset Cruise
Cape Town boasts one of the finest locations for spectacular sunsets that sink into the sea. Jump aboard a cruiser and sip a glass of bubbly as you take in views of Table Mountain and the city. Your boats – Spirit of Victoria and Esperance – will follow the wind out of the harbour and sail across the bay towards Milnerton Lighthouse. You’ll then return to Granger Bay in the lee of the mountain. A bar will be available for your convenience and a warm jacket is recommended.
Includes: Glass of sparkling wine and transport. Excludes: All other food and drink.
Departs daily (weather permitting).
Please ask your hotel to re-confirm your attendance.
Most staff speak English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.
Winelands tour from Cape Town
Gently twirl the wine in your glass, breathing in its fruity aroma during this tour through South Africa’s stunning rolling vineyards. On this full day exploring the beautiful Winelands region, you’ll visit Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, stopping in each for a taster of the superb wine. While at each estate, you’ll also hear a talk from an expert, offering a fascinating insight into the production of the grape and how this becomes wine.
Full day (approx. 8-9 hours)
Includes: Transport and wine tasting. Excludes: Food and drink.
Conducted in with dual-language commentary in German and English on selected days.
Tour may run in reverse.