Or explore with a multi-centre tour

Cities Of South Africa

Cape Town

One of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town sits regally on Africa’s southern tip. The 1000m-high Table Mountain, climbable in a day, provides a rich, cinematic setting in league with perfectly-blue ocean; in between, a thrillingly-multicultural atmosphere is explained by Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and traditional African beliefs all coexisting in precious peace. Green spaces are as abundant as brightly-painted facades, while street art, stunning views, stylish hotels and shebeens (unlicensed bars) are never far away. Also near are a host of stunning sandy beaches, the Winelands, whale-watching at Hermanus, Cape Point’s baboons and the Garden Route. But why rush? No-one else here does.


A gateway to South Africa’s main safari regions, ‘Jo-burg’ – almost no-one utters those two middle syllables – is a beast of its own: more mammoth than London and New York, and as frenzied as any predator-prey chase. Found on the country’s eastern flank, this is a place of soaring skyscrapers and financial workers, of frenetic street life and roadside shack restaurants, of traffic jams and high crime rates. It was once the world’s  greatest gold mining centre, but for South African tourists, despite an excellent Apartheid Museum, the treasure is now typically found elsewhere.


Famed for its busy beachfront and large Indian population, cosmopolitan ‘Durbs’ is well worth a day’s exploration. Grab a curry along Victoria Street, then admire downtown’s colonial and art deco architecture, along with lively markets and exotic aromas. Interrupted only by an attractive waterfront promenade – part of a pre-2010 World Cup spruce-up – that seaside’s part of a stretch which extends for leagues in either direction. South Africa’s third-largest city is also a jumping-off point for visitors headed for Drakensberg and the Battlefields, plus those off whale-watching or surfing along the wild Elephant Coast. 

East London

Despite a desirable bay location, hemmed in by large sand hills, and economic importance, East London ticks few tourist boxes. Its dilapidated downtown boasts some attractive Victorian buildings, and the East London Museum has two real rarities – a preserved, thought-to-be-extinct Coelacanth caught in 1938 and a Dodo fossil – but that’s about it. The city is best used as a springboard for accessing the former Transkei, a minority area given historic autonomy, and anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko’s grave in King William’s Town. Or indeed Hogsback, where dense, indigenous forests and mossy coolness make for excellent walking opportunities.

Port Elizabeth

PE, as it’s known, is an access point for eastern Karoo wilderness odysseys, sashays along the Garden Route, fabulous beaches and legendary breaks like Jeffrey’s Bay, Cape St Francis and game spots including Kwandwe, Shamwari and Addo Elephant National Park, all malaria-free reserves where Big Five sightings are as good as guaranteed. But what about the so-called ‘Friendly City’ (and often ‘Windy City’) itself? Attractions include the Historic Donkin Heritage trail, tracing the footsteps of 1820s settlers, and the British-begun ‘Oldest Bowling Green in South Africa’. But in truth, most visitors tend to get in, then get out. 

The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.

Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.

When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.


Pakamisa Private Game Reserve

How to make the most of every moment?

Local knowledge makes a huge difference! When I asked Ash at Best of South Africa to give me some guidance on how to make the most of our trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek wine valley, I felt sure she would be able to send me in the right direction. It never occurred  to me that she would organise our …

J Ross

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