South Africa has a lot to offer the adventurous tourist. In just one country you have unique wildlife, sparkling coastlines that stretch as far as you can drive, world-class museums with a past that seriously sucks you in, and a rich culture. 

South Africa is truly a "Rainbow Nation" with white, coloured and indian people living, if not always side-by-side, in relative harmony. The country moves to it’s own beat, an addictive blend of house music and African harmonies.

No matter how long you have in South Africa these itineraries should give you a great taste of the country and make sure you’re making the most of your time while you’re there. Check out my run down of Holiday Destinations in South Africa for more information on my favourite destinations in the country.

Did you know???

South Africa has the largest population of Indians living outside of India?

View over Cape Town

South Africa in 1 week - Cape Town

There are lots of cool things to do in Cape Town to occupy a whole week of your holiday. Base yourself in the city and you can do day trips to nearby beaches and wineries.

  • Visit Robben Island - book this ticket in advance and aim for a morning departure. When I visited my trips got cancelled twice due to poor weather and I was eventually successful with a morning departure on my third try
  • Try a free walking tour around Bo-Kaap, District 6 and the inner city
  • See a show at the legendary Fugard Theatre
  • Visit Table Mountain either by attempting a hike or via the Cable Car - check their Facebook page or website for up to date weather and opening hours
  • Check out Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden - even if you're not a garden person, Kirstenbosch will still captivate you. Plan your visit with their daily tours or during a summer concert
  • Spend half a day at one of Cape Town's beautiful beaches
  • Day Trips:
    • Stellenbosch wineries
    • Cape Peninsula
    • Whale watching in Hermanus (seasonal)
    • Go on a safari!

Check out the full Cape Town itinerary post for more ideas on what to do and where to stay in Cape Town.

Penguins on Boulders Beach, Simonstown along the Cape Peninsula

Penguins on Boulders Beach, Simonstown along the Cape Peninsula

Monkey in Cape Town

South Africa in 1 week - Johannesburg

Base yourself in cultural Jo'burg for a few days and then do some road tripping
  • Start in Johannesburg and stay in the neighbourhoods of Maboneng or Braamfontein
  • Time your stay around some of the weekly events like Market on Main
  • Visit the Apartheid Museum - plan to spend at least 3 hours
  • Spend a half day in Soweto with Curiocity Backpackers and visit a township; Vilikazi Street, the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners and, try some local beer and lunch Soweto style
  • Kruger National Park - (2 or 3 nights)
  • Drakensberg (2 nights)

The Garden Route - 10-14 days

Get out of the city and see how diverse the country is just a short ride away from Cape Town
  • Cape Town (3-4 days)
  • Wilderness/Knysna (2 -3 nights)
  • The Crags/Storms River (2 - 3 nights)
  • Oudtshoorn (1 - 2 nights)
  • Stellenbosch/Hermanus (1 - 2 nights)

Cape Town to Johannesburg Express - 2 weeks

In two weeks you can get a great sense of South Africa and visit the most popular sights along the way
  • Cape Town (2 - 3 nights)
  • Oudtshoorn (2 nights)
  • The Crags/Storms River/Natures Valley (2 nights)
  • Coffee Bay (2 nights)
  • Durban - (1 night)
  • Upper Drakensberg - (1 - 2 nights)
  • Johannesburg (2 nights)
  • Kruger National Park (1 - 2 nights)
Elephants heading to lunch in Outdshoorn

Elephants heading to lunch in Outdshoorn

Waterfall fun in Northern Drakensberg

Waterfall fun in Northern Drakensberg

Best of South Africa - 3 to 4 weeks

If you’ve got the time you can almost see it all! Give South Africa a month of your life and you’ll definitely leave a changed person.
  • Cape Town (3 - 4 nights)
  • Hermanus (during whale season) (1 night)
  • Oudtshoorn (2 nights)
  • Wilderness/Knysna (2 - 3 nights)
  • The Crags/Storms River/Natures Valley (2 nights)
  • Addo Elephant Park (1 night)
  • Hogsback (1 - 2 nights)
  • Coffee Bay (2  - 3 nights)
  • Durban (1 - 2 nights)
  • St Lucia (2 - 3 nights)
  • Lower Drakensberg (2 nights)
  • Upper Drakensberg (1 - 2 nights)
  • Johannesberg (3 nights)
  • Kruger National Park (1 - 3 nights)

How to get around

If there’s more than one of you then you should definitely rent a car. This will make your trip much more flexible and it’s by far my favourite way to get around South Africa. The roads are usually great and signs are easy to understand. Even if  you’re on your own, if you can afford it, then this is your best option.

Alternatively, South Africa is easy to navigate by public transport. Using a combination of mainliner bus companies, like Intercape and Translux, and the shared taxi system, you can get to all the places on this list.

See: Why You Don't Need The Baz Bus for more info on your transport options in South Africa

If you have some spare time...

Also consider visiting Mozambique, who have recently announced that they will allow visas on arrival for visitors from countries with and without an embassy. Victoria Falls and Botswana are within driving distance as well or you can get a bus very easily.

Did I miss somewhere?

Let me know in the comments what you would add to the itinerary or where you're most looking forward to visiting

South Africa Itineraries
Crossing the border into Lesotho after climbing the Sani Pass

Crossing the border into Lesotho after climbing the Sani Pass

Spotting lions in St Lucia

Spotting lions in St Lucia

Does my butt look big in this?

Does my butt look big in this?

Heading to South Africa soon? Check out more from my South African travels!