South Africa's top 20 of 2020

20 top attractions as recommended by 20 top local bloggers

After years of exploring other countries, my travel goal for 2020 is to see more of my own. When putting together a travel bucket list for myself, I decided to ask other travel bloggers what destinations or attractions they would most recommend to foreign visitors to South Africa (as I often feel like one) in 2020. From new and exciting attractions to old classics and some locations off the beaten track, I received an array of answers. 

This is what they said:

South Africas top destinations by their best travel bloggers


Maire of Temples and Treehouses explored Cape Town's fairly new and exciting art museum:


1. Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa), Cape Town 
- Recommended by Temples and Treehouses

"The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is a new gallery that opened at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront in 2017. The art is modern and cutting edge, with an African focus. There are lots of video and sculpture installations alongside more traditional paintings, tapestries and other artworks. A lot are thought provoking, but even if you’re not usually an art buff it’s also just a really fun place to explore, with something unusual and unexpected in every room. Even the venue is an attraction in itself. The museum is inside an old grain silo, and I think architecturally it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cape Town." 


Zeitz Museum  - Top South African attraction for 2020
(She also featured it in a post on her own blog, here: Beautiful places in Cape Town you need to visit)

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Heather from the blog 2Summers rediscovered a recently rejuvenated historical Johannesburg landmark:


2. The Rand Club, Johannesburg
- Recommended by 2Summers

"The Rand Club is one of downtown Joburg's oldest buildings, and remarkable in that it has continuously maintained its purpose as Joburg's most prestigious private club since it opened more than 130 years ago. The club was founded by Cecil John Rhodes in 1887 (just a year after Johannesburg was founded), and the current Rand Club building has been standing since 1904. 

For more than a century the Rand Club was men-only and whites-only; prior to 1993, Queen Elizabeth II was the only woman allowed to enter the club through its front door. Today, the Rand Club is open to everyone and has members of every colour and creed. And you don't need to be a member to go for a visit. The Rand Club's legendary restaurant/bar -- said to be the longest bar in Africa -- is now open to the public, and the club hosts other periodic public events. The Rand Club also recently became home to two excellent book shops: James Findlay Collectible Books and Antique Maps and Bridge Books."

(Read her full post: The Rand Club, Reinvented.)

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Like Heather, Christina from Live Your Zoi also discovered one of central Johannesburg’s best-kept secrets:


3. Zwipi Underground, Johannesburg 
- Recommended by Live Your Zoi

"Who wouldn’t want to dine in a secret underground bank vault? A real bank vault dating back to 1904! Located in Ghandi Square in Johannesburg, Zwipi Underground is a must-see. The food, the stories and the location are enchanting. I learned more about the vibrant history of Johannesburg than I have in my 26 years of living in Jozi. The owners are committed to regenerating the inner city and want to provide a unique experience for locals and travellers alike. So why should you visit? The storytelling dinner tours are exceptional. Plus you’ll be helping preserve the old-school charm of Johannesburg as well. It’s truly a Jozi gem!"

Zwipi Underground  - Top South African attraction for 2020

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Jared of @jaredincpt occasionally leaves Cape Town and shared his appreciation for another unique Joburg dining hotspot:


4. Marble, Johannesburg 
- Recommended by @jaredincpt

"Some meals are most certainly worth waiting for, and in this case, Joburg’s famed Marble. The restaurant pays homage to Chef David Higgs’ both fascination with and dedication to South African cuisine and is a local dining experience par excellence. 

Cooking over flames is an undeniable part of the Mzanzi experience and at Marble be prepared to have every conceivable expectation blown. The journey begins at the bar with some mixology magic as you try one of their tantalising cocktails. The dining space is elegantly appointed with generous views over Joburg. As meat specialists there is a dazzling array of options… be sure to try their ‘Signature Meats’. Everything is mouth watering - the fries are so full of flavour they could even be a meal unto themselves. 


I now understand why Marble has rightfully been touted as a quintessential Joburg dining experience."

(You can read about his adventures - usually in Cape Town - at @JAREDINCPT.)

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Di from The Roaming Giraffe has already explored one of the ‘Mother City’s’ newest installations:


5. The Long March to Freedom, Cape Town 
- Recommended by The Roaming Giraffe

"The Long March to Freedom is Cape Town’s newest attraction.  This unique exhibition of 100 life size bronze statues, all walking in the same direction, with Table Mountain as a convenient backdrop, tells the de-colonised history of South Africa, starting 350 years ago and ending in 1994 at the dawn of our democracy. The narrative is driven by the stories of the people  who all played a role in the struggle for land and freedom. Situated next to the huge Canal Walk shopping mall, it is easy to get to and ample parking is available. Browse on your own or walk with one of the well informed guides who will relate the stories and can answer all your questions. Over 40 local artists were commissioned to create the bronzes and 8 local forges were used for the production. This exhibition is the easiest way to understand the complex history of South Africa."

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Sara from In Africa and Beyond explored another installation that sheds light on some of South Africa's troubled political history:


6. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site, KwaZulu-Natal 
- Recommended by In Africa and Beyond 

"The Nelson Mandela Capture site just outside Howick commemorates the spot where Madiba was finally captured by apartheid police on 5 August 1962 after being on the run for over a year. This arrest was one of several that eventually led to the Rivonia Treason Trial and his imprisonment for 27 years. The impressive sculpture consists of 50 steel columns between 6 and 10 metres high, strategically arranged next to each other. They look like a random collection of columns until you get to the footpath 35 metres away when Madiba's profile facing West magically appears - against the backdrop of the rolling hills and valleys of the Kwazulu Natal Midlands. As you get even closer to the monument, the columns once again dissolve into a forest. This site is a must-see in 2020 because of its unique structure and its importance in South African history."
(Read her full post here: The Nelson Mandela Capture Site - Howick)


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While Soweto is a must-see for anyone visiting South Africa, Verushka of Spice Goddess, discovered some exciting ways to explore the area:


7. Bicycle and Tuk Tuk Soweto Tours, Johannesburg 
- Recommended by Spice Goddess 

"Lebo's Bicycle Tours in Soweto is a fantastic way to discover a day in the life of a South African Township. One is given the option of either bicycles or Tuk Tuk guide tours. The tour guides are locals with a wealth of knowledge that includes the rich history of South Africa. One truly gets a feel of township life as you get to experience locals going about their everyday activities. Both tours are roughly 2 hours and I would recommend the Tuk Tuk option as it was really funny going through the streets of Soweto in convoy. The locals are friendly it is advisable to wear closed shoes, carry a bottle of water and a small backpack.

Some of the highlights of Soweto include: Vilakazi Street (the only street in the world that has housed two Nobel Prize winners), the Orlando Cooling Towers, Kliptown (where the freedom charter was written), the Hector Pieterson Memorial and the Mandela House Museum." 


Soweto bicylce tours - Top South African attraction for 2020


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Tamlyn of Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust also found a unique way to explore a beautiful part of the country:


8. Ceres Rail Steam Train, Cape Town 
- Recommended by Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust

"What adventure could induce more nostalgia, classic beauty and picture-perfect scenery than a steam train journey? Now, with Ceres Rail Company, travellers in the Western Cape are afforded this once-in-a-lifetime experience, thanks to several unique train trips offered locally by Ceres Rail.

The trip I personally recommend is the Elgin train journey. Setting off from Cape Town in the early morn, this mesmerising trip takes you to the verdant Elgin Valley, a place known and loved for its natural beauty, fruit production and cool climate wines. 


This return journey takes you to the heart of Elgin, depositing you at the bustling, steampunk-chic Elgin Railway Market. Spend some time browsing the market before you head back to the city, passing endless natural beauty, as you curl back down the mountains via scenic Sir Lowry's Pass…


This is timeless, luxury train travel at its best... And a fun adventure for the whole family too!" 

Elgin Steam train - Top South African attraction for 2020
(Read her full post here: Review: Elgin Steam Train Travel with Ceres Rail Company)

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Also discovering a new spin on an old classic was Mariza of Hoponworld:


9. Graskop Gorge Lift, Mpumalanga 
- Recommended by Hoponworld

"Mpumalanga is home to many extraordinary treasures - from scenic landscapes, colorful heritage sites, and exciting attractions. One of the region's newest and most innovative attractions is undoubtedly the Graskop Gorge Lift.

Situated just outside Graskop, the Gorge Lift offers so much more than a short, exhilarating ride down into the gorge. As you transcend 51m down the cliff into one of the country's few Afromontane forests, you'll be rewarded with a bird' s-eye view of the valley and mountains as a backdrop. Below you'll find a network of walkways and suspension bridges which take you through lush forest and over gentle streams of the Motitsi River while offering a chance to get a closer look at the Panorama Gorge waterfall. Along the way, interactive exhibits allow an in-depth insight into the area's unique ecology and biodiversity.


Once you've explored the forests below, you'll need to head back up the cliff by foot. It's a moderate walk, and depending on your fitness level, work on at least one hour. The wooden walkways are well kept and fitted with anti-slip treads ensuring safety." 
(You can read about more of her adventures at her blog: HOPONWORLD

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Anje of Going Somewhere Slowly recommends a unique wildlife experience:

10. Meerkat Adventures in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape 
- Recommended by Going Somewhere Slowly 

“There is more to the ostrich capital of South Africa than just feathers and caves. Head out to Oudtshoorn and meet the meerkats of the Klein Karoo on an ethical – i.e no touching – adventure. Geared with coffee and a camping chair under your arm, Meerkat Adventures takes you out into the veld in the early hours of the morning before the sun has raised its first eyebrow. Thanks to their dedicated team they search the veld every night before a tour to see where in which burrow the meerkats sleep for the night, and then you plonk your chair a few metres from the burrow and watch silently as the meerkats turn their stomachs to the sun to wake up. Seeing the big five and watching a lion grab an impala by the neck might sound more exhilarating but there is just something incredibly unique about seeing a meerkat’s eyes glitter in the light as they sway and yawn, back and forth, left and right, falling on top of each other before their solar panel stomachs heat up and wake them to go about their day.”
(Read her full post here: The Meerkats of Oudtshoorn.)

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Nadine of Living It Up CT also likes to escape the city and immerse herself in nature:

11. De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape 
- Recommended by Living It Up CT 

"Situated just 3 hours’ drive from Cape Town, this World Heritage Site will cast its spell on you long before you arrive to experience its magic. Known as the Jewel of the Cape, De Hoop Nature Reserve offers some of the finest whale viewing in Southern Africa. The biodiverse conservation hotspot caters to every kind of traveller, so be sure to book a minimum of 3 to 4 nights stay.

Whether you wish to take a day walk through the rich, rare fynbos, be wowed with a scenic game drive to spot a wide variety of bontebok, eland, baboons and Cape mountain zebra, hike up the Potberg Mountains to view a colony of endangered Cape vultures (a must do experience), explore the abundant coastline with its beautiful beaches and fascinating rock pools, relax at the restaurant, swimming pool or treat yourself to a heavenly spa treatment (highly recommended), then do add De Hoop to your list of South African travel experiences in 2020. A truly unique and magical haven that will rejuvenate your body, mind and soul and keep you coming back for more."

(You can read her full post here: Magical Moments And Memories At DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE.)

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Daniel and Jordan of The Timeless Voyagers recommended a different approach to explore the great outdoors: 


12. Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours, Eastern Cape 
- Recommended by The Timeless Voyagers

"When we think of South Africa we think of exquisite wild animals and epic untamed coastlines. In 2020 we encourage you to explore another natural wonder of SA - the indigenous Tsitsikamma forests. Head to the Eastern Cape and spend a couple of hours with Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours. They are an eco-tourism company that will have you learning interesting facts about the forest as you fly between the centuries-old trees on a zipline. Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours was the first of its kind in South Africa and Africa. It was truly one of the most memorable tours we have done, and we consider it one of the top things to do in the country. 

Responsible travel (having a smaller effect on the places you visit) is becoming increasingly important as we try to lessen our impacts on the planet, so including eco-tourism adventures in your travels means you’re contributing to conservation efforts while enjoying an exhilarating experience."

(You can read their full post here: Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour: Ecotourism Ziplining Adventure.)

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Meg of Got the Passports also has an adventurous streak:


13. Spier Segway Tours, Western Cape 
- Recommended by Got the Passports

"The Cape Winelands are world renowned for excellent wine, beautiful views, perfect wedding venues and award winning restaurants. There are many ways to visit the 500 wine farms from weekend mini breaks, friend trips to farms and the Franschhoek wine tram. But Spier offers an entirely unique experience on the Stellenbosch estate - segway tours!

Join a small group of visitors for an off road Segway tour of the hilly wine farm and learn all about the vineyards, wines, free range chickens and other produce farmed on the estate. But don't worry, the adventures starts with a "how to" on smooth ground for beginners and the speed of the Segways are also locked in by the guides in order to avoid any guests getting a little over zealous with the petrol handle. 


Once you've enjoy the adventurous tour, head back to the farm for a picnic under the large oak trees, open a bottle of cool wine and laze around for the rest of the day." 

(You can read more about their experiences at their blog: Got The Passports)

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While Meg and AJ enjoy their Segways, Lauren of Wanderlust Movement prefers to walk:


14. Tugela Falls, KwaZulu-Natal 
- Recommended by Wanderlust Movement 

"Tugela Falls is the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest in the world! Located in the Drakensberg, it straddles the border between South Africa and Lesotho. It starts with zig-zag path and a steep incline to put your cardio levels to the test. The brave can climb up the adrenaline-inducing chain ladders or you can take the boring safer route up through the crags. While it's possible to hike to the top in one day, kick it up a notch by spending a night on top of the plateau. You'll wake up to an incredible sunrise, see wild horses and have more time to take in the breathtaking view of the falls."

Tugela Falls - Top South African attraction for 2020

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Like Lauren, Gaynor of Tulips & Phoenixes also enjoys journeying off the beaten track:


15. Kamiesberg, Northern Cape 
- Recommended by Tulips & Phoenixes 

"The Kamiesberg region of the Northern Cape is often overlooked by South African travellers with the assumption that it has a lack of attractions and activities. The region stretches from Garies to Kamieskroon and includes, amongst other smaller rural towns, Kharkams, Hondeklipbaai, Leliefontein and Nourivier.  However, this seemingly arid area is filled with many hidden gems and surprises that are not to be missed!

The annual Namaqualand Spring flower season is arguably the biggest attraction on the West Coast region of the Northern Cape, with Goegap Nature Reserve and Namaqua National Park as the popular viewing points. For off-road enthusiasts, the Kamiesberg region also has awesome gravel roads and mountain passes to satisfy your adventurous side. And if you’re in search of a deeper travel connection, you’re welcome to visit some of the friendly locals in the region to witness food being prepared the traditional Nama way in a ‘Kookhuis’ (an outside reed and wood structure)." 

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Like Gaynor, Stephanie of the Stephanie Marthinus Blog, also enjoys exploring South Africa’s small towns:


16. Pella, Northern Cape 
- Recommended by Stephanie Marthinus Blog 

"Pella, situated pretty much in the middle of nowhere in the Northern Cape is a town worth visiting in 2020. 

Many might find it to be a place not worthy of one's time but beyond the minimal architecture, craggy sun-baked mountains, souring temperatures and virtually nothing to do there, it's a historic small town with one of the most beautiful provincial cathedrals in the country. If you looking for the perfect place to kick up your feet and soak up the Northern Cape atmosphere, Pella is the ideal town to be exploring." 


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Pilar of The Lifestyle Hunter appreciates the beauty found in more urban areas:


17. Bo-Kaap, Cape Town 
- Recommended by The Lifestyle Hunter 

"Bo-Kaap is a bright and colorful area that is one of the most photographed places in Cape Town. But besides the beautiful pictures that you can take when you visit this neighborhood; it’s a place with a history dating back more than 360 years when the Dutch arrived in Cape of Good Hope.

This historic area that became home to many Muslims and freed slaves after the abolition of slavery, shows Islamic culture and heritage.


I loved visiting Bo-Kaap because I was able to see history, religion, art, culture, different people, typical food, and nature."

(You can find out what she’s up to on her blog here: The Lifestyle Hunter)

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Julie of One Stop Wanderlust recommended an experience that the whole family can enjoy:


18. Babylonstoren, Western Cape 
- Recommended by One Stop Wanderlust 

"Babylonstoren is a Cape winelands gem that enchants visitors every single visit. One of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, its star attraction is the magnificent and meticulously landscaped garden set against a beautiful mountain backdrop. Pack a sunhat and take a slow meander on the paths through the fruit trees, prickly pear maze, flowers, lavender, vegetables and so much more. What you see changes with every season. 

Take a break at the Greenhouse Restaurant where you can sip on freshly pressed juice or enjoy their superb fresh scones. Other highlights on this working farm include a formal restaurant, wine tasting, a deli, hotel and spa." 
(Read her full post here: Babylonstoren With Kids)

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Like Julie, Tazz of Tazz Discovers also enjoys going on adventures with her kids. 


19. Norval Foundation, Cape Town 
- Recommended by Tazz Discovers 

"When you and your family are looking for something to do in Cape Town, whether you live there full time, or are visiting for a holiday, you really are spoiled for choice. Depending on whether you are reliant on public transport or not, your options can be a bit more limited. 

While the Cape Town CBD is a popular choice for locals and visitors alike, it may be a bit "been there, done that" so, if you are looking for something a little different, why not visit the Norval Foundation near Steenberg Estate, in Tokai?


This is a museum with a difference as it focuses on local artists as well as a few from the rest of Africa. Exhibits change often, but the best part, in my opinion, is the fact that the gallery extends into a sculpture garden, that is a treasure trove of discovery. It is a great way for kids to be introduced to art in a less formal environment and, if it doesn't hold their attention for long, they can amuse themselves by practising handstands on the grass instead."

(Read her full post here: First Thursday: Norval Foundation)

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Booking.com

And like Tazz, I also enjoy outdoor art galleries (filled with lawn ornaments of the most elite variety).  


20. The Nirox Sculpture Park, Gauteng 
- Recommended by Sharon of The Sharonicles (Yes, me!)

"The Nirox Sculpture Park is a huge outdoor sculpture garden located on 20 hectares of landscaped grounds and waterways, and one of Gauteng’s lesser-known tourist attractions. Here, resident artists from all over the world take inspiration from the park’s location on the Cradle of Humankind (a World Heritage Site known for its extraordinary paleontological discoveries) to create remarkable art. It is home to both temporary and changing sculptures that interact with the landscape in a variety of creative ways. It is also the location of an amphitheatre used for different outdoor events. Some of the artwork is playful while some it is eery, some of it is profound while other pieces are more obscure. The scenic landscape is a great place to take beautiful pictures and, if you’re like me, the art may inspire some unusual poses 
…or some awkward ones."
(I have not written any posts on the Nirox Sculpture Park but if you would like to read one where I try to justify my terrible posing, read this: How not to be an Instagram Travel Cliche.) 

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If you can think of any other attractions, landmarks or experiences that a visitor to South Africa in 2020 should experience, please let us know in the comment section below?


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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this informative article. Loved reading your guide and appreciate your article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading it and for the nice comment.

      Delete
  2. So many great suggestions in here, love it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love these photos, thanks for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi! Thank you for that nice blog about the South Africa! Your blog is probably one of the most detailed one I’ve ever read! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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