There’s a timeless allure to the grand and elegant monuments and landmarks in South Africa. The Kruger National Park is Africa’s largest game reserve with a high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos.
South Africa. is the 24th-largest country in the world. It is about the same size as Colombia, twice the size of France, three times as big as Japan, four times the size of Italy and five times the size of the United Kingdom. There are many reasons to visit South Africa.
Whether you prefer strolling along the beach with a large colony of African penguins or swimming with sharks or exploring the phenomenal Kalahari Desert. There are many amazing things to add to your South Africa bucket list.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been to SA, these are places that capture the heart time and time again. Here are the top landmarks to visit during your trip to South Africa.
Planning a trip to South Africa? Read this first
- What to pack for Safari in South Africa
- Laws to know before visiting South Africa
- Vaccinations needed for South Africa
- Tips for Driving in South Africa
- Amazing Books about South Africa
Archaeological Landmarks in South Africa
South Africa is home to many prehistoric sites, many predate the Egyptian pyramids. With 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa, you will have plenty of options to choose from.
Adam’s Calendar is a 30m stone circle with positioned monolith rocks within it. The monoliths are aligned to match the movement of Orion’s Belt star formation and are presumed to be an early indicator of charted time.
Viewed from the air, the ruins create a vast design of mazes and passages intricately connected over hundreds of kilometers.
Often referred to as the “African Stonehenge“, it predates both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza by tens of thousands of years. is a large collection of complex stone terraces with evidence of settlements, fields, and roads, as well as signs of advanced technological and agricultural innovation that existed long before the arrival of Europeans in the region.
Cradle of Humankind
Located just 50KM from Johannesburg, The Cradle of Humankind consists of the Sterkfontein and Maropeng Caves was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999 and currently occupies 47,000 hectares and contains a complex of limestone caves containing the fossilized remains of ancient forms of animals, plants.
Mrs. Ples – the most complete skull of an Australopithecus Africanus was found here.
Tswaing is an impact crater located where a meteorite half a football field in size slammed into the Earth 220 000 years ago. It’s located 40 km to the north-west of Pretoria and it’s one of the most unique landmarks in South Africa.
This astrobleme is 1.13 km in diameter and 100 m deep and the age is estimated to be 220,000 ± 52,000 years. The lake on the bottom has been used by people for salt collection over the last 100,000 years.
One of the largest known meteorite impact craters on Earth, 250 – 300 kilometers wide. The bolide which created it was over 10 kilometers wide and hit the Earth some 2 billion years ago, creating an area of local volcanism.
Natural Landmarks in South Africa
South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Known for its natural beauty, wildlife, and sunshine. South Africa’s immensely varied terrain supports a rich diversity of wild and plant-life and offers an incomparable range of experiences.
Blyde River Canyon
This is one of the best places for Hiking in South Africa. Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga belongs to the most spectacular canyons of the world. Up to 1,400 meters deep, on average – 800 meters deep and 16 kilometers long.
The Dutch word “Tafelberg” translates to Table Mountain in English. Table mountain has a flat top that was caused by erosion when water washes smaller and softer types of rocks away from the top of a hill. The strong, durable rock that remains on top of a mesa is called caprock. A mesa is usually wider than it is tall.
It’s one of the oldest mountains in the world and one of the most recognized South African landmarks. The mountain is surrounded by steep cliffs, approximately 3 kilometers long. Summit plateau is covered with the spectacular Cape fynbos – scrubland with some 2,200 species of plants well representing the smallest floral kingdom of the world – Cape floral kingdom. Numerous endemic species.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in Africa, it covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi). It is about a third of size the size of Ireland, slightly smaller than Belgium and just about the size of Israel.
The park has been a no-hunting zone since 1926 and it’s one of the best places to go for an African Safari Experience.
Cradled by the Makhonjwa Mountains (a mecca for international scientists because of its microfossil plant life), this historic little town was born in the rowdy 1880s gold rush days and boasted South Africa’s first gold stock exchange.
This town is home to the world’s oldest mountain and one of South Africa’s 10 UNESCO world heritage sites. Heritage walks, working gold mines, and adventure activities are on offer.
With a total height of 948m, the Tugela Falls is the second-highest waterfall in the world after Angel Falls in Venezuela.
Tugela Falls is located in the Drakensberg mountains, a natural border between Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The area is reachable by car from Johannesburg (4 hours).
The Drakensberg Mountain Range is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in South Africa. It is part of the Great Escarpment and separates the extensive high plateaus of the South African interior from the lower lands along the coast. Drakensburg is the highest mountain range in the country, reaching an impressive 3 482 meters above sea level.
Within the Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal lies the 243 000 hectare mountain region that is also a world heritage site, known as Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park Park. Not only does it boast some of the most incredible scenic beauty, but it also has over 600 examples of San rock paintings in caves around the park.
The Sudwala Caves in Mpumalanga are set in Precambrian dolomite rock, which was first laid down about 2800 million years ago when Africa was still part of Gondwana. The caves themselves formed about 240 million years ago and they are earth’s oldest known cave system.
Historical Landmarks in South Africa
Following the defeat of the Boers in the Anglo-Boer or South African War (1899–1902), the Union of South Africa was created out of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal, and Free State. It was to be essentially a white union.
Black opposition was inevitable, and the African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 to protest the exclusion of black people from power. This led to Apartheid era and the fight for democracy.
There are many historic landmarks in South Africa to learn about the country’s amazing journey.
The Union Buildings form the official seat of the South African Government and also house the offices of the President of South Africa. The buildings and amphitheater are an easily recognizable landmark for most South Africans. The semicircular structure was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and took more than three years to build.
The lush gardens surrounding the buildings are a popular picnic venue, and the structure itself is considered an architectural masterpiece. The gardens are a particularly popular place for family picnics or to have wedding photos taken and also often function as the venue for major concerts and festivals.
The Constitutional Hill is a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past and, today, is home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens.
The high-security prison built in the 1890s to house prisoners of war during the Anglo-Boer Wars (1899-1902).
Some famous prisoners include Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, who were both imprisoned for their pro-democracy activism.
e Apartheid Museum is part of the Gold Reef City Complex in Johannesburg. It’s significant in illustrating apartheid and the 20th-century history of South Africa. This is one of the best landmarks in South Africa to visit to understand life in South Africa during the apartheid era (1948 -1990).
The museum tells the story about how in 1948 the white elected National Party government initiated a process that turned over the lives of non-whites, damning them to a life of servitude, humiliation, and abuse.
Their liberation in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela, the prisoner who became the first black president, after spending 27 years in prison. You will walk out of the museum with an understanding of what South Africa was really like – the rise and fall of apartheid.
Hector Pieterson Memorial
On June 16, 1976, Soweto high school students took to the streets in a peaceful protest against learning in Afrikaans in black secondary schools. While protesting, they were met by the police who started shooting at them.
Hundreds of students died including then 12-year-old Hector Pieterson whose picture was captured above. Learn more about the Soweto Uprising which is celebrated on June 16 is a national holiday (Youth Day) where we remember the Youth of 1976.
Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 6.9 kilometers west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa.
The Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick, KwaZulu Natal, is the location where Nelson Mandela was arrested before he spent 27 years in Jail. After Apartheid, the South African government turned the site into a museum.
A homage to the Voortrekker Pioneers and their 1835 to 1854 journey of discovery from the Cape into South Africa.
Manmade Landmarks in South Africa
The Big Hole in Kimberely is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. Erasmus Jacobs found a tiny white pebble on the De Kalk farm on the banks of the Orange River near Hopetown in 1866. That pebble turned out to be a 21.25-carat diamond. This led to the first Diamond Rush in South Africa. You can learn more about SA’s mining industry ar the Big Hole Museum.
Bo Kaap is a colorfully painted township in the Western Cape Province. previously known as Malay Quarter, It was previously occupied by Malaysia, Indonesia, and other African countries to the Cape of Good Hope as slaves in the 16th century.
Standing 16.7 meters tall, this gigantic structure in Bathurst claims to the biggest pineapple on the planet!
Pineapples were introduced into South Africa in 1860 and they were first grown in the KwaZulu-Natal province, then later introduced to the Eastern Cape.
This farm in the Eastern Cape Province is a tribute to the agricultural success of the prickly fruit. Early farmers struggled to grow any crops here until the first pineapple top was planted in 1865. The interior boasts a tourist shop, static displays, and a great view.
It’s a fun place to take the whole family and learn about the pineapple industry or find a little memento.
Spend a night at South Africa’s oldest hotel. Set in a 17th-century churchyard, built-in 1687 and destroyed by fire in 1710. At this ‘old churchyard’ would rise the Cape Dutch-style Wium’s Inn, the two-story Arcadia and, in the 20th Century.
After much rebuilding, Oude Werf Hotel, today owned by the Petousis family and run by its 65-strong team. This refined hotel on a leafy street is a 7-minute walk from Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden and 9 km from Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve.
Muizenberg Beach Huts
The Instagram famous Muizenberg beach huts are two rows of beach huts along the shoreline in the Western Cape Province.
Fun SA Travel Guides
Get Insurance before visiting South Africa
Use travel insurance while visiting the best landmarks of South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of fun things to do in South Africa, and it’s best to have peace of mind while hiking and exploring.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!