When we decided we would be visiting South Africa, the hardest part was nailing down the itinerary. With so many beautiful things to see and adventurous things to experience it was really difficult to decide what to skip out on! We thought South Africa was a place to experience now – while we’re young and don’t yet have the responsibility of a growing family – but we were so wrong. We’re excited for the next time we will be able to visit this amazing country. Here’s a list of ten things you must do on your first trip to South Africa.
1. Have a beer atop Table Mountain
Table mountain offers a spectacular view of Cape Town. While it will take you between 1-3 hours to hike to the top (depending on how fit you are), you can also make your way to the summit effortlessly via the Table Mountain Cableway in 4-5 minutes. The weather on the mountain is pretty unpredictable, so make sure you leave some wiggle room in your Capetown itinerary so that you can ascend it on a clear day! We stayed at the top of the mountain for about 45 minutes, exploring and taking in the views with a beer in hand.
2. See the penguins at Boulders Beach
Seeing the waddling penguins of South Africa is quite a treat! Boulders Beach is one of the only places in the world where you can see the African penguins up close and personal. The best time to visit is from late January to August when the penguin couples breeding season begins and you can see them nesting!
3. Relax at Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
The V&A waterfront has a very cosmopolitan feel to it. As one of the most popular tourist spots, the V&A Waterfront gives you the opportunity to spoil yourself with your choice of over 80 restaurants, harbour cruises, events, luxe accommodations, and loads of shopping.
4. Take a drive through Chapman’s Peak
The Chapman’s Peak Drive is regarded as one of the most spectacular in the world with mountains on one side and the Atlantic waters on the other. The 5.5 mile stretch between Noordhoek and Hout Bay has views that rival those of the Amalfi Coast. The drive is fairly easy but, I will admit, I would not fare it on my own. We took this drive as part of a tour so that we could focus on the sights and not on the road! Make sure to stop along the way for beautiful photos!
5. Count the teeth on a great white shark
Okay, so you might not be able to count them, but you’re getting pretty darn close! This was the most exhilarating thing I have ever done in my LIFE! Head to Gansbaai, the world’s most shark-infested waters, to increase your chances of making the adventure worthwhile. No one wants to go out in choppy waters with the smell of bait making you sick for nothing!
6. Eat at one of the best restaurants in the world
Located in Le Quartier Francais, The Tasting Room is revered for it’s exquisite eight-course African-inspired surprise tasting menu. That’s right. You won’t know what you’ll be eating if you manage to score a reservation but I promise it will be so worth it. Each course is prepared with locally sourced ingredients, beautifully plated, and paired with the perfect glass of wine.
7. Spend a Saturday afternoon at the Old Biscuit Mill
This destination is all about artisan food and hand crafted local goods. There are so many unique shops, great music, and delicious food and drink. The market is bustling with locals and tourist alike and is a great representation of the Capetonian lifestyle.
8. Go on safari
Two words: Absolutely amazing. Going on a safari adventure is an experience that truly teaches you how amazing this world is. We got up close and personal with wildlife, saw the “Big Five” (aka the most dangerous animals that hunt), and had more sundowners (post game drive happy hours) than we can count. We chose to stay at Lion Sands Narina Lodge, a luxury treehouse style lodge secluded in the woods of Kruger National Park overlooking the Sabie River.
9. Sip your way through Franshoek and Stellenbosch
A visit to South Africa’s Winelands are worth way more than just a day trip. Wine seems to be our current focal point when traveling so we spent four days in pure food and wine bliss between Franschoek and Stellenbosch. Make sure to book La Rochelle Tours – they go the extra mile!
10. Eat South African lobster
Dining out in South Africa was extremely affordable – so naturally, we were really over-the-top with our dining experiences. You can’t miss the sweet, soft, delicate perfection of fresh South African lobster. Eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any other chance you get. That’s what I did!
Have you ever visited South Africa? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!