As the host country of the World Cup, thousands of people are going to experience South Africa for the first time. If you’re making the journey to watch soccer, why not plan an entire vacation out of it? Each of the nine host cities has plenty to offer besides the World Cup festivities. Below, three of each city’s top attractions are highlighted for easy travel planning.

"Pincushion at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens" by David Stanley via Flickr Creative Commons


As the judicial capital of South Africa - and the capital of the Free State province - Bloemfuntein is well known and popular with tourists. Three of its top attractions are:

  • The National Botanical Garden Take in some of Mother Nature’s finest plants and flowers at this topnotch botanical garden.
  • Naval Hill and Franklin Game Reserve Check out giraffes and other wildlife for free at this park that overlooks the city center.
  • Waterfront Mall Engage in a little retail therapy at this popular and ever-expanding mall.

"Table Mountain, Lion's Head & Robben Island - Cape Town, South Africa" by Christopher Griner via Flickr Creative Commons

Cape Town

Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa, its second-largest city and the southernmost city in Africa. Check out these three top attractions while there:

  • Table Mountain This massive mountain creates a dramatic backdrop for this eclectic city; ride a cable car to the top for phenomenal sights.
  • Robben Island Learn more about South Africa’s apartheid past by visiting this island where several political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were held.
  • Victoria and Alfred Waterfront This large shopping and entertainment center will keep you busy for hours on end.

"Durban_Night_South Africa" by Ian via Flickr Creative Commons


The busy port of Durban is South Africa’s third largest city. Try to include these three spots during your visit:

  • The Golden Mile This long stretch of beaches along the Indian Ocean is a prime place to spend time while in Durban.
  • uShaka Marine World The entire family will love this first-rate aquarium.
  • City Hall The art gallery in Durban’s City Hall is well worth a visit.

"Comaro Street, Johannesburg" by Paul Saad via Flickr Creative Commons


Often referred to as Jo’burg, Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city. Key highlights include:

  • The Apartheid Museum Learn more about South Africa’s dark history of apartheid in this world class museum.
  • Top of Africa Take in the views from the top of Africa’s tallest building, Carlton Centre.
  • Lion Park At Lion Park, you’ll not only get to see lions roaming around freely - you’ll have the opportunity to pet lion cubs, too!

"Chimp Eden Sanctuary - Chimpanzee Eating" by Afrika Force via Flickr Creative Commons


Nelspruit is located in northeast South Africa and is the capital of the Mpumalanga province. Three top choices to enjoy during your visit include:

  • Riverside Mall If shopping is your thing, you can’t do much better than Nelspruit’s popular Riverside Mall.
  • Chimpanzee Eden Surround yourself with friendly chimps at this fun, educational attraction.
  • Emnotweni Casino Engage in some adults-only fun by trying your luck at the world-class Emnotweni Casino.

"Cape Recife Lighthouse in the Distance" by Matthew and Heather via Flickr Creative Commons

Port Elizabeth

Located on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, Port Elizabeth is its fifth-largest city. Key attractions include:

  • Donkin Reserve A 19th century lighthouse is the main attraction at this well-maintained reserve.
  • Beaches Take your pick from four prime beaches - Humewood, Hobie, Wells State and Kings - when in Port Elizabeth.
  • Bayworld This popular attraction is an oceanarium, museum and snake pit all rolled into one.

"Polokwane Game Reserve, South Africa, 2013" by Matt Artz via Flickr Creative Commons


This northern South Africa city isn’t known for its tourist attractions, but you can still find worthwhile things to do there, including:

  • Polokwane Game Reserve Take in some South African flora and fauna by exploring the Polokwane Game Reserve.
  • Meropa Casino Hit the slots or try your hand at card games at Polokwane’s popular casino.
  • Polokwane Bird and Reptile Park View some fascinating examples of local birds and reptiles at this conveniently located attraction.

"Waterkloof Pretoria HDR" by Paul Saad via Flickr Creative Commons


Pretoria is located in northern South Africa and is its administrative capital. Top attractions include:

  • National Zoological Gardens Also known simply as the zoo, this topnotch park boasts a vast array of reptiles, along with many large mammals.
  • National Cultural History Museum Learn more about South Africa’s intriguing history at this fascinating museum.
  • Groenklouf Nature Reserve A stop at Groenklouf Nature Reserve - the oldest in the world - is well worth it; antelopes and giraffes abound at this lovely place.


Despite being a host city to the World Cup, Rustenburg is a little off the beaten path for most visitors to South Africa. Attractions revolve around nature, and include:

  • Magaliesberg Canopy Tour Take in majestic views from the canopies of towering trees at this thrilling attraction.
  • Kgaswane Mountain Reserve Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails at this pristine and scenic reserve.
  • Rustenburg Nature Reserve Experience a slice of South Africa wildlife at this centrally located nature reserve.