South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to local travel; our cities have so much to offer and explore. With the lockdown moving to Level 1 and a long weekend approaching, now is the perfect time to be a tourist in your city.Additionally, exploring your city doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Simply putting on your walking shoes and spending your day around your area will often lead to some amazing finds such as themed coffee shops, unique buildings or even quirky little art galleries.
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Doing this can also help you deepen your understanding of its heritage. Whether it is learning about the old underground storm tunnels in Cape Town, the fossil park up the West Coast or the Japanese Gardens in Durban, there are many historic finds that can teach you a little more about the story of how each town came to be what it is today.
Here are the top finds in South Africa’s major cities, offering you ways to maximise your opportunities to be a tourist in your city:
Touristy things to do in Cape Town
- Seal snorkelling: If you love getting salty and experiencing the natural world, then seal snorkelling in Hout Bay should be on your to-do list. They offer you a unique chance to snorkel with the curious Cape Fur seals.
- Bo-Kaap: Alternatively, explore the historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town and take a stroll up the colourful neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap for free. The streets are lined with brightly painted houses of all colours with Table Mountain in the background, making it the perfect place for an afternoon walk.
- City sightseeing: Hop on the ‘red bus’, as known by locals, which visits popular tourist attractions like Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch, the World of Birds and Groot Constantia.
- World’s best coffee house: If you’re a coffee-lover, then you’ll love the quirky Truth Coffee House that’s a steampunk world of pipes and old metal with gourmet, home-roasted coffee. The café is also being celebrated locally and abroad as one of the best coffee shops in the world.
- Fish ‘n chips on the Wharf: Good old fish ‘n chips have to be one of the most iconic takeaways you can have in Cape Town. From casual hole-in-the-wall chippies to harbour stunning harbour views. The salty, vinegary smell can be found across the city, from Hout Bay Harbour to the Waterfront and Kalk Bay Harbour.
- Peers Cave: Fish Hoek may be over 100 years old but people were making the valley their home way before then. Some of these inhabitants lived in one of the town’s landmarks – Peers Cave. Discovered in the 1920s, hikers and climbers can find the cave by following a steep 20-minute path starting at Silvermine Nature Reserve.
- Sand dunes in the Cape: A place that’s fast becoming one of Cape Town’s hotspots is the Atlantis Dunes. A mere 45-minute drive from the CBD, the dunes are a haven for sandboarding, quad biking, extreme 4×4 rides and self-drive dune tours. If you’re the adventures type, then this is the perfect breakaway for you.
Touristy things to do in Durban
- Mural art: A visit to the Cube on Innes Road is a must. It’s exactly what it says it is – a cube. It’s shaped in 3D format and features mural art. The piece rests in a park on the Berea. The cube, however, is not the main attraction – it’s the views from there that steal the show.
- Mini Town: For a fun and exciting day out, take a trip to Mini Town in North Beach. It’s a replica of some of the buildings in Durban on a scale of 1:24 and consists of a railway track, shops, an airport, a harbour, etc. This is an outing the children will enjoy.
- Natural Science Museum: Situated in the city centre, the Durban Natural Science Museum is one of the country’s oldest and most popular museums. The museum offers dynamics and innovative research and education programmes with a focus on biodiversity conservation and ecology – all free of charge. The City Hall galleries feature realistic dioramas, which depict an unrivalled collection of small and large mammals and a diverse collection of African birds to name a few.
- Tea with the birds: Make your way down to Mitchell Park if you’re a lover of animals. The park hosts small animals and birds for you to visit, including crocodiles, cranes, monkeys and tortoises. The walk-through aviary will allow you to get a close-up view of many beautiful bird varieties. There’s a space for children to play while adults can enjoy refreshments in the Blue Zoo tea garden.
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Touristy things to do in Johannesburg
- Fossil caves: Situated an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the Sterkfontein Caves are world-famous for their fossil finds, making it a must-visit gem. The tours, which start above the ground and then take visitors deep into the caves, run seven days a week.
- Learning about our past: For anyone wanting to understand what our country was really like two decades ago, a visit to the Apartheid Museum in the heart of Johannesburg is a must. The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with the past and working towards a future. Another popular heritage site honouring the South African liberation movement is the Liliesleaf Museum. The museum is home to extraordinary exhibitions that tell the story of the journey to democracy in our country.
- Our rights as citizens: Constitution Hill, in addition, is a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey over the years. The site is a former prison and military fort and is currently home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens.
- Living in an upside world: It’s no secret that the pandemic has turned our world upside down. Well, the Upside-Down House in Hartbeespoort is also just that, a house built upside down. Everything from the interior structure and furniture, which would normally be on the floor, is now above your head.
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Now that you have some options, why not head on out and be a tourist in your city?