Top 3 cities in South Africa

Francois L. Botha

Francois L. Botha has been a tour guide and teacher for the past 6 years. To learn more, visit his website.

While South Africa is dotted with a number of urban centers, there can be little doubt that the top three SA cities are Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. Each of these cities has a unique character that draws different types of people - see which one appeals the most to you!

Johannesburg / Jo’burg / Jozi

For young, vibey, fast-paced living.

Jozi city center from the sky

The pulsing city with a heart of pure gold, Johannesburg is known as Egoli (place of gold), Jo’burg, and today also carries the trendy name of Jozi.

A relatively young city, Jo’burg traces its modern history back to 1886 when it sprang up as a gold-rush shanty town.

Today this thriving bustling city is the most densely populated South African city, home to 3,225,800 people and growing.

Jo’burg has a pleasant balmy climate for most of the year and is renowned for dramatic afternoon thunderstorms in summer. The nights can get pretty cool, especially in winter.

The city of Johannesburg has no mountains or coastline to shape it, and it is an enormous, sprawling urban jungle.

Some of the top attractions in and around Jo’burg include the Sterkfontein caves, the township of Soweto, The Apartheid Museum, the Mai Mai Herbalist market and Rosebank craft market.

Jo’burg is a shopper’s paradise - there are numerous malls – and the Sandton area is particularly popular with shopaholics.

Durban – Durbs-by-the-Sea

Steaming hot, yet so damn cool!

The settlement of Port Natal only really started in 1823, although Vasco da Gama has ‘discovered’ it back in 1497.

Most people equate Durban with a laid back, ‘chilled’ atmosphere, and also with extremely humid heat, almost all year round. For many Durban is the place to live if you love to surf, but there is more to this city than awesome waves, golden beaches, sugar cane plantations and palm trees.

Durban, Natal

Durban lies in the heart of the Zulu kingdom, land of King Shaka, which gives the entire region a rich cultural history that can be felt just by walking through the hot streets. A large ‘Indian’ community also calls Durban home, and these people add their own flavor to the city’s effervescent, colorful population.

Durban offers great shopping at malls and markets, historical and cultural attractions and plenty for families to do. Perhaps the most well-known tourist spot is uShaka Marine World which boasts an aquarium, dolphinarium and snorkel reef, a world of water slides and marine-theme shopping.

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  • Twitteratti says
    Just quietly, was there supposed to be a blurb on Capetown? As currently just the 2 cities in above article. All equally fabulous in their own right - there is a hideous crime rate though as anyone travelling over there, particularly if by yourself or in smaller groups needs to be really careful, especially in isolated areas or at night.
    Photo of Capetown attached - so it has its own representation in the article!
  • T T says
    Sounds fantastic! Didn't know about the shopping in Jo'burg, but now I would definitely consider it for my next vacation.
  • Moz za says
    I've really only ever heard about the dodgy side of South Africa so it was a nice change to read a different perspective in this article. Also I've never heard of a "dolphinarium" - I can imagine that being such a well visited spot - how gorgeous!
  • Ziona says
    There is only one place on Earth to go visit people and that is CAPE TOWN,home of the Stormers,it does not have it's equal anywhere,so go and explore it for yourself
  • nikkim says
    I went to South Africa just over 10 years ago. My family was very concerned for my safety as it was just myself and a girlfriend back packing our way around. We never had a problem at all (although there was probably plenty going on that we were not aware of). Fantastic place - would love to go again!!!
  • CLDUBZ says
    I would love to go to Sth Africa!! A good friend of mine has spent time there working with dung beetles would you believe haha! Also how crazy would it be if an alien space ship did stop over Johanessburg like in the Peter Jackson film District 9!? I'm big on wild life and Africa has a lot to offer in that sense, can't wait to get there!!
  • angelkatya99 says
    I would love to go! A lot of my friends are from South Africa and are always telling me about there times there!
  • KH says
    I'd love to go here too. It's really stunning to look at. I'm not sure I'd be game enough to visit on my own though!
  • New Member says
    This is the great reviews of the nice destinations for traveling. I would like to share some of it for my future essay for Thank you very much!

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