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 about 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.

Sort by
  • Sam says
    Sun City... although not really a city - but that's a must visit for anyone heading South Africa.

    Mind blowing oasis in the middle of the desert - they hold Miss World, World Strongest Man competitions there all the time.

  • Steff S says
    ahh yes. don't forget to do Stellenbosch or visit Clifton beach when in cape town. i believe that is my old school in the joburg photo!
  • Prettyboy says
    great looking places to visit however if I hear one of those vuvuvella's I'll go postal! hehehe
  • barnes10 says
    I keep hearing bad stuff about the crime in South Africa...and that's from the Yarpies. I could handle Sun City though
  • Ella says
    Oh I have always wanted to visit Johannesburg. You don't hear much about it, but it sounds like an amazing place to visit, and people come back with such amazing stories to tell...
  • Liz says
    You forgot Browns Bay, that's becoming a major South African city!
  • Boks says
    Being an ex patriot on South Africa all I can say is go and experience the beauty of the country, it is very safe especially in the LOST CITY at SunCity.Awesome place to stay.Go and Enjoy. If you can go and explore the beautiful sites in and around Cape Town the most beautiful City in the World !!!!
  • Andy says
    Don't forget to do the World's Highest Bungee jump at Blaukrans (Blue canyon). 216m of pure adrenalin!!!
  • chillired says
    would love to go to SA, my partner is from SA (moved here over 2 years ago).
  • mike says
    I've been lukcy enough to go too both Jo'burg and Cape Town (next trip plan on Durban being a place to stop). Cape Town blew me away, especially the Tabletop Mt view...spectacular! A must see for all. Jo-burg - wanted more time to explore, enjoyed the hussle and bussle.

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