Be a tourist in your own city with these 15 SA activities

Can’t venture abroad? Why not be a tourist in your own city?

The South African tourism industry has seen an uptick since the start of the pandemic, with many domestic travellers opting for local escapes.

Wahida Parker, the managing director of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company in Cape Town, said it is the perfect time to explore South Africa and its many attractions.

“It is often the case that some of the best attractions around us are never really enjoyed by locals.

For example, we have incredible moments at the cableway with locals experiencing a trip to the top of Table Mountain for the first time despite having lived here their entire lives,” she said.

Exploring your city is budget-friendly.

“There are many incredible adventures that you and your loved ones can go on in your very own backyard. Make a point of taking some time out to experience something different. Not only will you discover new places, but it can also be beneficial to your overall well-being,” added Parker.

Here are some options:

Cape Town

2. Bo-Kaap: Take a stroll up the colourful neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap 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.

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3. Table Mountain: Table Mountain has been named Africa’s leading tourist attraction at last year’s World Travel Awards. Take the cableway up and enjoy an afternoon of great food and exploring.

4. World’s best coffee house: If you are a coffee lover, then you’ll love the quirky Truth Coffee House that serves gourmet home-roasted coffee.

5. Fish ‘n chips on the Wharf: Good old fish ‘n chips has to be one of the most iconic takeaways you can have in Cape Town. From casual hole-in-the-wall chippies to stunning harbour views. The salty, vinegary smell can be found across the city, from Hout Bay Harbour to the V&A Waterfront and Kalk Bay Harbour.

6. Peers Cave: Fish Hoek may be over 100 years old, but people made the valley their home way before then. Some of these inhabitants lived in one of the town’s landmarks called 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.

7. Sand dunes in the Cape: A place that’s fast becoming one of Cape Town’s hotspots is the Atlantis Dunes. A mere 45 minutes’ drive from the CBD, the dunes are a haven for sandboarding, quad-biking, extreme 4×4 rides and self-drive dune tours.

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8. 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, located in a park on the Berea, is not the main attraction. The views are to die for.

9. 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, and a harbour.

10. 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 and unrivalled collection of small and large mammals and a diverse collection of African birds.

11. 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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12. 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.

13. Learning about our past: The Apartheid Museum in the heart of Johannesburg showcases life before democracy. 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.

14. Our rights as citizens: Constitution Hill 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. It is currently home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens.

15. Living in an upside world: The Upside Down House in Hartbeespoort is a house built upside down. Everything from the interior structure and furniture is now above your head.