23 Things South Africa Is Known And Famous For

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South Africa is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural diversity, and wildlife safaris.

South Africa is a country located at the tip of Africa that is bordered by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Because of its cultural heritage, stunning nature, and majestic wildlife, it is a popular tourist destination. A visit to this part of the world promises to provide you with many unforgettable experiences.

What Is South Africa Known For?

South Africa is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural diversity, and wildlife safaris. The country is home to some of the world’s most iconic and recognizable landmarks, including Table Mountain and Robben Island, steeped in history and attracting millions of visitors yearly.

South Africa is also famous for its national parks and game reserves which are arguably the highlights for many visitors worldwide. The opportunity to see the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo) is an irresistible offer when you visit the South Africa Safari with guided walks or drives.

That said, South Africa’s music, art, and festivals also reflect a vibrant and lively culture. You can experience the country’s traditional dances, cultural festivals, and local cuisine filled with African, European, and Asian influences.

In addition, South Africa is known for its Winelands, which produce some of the best wines in the world. Wine production in the country has a long and rich history, dating back to the 17th century. Wine-tasting tours, sampling local cuisine, and taking in the breathtaking scenery of the vineyards and surrounding mountains are all part of the many exciting things in South Africa.

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History, Culture, And Traditions South Africa Is Known For


South Africa is famous for its apartheid struggle from 1948 to 1994, where the country enforced a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination.

The government, which was controlled by the white minority, enacted laws that denied the majority black population basic rights and freedoms, such as the right to vote, own land and receive education and healthcare.

Apartheid was a widespread opposition and protests led by famous South Africans, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The system was eventually dismantled in the 1990s, resulting in South Africa’s first democratic elections and the election of Nelson Mandela as the country’s first black president.



Ubuntu is a cultural and ethical philosophy deeply embedded in many African communities, including South Africa. It emphasizes all people’s interconnectedness and the importance of compassion, generosity, and respect for others.

Ubuntu is frequently defined as “I am because we are,” implying that individual identity is intertwined with community identity. It is an important part of South African culture and has impacted its social and political history.

This is a famous culture that has influenced people’s behavior for the better. You will want to experience this community’s hospitality for yourself when you visit South Africa.

The Battle of Blood River

The Battle of Blood River occurred in 1838 between the Zulu kingdom and the Voortrekkers, a group of Dutch-speaking settlers who had migrated northward from the Cape Colony. They fought the battle near the Ncome River in present-day KwaZulu-Natal, and the Voortrekkers won decisively.

The battle is remembered as a symbol of Afrikaner nationalism. It’s a history South Africa is known for and has become a contentious part of their history. Some see it as a celebration of colonialism and others as a symbol of resistance to imperialism.

Zulu Culture

The Zulus are one of South Africa’s largest ethnic groups with a rich cultural heritage. Dance, music, storytelling, and traditional clothing are central to their traditions and customs.

The Zulus are famous for their skilled craftsmanship, especially in beadwork and pottery. They also have a strong tradition of male initiation rites designed to prepare young men for adulthood and teach them their culture’s values and responsibilities.

Visiting Zulu village will allow you to learn more about their craft and culture, through their dances, crafts, and food.


South African music reflects the country’s diverse and vibrant culture. Amapiano, a fusion of different genres characterized by its upbeat tempo, heavy basslines, and catchy melodies, is one popular sound that has emerged from the country.

Amapiano has grown in popularity among South African youth and symbolizes the country’s youth culture.

The Amapiano sound has influenced the music industry, fashion, dance, and social media. Amapiano’s ability to bring people from various backgrounds and social classes together reflects the spirit of unity and diversity that defines South African culture.

District And Area South Africa Is Known For

Cape Town


Cape Town is a coastal city known for its breathtaking natural beauty, which includes the iconic Table Mountain and the stunning beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton. You don’t want to miss all these experiences when you visit South Africa.

This city is home to many cultural attractions like the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. It is no wonder that Cape Town is one of the most famous places in South Africa. You can also enjoy other euphoric-filled activities in the city ranging from hiking and surfing to wine tasting and museum visits. 



Durban is another thriving coastal city known for its beautiful beaches and warm climate. There is also a vibrant Indian community here, where you can enjoy authentic Indian cuisine and cultural experiences in the “Indian Quarter.” The city offers more than its Indian vibes and culture.

Durban also features uShaka Marine World, a popular marine park with an aquarium, water park, and other attractions. You can also explore the city’s history by walking through the Victoria Street Market, which sells a variety of African arts and crafts, spices, and traditional foods.  



Johannesburg is undoubtedly one of the most famous places in South Africa, as it is the country’s largest city.

It is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene with many museums and galleries in the city, including the Apartheid Museum, which tells the story of South Africa’s history of segregation and racial oppression.

You can also wine and dine in Johannesburg and shop in the trendy neighborhoods of Sandton and Melrose Arch. A trip to the South African city would be incomplete without a stop in Soweto – a small town known for its rich culture and political history.

The township was the site of numerous anti-apartheid demonstrations and is home to several historical landmarks in South Africa. These include the Mandela House Museum, the Hector Pieterson Museum, and the Regina Mundi Church.



Mpumalanga is an eastern South African province with breathtaking natural beauty. The Blyde River Canyon, one of the world’s largest canyons, is in the region and offers breathtaking views of waterfalls, rock formations, and wildlife.

The province also contains the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, known for their luxury lodges and excellent game-viewing opportunities. You can also visit the charming towns of Mpumalanga, such as Pilgrim’s Rest, which was once a gold mining town and now provides a glimpse into South Africa’s mining history.



Stellenbosch is a historic town in the Western Cape province known as South Africa’s wine capital. The town is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and is home to some of the country’s most prestigious and oldest wine estates.

Enjoy wine tastings, cellar tours, and fine dining experiences in the surrounding area, and explore the town’s impressive Cape Dutch architecture and cultural heritage. Stellenbosch is home to a renowned university, contributing to the town’s lively atmosphere and cultural diversity. You can stroll through the university’s botanical garden, which has many indigenous plants.

Landmarks And Architecture South Africa Is Known For

Kruger National Park


Kruger National Park is a wildlife reserve South Africa is known for globally. It’s home to many African animals, including the “Big Five” (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo).

You can explore the park on your own or on a guided tour. There are luxury lodges and campsites where you can relax and unwind after an exciting and euphoric journey through the park.

It covers an area of about 20,000 square kilometers, which makes it one of the largest game reserves in Africa. You can also indulge in outdoor activities like hiking, bird-watching, and hot-air ballooning.

Garden Route


The Garden Route is a scenic coastal drive along South Africa’s southern coast from Mossel Bay to Storms River. The route is famous for its natural beauty, which includes lush forests, pristine beaches, and dramatic cliffs.

Hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities, such as exploring charming towns like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, are all options for entertainment on the Garden Route.

It offers stunning natural scenery with a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, whales, and numerous species of birds. You can take a whale-watching tour, go bird-watching, or enjoy the sight of dolphins playing in the waves.

Table Mountain


Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most recognizable landmarks in Cape Town. The visa points from the mountain provide stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding coastline. Therefore, it is a popular hiking and outdoor activity destination.

If hiking is not your thing, take advantage of the cable car ride to the top of the mountain. It is also an unforgettable experience, with breathtaking views along the way. On clear days, you can even see as far as Robben Island from the top of Table Mountain.

It is a protected area recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and one of the tourist sites South Africa is famous for. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for amazing views, Table Mountain is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Cape Town.

Robben Island


A small island off the coast of Cape Town, Robben Island is famous for its political history. It is most known as the prison that housed many political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, during the apartheid era.

This landmark provides a powerful and moving experience that sheds light on South Africa’s struggle for freedom and democracy. You can take a guided tour of the island and explore the prison facilities and historical landmarks, including Mandela’s long-held cell.

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid museum, located in Johannesburg, is worth a deep dive into. It is dedicated to the history of apartheid in South Africa and offers an in-depth and informative look into the country’s complex past.

The museum houses several exhibits highlighting the injustices of apartheid and South Africa’s struggle for democracy and freedom. You can learn about the lives of those who fought apartheid and better understand South Africa’s history.

This is an insightful stop to pick up some interesting facts about Johannesburg. It helps you to better appreciate the overall country and social norms you observe today.

Food South Africa Is Known For



Biltong is a snack made of spiced and cured air-dried meat. It’s available in supermarkets, specialty shops, and even street markets. Biltong is a great source of protein and a great snack for travelers. It comes in various types of meat, including beef, game, and ostrich.

It is one of the famous South African cuisines you should try when visiting. Biltong also has a long shelf life, making it an ideal snack to stock up on for hiking trips and outdoor adventures. Pack a few of these when you head out to explore the vast nature of South Africa.



Bobotie is one of the best South African foods, consisting of spiced minced meat, dried fruit, and a creamy topping. It is usually served with brown or yellow rice, chutney, and a salad at family gatherings.

You can find this savory dish in restaurants specializing in traditional South African cuisine. Bobotie is a must-try for foodies who want to experience the country’s unique flavors.

Malva Pudding


Malva Pudding is a popular dessert among South Africans made with apricot jam and served with custard or cream. Even outside the country, you can typically also find this in restaurants specializing in traditional South African cuisine.

This delicate pudding is a delicious way to end any meal and a great way to sample the sweet side of South African food.

Bunny Chow


Bunny Chow is a famous food in the Durban Indian community. It is a hollowed-out bread roll stuffed with curry, typically made with chicken or mutton.

You can find Bunny Chow in South African street markets and takeaway restaurants. It is a filling and tasty meal you can eat on the go. Also,  Bunny Chow is classified as one of South Africa’s famous foods because of its intercultural acceptance.


Famous People From South Africa

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a world-renowned icon and one of the most famous people from South Africa. He was South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after playing a significant role in the country’s struggle against apartheid.

Mandela is well-known for his human-rights advocacy and tireless efforts to promote peace and reconciliation. His legacy continues to inspire people in his home country and worldwide.

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a South African, who made a name for himself in the entertainment industry. Noah is a renowned television host, comedian, and actor. He is best known in the United States for hosting The Daily Show, a popular satirical news program.

Noah began his career as a successful comedian and television host in South Africa. He has since become a global celebrity and a powerful voice in comedy and entertainment. Noah’s memoir, “Born a Crime,” was a New York Times bestseller and provided insight into his upbringing during apartheid.

Charlize Theron

Theron rose to prominence in Hollywood in the late 1990s and became one of the industry’s most successful actresses. She has received numerous honors, including an Academy Award for Best Actress, and has been an outspoken advocate for various social causes, including women’s rights and HIV/AIDS.   

Theron has also been recognized for her work as a UN Messenger of Peace and has used her platform to promote sustainable development and global peace.

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu is a retired Anglican bishop and a prominent South African human rights activist. With his crucial role in the country’s struggle against apartheid, he undoubtedly made the list of famous people from South Africa and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Tutu has been a vocal advocate for social justice and a proponent of peace and reconciliation in various conflict zones worldwide.

Discovering More Things South Africa is Known For

South Africa’s beauty extends beyond its iconic wildlife reserves, stunning natural landmarks, rich cultural heritage, and incredible cuisine. The country is diverse, with many experiences and attractions to offer different kinds of visitors.

As you go on your adventure, you will uncover many fun facts about South Africa. Experience the fun and all that South Africa is known for; it will undoubtedly leave you with memories to last a lifetime.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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