Blending European colonial influences with contemporary African style, South Africa’s cities offer a captivating introduction to local culture. Cape Town is undoubtedly the country’s leading metropolitan destination, but Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban all have much to offer urban explorers.
t Restaurants at Cape Town’s V & A Waterfront
South Africa’s cities are a foodie’s delight, with an abundance of inviting restaurants and alfresco dining options. Most global cuisines are represented, but be sure to seek out fresh seafood in Cape Town and sample the excellent Indian fare on offer in Durban. Whatever your mood or budget, you’ll find a host of appealing eateries in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, in the atmospheric Johannesburg suburb of Melville and along Durban’s seafront Golden Mile.
To shop till you drop, look no further than Cape Town: its stylish stores sell a wealth of original treasures. Bohemian Long Street is lined with enticing boutiques, while the city’s hip Woodstock district is a hotbed of shops dedicated to art, fashion and design. For handicrafts, try the Pan-African Market or Greenmarket Square; other top markets around the country include Rosebank Sunday Market in Johannesburg and Durban’s Victoria Street Market.
The music scene here is diversity personified. The best live venues for local specialities such as kwaito (similar to hip-hop), electro-punky zef and BPM-giddy Shangaan Electro include Johannesburg’s Bassline, Cape Town’s Crypt Jazz Restaurant and Durban’s Beach Bums.
Cape Town is the country’s museum capital: don’t miss the District Six Museum and the superb cluster of institutions around Company’s Garden. Johannesburg runs a close second, with the excellent Apartheid Museum and Maropeng Visitors Centre.
Compared to suburban Johannesburg or central Cape Town, a guided tour of Soweto or the Cape Flats provides a grittier perspective on urban life in South Africa. Designated as Black-only residential areas under apartheid, both areas have historically been marked by high levels of poverty and crime. However, these townships – where the infamous Soweto Uprising and Sharpeville Massacre took place – are also studded with uplifting landmarks that commemorate their residents’ resistance to apartheid and ultimate victory over oppression.