Read time: 6 minutes

Posted by & filed under Destinations, Places to stay.   Print this post

For most of us, research is one of the best things about travel. As great as it is to know about the quirky guesthouse your friend stayed in, sometimes you’re looking for a more, um, thorough approach. That’s why every month we visit a tourist hotspot and methodically look through the options to find the absolute gems: the best guesthouses for families, the loveliest romantic hideaways, the pet-friendly options.

Here’s the ultimate collection of places we’ve visited this year, for your planning power! We’ve also included our guides – from the vibey streets of Joburg’s mellowest suburb to the changing face of Durban – so that there’s really no excuse not to be prepared for awesome travel next year.

 

Durban

 

Durban promenade, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Durban promenade, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

 
There are currents of change swirling through this multicultural, balmy city. With urban regeneration projects everywhere, and Durbanite entrepreneurs taking the front seat on how they want their city to look, there’s an exciting swell of shared spaces and new faces. Teagan Cunniffe went back home to find out how her city has changed.

Guide to Durban

 

Ficksburg

 

Moolmanshoek.

Moolmanshoek.

It’s the surrounds of Ficksburg that are truly spectacular; and it’s only about three hours from Joburg. In the words of our reviewer Pippa de Bruyn, “there are grass-knolled valleys backdropped by striated sandstone cliffs. The valleys created by the Witteberg mountains as they march towards the Malutis are all huge, empty of habitation, punctuated by cedars that point towards powder-puff clouds.”

Guide to Ficksburg

 

Franschhoek

 

Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The Ruperts. Richard Branson. Analjit Singh. People who are rich enough to live anywhere on the planet choose to own a piece of Franschhoek. And who can blame them? And if you get off the commercial high street and traverse the back roads that run through orchards and vineyards, you can settle into a cosy en-suite cabin for R250 per person.

Guide to Franschhoek

 

Hazyview and White River

 

Rissington Inn, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Rissington Inn, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

For many, the Lowveld is synonymous with Kruger, but in your haste to push into the park you could be missing out on spectacular scenery, beautiful gardens and an array of great adventure activities in and around Hazyview, such as zip-lining, river rafting and mountain biking.

Guide to White River and Hazyview

 

Hogsback

 

The Edge Mountain Retreat, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The Edge Mountain Retreat, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

 
For nature lovers, this Eastern Cape hamlet is the ideal getaway with its many waterfalls, forests and very affordable accommodation. And when the mist that wreathes the trees and ferns suddenly clear to drop-away views, it is indeed quite magical.

Guide to Hogsback

 

Melville, Joburg

 

The one and only 7th Street. Lots has changed, but many things (and places) remain the same. Photo by Vuyi Qubeka

The one and only 7th Street. Lots has changed, but many things (and places) remain the same. Photo by Vuyi Qubeka.

Want to explore a truly multicultural South Africa? This is where it’s at. Vuyi Qubeka brings you a guide of the best things to do in Melville, as well as places to eat and enjoy in this adored hippie village of Joburg.

Guide to Melville

 

Midlands

 

Forest House balances privacy with sprawling views.


Forest House balances privacy with sprawling views.

The Midlands Meander is a very well-trodden tourist route; but the holy grail of any traveller is to find out where the locals go. On a recent road trip, Teagan Cunniffe did her best to make them give up their secrets.

Guide to the Midlands

 

Magaliesberg

 

Stone Hill.

Stone Hill, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

We were looking for an easy wilderness/rural weekend escape no more than 90 minutes from Joburg, and in the Magaliesberg, we got lucky. These very special Joburg weekend getaways are in the Hekpoort Valley, and that you can comfortably get to one on a Friday after work.

Guide to the Magaliesberg

 

Maun

The sites at Maun Rest Camp are lovely, and ringed with bougainvillea. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

The sites at Maun Rest Camp are lovely, and ringed with bougainvillea. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

It’s the only spot on the list that’s not in South Africa, but it’s somewhere any wilderness-loving South African would love to get to. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay, eat and what to do before you career back into the glorious nowhere land of the Okavango.

Guide to Maun

 

Northern Drakensberg

 

Top Lodge, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Top Lodge, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

This area is central to three major cities, good value (considering that many prices are all-inclusive) – and staggeringly beautiful. Just as you think you really can’t be whipping out your camera again you crest another pass or trail and are stopped dead in your tracks by a vista that gives real meaning to the word majestic. Our Pippa De Bruyn picked these 11 plum Northern Drakensberg escapes.

Guide to Northern Drakensberg

 

Paternoster

 

Paternoster, As it is in Heaven. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Paternoster, As it is in Heaven. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

A wind and sun-lashed bay, its long beaches lapped by an icy aquamarine Atlantic, Paternoster’s strict building regulations have resulted in a dense cluster of simple whitewashed dwellings, making it by far the prettiest village on the West Coast. Here’s our pick of the 22 loveliest, and most affordable, places to stay.

Guide to Paternoster

 

Philippolis

 

An endless Karoo sky. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

An endless Karoo sky. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

For most, Colesberg is the stopover on a journey along SA’s N1. But just a short detour away is a hidden outpost that takes travellers on a journey into the past, shares Naomi Roebert.

Guide to Philippolis

 

Robertson

 

Bright lights, small city. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

Bright lights, small city. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

Think wine tastings and gourmet food are too poncey for you? So did Tyson Jopson, until he went to Robertson, where connoisseurs are gracious and barmen generous.

Guide to Robertson

 

Soweto

Vilakazi Street, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Vilakazi Street, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

In this inside guide, Niq Mhlongo, a writer born and bred in Soweto, takes us through his hometown and insists that people who only go to Vilakazi Street and think they know Soweto, are like people who only read the blurb of a novel and think they know the whole story.

Guide to Soweto

 

Stanford

 

Stanford Valley Guest Farm, by Teagan Cunniffe.

Stanford Valley Guest Farm, by Teagan Cunniffe.

This rural town has nature, a beautiful river and history, plus it’s an easy weekend escape for Capetonians. We found 12 lovely places to stay in this sleepy town.

Guide to Stanford

 

Tulbagh

Mont Rouge, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Mont Rouge, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Tulbagh is an underrated gem – tucked into a tiny horseshoe valley created by the undulating Obiqua Mountains, the craggy Witzenberg peaks and the majestic Winterhoek Mountains, every vantage is backdropped by spectacular views. It also has one of the largest collections of Cape Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian provincial heritage sites in one street. We found eight beautiful spots that are perfect for either a winter or summer getaway.

Guide to Tulbagh