Even Africa destination experts like us marvel at the incredible wealth of attractions on the continent. Coming up with our pick of the top tourist places in Africa certainly hasn’t been easy. There are a lifetime’s worth of glorious sights and experiences just waiting to be had. They range from spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities to mesmerizing historical sites and atmospheric city streets. With that in mind, why not sit back and discover the finest tourist places in Africa with us right here?
1. Cape Town, South Africa
Africa’s cities get a bad rap, often unfairly. But few visitors leave South Africa’s ‘mother city’ with anything but warm words. Packed full of potential attractions, the city has a sublime location that drifts from the heights of Table Mountain down to the shops and restaurants of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. In between, you’ll find everything from the colorful homes of Bo Kaap, world-famous vineyards, Africa’s only mainland penguin population, and the continent’s largest contemporary art gallery. Head offshore, and you’ll also find the Robben Island prison that was home to Nelson Mandela for 27 years.
Easily accessible from Tanzania’s biggest city, Dar es Salaam, the island of Zanzibar is what Indian Ocean escapes are made for. Its north is lined with long stretches of pure white sand and warm turquoise waters dotted with dive sites and five-star resorts. Further south, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town’s ancient alleyways are filled with fine merchant’s buildings, important colonial-era buildings, braying donkeys and the heady scent of spices. Meanwhile, the island’s only national park provides important habitat for species found nowhere else, including Kirk’s red colobus and the Zanzibar tree hyrax.
3. Victoria Falls, Zambia & Zimbabwe
The biggest series of cascades in the world, the waters of Victoria Falls tumble for more than 100 meters with such ferocity their rumble can be heard for miles around. Twice the height of Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls is one of the most impressive natural sights in the world, and there’s no shortage of ways of experiencing their full force. One of the most evocative must be to plunge into Devil’s Pool, just an arm’s length from the edge. The brave might also consider paddling the white waters of the River Zambezi below, or bungee jumping from the bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe. But we can’t help but adore the helicopter flights that take in Victoria Falls sheer immensity in one go.
4. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Head to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and it’s not the geology you’ve come to see, but our closest living relatives, the severely endangered mountain gorilla. Brought to the world’s attention by primatologist Dian Fossey, it was Africa’s first national park. Worthy of serious consideration by anyone seeking out the top tourist places in Africa, the combination of magnificent volcanic peaks, clear lakes, and rainforest provide an irresistible location for encountering gorillas face to face. Visitors are able to trek towards one of twelve habituated family groups, with several females and tumbling offspring led by a no-nonsense male silverback. It’s a bucket list experience to beat all other bucket list experiences.
5. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The last of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Pyramids of Giza are undoubtedly one of the top tourist places in Africa. Nowhere else is it possible to sense the power and might of the continent’s ancient civilizations as here. And if you think they look imposing from the outside, wait until you clamber down into the burial chambers hidden deep within. The feeling of having tons of rock above you is as unnerving as the gaze of the Sphinx that sits on the same plateau. The brand new Grand Egyptian Museum is also not to be missed.
6. The Great Wildebeest Migration, Tanzania & Kenya
When it comes to natural spectacles, it’s difficult to argue against the Great Wildebeest Migration. The biggest movement of large animals anywhere on Earth, each year it sees somewhere in the region of 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle cross the plains of Tanzania and Kenya in search of fresh grass. Shadowed all the way by the continent’s top predators, including lion, leopard and cheetah, the great herds form ribbons several miles along, and even give birth as they travel several thousand miles from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back again.
7. Imperial Cities, Morocco
If you’re looking to discover the culture and heritage of North Africa, there’s probably no better place to start than Morocco’s Imperial Cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat. At roughly 1200 years old, Fez is the most ancient, although Marrakesh has the most impressive landmarks. Formed out a series of mansions or palaces with their own internal courtyards, there are also a fine series of parks to relax in, having discovered the likes of the Koutoubia Mosque or the street food of Jemaa el-Fnaa, Africa’s largest public square.
8. Mount Kilimanjaro
Providing a glorious backdrop to the elephant herds of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak. Rising to 5,895 meters above sea level, it lies in neighboring Tanzania. To reach its icy summit to the roof of Africa there are seven different routes to choose between, each taking about a week to complete (although the record stands at under seven hours). Most routes have the added bonus of having you arrive at the summit sign in time for sunrise, making all the hard work absolutely worth it. Just remember you’ve got to make it down again too!
9. Murchison Falls
Uganda’s Murchison Falls is another fantastic natural feature you should do all you can to witness for yourself. A very different sight from Victoria Falls, Murchison Falls sees the headwaters of the River Nile pushed through a gap in rocks just seven meters wide. Now part of Murchison Falls national park, the region is an important habitat for birds, with 450 different species recorded here. Visitor for yourself and you’ll also be following in the footsteps of greats such as US author and Nobel prize winner Ernest Hemingway, whose love for Africa is well-known.
What are the top tourist places in Africa?
Visitors beware! Africa will steal your heart and have you coming back time after time. From seeing the iconic Big Five species on safari to exploring the birth of civilization in Egypt, there’s simply nowhere else like it!