Top 5 hidden gems to visit in South Africa by car

South Africa is home to breathtaking tourism gems. These are the top destinations to consider.

Everyone needs to discover the hidden gems during a holiday in South Africa, a captivating land boasting diverse landscapes, rich cultural traditions, and abundant wildlife. Why not venture beyond famous hotspots like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and the Kruger National Park to explore the country’s lesser-known treasures?

This article unveils the top 5 off-the-beaten-path destinations in South Africa, perfect for creating unforgettable road trip memories. If you need a car rental from the Johannesburg airport to start your journey, Drive South Africa would be happy to assist with that, ensuring you have the perfect vehicle for your adventure.

The Panorama Route

Location: Mpumalanga Province

Why Visit: Breathtaking views, natural wonders, and historical sites.

Discover the breathtaking Panorama Route as you journey through Mpumalanga Province, showcasing South Africa’s most spectacular vistas. Travel across this picturesque path to encounter the majestic Blyde River Canyon, a world-renowned marvel adorned with beautiful flora, soaring cliffs, and mesmerising waterfalls an unforgettable experience awaits your exploration.

  • God’s Window: A viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the Lowveld, stretching as far as the Kruger National Park and Mozambique.
  • Bourke’s Luck Potholes: Unique rock formations created by centuries of water

This route is not only visually stunning but also rich in history, with stops like the gold-mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest offering a glimpse into South Africa’s past.

The Wild Coast

Location: Eastern Cape Province

Why Visit: Pristine beaches, rugged coastline, and rich cultural experiences.

The Wild Coast, stretching from East London to the border of KwaZulu-Natal, is a relatively untouched paradise of pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and rolling hills. Highlights of this coastal region include:

  • Hole in the Wall: A natural rock formation resembling a giant gateway, accessible by a moderate hike or horseback
  • Coffee Bay: A small village with a vibrant local culture and breathtaking
  • Bulungula Lodge: An eco-friendly lodge that offers unique experiences like traditional Xhosa village tours and canoe

The Wild Coast is an ideal destination for those seeking a more authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience in South Africa.

Augrabies Falls National Park

Location: Northern Cape Province

Why Visit: Dramatic waterfalls, unique flora and fauna, and diverse landscapes.

Augrabies Falls National Park, situated in the arid Northern Cape, is home to the impressive Augrabies Falls, where the Orange River plummets 56 metres into a deep gorge. The park offers various activities, such as:

  • Hiking Trails: A range of trails that cater to different fitness levels, showcasing the park’s diverse
  • Game Viewing: Spot unique wildlife like the klipspringer and various bird
  • Moon Rock: A massive granite dome that provides sweeping views of the surrounding

Visiting this lesser-known national park is an excellent way to experience South Africa’s natural beauty without the crowds.


Location: Free State Province

Why Visit: Art galleries, picturesque landscapes, and outdoor activities.

Nestled in the picturesque foothills of the Maluti Mountains, the enchanting village of Clarens is often dubbed the “Jewel of the Eastern Free State.” This charming locale is a haven for art connoisseurs, boasting a vibrant art scene teeming with an array of galleries and studios waiting to be explored.

Beyond its artistic allure, Clarens offers an abundance of outdoor adventures for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts. Just a stone’s throw away lies the majestic Golden Gate Highlands National Park, where visitors can marvel at the striking sandstone cliffs, traverse scenic hiking trails, and delight in unparalleled wildlife sightings.

  • Adventure Sports: Clarens presents an exciting selection of adventure sports, including white-water rafting, abseiling, and horseback riding.
  • Basotho Cultural Village: A visit to the Basotho Cultural Village offers an immersive experience in traditional Sotho culture, showcasing authentic huts, captivating arts, and intricate crafts.

With its alluring blend of artistic charm and exhilarating escapades, Clarens is the ultimate destination for both art aficionados and adventure enthusiasts.

Riebeek Kasteel

Location: Western Cape Province

Why Visit: Wine tasting, olive groves, and a laid-back atmosphere.

A hidden gem in South Africa’s wine country, Riebeek Kasteel is a picturesque village surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. This charming destination offers:

  • Wine Estates: Visit local wineries for tastings and cellar
  • Olive Tasting: Sample and purchase locally produced olives, oils, and other
  • Riebeek Valley Art Walk: Discover unique art, sculptures, and craftwork at various studios and galleries in the

Riebeek Kasteel is an idyllic retreat for those looking to enjoy the finer things in life at a leisurely pace.

South Africa has numerous hidden gems that are worth exploring by car. From the breathtaking Panorama Route to the tranquil Riebeek Kasteel, these lesser-known destinations offer unique experiences, stunning landscapes, and authentic cultural encounters. So, pack your bags and hit the road to discover the beauty and diversity of South Africa beyond its popular tourist hotspots.



Back to top button