South Africa has many historical, cultural and natural destinations that merit preservation for future generations. First Car Rental has put together a list of South African heritage sites, some of which have been declared World Heritage Sites for their cultural significance or natural beauty. These destinations are certainly places that every South African must visit at least once in their lifetime.

1. Robben Island, Western Cape

The solitary island of Robben Island situated some 9km offshore from Cape Town has a deep connection with the history of South Africa. It is where South African President Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison and where he formulated the notion of forgiveness and dreamed of a nation free of oppression. Visitors can go on a guided tour to the Robben Island Museum and get first-hand accounts of Nelson Mandela’s life in prison. You can also visit Mandela’s cell, which has been left in its original state. Dubbed “Robben” (the place of seals) by Dutch settlers, the island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

2. Vredefort Dome, Free State

Over 2 million years ago an asteroid with a diameter of between 5 and 10 km hit the earth at this very spot leaving behind the largest and oldest verified impact crater on Earth, giving it the status of World Heritage Site. The Vredefort Dome stretches over 300 km across and bears witness to the world’s greatest known single energy release event, which had devastating global effects including, according to some scientists, major evolutionary changes.

3. uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, KwaZulu-Natal

This World Heritage Site in KwaZulu-Natal is an open-air mountain museum where more than 30 000 examples of Bushman rock art can be viewed on the walls of caves. The park is a combination of sheer natural beauty and a wealth of biological diversity. It is also one of South Africa’s prime eco-tourist destinations. Covering 242,813 hectares of area, the park spans parts of both South Africa, in KwaZulu-Natal province , and Lesotho. The site’s diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally threatened species, especially birds and plants.

4. Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng

The Cradle of Humankind is where the origins of the human race can be traced back to and holds great scientific importance. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The world-renowned Sterkfontein Caves is home to the oldest and most continuous paleontological dig in the world. It is also the site of discovery of the famous pre-human skull affectionately known as “Mrs Ples”, and an almost complete hominid skeleton called “Little Foot”, dated 2.3 and 4.17 million years old respectively. So, if you want to know the history of our origins, take a trip to this amazing destination. The Maropeng Visitor Centre is open to the public from 09h00 to 17h00 every day. The last boat ride departs at 16h00.

5. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Limpopo


South Africa’s fifth World Heritage Site and fifth on our list of must-see heritage destinations is Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape. Mapungubwe is set hard against the northern border of South Africa, joining Zimbabwe and Botswana. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape demonstrates the rise and fall of the first indigenous kingdom in Southern Africa between 900 and 1,300 AD. Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned in the 14th century. What survived are untouched remains of the palace sites and the entire settlement area around them. This landscape presents an amazing picture of the development of social and political structures over some 400 years.

6. iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Covering about 240,000ha, with a further 84,000ha in, on or under the sea, thissub-tropical paradise stretches 220km along the East Coast from St Lucia to the Mozambique border. iSimangaliso is teeming with life and has a mind-blowing variety of natural eco-systems ranging from dune, swamp and coastal forests to rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs and submarine canyons, mangroves, savannah grassland, thickets, woodlands, and the largest protected wetland in Southern Africa. The activities you can enjoy here include game drives, snorkelling, diving, bird-watching and hiking.

7. The Castle of Good Hope, Western Cape

This unique historical site is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. It has been a centre of life at the Cape since its inception in 1666. The Castle of Good Hope was established as a maritime replenishment station at the Cape of Good Hopefor the Dutch East India Company, better known as the VOC (VerenigdeOos-IndischeCompagnie). The Castle of Good Hope was a welcome sight for sailors travelling up to six months at sea and they referred to Cape Town as the “Tavern of the Seas”. In 1936, the Castle was declared a National Monument. As a result of an extensive, ongoing restoration and conservation programme launched in the 1980’s, the Castle of Good Hope remains the best preserved monument of its kind.

8. Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga

A small town in Mpumalanga, Pilgrim’s Rest is protected as a provincial heritage site. Pilgrim’s Rest is situated on the magnificent Panorama Route in the Kruger Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga. This living museum takes visitors to the day of the Transvaal Gold Rush;the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold. Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a gold field in 1873, soon after digger Alec “Wheelbarrow” Patterson had found gold deposits in Pilgrim’s Creek.The Valley proved to be rich in gold and by the end of the year, there were about 1500 diggers working in the area. Today, mining still continues in the hills surrounding Pilgrim’s Rest.

9. Nelson Mandela Museum, Mthatha, Eastern Cape

Take an inspirational journey through the life of former President and world icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha. The Museum officially opened in 2 000, ten years after his release from prison in 1990 and incorporates three sites – Mvezo, near Coffee Bay, where Mandela was born; Qunu, his childhood village; and the Bhunga Building in Mthathawhere the story of the life and times of one of South Africa’s greatest leaders is depicted. The Museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4pm.

10. Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Northern Cape

The Richtersveld is one of the few places where one can still see a harmonious interaction between man and nature. The Richtersveld is the pastoral grazing ground for the Nama, the indigenous community who live the transhumance lifestyle – migrating seasonally with their livestock from mountains to the river and, as such, make sustainable use of the fragile succulent ecosystem. Their seasonal pastoral grazing regimes help sustain the extensive biodiversity of the area and demonstrate a way of life that persisted for many millennia over a considerable part of Southern Africa.


Celebrate diversity and make the most out of National Braai Day

Heritage Day (24 September), which falls on a Saturday this year, is a South African public holiday that celebrates our rainbow nation’s diversity and that calls on South Africans to unite despite their differences.


Visit the prestigious Iziko Museums across Cape Town for free this Heritage Week and learn all about the history of the Western Cape and South Africa. You could visit a different museum each day of the week! Take a trip to the South African National Gallery, the South African Museum, the Slave Lodge, Koopmans-De Wet House or the Bo-Kaap Museum. There will be a variety of events taking place at these stunning museums for the whole family to enjoy.
COST: Entry to any Iziko Museum is free for the whole week. For more information call +27 (0)21 481 3800 or email The museums are open from 10am to 5pm.

Picture this: a farm over three centuries old with activities suited for every age. From incredible wines to spa treatments and mind-blowing accommodation, you’ll love what Boschendal has to offer. This picturesque Winelands retreat awaits and on Heritage Day, up to 220 guests will sit down to a veritable feast, with live music provided by indie-folk artist Blair Taberer. This Franschhoek-based wine farm is offering guests an intensely delicious ‘nose-to-tail’ menu. With slow-cooked spit-braai nosh, live music and all-round family fun on the cards, this afternoon at one of the Cape’s picturesque farms is just the thing to get into the swing of spring.
COST: R325 for adults, R95 for kids under 10 years of age. Email or call +27 21 870 4274 for bookings. Visit for further details.

Celebrate Mzansi’s rich culture at the 2016 Artscape Heritage Festival that takes place from Saturday, 24 September to Friday, 30 September 2016. This mixed bag of dance, theatre and musical performances aims to not only pay homage to our diverse nation, but also to highlight the country’s journey to democracy and its subsequent successes and failures. Alongside various headline and award-winning productions – 1976 Spiritsand Hinterland – there will be a number of powerful community pieces on the bill. 
 Tickets are available via or by calling Dial-A-Seat on +27 (0) 21 421 7695. Tickets are priced individually per performance and cost between R30 to R80p/p.

Are you a lover of local beer? Whether you’re brewing or buying, the SouthYeasters Homebrewers Club Spring Fest is the best place to be if you want to enjoy some proudly South African beer. The club is hosting a Beer Judge Certification Program competition on Heritage Day with a South African theme – brew up your best wit, weiss or saison beer and find a unique way to give it a lekker local twist. There will also be a brew-off between SouthYeasters and Helderberg Brewers where you get to choose the best beer to enjoy at a braai. There will be food trucks at the venue so you can grab a bite to eat between beers.
COST: Entry to Spring Fest is FREE of charge. The event starts at 11am. For more information contact

Bruce Norris’s award-winning production is showing at The Fugard Theatre for a limited time. Clybourne Park tells a tale of race relations in the 1950s when a black family moves into a white community, then fast-forwards to 2009 and shows the effect of a white couple buying property in the now all black neighbourhood. The show stars a cast of the country’s best performers such as Andrew Buckland (Tobacco, and the Harmful Effects Thereof), Susan Danford (Broken Glass) and Lesoko Seabe (Siembambe). Since the link between race and geography is such an enormous part of South Africa’s heritage, this performance could not be showing at a more appropriate time.
COST: Tickets are available from and Computicket outlets and range in price from R120p/p to R240p/p depending on the selected seating. It’s advised to book as soon as possible as tickets are set to sell-out fast. For more information, please click through to the event. 

Come and enjoy a classic South African dish with a gourmet twist. Visit the 12 Apostles Hotel anytime in September and try Executive Chef Christo Pretorius’s Vetkoek and Curried Saldanha Bay Mussels at Azure Restaurant. This scrumptious meal will be served with Malay spiced mussels velouté, yoghurt curd, hydrated sultanas and mini fennel vetkoek.
COST: Meals are priced at R215 per dish. To make a reservation visit or call +27 (0)21 437 9029.

Organised by the National Arts Festival (the same crowd responsible for the Grahamstown fiesta), this two-week extravaganza showcases the best of the country’s creative culture with a medley of singing, dancing, theatre and arts and culture performances. Based on the Fringe festival concept originating in Edinburgh after World War Two, the fest is characterised by a collection of small performances run by independent practitioners. The event will span most of Cape Town, housed at various locations in the CBD and Langa, with each venue staging between six to eight performances per day.
COST: Direct all booking and box office enquiries to or phone +27(0)79 605 7871 / +27(0)86 000 2004.

Rock out to local bands, singers and DJs at this epic 13-hour long concert that showcases the best musical talent in the country this Heritage Day. Mingle with celebrities at the Kenilworth Racecourse for this awesome 5FM experience and see live performances by Black Coffee, Al Bairre, Goodluck, TiMO ODV and more. If you’re keen for some electro beats, some of 5FM’s DJs will be hitting the turntables to keep the music pumping.
COST: Tickets are priced between R100 – R345p/p and can be purchased from The concert starts at 10am. For more information or call +27 (0)861 915 8000.

Constantia Glen is celebrating Heritage Day with a delicious braai platter for two that includes spit braai lamb, boerewors, potato salad and braai bread. The platter will be accompanied by a selection of wines from the Constantia Glen and Constantia Saddle collections. In addition to the main meal, a selection of cheese and charcuterie platters, Mediterranean salad and biltong will be available for guests to try out.
COST: The platter is priced at R290 and is available from 12pm to 5pm. To make a reservation call +27 (0)21 795 5639 or send an email

Become one with nature this Heritage Weekend and attend the flower festival with your family. This year’s theme is Fynbos and Fire, which takes a look at the way fynbos regrows after it is damaged by fire. The Hermanus Botanical Society will have over 300 specimens on display and plenty of activities for flora-loving folk. Visit the Fernkloof Nursery to buy beautiful indigenous plants, visit the marquee and the Hermanus Botanical Society stand to see environmental exhibits and other floral fun such as artwork and crafts made with flowers. You can also enjoy a light meal at the Fynbos Café and there will be loads of fun activities for children to enjoy.
COST: Entry costs R20p/p and the festival will take place from 9am to 5pm. Children under 12 or in school uniform enter for free. If you’d like more information contact +27 (0)28 313 0819 or

Do you consider yourself a braai master? Prove it at the Klawer Wine Estate Braai Day Competition this Heritage Day. All you need is your braai kit, meat and side dishes as well as your own wood and gazebo – Klawer Wine Estate will supply braai stands and chairs. The fires start burning at 9am and you have until noon to cook up the best chops the Western Cape has ever seen. There will be live music and stalls at the venue so you’ll have lots to do after enjoying a delicious South African lunch.
COST: Entry to this event is free. For further information contact Carin at +27 (0)27 216 1530 or send an email to

The sixth annual Imbuko Braai Day will see eager attendees clustered around blazing fires, while feasting, singing and enjoying general Heritage Day merriment. This year’s event boasts much to look forward to in the way of top-notch titbits, including braaied delicacies, pizzas, ice cream, a candy land, craft beer, wine and more. Additionally, there will be plenty of fun and games to keep kids occupied. Live entertainment will be provided by Newton & Co and Gerry Liberty.
COST: Braai day entry tickets cost R125p/p, which includes a free wine glass and four glasses of wine, and are available from The event starts at 10am and ends at 5pm. The first 100 guests to sign up will receive a free gift bag.

Soul Lekker Africa invites you to commemorate Heritage Day with them at Slug and Lettuce Restaurant & Bar at The River Club. The organisation has invited a group of young artists from disadvantaged areas to perform live alongside established local musicians, dancers, comedians, poets and more. This is a great opportunity for the youth to take part in performance arts in a formal setting while interacting with professionals in the industry. The theme for this event is ‘Vintage’ so guests are invited to dress up in chic retro outfits for the day.
COST: TBC. If you would like more information call +27 (0)63 045 5573 or The show will start at noon and end near midnight.

Nederburg Wines invites you to celebrate Heritage Day on Saturday, 24 September 2016 at The Red Table Restaurant located at the Nederburg manor house in Paarl. Guests will be offered a glass of Nederburg Cuvée Brut and cheese platters with fresh flat bread on arrival before tucking in to a meal of chimichurru beef rump, venison sausage, wild Atlantic prawns, spicy chicken wings and an assortment of vegetables, followed by a selection of mini desserts. The meal will be paired with a range of wines from the award-winning Nederburg Heritage Heroes collection.
COST: R350p/p for adults, R150p/p for children under the age of 13. The event will commence at 12pm. To make a reservation, call +27 (0)21 877 5155 or email

Al Ansaar Madrassah is hosting its annual fundraiser on Heritage Day this year and they are giving locals the option to shop or sell goods at their market. The hall will host plenty of stalls selling scarves, clothes, jewellery and accessories, crafts and household utensils as well as a cake and tea area with delicious halaal food on sale. This fair is family-friendly and there will be a children’s area with games, a jumping castle, face painting and henna artists for all to enjoy.
COST: Entry to the food fair is free. Food voucher booklets can be purchased for R50 each. To book a stall or for more information call +27 (0)74 106 0713 or email

Have a truly South African Heritage Day and celebrate with a huge meal at Oude Wellington Restaurant. The ‘Viking Chef’ John Tecklenburg is preparing a feast of homely South African dishes including braai, burgers and tasty desserts like designer milkshakes and waffles along with Potstill brandy from the Oude Wellington Estate. There’ll be brandy and biltong tastings and craft beer on tap! The restaurant is offering games, pony rides and fun activities for kids too!
COST: Meals will cost between R90 – 190p/p for adults and R40 – R70 for kids. Children under eight-years eat for free. To book, call +27 (0)83 836 8924 or email

See veteran musicians hand the stage over to up-and-coming artists. Camillo Lombard will be hosting a stunning show that celebrates Cape Town legends, featuring tunes from the 1980’s such as indigenous music, Cape jazz and Ghoema. Directed by Basil Appollis, this showcase is the perfect display of South African excellence on Heritage Day.
COST: Tickets are priced at R125p/p and can be purchased from For more information call +27 (0)21 421 7839 or send an email to

Spend the entire Heritage Weekend eating chocolate and drinking coffee at this fun festival. The two-day feast is hosting plenty of tasting sessions and workshops to give you a sugar and caffeine rush all weekend. Visit the steampunk-themed Coffee Theatre for a warm drink, chill out at the Cocoa Mokka Music Lounge, show off your coffee-making skills at the Home Barista Jam Experience, try out whisky and chocolate pairing at the Mardi Gras Pairing Theatre or meet other coffee and chocolate loves at Pallet Point. If you’d like to become chocolatier, attend a workshop and learn all about the craft.
COST: Tickets can be purchased from for R100p/p or at the door for R120p/p. Children under the age of 10 enter for free. For more information email

Celebrate your Heritage Day in Cape Town with an evening of top-notch tunes provided by stellar Mother City artists at The Crypt Jazz Restaurant on Saturday, 24 September 2016. Housed in the city centre’s historic St. George’s Cathedral, this one-of-a-kind live music venue pays tribute to jazz music artists with regular evenings (from Tuesday to Saturday), and this public holiday is no different. From 8pm to 11pm, attendees can check out Sisanda Myataza, a young jazz singer who is on her way to becoming South Africa’s next big star. The Crypt offers a permanent five-day-a-week programme, the venue also offers light snacks and meals, and patrons can order something to eat while enjoying first-rate artists and tunes.
COST: Cover charge for the night is R85p/p. Booking is essential as space is limited, and to do so, jazz enthusiasts can SMS or WhatsApp +27 (0) 79 683 4658 or simply email

Celebrating our French Huguenot history is an excellent excuse to indulge in the spectacular Franschhoek valley’s finest wines. The much-anticipated annual Uncorked festival takes place across 18 different estates, each of which feature exciting itineraries jam-packed with fun activities, and opportunities to wine and dine a la Francais. From showing off your swing at the Dieu Donne golf day and shucking succulent oysters at Anthonij Rupert Estate to tucking into Ryan Smith’s braai table at Black Elephant and snacking on braaied snoek at Plaisir de Merle, there’s bound to be something you don’t want to miss out on. The theme this year is Braai4Heritage – very fitting for the Heritage Day weekend – and many of the estates’ events are centred on bringing their braai A-game.
COSTA weekend pass costs R140p/p and is available for purchase from For more information, contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley at +27(0)21 876 2861.


braai day logo

The National Braai Day initiative aims to position National Heritage Day as South Africa’s annual day of celebration. We call on all South Africans to unite around fires, share our heritage and wave our flag on 24 September every year.

National Heritage Day is a public holiday in South Africa.