Even though I am South African, travel guides are helpful for information on sights and attractions I may not even have been aware of! When travelling to or throughout South Africa, having a travel guidebook can help make planning your trip and itinerary easier. In this article, you will find a selection of the best guidebooks for South Africa travel you can use to plan your South Africa trip, map your itinerary or for inspiration.
If you want to avoid purchasing a South African guidebook, check your library, as they may have some of these books, and you can access them for free.
Best Guidebooks for South Africa Travel
An excellent travel guide can assist you in making the most of your South Africa trip. They help you see options for sights and attractions and details about different destinations. Here is a list of the best guidebooks for South Africa.
- Best Guidebooks for South Africa Travel
- South Africa Travel Guides for Children
- DK Eyewitness South Africa (Travel Guide)
- Lonely Planet South Africa, Lesotho & Eswatini
- Fodor’s Essential South Africa: With The Best Safari Destinations and Wine Regions
- The Thrifty Traveler’s Guide to South Africa
- Insight Guides South Africa
- DK Eyewitness Top 10 Cape Town and the Winelands
- Greater Than a Tourist-Cape Town Western Cape South Africa: 50 Travel Tips from a Local
- Fodor’s Essential South Africa: With The Best Safari Destinations
- South Africa – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
- South Africa Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species in the South African Region
- The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to The Animals and Plants of The Region
South Africa Travel Guides for Children
If you have children, it is essential to plan your trip well to include activities that interest them and teach them about South African cities, history and culture. It also helps you to explain the history of sights before arriving there, which may help them be more excited to visit the sight.
Travel guides that focus on children’s interests are scarce. Most travel guides focus on adults and may mention child-friendly attractions. This is unfortunately also true for South African travel guides for children. In fact, I could not find a single South African travel guide for children and could only find a few, such as this one: A Travel Journal For Kids South Africa.
This travel journal features more than 100 pages with illustrations for your kids to colour, paint, doodle or sketch. They can also make notes about their travel in South Africa in this journal. The journal contains ideas for games you can use to keep your kids busy while driving South Africa’s beautiful roads to avoid boredom. It has double pages for each day of travel, and your kids can provide details about the destination they are visiting, the weather, what they saw, ate, and what the highlight was for them. The journal allows for 40 days of travel, which should be sufficient for most visits to South Africa.
DK Eyewitness South Africa (Travel Guide)
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides typically have beautiful photos and illustrations, which also applies to the DK Eyewitness South Africa (Travel Guide)! This travel guide gives you an overview of South Africa and the destinations you can visit.
The South Africa Eyewitness Travel Guide book starts with an overview of what you can discover in South Africa. Here, they cover the reasons to love South Africa, explore South Africa, get to know South Africa, a short history, a year in South Africa and give sample itineraries for your South Africa travels.
This is followed by a field guide covering South Africa’s habitats, conservation, terrain and flora and an animal directory. The next session in the Eyewitness Travel Guide South Africa focuses on the experiences you can have in the different South African provinces. It also includes Lesotho and Eswatini, two countries in or near South Africa. The last section covers all you should know before visiting South Africa, such as getting around and some practical travel information.
This book has everything you need to plan a wonderful trip to South Africa!
Lonely Planet South Africa, Lesotho & Eswatini
I love using Lonely Planet travel guides; they are my go-to guides for any destination I visit. For me, this is one of the best guidebooks for South Africa travel!
This travel guide has been updated after the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure it contains updated information about businesses and sights. It covers the top experiences in South Africa, new cultural trends and ideas, and planning tools for families with information on planning your trip for children. It also has a passport-sized card with essential information about Wi-Fi, ATMs and transport information to help you plan your journey from landing in South Africa to getting to your hotel.
This book also provides itineraries to help you build your trip based on your needs and interests using their insider tips. The guide includes reviews of restaurants, hotels, and sights. The book contains over 102 colourful maps. It covers all of South Africa’s provinces and also Lesotho and Eswatini. If you are looking for a comprehensive travel guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini, this is one of the best guidebooks for South Africa!
Fodor’s Essential South Africa: With The Best Safari Destinations and Wine Regions
The Fodor’s Essentials South Africa travel guide is the bestseller on Amazon of all the travel guides focusing on South Africa.
This travel guide includes an illustrated guide about the ultimate experiences in South Africa. It provides several sample itineraries to inspire your itinerary. The book contains over 35 maps to help you find your way around. The book has colour photos to show you what the destinations look like.
Some of the unique topics it covers include hidden gems and unusual accommodations. It also has a special section covering travelling to South Africa with kids. They also provide tools to help you plan your trip and practical tips to help you get around, avoid the crowds and save money. They also provide insights into South Africa’s history and culture with information on the locals, politics, geography, music and cuisine. A unique feature of this guidebook is its sections covering the Winelands, books, movies and series to watch before visiting South Africa and the best beaches.
If you want to learn some words in the South African languages, you will find some essential words and phrases in Zulu, Afrikaans and Swahili. The guide covers the major destinations and sights in South Africa, including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Addo Elephant National Park, the Garden Route, Drakensberg, Durban, Hermanus, Kruger National Park, the Cape Winelands, and Blyde River Canyon.
The Thrifty Traveler’s Guide to South Africa
South Africa is generally an affordable destination for travellers from North America and Europe because of its weak currency. If you want to ensure you maximise your trip at the lowest cost possible, the Thrifty Traveler’s Guide to South Africa can help you achieve your objective.
The author summarises information about South Africa as a country, its climate, location and people. He also provides tips to plan a budget trip to South Africa with options for where to go, what to do, eat and where to stay. He provides information to help you plan a trip to the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, Limpopo Provinces, the Garden Route, Cape Town, Western Cape Province, Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape. There is a chapter focusing on nightlife and entertainment. He also provides details about dating in South Africa.
Insight Guides South Africa
The Insight Guides to South Africa is an in-depth guidebook to South Africa and comes with a free app and ebook.
This is another of the best guidebooks for South Africa travel. This edition of the guidebook covers Johannesburg, Cape Town, national parks and game reserves. Local experts provide insider knowledge. It covers the history and culture of South Africa with a focus on music, food, literature and sport. It has unique features focusing on South Africa’s flora, the Cape wines, vintage train journeys and whale-watching. The book includes maps, beautiful coloured photos, practical travel information and tips to help you plan your trip to South Africa.
DK Eyewitness Top 10 Cape Town and the Winelands
If you want to plan a more focused visit to South Africa and only visit Cape Town and the Wine lands, you will find the DK Eyewitness Top 10 Cape Town and the Winelands book useful.
This pocket travel guide gives you information about the best places to visit in the Cape Town and Winelands region. Inside this guide, you will find sample itineraries for trips of a day, weekend or week. It provides details of the places worthy of a visit, such as the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Table Mountain, District Six Museum, Company’s Garden, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Simon’s Town, the Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach, and Stellenbosch. It covers family activities and also activities you can do for free. You will find a laminated, pull-out map of the region and advice for getting around, staying safe and preparing for your trip.
Greater Than a Tourist-Cape Town Western Cape South Africa: 50 Travel Tips from a Local
If you are looking for travel tips from a local, this is a valuable book focusing on the Western Cape. The author lives in Cape Town and can give you insider tips about Cape Town and the Western Cape you won’t find elsewhere.
You will find information about food, cultural experiences, and attractions. The author covers getting around Cape Town and provides tips for visiting local attractions, such as Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. An exciting section focuses on volunteering in the region. The book also covers planning tips.
Fodor’s Essential South Africa: With The Best Safari Destinations
If you are visiting South Africa specifically for a safari experience, Fodor’s Essential South Africa guide is the book for you!
This safari travel guide is one of the best guidebooks for South Africa travel. It includes details to help you plan your safari experience, including reviews of safari camps, tips to help you plan your safari and details of tour companies Fodor recommends. It also includes hotel and restaurant recommendations, colour photos showing you what the experiences look like and sample itineraries to help you make the most of your safari.
Each chapter has a map with a description of the region it discusses and the reasons why you should visit the region. The guide covers the main areas in South Africa, including Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, the Western Cape, the Garden Route, Johannesburg, Durban, Kruger National Park, KwaZulu-Natal, the Kalahari, the Little Karoo, the Sunshine Coast, Mpumalanga and the Drakensberg.
South Africa – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
South Africa is a fascinating country, often called the Rainbow nation, because of the different tribes, religions and languages. Any trip to South Africa should include cultural experiences, which is where this book helps.
This guidebook covers the land and its people, South African values and attitudes, customs and traditions, making friends in South Africa, South Africans at home, time out and the various activities South Africans enjoy in their leisure time, travel in South Africa, health issues and security. Other topics in the book include a chapter on business in South Africa and communication in South Africa.
South Africa Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species in the South African Region
This book is perfect if you are a birdwatcher looking forward to seeing South Africa’s many bird species!
This illustrated bird guide for South Africa provides information about more than 140 species of birds in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and southern Mozambique. It includes a map with birding hotspots. This pocket-sized guide is laminated for extra protection.
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to The Animals and Plants of The Region
This field guide describes more than 2,000 plants and animals found in South Africa. It includes colourful illustrations and maps of the different groups of animals and plants. The comprehensive book covers lower invertebrates, spiders and other arachnids, insects, freshwater fishes, frogs, reptiles, birds, mammals, grasses, sedges, ferns and fungi, wildflowers and trees.