10 of the Most Scenic Drives in South Africa
If you’re self driving through South Africa, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to scenic drives.
From epic mountain passes to winding coastal roads and quaint little towns to eye-popping vistas, there’s a route for everyone. In this blog post, we’ll take you through 10 of our favorite scenic drives in and around South Africa.
1. The West Coast Flower Route
Known by locals as the Daisy Route, the sprawling beds of Cape wild flowers attract thousands of visitors every year.
Located in the semi-desert of the Namaqualand, the landscape comes to life with hundreds of thousands of blooming flowers after the first rains of the season, while dry gray scrub turns immaculate green.
Above: West Coast flower route, South Africa.
Drive about five hours outside Cape Town up the R27 or along the N7 to witness this natural annual miracle.
2. Route 62
Famous for being the longest wine route in the world, Route 62 starts in Cape Town and winds its way all the way to Port Elizabeth.
Meandering through the wine villages of the Karoo, this route includes rivers, orchards, vineyards and a selection of valleys and mountain passes, many of which were built by Andrew and Thomas Baine.
Above: The famous Route 62 in South Africa.
You don’t have to do the whole route for an impressive drive – if you’re pushed for time simply drive from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn and back. This route alone is a great reason to rent a car in South Africa.
3. The Panorama Route
The Panorama Route takes in mountains, waterfalls, forests, and the astonishing Blyde River Canyon.
The route connects the Mac Mac Pools and Falls, Sabie, Pilgrim’s Rest, Graskop, Wonder View, the Pinnacle, the Three Rondawels, God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Berlin Falls, and Lisbon Falls.
Above: Panorama route in South Africa.
While the route can be driven in a day, you might want to take longer to explore this incredibly photogenic route.
4. Maloti Route / Route 26
Easily one of South Africa’s most scenic drives, the Maloti Route winds its way for 280 km between Rouxville and Phutaditjhaba, staying close to the Free State border with Lesotho.
Above: Maloti route in South Africa.
The route passes through a number of rarely visited and peculiar Free State towns. Despite the potholes, the mountainous scenery is absolutely jaw dropping and well worth the trip.
5. Midlands Meander
Kwazulu Natal’s Midlands Meander is an 80 km sightseeing route that makes its way through green countryside in the middle of the region between the Drakensberg and Pietermaritzburg.
Above: Midlands Meander in South Africa.
These green hills of Natal make up an arts and crafts route that is packed with family-friendly activities, tiny villages, forests, nature reserves, and quaint eateries that are the perfect place to stop for refreshments on your drive.
6. Joburg to Magaliesburg
A favorite route for motorcyclists is the breakfast run from Johannesburg to the Hartbeespoort Dam in the Magaliesberg.
Above: Hartbeespoort dam with the Magaliesburg mountain range in the background, South Africa.
Make your way along the R512 to the dam, then around the dam to see the picturesque homes in Kosmos, before taking the R560 via Hekpoort to Magaliesburg town, where it’s a great idea to stop for lunch.
7. The Garden Route
Driven along the N2 between Mossel Bay and Storms River, this coastal route along the south-eastern coast of South Africa gets its name from its lush vegetation, forests, and nature reserves.
Above: Vineyards on the Garden Route, South Africa.
Beautiful beaches, lakes, rolling hills, inland lagoons, and the mountains of the Tsitsikamma and Outeniqua create a photogenic backdrop that’s second-to-none. Take the 7 Passes Road for an exceptional drive.
8. The Eight Mountain Passes
The Eight Mountain Passes of the Eastern Cape include the Otto Du Plessis Pass, Carlisleshoek, Volunteershoek Road, Joubert’s Pass, Naude’s Nek, Bastervoetpad, Lundean’s Nek, and Barkly Pass.
Above: View from Joubert’s Pass at Lady Grey, South Africa.
These scenic roads along the Drakensberg Highlands take in picturesque areas of peaks and valleys that will take your breath away.
9. Clarence Drive / Route 44
This delightful coastal route between Gordons Bay and Betty’s Bay is possibly one of the most epic roads in the Western Cape. You’ll want to take your time here because there’s so much to take in.
Above: Clarence Drive in South Africa.
Picture blue skies, blue seas, whales, penguins, nature reserves, botanical gardens, hiking trails, mountain peaks, and coastal caves. There are also plenty of spots to pull off and admire the gobsmacking views.
10. Chapman’s Peak Drive
Although it’s only 9 km long, this incredible drive is packed with views guaranteed to take your breath away. Start in the charming seaside town of Hout Bay with its working harbor before winding your way along the rocky coastline on the M6 all the way to Noordhoek on the Atlantic Ocean.
Above: Chapmans Peak Drive in Cape Town, South Africa.
The road itself is a massive feat of modern engineering with constructed overhangs that have been put in place to deflect rockfalls.
Wherever your road trip takes you, these incredible routes offer epic adventures and views that will stay with you forever. Grab your keys and start exploring!