Best Places to Visit in Africa

Africa may not always register on the average traveler's radar, but those who visit have the chance to experience the perfect blend of ancient and modern, of wild and urban, of East and West. To help you start planning your adventure, U.S. News ranked the best places to visit in Africa based on accessibility, affordability and variety of things to do, as well as user votes and expert opinions. Help us choose next year's top spots by voting for your favorite destinations below.


Best Places to Visit in Africa

  • Cairo
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    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Cairo can be overwhelming, as there's so much to see and do everywhere you turn. From Islamic Cairo's bustling Khan El-Khalili bazaar to the ancient Pyramids of Giza to the picturesque Nile River, you'll be immersed in this Egyptian city's history and culture before long. Though winter offers the most pleasant weather of the year (think: daytime temps in the upper 60s), it's also the busiest season, so consider visiting in spring or fall when room rates are lower and attraction crowds thin out.

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  • Cape Town
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    Cape Town

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    With numerous hiking trails, miles of dramatic scenery and stunning beaches (including one with wild penguins), Cape Town caters to both adventurous types and laid-back travelers. Getting here won't be cheap, but it is possible to find convenient, budget-friendly lodging. Make sure you take the aerial cableway up Table Mountain, visit Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island, explore the world-renowned Constantia Valley wine region and attend one of the city's many festivals.

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  • Serengeti National Park
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    Serengeti National Park

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    If you're enamored with the prospect of coming face to face with elephants, giraffes, zebras and wildebeest, then a safari through Tanzania's Serengeti National Park is the adventure for you. The price will be steep, but a journey here affords an unforgettable experience. To save some coin, book one of the park's campgrounds instead of staying at a high-end safari lodge. Plan on arriving in January, February or between June and September for the best game-viewing conditions.

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  • Tanzania
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    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Most tourists head to Tanzania to go on safari, but you'd be remiss if you didn't save time for seeing the country's other treasures. In addition to its animal-filled plains, Tanzania boasts otherworldly natural wonders, including red-hued Lake Natron, Ngorongoro Conservation Area's expansive crater and Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, book a climbing excursion up the continent's famous mountain through a local tour operator.

  • Kruger National Park
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    Kruger National Park

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    You'll certainly spot plenty of animals, ranging from lions to rhinos to elephants to giraffes, in this massive South African game preserve. Plus, the park's network of paved roads makes it easier to navigate than Serengeti, but its popularity – especially from April to September (the best months for wildlife viewing) – means you're more likely to rub elbows with other visitors during game drives and at in-park accommodations. To ensure lodging, flight and tour availability, finalize your trip plans at least a year in advance.

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  • Seychelles
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    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    A grouping of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles has long attracted those looking for a truly relaxing getaway. Spend your days lounging on pristine, crowd-free beaches like Anse Volbert and Anse Lazio. Or, head deep into the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai nature reserve to gaze at its unique flora and fauna. Keep in mind that lodging here is expensive (especially at the luxury resorts), so it's best to book in advance.

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  • Mauritius
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    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Mauritius appeals to vacationers in search of a bit of everything. Though its main draws are its powdery sands and luxe resorts, this small island nation east of Madagascar equally charms visitors with its French colonial architecture, friendly locals and tasty teas and rums. After a day of exploring and soaking up some sun, retreat to one of the island's premier properties to savor fresh seafood while watching a traditional sega dance performance or the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

  • Luxor
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    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Cairo's pyramids may steal most of the spotlight, but ancient Egypt aficionados know not to overlook Luxor. Perhaps the most pressing reason to visit this UNESCO World Heritage city is to tour the Valley of the Kings, where at least 63 ancient pharaohs – including King Tut – are entombed. Many monuments and tombs found here date back to the 14th century B.C., including must-see sites like the Temple of Luxor and the Colossi of Memnon.

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  • Masai Mara National Reserve
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    Masai Mara National Reserve

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Home to cheetahs, elephants, lions, wildebeest, hippos and more, Masai Mara National Reserve is one of Kenya's premier spots to see wildlife. Sign up for a safari to explore this protected area's 371,200 acres of rolling grasslands. For an extra dose of adventure, opt for a horseback or hot air balloon safari. To increase your chances of spotting the big five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes) and other migrating animals, time your visit between July and October.

  • Madagascar
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    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    The habitat on the island of Madagascar is unlike any other in the world. Best of all, most of the landscape is unspoiled, giving visitors a chance to see animals in their natural environment. Make sure to grab a shot of the signature animal: the lemur. Madagascar is home to more than 100 species of these creatures, as well as 19,000 kinds of plants. Some of the best places to see wild lemurs include Isalo National Park and Lokobe National Park.

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  • Fez
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    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    If you want to immerse yourself in culture while visiting Africa, consider vacationing in Morocco's oldest imperial city: Fez. As you wander the narrow streets of the Medina of Fez (the ninth-century section of town), you'll discover vendors selling colorful wares and aromatic spices, as well as the oldest university in the world – the University of al-Qarawiyyin. The historic city offers a vibrant atmosphere year-round, but those who love music should aim to arrive in May during the Sacred Music Festival.

  • Marrakech
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    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Like other historic Moroccan cities, Marrakech buzzes with life: Performers vie for your attention in Jemaa El Fna (an open-air square in the heart of the Medina of Marrakesh) while vendors hawk aromatic spices, homemade textiles, ornate lanterns and more at the bazaars along the alleyways. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, unwind at a hammam or head to a bar and listen to the striking tones of the nearby mosques' calls to prayer.

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  • Botswana
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    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Adventurous travelers who dream of spending their vacation surrounded by nature will love visiting Botswana. A less-crowded alternative to nearby safari destinations like South Africa and Tanzania, Botswana offers ample opportunities to spot rhinos, elephants and more in protected areas like Khama Rhino Sanctuary and Chobe National Park. Plus, adrenaline junkies can participate in all kinds of heart-pumping activities, including quad biking, mokoro (canoe) safaris and helicopter rides.

  • Alexandria, Egypt
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    Alexandria, Egypt

    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Few African cities offer as much historical significance as Alexandria. Founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great, this Egyptian port city once featured the famous Library of Alexandria and the towering Pharos lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although both sites no longer exist, travelers can still get a dose of Alexandria's former glory at the ancient Roman Theatre. No visit would be complete without checking out newer relics like Qaitbey Fort and Abu Al-Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque.

  • Addis Ababa
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    Addis Ababa

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Ethiopia's capital and largest city may not feature the beautiful architecture and sprawling animal sanctuaries found in other top African vacation spots, but its world-renowned cuisine and top-notch museums more than justify a visit. Educate yourself about Ethiopia's rich culture and history at the Ethnological Museum and the "Red Terror" Martyrs' Memorial Museum before sitting down for a traditional, utensil-free meal at a local restaurant. Don't forget to save time for a daytrip to Debre Libanos, one of the country's holiest sites.

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