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. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in Africa

  • Cairo
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    Cairo

    #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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  • Victoria Falls
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    Victoria Falls

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Outdoorsy types travel far and wide to admire this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is roughly twice as deep and wide as Niagara Falls, making it one of the world's most impressive waterfalls. To see the natural wonder at its prime, plan a visit here in April when the area's rainy season has concluded. Popular vantage points include the Knife-Edge Bridge, Livingstone Island and Devil's Pool. When you're not enjoying the view from above, go swimming or whitewater rafting in the Zambezi River to admire the falls from a different angle.

  • Zanzibar
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    Zanzibar

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Zanzibar offers something for everyone, whether you're in search of beautiful beaches or an unforgettable adventure. After trekking to this Indian Ocean destination off of the eastern coast of Africa, you'll instantly feel at ease as you lounge on quiet beaches like Matemwe and Pongwe. Once you've gotten your fill of the archipelago's beaches, visit Zanzibar City's UNESCO World Heritage-listed Stone Town, where you'll find the ruins of a 15th-century palace and a graveyard with ties to Zanzibar's former Arab royals. No trip would be complete without taking a spice tour in the countryside and exploring Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park.

  • Tanzania
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    Tanzania

    #5 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 tallest mountain in Africa. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, book a climbing excursion up the continent's famous mountain through a local tour operator.

  • Serengeti National Park
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    Serengeti National Park

    #6 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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  • Mauritius
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    Mauritius

    #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.

  • Kruger National Park
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    Kruger National Park

    #8 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 encounter hordes of 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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    Seychelles

    #9 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 save up and book in advance.

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  • Marrakech
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    Marrakech

    #10 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 relax. During your visit, keep an ear out to hear the striking tones of the nearby mosques' calls to prayer.

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  • Masai Mara National Reserve
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    Masai Mara National Reserve

    #11 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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    Madagascar

    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

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

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  • Malawi
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    Malawi

    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Despite its small size and landlocked location in southeastern Africa, Malawi draws visitors with its gorgeous lake, diverse wildlife and friendly people. At Lake Malawi, Africa's third-largest lake, travelers can enjoy water sports activities like kayaking and sailing, soak up some sun on a white sand beach or dive beneath the lake's surface to look for colorful cichlid fish. The tiny country also features nine national parks and wildlife reserves, making it an excellent, less-crowded option for a safari. For the best wildlife viewing, arrive during the dry season, which lasts from April to November.

  • Namibia
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    Namibia

    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Africa

    Otherworldly landscapes await you in postcard-worthy Namibia. In this southern African country, you'll discover the eerily beautiful Namib (the world's oldest desert), plus animal-filled national parks and beaches overlooking shipwreck-filled waters. When you're not exploring the striking red dunes of Sossusvlei or the dead camel thorn tree-filled Deadvlei – both of which can be found in the Namib – look for rhinos in Etosha National Park and enjoy an off-road tour of the Skeleton Coast. Also save time for experiencing the European flair found in Namibia's former colonial towns, such as Lüderitz and Swakopmund.

  • Luxor
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    Luxor

    #15 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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