- For football fans the world over, the greatest show on earth is just a few months away. With the groups now decided, the tension, emotion and dreams of glory can really begin. Thousands of loyal followers will descend on South Africa in the hope that their team will lift the trophy on July 11th in Johannesburg. The race to secure accommodation for the duration of the tournament has also started. To help out loyal football fans, we’ve put together the lowdown on the to host cities...
Boasting a truly breathtaking setting, Cape Town is South Africa’s most amazing city. This is thanks to the city’s location on Camp’s Bay, its numerous beaches on both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and of course the backdrop of the famous Table Mountain. It is widely known as ‘Mother City’, it is also South Africa’s most important city and is home to the country’s parliament. Other attractions include the World-Heritage listed Robben Island which was home to the infamous prison and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront development with its shops and restaurants.
Famous as a gold rush settlement (approximately 40% of the world’s gold has been produced here), Johannesburg (or Jo’burg as it is more commonly known), may be widely regarded as South Africa’s second city, but this is where the final of the World Cup will take place. Sometimes regarded as a dangerous city, it has much to offer and sights include the Apartheid Museum, Lesedi Cultural Village and the famous township ‘Soweto’. If your team has qualified for this year’s finals chances are you will need to visit ‘Jo’Burg’ as two of the host venues are located there.
DurbanDurban is extremely popular with backpackers travelling around South Africa for many reasons. One of these is its long golden beaches. This city on the Indian Ocean’s side of South Africa’s coast is a mecca with surfers hoping to catch that perfect wave. The most famous stretch of sand is known as the Golden Mile and here, along with golden sand and crashing waves, you can enjoy the city’s aquarium, a host of restaurants suiting all budgets and tastes and much more. Other reasons this city are so popular are the café culture (the pavements are crammed with them) and the Indian Quarter.
Found along the banks of the Crocodile River, and capital of the Mpumalanga Province, Nelspruit is one of the smaller destinations for the World Cup and is being used solely for the group stages. Home to over 200,000 people, it was founded back in 1905 by the ‘Nel brothers’, a family who grazed their cattle in the area during the winter months. Extremely popular with travellers going to Kruger National Park as well as Mozambique, those who stay here before moving on enjoy the sub-tropical climate, the botanical gardens and the surrounding hills.
Mention Pretoria to a South African and the thoughts of it won’t really ‘float their boat’. This is South Africa’s administrative and de facto capital. It’s also a relatively laid-back city but this is the makings of the perfect city to relax in before seeing your beloved team take to the pitch of the city’s Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Also known as Tshwane, attractions here include Church Square, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa and Freedom Park. And when dining at night, if you want to try the local specialities opt for ‘Mogodu’ which is a type of tripe and Maotwana, a way of cooking chicken.
Boasting a very enviable location at the foothills of South Africa’s famous Magaliesburg Mountains, Rustenburg is home to World Cup’s smallest stadium which seats a modest 42,000 people. If you’re travelling to Mexico, Uruguay, England, USA, Ghana, Australia, Denmark or a host of other cities, you may be travelling there to see your team play. What else is to do in Rustenburg other than see your country play? The Rustenburg Nature Reserve is nearby, as is the Pilanesberg National Park. And if reserves aren’t your thing, you’ll enjoy the traditional taverns in the city.
Located at the end of South Africa’s famous Garden Route, Port Elizabeth is known for its stunning location on Algoa Bay, pleasant climate and sandy beaches. It is the country’s second largest country in terms of area, but fifth when it comes to population – approximately 1.1 million people call it home. It is a city with a lot of history and one of the major attractions here is the Donkin Heritage Trail which is a 5 kilometre trail that follows in the footsteps of the 1820 settlers. Along this route there are no fewer than 47 historical sites. The city also has a waterfront to rival that of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.