One of the best ways to get under the skin of a place is to taste and smell the many dishes and drinks that are prepared with love by its people. South Africa is a wonderful country in which to do just that. South Africans are passionate about their food and wine, and for good reason – it's a delicious expression of their vibrant culture. If you’re keen to experience the best the country has to offer, its vineyards, restaurants, streets and braais offer mouth-watering insight into its beating heart.

That’s my cue

South Africa is a lively, diverse country united through its love of all things grilled to perfection on a smoking hot braai. Braai, which means both “grill” and “to grill” is really much more than that. It’s a bit like a church, woven into the culture as a place for people from all walks of life to gather and bask in the glory of something great. Shisa nyama, which literally means ‘burnt meat’ in Zulu, is often the soul of the townships, where people assemble to enjoy the enticing smokiness of braai, often washed down with an ice-cold beer.

Street eats

Like the best food countries, South Africa is a tapestry of different cultures, settlers and traders, spanning from its indigenous San and Khoekhoe peoples to the Zulu, as well as later residents such as the Dutch and English. Its Indian population has left a big impression on South Africa’s street food, many of which have become widely appreciated around the globe, ranging from bunny chow and biltong to boerewors and ​​Jhonny’s Roti. Whether you’re perusing the spice markets in Durban, kicking back in the chilled pubs of Clarens or enjoying the legendary vibes of Mahboneng in Joburg, you’re sure to delight the senses.

Diners at a brai in South Africa

Grape expectations

South Africa is the first wine-producing country of the New World, with a robust tradition of winemaking that goes back to 1655 and a fertile terroir that has been celebrated as one of the world’s best for decades. There are a vast amount of vineyards that can be found sweeping across South Africa’s expansive valleys, but the Western Cape Region in general and the areas of Stellenbosch, Elgin, Paarl, Constantia, Breede River and Franschhoek Valley have become the stuff of legend amongst wine aficionados for their pioneering approach to full-bodied varietals such as chardonnay, chenin blanc, cabernet sauvignon and syrah as well as lesser-known grapes such as cinsault and pinotage.

Roots manoeuvre

Take a different tack to exploring South Africa’s wonderful vineyards. A plethora of new and exciting tours offer travellers the opportunity to experience the country’s viticulture from new and exciting perspectives. The fit and outdoorsy may want to hike through wine country or cycle its scenic roads. Equestrians are catered for with horse riding tours. For those interested in getting a bird’s eye view, take to the skies in a hot air balloon or helicopter tour. Whichever way you decide, South Africa has plenty of tour operators on tap.