TOP 20 ATTRACTIONS AT SUN CITY
20 minute read08 Apr 2020
Take a Sun City shuttle to one of South Africa's most popular tourist destinations and discover the meaning of fun and fantasy. From surf and fun in the sun to adrenalin-filled days on quads and waterslides, leisurely game drives, sipping cocktails at a pool bar, long walks in exotic forests, a game of golf, trying your luck at the roulette table and partying the night way. There’s something for everyone at Sun City.
A day tour of Sun City with MoAfrika Tours offers visitors a taste of life at one of the most spectacular tourist destinations in South Africa. You’ll have to come back one day for more fun and fantasy. Sun City is a luxury resort and casino located in the North West Province of South Africa, just over two-hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Its close neighbour is the magnificent Pilanesberg Game Reserve so you can also enjoy a wildlife safari in between all the fun.
MoAfrika Tours have been taking tourists to Pilanesberg Game Reserve for many years, with professional safari guides who know the popular national reserve like it’s their second home. For a Sun City Day Tour, Moafrika Tours offers a service where you can be picked up at the Pilanesberg Airport or any hotel or guest lodge in the area and taken to Sun City for a fascinating tour of the resort and the architectural wonder of The Palace of the Lost City. You’ll have enough time to enjoy a refreshing swim in a crystal-clear pool surrounded by tropical gardens, enjoy a delicious meal and a colourful cocktail at one of the many resort restaurants or try your luck in the casino.
A Sun City Day Tour is just one of the many excursions you can enjoy with MoAfrika Tours. Others include a Johannesburg tour, a Soweto tour, a Kruger Safari tour and a Cape Winelands tour. MoAfrika Tours offers something for everyone; whether it’s history, culture or wildlife you’re interested in.
THE HISTORY OF SUN CITY
Sun City Resort & Casino and the breath-taking Palace of the Lost City were developed by a visionary hotel magnate, Sol Kerzner. It was opened in 1979 at a time in South Africa when gambling was strictly prohibited under rigid rule of the current government. The country was embroiled in the liberation struggle to free itself of the ruthless apartheid system; the United Nations had imposed a cultural boycott on South Africa and international artists refused to perform in the country. The South African people bore the brunt of draconian apartheid-rule; plunged into isolation on all fronts. Kerzner created what can only be described as a magical oasis in a fairly arid corner of an independent state, known then as Bophuthatswana.
Only a two-hour drive from the economic hub of Johannesburg, Sun City became an overnight success; attracting hundreds of tourists looking for a weekend of escape, fun and fantasy. Kerzner offered substantial financial incentives to international artists to perform at Sun City and the likes of the Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and Elton John performed to sold-out audiences in Sun City’s Superbowl auditorium. The resort also hosted racially-mixed world heavyweight boxing championships; the most famous being American Mike Weaver and challenger, South African Gerrie Coetzee.
Bophuthatswana was eventually re-incorporated into the new democratic South Africa in 1994 and the novelty of international performers, gambling and risqué entertainment has worn off somewhat. However, Sun City has a particular allure that keeps people coming back for more; it’s a place to escape where you can immerse yourself in a fantasy world not found anywhere else in South Africa.
THINGS TO DO IN SUN CITY
Play golf at Sun City Sun City has two 18-hole golf courses of international repute, both designed by South Africa’s most famous golfer, Gary Player. The Gary Player Country Club is best known for attraction the world’s leading golfers for the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Explore The Palace of the Lost City This incredible architectural marvel is one of the most fascinating and innovative attractions in the world. Created by a visionary hotel magnate, its design is inspired by the myth of a lost African kingdom. Attention has been paid to the minutest detail, leaving one with the impression that you have in fact encountered a mythical civilisation.
The Lost City is fabled to be the royal residence of an ancient king. Its regal status is evident in the cavernous proportions of the interior halls and rooms, the elegant towers and exterior with sculptural detail, mosaics and frescoes and a lush tropical setting complete with gurgling streams and gushing waterfalls. It has to be seen to be believed. It was officially opened to visitors with a taste for opulence in 1992. A tour of The Palace of the Lost City and its stunning surrounds with provide small insight into the work involved in creating the vision of a man renowned for his architectural brilliance and imagination.
Try your luck at the Sun City Casino The casino complex at Sun City is a world of glitz and glamour. The bright colourful lights and buzzing atmosphere make you feel like you’ve walked into a glowing rainbow. Sun City Casino was opened in 1979 at a time when gambling casinos were prohibited in South Africa and the complex still retains an air of freedom and fantasy. Sun City Casino has recently been refurbished and boasts the latest technology, with round-the-clock thrills for first-time gamers and the more dedicated gamblers. There are hundreds of exciting slot machines and over forty popular table games.
Watch a music concert at the Sun City Superbowl Sun City brings an astounding variety of performers to South Africa that play to packed audiences in the vast Superbowl. The auditorium has been re-invented in recent years offering action-packed shows and concerts of world class standards.
Eat out in Sun City Sun City offers guests a smorgasbord of choice when it comes to restaurants. Everything from Italian dishes to Oriental delights, fine dining and budget-friendly meals are available at Sun City. Grab a light lunch with the family or enjoy a long, leisurely dinner at one of the pool bars with friends; it’s up to you.
Shop at Sun City Indulge in some retail therapy with a choice of high-end boutiques, souvenir shops and book stores. While the kids are busy at Waterworld, indulge in some pampering me-time at the resort spas and beauty salons.
Fun times at Sun City The Magic Company at Sun Central provides kids and adults with a day packed full with fun and excitement. There’s everything from ten-pin bowling to arcade games, betting on horses or smashing plastic crocodiles. Catch a blockbuster movie at the cinema when all the excitement gets too much. Meet legends at the Sun City Hall of Fame Celebrate South Africa’s legends and learn more about our famous sports stars and talented artists. Stand among the men and women who overcame extreme obstacles to make a difference in the lives of all South Africans. The Hall of Fame at Sun City is a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition that showcases the achievements of South Africa’s much-loved legends.
Party at Sun City Action-packed days at Sun City are the best but the nightlife is even better. Dance the night away at a glitzy club, play a few games of pool, give karaoke a go or enjoy delicious cocktails at one of the many classy bars. Watch a live performance, catch a comedy show or slip away to the Gentleman’s Club for something different. Surfing at the Valley of the Waves Sol Kerzner brought the beach to Sun City, creating one of the most spectacular water parks in the world.
The Valley of the Waves is a whole-day’s entertainment with a selection of slides and rides for young and old. The main attraction is the Roaring Lagoon; an enormous wave pool with hydraulic mechanisms that generate waves nearly 2-metres high every 90 seconds. The brave ones love the Temple of Courage with a 17-metre drop down a 70-metre slide and the more sedate amongst us prefer a lazy tube ride on the Lazy River. There are crazy body and tube slides called the Tarantula, the Scorpion, the Viper and the Mamba - you get the picture.
Take a dip in the Royal Baths at The Palace of the Sun City The private pool at the Palace is reserved for adults only. It’s the perfect place to unwind, away from the happy noise and bustle of Sun Central. Each Sun City hotel has a beautiful pool but they are for the private use of hotel guests.
Explore The Maze at The Palace of the Lost City This is the largest permanent maze in the southern hemisphere and huge fun for families, teambuilding and corporate functions. It has been constructed from artificial stone and wood, creating the fantasy of walking through an ancient archaeological site. The Maze of the Lost City covers a half-acre and offers spectacular views of the resort and its exotic surrounds. You enter The Maze via a 100-metre-long suspension bridge from Sun Central. At the end of your walk, enjoy an ice-cold craft beer or soft-drink at the Maze Bar. When night falls, flaming torches light the paths along the chambers.
Outdoor adventures at Sun City Thrill-seekers have the choice of many adrenaline-fueled adventures at Sun City. The resort has partnered with Adrenaline Extreme and Mankwe Gametrackers to cater for everyone’s adrenaline fix; from a range of water sports on the massive resort lake to the world’s fastest zip-slide. A trip to Mankwe Gametrackers Outdoor Adventure Centre includes a mini-wildlife safari, quad-bike riding, a hot air balloon safari and mini-golf. Try your hand at archery or join a drum circle. Take time to visit the rhino enclosure where you can meet some of the resident rhinos and learn more about the sad plight of rampant poaching.
Stroll through the beautiful gardens of Sun City Sometimes all you need is a leisurely stroll around a lush, beautiful garden to restore your soul. Kerzner created a magical oasis at Sun City with heavily-wooded forests, trickling streams and gushing waterfalls. The gardens of Sun City are particularly special considering the area is quite arid and most of the plants are not endemic to the region. Establishing the Sun City gardens was an epic project but what you get today is a unique biosphere that attracts a wide array of birds and creatures that have made the exotic gardens their home.
See the Big 5 at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve The Pilanesberg Game Reserve borders the Sun City Resort and is a short drive away from the main complex. Book a wildlife safari tour with MoAfrika Tours for an exciting tour of South Africa’s third largest game reserves. A knowledgeable safari guide will take you around Pilanesberg Game Reserve pointing out fascinating features and facts while on the lookout for lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, rhinos and leopards. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is renowned for its spectacular scenery, abundance of antelope and prolific birdlife so it’ll be an exciting day for the whole family.
Feed crocodiles at Kwena Gardens at Sun City The Kwena Gardens Crocodile Sanctuary is not only a fun outing for the whole family but also highly educational. A tour of the crocodile enclosures lets you get up close and personal with some of the largest crocodiles in southern Africa. You’ll have a chance to feed the babies and take a few family snaps with them.
Get married at Sun City The Windchime Wedding Chapel is situated on the Baobab Trail in the Lost City gardens and offers couples the most perfect venue for a wedding. Celebrate your nuptials with either an intimate dinner at one of the fine-dining restaurants or throw a big party in one of the large banquet halls. Mountain biking at Sun City Bring your bicycle with you on a holiday at Sun City and enjoy a leisurely ride around the massive property or tackle one of Sun City’s mountain bike trails. It’s fun for the youngsters and the trails are challenging for the more experienced riders.
Play tennis Sun City has 11 tennis courts built to international standards. They are situated in the lush gardens below the Cascades Hotel in spectacular surrounds and five courts are floodlit. Adrenalin-filled day at Sun City Waterworld Sun City created an exciting venue for outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers. What do you want to do? Water-skiing lessons with a pro, riding the water snake or tandem para-sailing? Waterworld is nestled in a valley surrounded by beautiful hills; the view is spectacular when you get air-borne.
Birdwatching at Sun City The man-made jungle surrounding The Palace of the Lost City is home to an incredible array of birds. Some 190 species can be spotted; ranging from the African sacred ibis, Egyptian geese and whistling ducks. The smaller indigenous species include finches, waxbills, bronze manikins and paradise flycatchers. You’ll also find many species from around the world, including robins from China and screeching parrots from the Far East. Kerzner’s dream garden was created by bringing in an exotic mix of over 1.6 million plants, trees, shrubs and ground covers. Some are indigenous but many were sourced from across the globe, including species from Australia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar and the Comores.
Trees that attract prolific birdlife are the cornerstone of the garden design and the lush undergrowth is home to an array of small creatures that seek protection in its shady interior. To preserve water, the landscapers concentrated on plant species that are water-friendly. At the heart of the jungle is a gorgeous rain forest which is shrouded in a cloak of mist and mystique. Forty-metre tall trees tower over the forest floor and tens of thousands of orchids dangle delicately from their boughs. It’s a spectacular way to end a busy day at Sun City.
WHERE TO EAT AT SUN CITY
Whatever grabs your culinary fancy, you’ll find a restaurant at Sun City dishing it up. There’s something for everyone; from fine dining to family-friendly restaurants, fast-food outlets and themed cocktail bars. You definitely don’t go hungry in Sun City. The food court at Sun Central offers family-friendly options catering for South Africans on a tighter budget. More exotic options are available if you are a paying guest at one of the hotels.
Cabanas Pool Bar at Sun City This is a favourite spot for hotel residents. It’s open every day and serves tasty light meals and delicious cocktails to guests spending a lazy day lounging around the crystal-clear pool. A fun waterslide at the Cabanas pool keeps kids busy while you can enjoy a good book. Treasure Island Snack Bar at Cabanas Hotel Enjoy a delicious meal while soaking up the sun on the pool deck. It’s the perfect place to break a day of fun at the Sun City Waterworld.
Harlequins at Soho Hotel Refreshing cocktails and fancy bar meals make Harlequins a favourite restaurant in Sun City for the hipster crowd. The atmosphere is classy and decadent. Luma Bar & Lounge at Cascades Hotel For a light lunch or a leisurely evening at sundowners, the Luma Bar & Lounge at the Cascades Hotel is the perfect restaurant in Sun City if you need a calm respite from a busy day. It’s renowned for its outstanding coffee and selection of fine wines and whiskey.
Tusk Bar & Lounge at The Palace of the Lost City Escape to a fantasy world and enjoy safari-themed cocktails in an exotic setting. The Tusk Bar & Lounge is set in a spectacular setting that transports guests back in time, stirring up memories of days gone by. The Maze Bar at Sun City Resort This popular establishment at the main Sun City entertainment complex offers a selection of the finest local craft beers aswell as the best of South Africa’s wines. The Maze Bar is located at the end of the Maze Walk and has an incredible view, overlooking the lush gardens of Sun City and the hazy mountains in the distance.
PLACES TO STAY IN SUN CITY
Visitors have many options for accommodation at Sun City. There are four stunning hotels; all designed to the highest architectural standards with fantasy themes and mystical garden surrounds. The Sun City Vacation Club was created by converting the original staff accommodation into luxury chalets that are sold on a timeshare scheme. The Sun City Vacation Club has its own heated pool, mini golf course and restaurant with half-hourly shuttles ferrying visitors to the popular attractions at Sun City.
Soho Hotel Soho Hotel in Sun City was the first hotel built in Sun City and is often called the main hotel. It offers guest 4-star accommodation in the heart of the resort. The beautifully decorated hotel is set in a lush tropical garden, providing an idyllic setting despite being so central to the busy casino and entertainment complex. Cascades Hotel Cascades Hotel in Sun City is a magnificent hotel, named for the spectacular waterfalls and crystal-clear natural pools that create a fantasy moat around the hotel. It offers 5-star accommodation and an array of facilities in the calm midst of Sun City.
The Cabanas The Cabanas at Sun City is situated on the banks of the Sun City Waterworld Lake, offering guests a contemporary twist and a delightful base to explore the natural wonders of the resort. Enjoy delicious meals and fancy cocktails in a vibrant island-style setting, surrounded by lush tropical gardens and rolling lawns. The hotel is positioned next to a world-class golf course at Sun City and you can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lush course when the golfers have retired to the 19th hole.
The Palace of the Lost City The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City is an architectural wonder and part of Sun International’s premier collection. The fantasy regal Palace offers guests an experience that is both breath-taking and surreal. The 5-star hotel is designed around the theme of a mythical lost palace; with intricately-painted ceilings, mosaic artwork and African-styled décor. It is set in an exotic setting, with each luxurious room overlooking a magical pool and the lush tropical surrounds.
FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE PALACE OF THE LOST CITY
Construction began in August 1990 and was completed within 28 months. This is a remarkably short period of time for a project of such breadth and complexity. At the height of construction, 5 000 people worked on the project. Almost 2 million cubic metres of earth was moved from the site and some 85 000 cubic metres of concrete were used to create the fantasy city. The Palace exteriors are influenced by Africa’s abundance of wildlife.
Every corner of the building pays homage to our magnificent animals with moulded towers topped by palm-frond domes, while elephant tusks and wildlife carvings adorn the exterior. Six elephant tusks arch in pairs over the Tusk Lounge & Bar, made from Indonesian Square wood which is heavier than ivory. The atrium is dominated by a life-size bronze of Shawu, one of Africa’s most famous elephants. The Big Tusker’s realistic form is bought to life in the leathery texture of its skin, ragged ears and cracked feet. Shawu towers 4.5 metres off the polished floor surface and is one of the most photographed animal sculptures in the world. The grand interior befits a royal palace with a domed roof enhanced with serpentine paintings and floors that shine with textures of intricate mosaics. The rich detail in the décor belies the fact that everything was sourced locally; one imagines that the stylish pieces were brought in from some exotic country.
Everything in the mythical royal kingdom was hand-crafted by local artisans. Hand-carved furniture and décor items are used throughout the hotel with the most impressive décor feature being the massive 8-high doors at the royal entrance. The carpets were custom-designed exclusively for the hotel; hand-crafted specifically to Sol Kerzner’s exact standards. The ceiling dome of the royal entrance chamber is an architectural feat. It rises 25 metres above floor level, measures 16 metres in diameter and is held aloft by six sculptured columns. The domed roof in the Crystal Court was a major architectural challenge, spanning 29 metres and supporting five floors of suites above it. The floor of the entrance lobby is bedecked with intricate mosaics comprised of 38 different shades. Each individual mosaic was laid by hand, creating a design of a lush forest floor surrounded by six African animals. The outer circle is an intricate design of circles of zebra stripes.
The concierge desk was hand-carved from sapele pommele with tops of rosa Verona and quagga marble. The painted ceiling of the cavernous Royal Entrance Chamber was created in the same way Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in Rome. It took talented artists some 5 000 hours to create the regal masterpiece. The King’s Tower stands at 70 metres above floor level and is the tallest of the ten Palace towers. Guests can enjoy views of the crystal-clear pool below, the lush ornamental forest and the rocky surrounds that envelop the magical oasis. The King’s Suite is the epitome of regal opulence. The walls are hand-carved from maple wood and every item in the room is custom-designed and crafted by hand. There are two enormous bedrooms in the suite, each with a king-sized bed, a sitting area, armoire and an opulent en-suite bedroom. There is also a small library in the suite, a guest powder room, a sauna and a butler’s pantry.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SUN CITY
Sun City enjoys a tropical climate and the weather is generally pleasant all year round. Deciding when you want to visit Sun City depends on what you want to do and if you want to avoid the crowds. The North West Province of South Africa is a summer rainfall region but it is located in a region that experiences lower-than-average rainfall. When it rains, it’s usually for a short period of time and it’s usually appreciated as a brief respite from the hot weather.
Summer months: October to March The days are usually hot and bathed in sunlight with sporadic rainfall. Overseas visitors might say the temperatures are scorching in peak summer but all the Sun City hotels and facilities are air-conditioned so there is always somewhere to go mid-day to escape the heat. Of course, the stunning pools and beach are perfect for a refreshing swim.
Winter months: May to August The days are usually pleasantly warm and mild but it can get quite nippy at night. This is the best time for game viewing if you plan to visit the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and there are a number of pools at the Sun City Resort that are heated.
Spring (April/May) and Autumn (Sept/Oct): This is a pleasant time to visit Sun City as the days are not too hot and the nights not too cold. Autumn is an excellent time for game viewing at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve as the animals drop their young after the cold winter months and the migratory birds have arrived in their hundreds.
Peak season: South African holiday-makers descend en-mass to Sun City during the school holiday breaks. The busiest times are December/January and March/April. You can check the local calendars for the annual South African school holiday breaks and plan your trip to Sun City around its busy season.