One of the reasons why South Africa has grown as a tourist destination is because it continually defies our perceptions and exceeds our expectations. What would you expect of the nightlife in this region? Wild game and nocturnal animals criss-crossing the savannah? Stars as far as the eyes can see in a black velvet sky? While this is the nightlife you will find in the bush, African cities, including Cape Town and Johannesburg, offer other venues for visitors. Bars, clubs, restaurants, and live music invite tourists to partake in a very different side of South Africa. What can you expect from a region that is always full of surprises?

If you are looking for the city that never sleeps, look farther than New York; all the way to Johannesburg. Its bars, pubs, and clubs are open until the early hours of the morning, and you can find both live and DJ’d music options to dance the night away. Try the trendy Movida, where Moulin Rouge meets South Africa. Its opulent décor is the backdrop for full-throttle parties and private VIP lounges. If the upscale, older clientele is not your scene, don’t worry. You can skip over to St. Tropez for a younger crowd, cheaper drinks, and even louder music. From bohemian to R&B to jazz, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Cape Town is home to a host of excellent, upscale options. If you are among the elite jet set, this is your crowd. And if not, you can play at it by visiting the gorgeous St. Yves Beach Club. Sun bathe by day, and by night, enjoy cold cocktails and dancing. Incredible views are an added bonus. Venues like La Med and the Bascule Whiskey Bar and Wine Cellar offer impeccable service and a mellow atmosphere.

Port Elizabeth has earned the nickname “the Friendly City,” and you will see why when you experience its great nightlife. Dance at Aqua, a gay club that is welcoming to all, and enjoy in-house DJs, drinks, and dancing. News Café and 9 Yards are two more hotspots to check out.