For a country in the sunny Southern Hemisphere, South Africa sure has an abundance of idyllic winter destinations to suit every type of traveller. We’ve delved into our data to find out which of our destinations our guests frequent most during the winter season, as well as a few of our own favourites. We’ve divided them into neat categories to make it easier for you to pick and choose your ideal winter holiday!

Escape the cold ─ beach and spa stays

Whereas many people prefer cosying up in front of the fire, others prefer to totally escape the cold and spend their time soaking up some sun on the South Coast or spend some time relaxing in a hot spring. Luckily there’s no shortage of these kinds of stays!

When it comes to hot springs and spa stays, Bela-Bela, Sun City and the various ATKV Spa Resorts across the country seem to be the most popular. The majority of them are family friendly and offer loads of opportunities for travellers of all ages. If you’re not travelling with kids, rather book your holiday before or after the school holidays as it may become a bit crowded during peak times.

The coast of KwaZulu-Natal, and especially the South Coast, features in the top ten throughout the year as sun worshippers flock to its long sandy Blue Flag beaches to bask in the subtropical sunshine. Besides the idyllic weather, the area also boasts a myriad of attractions and events to keep the whole family entertained ─ uShaka Marine World, Oribi Gorge and Splash Waterworld to mention a few! Visitors can expect a huge variety of adventure activities suitable for everyone from mild to wild, agri tours (banana farms, coffee farms, crocodile farms, butterfly farms), ocean safaris and much, much more!

Events to look forward to:

  • Waterberg Traverse, ATKV Klein-Kariba (2-3 June 2018)
  • Badplaas Wild & Wyn Fees 2018, Badplaas (16 June 2018)
  • Sardine Run (June/July)
  • Shelly Beach Fishing Festival (4-7 July 2018)
  • Umtamvuna Sardine Festival (6-8 July 2018)
  • Sardine MTB Race & Trail Run (8 July 2018)
  • Durban July (Saturday, 7 July 2018)

Click on the links below to see and book winter specials in these top destinations!

Bela-Bela | Sun City | South Coast 

Hit the road ─ scenic stays along our best routes

What’s better than scenic drives along winding roads and fantastic scenery to top it all off? Everyone loves a good road trip, especially if the weather is not the best, so it was no surprise to see some of the country’s most famous routes feature among our top winter destinations.

It seems the most popular winter road trip destination is the picturesque Panorama Route with its quaint towns and jaw-dropping viewpoints! Go take an iconic snapshot of the Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window, The Pinnacle, Bourkes’ Luck Potholes and the many waterfalls along the way.

Some of our favourite recommendations for the ultimate winter road trip include the Midlands Meander with its rolling hills reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, welcoming towns, arts and crafts route, and a variety of foodie stops ─ perfect for a well-rounded family holiday!

The West Coast all the way up to Namibia is also frequented by many a road tripper and offers experiences rich in culture, adventure and natural wonder. Check out West Coast Way for advice on more specific routes.

Events to look forward to:

  • Bike SA Paradise Rally, Sabie (2-3 June 2018)
  • Wine Show at Hippo Hollow Restaurant, Hazyview (7 June 2018)
  • Comrades Marathon (10 June 2018)
  • Kruger2Canyon Challenge (13 July 2018)
  • Canimambo Free Form Music & Arts Festival, Graskop (13-15 July 2018)
  • Start of flower season on the West Coast (late July, start of August)
  • The Clover Tour, Graskop (5 tot 9 August 2018)
  • Mandela Day Marathon (26 August 2018)

Click on the links below to see and book winter specials in these top destinations!

Panorama Route | Midlands Meander | West Coast

Get the adrenaline pumping ─ adventure stays in the mountains

Who said you need a fireplace to warm you up during a winter getaway? It’s a well-known fact that winter is the best time to go hiking in South Africa thanks to the relatively mild winters in comparison with sizzling summers. That’s why some of our country’s most cherished mountain ranges are so popular during this time of year.

Although we have a pretty impressive repertoire of mountain ranges, the Drakensberg, Magaliesberg and Cederberg Mountains keep adventurers, and particularly hikers, coming back for more. These ranges all offer hikers the opportunity to explore authentic rockart, climb our highest peaks and fly from cliff to cliff on a canopy tour. After a day of adventure you can warm up next to the fireplace in your cosy mountainside cottage. What are you waiting for? Go tick Mafadi Peak and the Wolfberg Arch off your bucket list!

Events to look forward to:

  • Magalies Monster MTB Classic (2 June 2018)
  • Polar Bear Swim Challenge (23 June 2018)
  • Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens MTB & Trail Run (30 June – 1 July 2018)
  • Ride The Berg (30 June – 1 July 2018)
  • Magalies Rocks the Cradle (24-26 August 2018)

Click on the links below to see and book winter specials in these top destinations!

Drakensberg | Magaliesberg | Cederberg

Go searching for snow ─ stow away in stone cottages

Let’s be honest, some of us really just want a taste of that true white European winter, without actually having to sit on a plane for 10+ hours. Even though many of the top snow-capped destinations may require a 4×4, there is a handful of equally magical places to explore with a 2×4 and still see enough snow for a proper snowball fight!

Thanks to its towering peaks, the Drakensberg is both a fantastic hiking and snow destination and travellers tend to flock from all over once the first snow has fallen. Snow Report SA actually reported the first heavy snowfall on Sani Pass on 15 May 2018, so book a stay nearby before the snow melts away!

Clarens is by far one of the most popular winter, and specifically snow, destinations in South Africa. Thanks to its relatively central location and scenic surroundings, including Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the Maloti Mountains, the jewel of the Free State is a hot (pun intended) commodity when it comes to winter getaways. According to Snow Report, this region is always popular among snow seekers, even though snow isn’t always guaranteed. If you’re looking for a stone cottage, a cosy fireplace and a view of snow-capped mountains, you’ll find that and more in colourful Clarens.

If you truly want to experience a European-inspired winter holiday, Tiffindell Ski Resort outside Rhodes is the perfect winter wonderland! As South Africa’s only ski resort, it’s always a sought-after snow destination offering all the snow-related activities you can imagine ─ from snowboarding to toboggan, and even ski courses from June to August. Besides the resort itself, the surrounding towns like Rhodes and Barkly-East also often see snow in winter. Check out the accommodation options to find a cosy cottage in some of our top winter holiday towns.

Follow Snow Report SA for any updates on snowfall this season.

Events to look forward to:

  • Quilt in Clarens (26-30 June 2018)
  • Fouriesburg Polar Bear Challenge (7 July 2018)
  • Rhodes Run (7 July 2018)
  • Clarens Winter Series (14-15 July 2018)
  • Swiss National Day (3-4 August 2018)

Click on the links below to see and book winter specials in these top destinations!

Sani Pass | Clarens | Rhodes 

Get your game on ─ game reserve getaways

Game-viewing is known for being the perfect winter activity in South Africa, since it’s the dry season in the north where the most pristine game reserves are and animals tend to congregate around waterholes and rivers more often. Local and international visitors alike love to go on safari’s this time of year and because of that the Kruger National Park and surrounding parks are abuzz with families, couples and tour groups.

One park, in particular, that stands out for our guests is Marloth Park on the southern border of the Kruger in Mpumalanga ─ and why wouldn’t it? With no fences separating you from the resident game in this town, you can literally sit on your patio or balcony with your favourite drink in your hand while game like giraffe, buck and zebras casually stroll past you. The park is speckled with self-catering holiday houses that serve as the ideal base for day visitors to the Kruger and surrounding reserves.

Other well-known reserves in the Greater Kruger National Park include the Balule, Klaserie, Timbavati, Thorny Bush and Sabi Sand Game Reserves and they’re all also worth the visit ─ whether you’re looking for a simple self-catering stay or a luxurious safari lodge holiday!

Events to look forward to:

  • Safari Wines Annual Wine & Food Festival, Hoedspruit (9 June 2018)
  • Innibos Festival, Nelspruit (27-30 June 2018)
  • Komatipoort Prawn Festival (30 June – 1 July 2018)

Click on the links below to see and book winter specials in these top destinations!

Marloth ParkGreater Kruger National Park

Tips for a winter getaway

  1. If you can help it, try planning your trip outside the school holidays to avoid crowds.
  2. Keep an eye out for winter specials and lowered prices as winter might be a quieter time for some establishments.
  3. Try to find accommodation with a fireplace so you can cuddle up in front of it on chilly winter nights.
  4. Don’t only pack all your winter clothing: Winter weather in South Africa can vary from below 0 ºC to the mid 20’s, so you’ll have to either watch your weather app like a hawk or pack everything from a t-shirt to a thick parka, depending on where exactly you’re heading.
  5. If you’re planning a winter getaway to the Western Cape, pack a raincoat.
  6. If you’re heading north to the more temperate provinces, pack a hat and your sunscreen as day temperatures can easily reach up to 25 ºC even in the middle of winter.
  7. Waterproof shoes are a must if you’re going hunting for snow ─ no one likes a soggy shoe after a snowball fight!
  8. If you do end up travelling during the school holidays, book any activities or visits to popular attractions beforehand to avoid queues.

There’s no argument that winter is one of the best seasons to visit and explore South Africa. With so many idyllic winter destinations to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find your ideal winter getaway this season. Imagine your ideal type of holiday and use our guide to plan a dream winter break.

Feature image: Reedsdell Country Guest Farm