Do you want to go on a winter weekend getaway? Do you prefer to hug winter with both jersey-covered arms hoping to see some snow or do you opt to escape its cool claws?
There is no time like the present to make a plan and your options are endless in South Africa.
I don’t mind the cold and will never try to shy away or escape its chills (however, I have learnt my lesson staying in a tent mid-winter in Somerset East, click here to watch the video).
Some of my favourite winter weekend getaway destinations include, Hogsback where the misty mountain scenery, small unique shops and restaurants and fireplaces keep you company, or Gamkaskloof, a secluded destination tucked away in the Swartberg Mountains, where you are completely off the grid and not even Google can tell you the weather forecast.
A few seasoned and passionate travellers from all over South Africa shared their favourite winter weekend getaway destinations – from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo – and here are a dozen plus one suggestions of where you can go for chilled weekend.
13 Ideas for a Winter Weekend Getaway
North West – Sun City & Pilanesberg
Benoni based coffee-fueled blogger, creative, and foodie shares, “Surprisingly my favourite winter getaway is Sun City vacation club. It trumped a few of the other options I was considering because it’s family-friendly, the weather is great, the usual crowds are in hiding, it’s right next door to a national park, Pilanesberg, and it’s close enough to home so it’s the perfect pick for a quick weekend getaway.”
Limpopo & Mpumalanga – Kruger National Park
The Dirsuwei family from Port Elizabeth says, “Although we do love snuggling up in front of a fireplace with a mug of steaming hot chocolate, it’s the sun and temperatures over the twenties that truly make us happy. So, our family’s firm favourite place for a winter getaway is the Kruger National Park – we get to wear T-shirts and soak up the sun while enjoying magnificent game viewing as the bush is thin and the animals congregate around the water sources. Read more about it, here.”
Western Cape – Riebeek Kasteel
Avid small town explorer, Stephanie, recommends, “Riebeek Kasteel is an ideal winter getaway destination merely for the many unique cafes, restaurants, quirky stores and cellars to visit. And, it’s only about a two-hour drive from Cape Town. Because it is an olive and wine region and many flock to the town during summer, it’s actually a town that’s more enjoyable during winter too. Read more about it here.”
Eastern Cape – Jeffreys Bay
Environmentalists and husband and wife team, Daniel and Jordan, says, “Jeffreys Bay may seem like an unexpected choice for a winter getaway but it’s truly one of the best times to visit. Winterfest is held every July and hosts one of the biggest global surf competitions, the Corona Open JBay. The waves are pumping, the surfers are ‘frothing’, and the town warmly welcomes visitors. Besides watching the surf competition, other activities include eating (seriously, try the amazing local restaurants) and a visit to the shell museum. Read more about it here.”
Western Cape – Mossel Bay
Vegan travel blogger, who is from Germany but lives in Cape Town, suggests, “One of my favourite winter weekend getaway destinations in South Africa is Mossel Bay and surrounds. This small coastal town situated on the verdant Garden Route isn’t too far away from Cape Town and the list of activities is endless. How about learning more about coffee roasting, enjoying a port and chocolate tasting, indulging in a vintage high tea, getting a glimpse of Africa’s famous beasts in one of the surrounding game reserves, taking long beach walks to escape the stress of the modern world, not forgetting making your own gin at the gin school in Mossel Bay. This is the place to rejuvenate body, mind and soul. Read more about it here.”
Western Cape – Koue Bokkeveld
Cape Town based travel blogger, Gaynor, and her family is not scared of the cold season and suggests to dive into winter, “We’ve found Kaleo Guest Farm in the Koue Bokkeveld to be a great option for winter getaways. Trust me, the area doesn’t have the word ‘cold’ in it for nothing! The cottages are warm, cosy and very well equipped for family stays. Read more about it here.”
Western & Eastern Cape – Klein Karoo
Rose, an avid adventurer, says, “I head out to where the Klein Karoo edges along the folded mountain ranges, where it skirts the open arid “bossie” veld. This where I throw a backpack over my shoulder, explore the scattered rock formations of the deeply cut kloofs in Rooiberg and soak up the cool dry air next to a fire, listening to the call of a jackal in the far distance. This is my escapism, this is my soul food. Read more about it here.”
KwaZulu-Natal – Umzumbe (Mantis & Moon)
KZN based traveller, Cee, knows just how to plan a weekend getaway on the South Coast and suggests, “My favorite winter destination has to be my jungle oasis: Mantis & Moon. I have been going back and forth to what is now my second home, for almost 5 years, and it is as amazing every single time. Mantis & Moon is on the Umzumbe, South Coast in KwaZulu-Natal. With accommodation catering to everyone from private en suite rooms, to dorm beds and teepees under the jungle roof. A lively bar and games area, with a pool for the hot days and a Jacuzzi for those winter evenings, it is the perfect stop. You can have breakfast and dinner on site at Jax’s Restaurant and then walk 5 minutes down the road to the local Blue Flag beach. Surf lessons are available with surf legend, Andrew Lange, also known as Roosta, and if you’d rather be on it, than in it, there is also a River Barge, Booze Cruise available on selected days. Before you leave, be sure to rejuvenate with a yoga class and get to know other visitors from South Africa and all over the world. Read more about it here.”
Western Cape – Cederberg
Writer, editor and blogger, Roxanne, who shares stories and tips about African travel, safaris and more, has a firm winter favourite, “The Cederberg is one of my favourite weekend getaways from Cape Town, especially in winter when you can explore to get warm instead of just about dying from the summer heat. Think cosy fireplaces, hot chocolate and red wine, think hiking, mountain biking, bouldering at Rocklands and visiting the Moravian mission village of Wupperthal. Don’t miss the amazing rock formations at the Stadsaal Caves and San rock paintings (of elephants, nogal) at Matjiesrivier. Read more about it here.”
Neil, founder of African Travel Crew and avid explorer shares, “As temperatures plummeted, my mother always screamed, “Who left the door open to the Free State?”. My Dad on the other hand had headed north months prior, to Zimbabwe or Zambia on “business” ( in retrospect always May to August, strange that). Personally winter could well be a four letter word, not my favourite time of year, and in the footsteps of my forefathers I too head north, Limpopo being one of my favourite destinations. Here temperatures seldom drop below 5°C at night and sit at a comfortable 25°C during the day. Landscapes, culture and wildlife are the order of the day, loads to keep you busy. Click here to watch a video for some ideas.”
Eastern Cape – Grahamstown
Johannesburg-based travel and lifestyel blogger, says, “As a winter getaway, an absolute favorite and one of the most beautiful spaces is in the Eastern Cape. Winter in Grahamstown is amazing, as it brings in people from various cities together, artists and creatives celebrate. And July becomes memorable as you attend and participate in the National Arts festival, it’s freezing, so dressing like an Eskimo is essential. The market boosts food stalls, creative artworks, bead work, paintings, unique arts and crafts. The local and international shows are exceptional. I have attended many over the years, they haven’t disappointed.”
KwaZulu-Natal – Southern Drakensberg
Monique van der Walt is an Airbnb cottage owner in the small town of Bulwer and extremely passionate about promoting tourism in the province and can often be found on Twitter rooting for the area and responsible tourism. She shares, “The KZN Southern Drakensberg is my favourite winter destination. Why not wake up to a world dressed in white? Read more about it here.”
Western Cape – De Hoop Nature Reserve
Nadine, Cape Town based travel and lifestyle blogger, says, “A recent stay at dreamy De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Overberg region (about 3 hours’ drive from Cape Town) has me longing to return to this wildly beautiful reserve. Renowned for possibly the best land-based whale watching in the world, the World Heritage Site is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Guests can enjoy an abundance of activities, such as guided eco boat trips, vulture experiences and marine walks. Or cosy up beside a roaring fire, sipping on fine Cape wines, read a book and enjoy a heavenly spa treatment. The choice is yours. You can do as little or as much as you want to at De Hoop, but I guarantee that you will be planning your return visit before you’ve even left! Read more about it here.”