Where to stay in South Africa
Holidays in Cape Town
South Africa's 'Mother City' rests between the iconic backdrop of Table Mountain and the country's most visited tourist attraction the V&A Waterfront.
Holidays in Winelands
Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all situated amongst the stunning natural mountain ranges of the Western Cape offering numerous vineyards, stunning views and romantic getaways.
Holidays in the Eastern Cape
Holidays to the diverse coastline of the Eastern Cape go beyond a regular adventure. From picturesque seaside towns and immense forests to rugged pastures and some of the best game reserves in the region, you’ll be able to set your sights on the ‘Big Seven’, journey through majestic surroundings and relax on some seriously sublime beaches.
Holidays in Garden Route
Officially stretching from Mossel Bay in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east, the Garden Route is actually a great drive all the way from Cape Town to the 'Big Five' game reserves in the Eastern Cape. Sleepy historic towns, endless desert skies, white sandy beaches and amazing wildlife all make the Garden Route a highlight of any trip to South Africa.
Holidays in Kwazulu Natal
Further afield are the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift made famous in the epic film 'Zulu' and in the north some spectacular game reserves and the untouched beaches of the Indian Ocean.
Holidays in Johannesburg
This diverse metropolis is bursting with super trendy bars and restaurants, stylish shopping malls, contemporary African art galleries and upmarket entertainment areas. Melrose Arch and Sandton are the places to be seen
Holidays in Sun City
Just a few hours from Johannesburg, nestled in the mountains of the North West Province lies the magnificent Sun City, a playground for child and adults alike. Twin this with South Africa’s most densely populated Big Five game park, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, just next door and you have a perfect stop on a multi-centre holiday or one stop shop for your two week escape.
Holidays in Madikwe
Great for families or those on a smaller budget and dreaming of safari. Madikwe also boasts the 'Super Seven', which consists of the 'Big Five' plus cheetah and the endangered wild dog.
Kruger and Surrounds holidays
The world-renowned Kruger National Park is one of the world's most spectacular nature reserves.
Hotels in South Africa
Essential information for South Africa
- Virgin Atlantic fly daily to Johannesburg from Heathrow.
Do I need a VISA?
Travelling with children
Parents travelling with children will be asked to show the child’s full birth certificate, and where only one parent is accompanying, parental or legal consent for the child to travel (e.g. an affidavit from the other parent). You should travel with these documents in case you’re asked to provide them. For more information, contact the South African High Commission.
Sun, sea and safari: South Africa highlights
Welcome to the wild! Is an African safari the ultimate tick on your bucket list? It should be! South Africa is special, there is no doubt about it, it is dusty and adventurous and warm and crazy and so much fun - we guarantee you will be back for more. Not only is South Africa home to the world’s only Big Five reserves but it also boasts glorious beaches, wondrous waterfalls, spectacular self-drives, history, culture, great gastronomy, luxury, romance… we could go on and on!
South Africa is a vast country with each province, city and game reserve offering a different experience, so where do you start? Most visitors combine a few different places within the country or across the region, travelling by plane, train or self-drive, and this is certainly what we would recommend.
The first place to start when planning your holiday to South Africa is to think about the weather or season in which you are travelling. South Africa has the opposite seasons to the UK — their summer is roughly November to March and winter is from April to October. The north of the country (Kruger, Madikwe, Sun City) is generally warm all year but the cooler winter temperatures have a stronger effect on the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces which includes Cape Town and the Garden Route.
The summer in Cape Town brings glorious weather and a drive through vineyards and along the Garden Route is one of the country’s highlights but also don’t be put off by travelling in the winter months! Sipping white wine under oak trees in the Cape vineyards in the summer months turns into drinking rich reds around the fire and warm evening safaris and hot summer storms gives way to the dry winter months, allowing low grass, less water-holes and easier wildlife spotting. Winter is also the best time to see the famous Southern Right Whales as they migrate to the Whale Coast from April to November.
So as a year-round destination and boasting amazing accommodation and sights across the country, the choice is yours! Here are a few of our favourite combinations across South Africa and beyond:
- Settle into an oceanside room in Cape Town then stay in the thick of it inside a game reserve. You can fly direct from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth for the Eastern Cape private game reserves or straight into Hoedspruit or Skukuza airports for the Kruger National Park.
- For a relaxing break that includes a bit of the bustle of city life, start in Cape Town then take a meandering drive along the famous Garden Route ending in one of our wonderful game reserves in the Eastern Cape.
- Not a city person? Then just skip the high-rises and get straight out into the bush. Sun City and Madikwe, Madikwe and Marataba or just an extended stay in the Kruger, there are loads of options for the wild at heart.
- Culture vulture? South Africa has a fascinating history and is a melting pot of cultures. Johannesburg and Cape Town are a great place to start with a choice of museums and exhibitions and further afield the battlefields of Kwa Zulu Natal give an immersive experience of the zulu wars.
- Enjoy the Cape Town summer at The Bay Hotel in fun and funky Camps Bay, home to some of the city’s trendiest bars and restaurants. Stay here for the best of both worlds – where city life meets a sandy beach and the very best spot in the city for sunset cocktails.
- Head into the winelands and opt for Richard Branson’s Franschhoek lodge, Mont Rochelle, the ultimate in luxury. If you have a bit more time then add on a few nights in Hermanus too to spot whales and the infamous Great White Shark!
Holidays to South Africa wouldn’t be complete without a spectacular Big Five safari. You can choose to stay within a reserve or stay just outside and self-drive through – either way, this is your chance to spot some incredible wildlife.
- Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, with over 500 bird species and around 150 species of mammals. You’ve got a great choice of accommodation from tip-top luxury lodges to smaller, traditional hotels and homesteads outside of the park, great for the more budget-conscious.
- The Garden Route and Eastern Cape are home to some great private Big Five reserves including the famous Shamwari Game Reserve, with luxurious lodges and loads of activities on offer.
- Do you have a budding Ranger in the family? South Africa has some great options for family safaris in malaria-free reserves, check out Shamwari’s Riverdene Lodge, Madikwe Safari Lodge or if you wanted to venture into the Kruger, look up Ulusaba Rock Lodge and Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge. Age ranges can apply so check the inclusions before you book!
- If you like the idea of a safari but without staying in a lodge, try Sun City. This entertainment resort offers a good range of accommodation, a huge waterpark and choice of activities and a prime location just outside of the Pilanesberg National Park.
Immerse yourself in history and everyday life in vibrant Cape Town. The lively metropolitan city is home to a myriad of boutiques, museums, restaurants and nightlife hotspots.
- Take a cable car up Table Mountain National Park for breathtaking views. Go early to miss the intense heat or abseil down if you’re feeling particularly adventurous.
- The V&A Waterfront is the most visited tourist attraction in South Africa and a great place to find your feet. The Watershed is an oceanfront warehouse selling local crafts, and it’s the place to go for souvenirs. It doesn’t open until 10am so stop by after tucking into an al fresco breakfast of eggs, bacon and boerewors.
- When you've had enough of the hustle and bustle, escape to one of the beaches on the Cape coast for a picnic, Clifton or Camps Bay are a great option. In the evenings, get the party started on Long Street. On hotter summer nights, seek out a rooftop bar for epic views (and Instagram-worthy photo ops).
- Learn about the country’s rich history in one (or all) of the city’s many museums. District Six museum is a must-see to learn about the history of the apartheid. Set aside at least two hours to take in all the exhibits.
Alongside the wildlife, there’s all manner of forests, mountains and lagoons waiting to be explored. Here are a few you might not want to miss.
- Take on the Cango Caves on the Garden Route. These massive chambers are easy to explore and the perfect escape from the midday heat. If you're adventurous (and don't mind tight spaces), opt for the extended tour.
- After exploring the beautiful Karoo, take a majestic drive along the Swartberg Pass, dropping down from Oudtshoorn to the Garden Route coastline. Here you can immerse yourself in dramatic mountain scenery and beautiful flowers.
- Grab a car and spend a few nights in Hazyview, the prime location of this town allows for spectacular self-drive safaris in the Kruger National Park but also close-by is one of the largest canyons on earth, the Blyde River Canyon. The region is known as the Panoramic Route which includes God’s Window, the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.