If you have been dreaming of an African safari with glorious sunsets and natural beauty, South Africa is a great place for family getaways.
South Africa has so much to offer as a travel destination. From beautiful beaches, natural landscapes, and abundant wildlife to extraordinary culinary experiences, you can plan a holiday that will excite the whole family.
Deemed the Rainbow Nation by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, after the country’s first democratic election, it is one of the most diverse countries in the world with some of the friendliest people on the planet.
With so much beauty, diversity, and daily flight connections from the USA, Europe, and the rest of the world, you should consider a family getaway to South Africa.
Where can I take my kids in South Africa?
- 1. Cape Town
- 2. On a family safari
- 3. Garden Route in the Western Cape
- 4. Kwazulu Natal (Durban) beaches
Where should I start when planning my family vacation to South Africa?
When planning family vacations in South Africa, consider the following:
- Time difference and jetlag (allow yourself some time to recover)
- Staying longer at each place instead of trying to cram in too much
Make a list of the things you most want to see and do and start from there.
The most popular destinations for tourists to South Africa are Cape Town and the Kruger National Park.
Cape Town is the crown jewel of South Africa. With Table Mountain in the backdrop, aqua-blue beaches, and winding drives between mountain and sea, it is truly a spectacular must-visit city on a trip to South Africa.
The Best Places for Family Vacations in South Africa
1. Cape Town
I would suggest 4 – 5 days in Cape Town to fully experience the city. There are many family-friendly activities to do in Cape Town.
The best way to get around in Cape Town is by car, so rent a car upon arrival at the airport.
The best attractions in Cape Town:
Table Mountain is one of the seven new wonders of the world.
You can take a short ride on a cable car to the top, where you can enjoy unmatched views of Cape Town.
You can also hike up table mountain instead of taking the cable car.
Insider Tip: Buy tickets online and monitor the weather, the cable car does not operate during windy weather and Cape Town tends to be very windy. The top of the mountain is also very windy, so pack a sweater and secure any loose clothing items you may have.
Chapmans Peak Drive
This is one of the most beautiful drives you will ever experience.
Insider Tip: Allocate enough time to enjoy the scenery. Opt for doing the drive on a clear day as you will be able to see much more. The drive is free up to a certain point and you need to pay a fee if you want to continue further beyond that point.
This is a great vantage point of the city. Entry is free.
Insider Tip: Visit signal hill at sunset.
Insider Tip: Don’t be fooled by the blue waters, it is cold, even during summer. It is a good place to watch the sunset or have a meal.
Bo Kaap is a traditional Cape Malay area. It is famous for the colored houses that line the streets.
Insider tip: Visit Bo Kaap Deli for some traditional Cape koeksisters (dough that is fried, and dipped in sweet syrup and coconut).
Here you will find some shops, restaurants and boat rides.
Insider tip: There are some great seafood restaurants located here.
Two Oceans Aquarium
This is also located at the V&A waterfront.
Insider tip: You can purchase discounted tickets after 3 pm.
Boulders beach is a great place for the family to watch the penguins. The beach is filled with cute penguins.
Insider Tip: Go early to Boulders beach to avoid the queues.
Cape Point is a promontory that offers amazing views of pristine unspoiled territory. It is about a 30-minute drive from Cape Town. It has gained a reputation for being known as the place where the two oceans meet, but the official meeting point of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean is Cape Agulhas.
Insider tip: It is a long walk and windy at the top. Dress appropriately.
Robben Island is a small island located a 10-minute boat ride away from the V&A waterfront. This is the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment.
Insider Tip: Read a brief history of Nelson Mandela before visiting the island.
Hermanus Whale Watching (Seasonal)
Hermanus is considered to be a premier area for whale watching. There are boat rides and tours.
Insider tip: The season is between June and November.
Where to stay in Cape Town
The Radisson Blu is one of the only hotels located right on the beach. Although you cannot access the beach, you can hear the waves crashing and there is a heated infinity pool edging into the ocean. The service was superb and very child friendly.
The Westin Cape Town
I have stayed at the Westin Cape Town on most of my family vacations to South Africa. It is located across from the convention center, but the hotel is family-friendly and easily accessible.
The One and Only offers luxury resort-style accommodation. This family-friendly hotel is located in the heart of the city near the V&A waterfront.
2. Planning a South African Safari
There are many options for a safari adventure that will showcase the big 5.
The ultimate safari adventure is the Kruger National Park.
You can book at one of the lodges that are adjacent to the park. Each of these lodges has its private reserves.
You can get to the Kruger National Park from Cape Town by flying to the Nelspruit Kruger airport. The flight is about 3 hours but may stopover in Johannesburg which will add about another hour to the travel time. From the airport, you can drive to your lodge.
There are many options for accommodation in Kruger National Park, based on your budget and requirements. Be sure to check that you meet all the age requirements for a safari drive when traveling with young children.
The Eastern Cape is a malaria-free area where you enjoy an African safari. The most well-known reserve here is the Addo Elephant National Park.
There are many private and public reserves in South Africa where you can enjoy a safari.
Where to book a safari?
Go2Africa is a user-friendly website that helps narrow down the options based on your requirements. They have a lot of useful information on their website. This would be a great starting point for planning your safari itinerary.
3. Garden Route
The garden route is a magnificent route that stretches the South Eastern coast of South Africa.
Starting from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River, it is a scenic route that includes the most charming towns and hidden gems.
If you are planning to do the drive, you should allocate 3-4 days for this as you will pass by many towns and attractions.
The route includes the towns of Knysna, Oudtshoorn, George, Plettenberg Bay, Sedgefield, and Wilderness. Along the way, you will find the Congo Caves, Tsitsikamma National Park, many secluded beaches, and incredible scenery. There are also private reserves where you can book a game drive or safari.
You can begin your travel of the garden route in Cape Town and venture down towards George, where you can then catch a flight to any city.
Where to stay on the garden route
Beacon Island offers a relaxing holiday. This child-friendly beach resort is an excellent place for a family holiday. The beach water is warmer than Cape Town but colder than Kwazulu Natal.
Located on the head of Knysna, this luxury resort holds a championship golf course, spa, wood-fired hot tubs, kids’ zone, and more. It is good for a stopover or a base to explore the region for a few days.
4. Kwazulu Natal (Durban)
This coastal region is home to the best swimming beaches in South Africa. With soft sandy shores and warm water, it is an ideal spot for family vacations in South Africa.
Kwazulu Natal also does not experience much of a winter, making it an all-year destination.
Some of the best beaches are located in Umhlanga and Ballito. Here you will find holiday homes and resorts on the beach.
Kwazulu Natal is best enjoyed for swimming and its climate.
Where to stay in Kwazulu Natal
Umhlanga Sands Resort
Located right on the beachfront, this family-friendly accommodation offers self-catering 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom balcony units that hold glorious ocean views.
There are also daily art, craft, and activities for children.
The Capital Zimbali Resort
This luxury resort is in Ballito and offers stretches of an unspoiled private beach. There are many pools and activities at the resort, including a nearby golf course.
Is South Africa good for a family vacation?
Yes, as someone who grew up in South Africa, I can tell you that is a great destination for a family vacation.
There are enough attractions and sites to keep the kids entertained. You can have your pick of beaches, and safari drives when planning your African Adventure.
Is South Africa cheap for tourists?
South Africa’s weak exchange rate, makes it favorable for tourists visiting.
When is the best time to visit South Africa?
The South African climate varies from city to city.
- In Summer months (December – February) temperatures can reach up 105 degrees
- In Winter Months (June – August) temperatures can fall to 40 degrees
The ideal time for a family vacation is between September and April.
November and December can be rainy months so if you are planning a safari, then consider this.
Safety tips when traveling to South Africa
While the places mentioned above are generally safe for a family vacation, I would still advise taking some extra precautions.
- Conceal valuables at all times
- Do not leave children unattended
- Do not travel in unmarked taxis
- Do not travel to deserted places late at night
We hope this has helped plan your ultimate travel African Adventure to South Africa.
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