Summer in South Africa: Weather Tips and Top Destinations

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South Africa’s landscapes, cities and wildlife are as diverse as the people who live there, making this rainbow nation a truly spectacular travel destination. Summer in South Africa is busy, with local and foreign tourists holidaying, attracted by the warm, sunny weather, so it is important to plan your trip well.

In South Africa, the summer months are from November to February. There’s plenty to do on a summer tour in South Africa: Explore the picturesque beaches and indigenous forests along the Garden Route, take a dip in the pleasant waters of the southern beaches, enjoy the music festival season in Johannesburg, and go on a safari tour to the Addo Elephant National Park, the country’s third-largest national park.

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Weather and Temperature in South Africa during Summer

An aerial view of Camps Bay during lovely summer weather in South Africa.
Enjoy a refreshing drink while you take in the breathtaking views in Camps Bay.

Summer in South Africa is warm, with some chances of rain, including tropical thunderstorms in the national park regions.

Cape Town sees average temperatures ranging from 27°C to 32°C and 9-30 mm of rainfall. Summer in the Cape Provinces is typically hot and dry, with average temperatures hovering around 24°C.

If you want to swim along the North Coast, head to beaches like Zinkwazi, Umhlali and Tinley Manor, where the water temperature averages around 27°C.

Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, sees frequent thunderstorms in the afternoon, with an average temperature of 25°C. Summer is pleasantly warm, with cool nights, and the temperature rarely exceeds 30°C. January is usually the city’s hottest month.

The summer weather along the KwaZulu-Natal coast can be oppressively humid, and thunderstorms are common. Durban is hot and humid in summer, with temperatures vacillating between average lows of 20°C and average highs of 28°C.

The information presented in the following table is based on Cape Town.

  November December January February
Avg high 22°C (72°F) 24°C (75°F) 26°C (79°F) 26°C (79°F)
Avg low 14°C (57°F) 16°C (61°F) 18°C (64°F) 18°C (64°F)
Sunlight hours 14 14 14 13
Rainy days 7 6 7 5
Precipitation 18 mm 16 mm 9 mm 7 mm

For a more seasonal overview, check out our guide on the best time to visit South Africa.

Other related articles:
South Africa in November
South Africa in December
South Africa in January
South Africa in February

Why visit South Africa in Summer?

An ariel view of the Garden Route on a bright day.
Relax on the sandy beaches after exploring the Garden Route.
Male Elephant cools himself off in the Madikwe Game Reserve.
Head to Madikwe Game Reserve, a great summer safari destination.

Summer is the high tourist season in South Africa. Here’s why this is such a great time to tour South Africa in summer:

  • The Garden Route: With rains less frequent around Cape Town, this is an excellent time of the year to tour the Garden Route, a glorious 300-km stretch of coastline with its sandy beaches, forests and quaint towns.
  • Safari sightings: Though summer may not be the best season to go out searching for big game, southern game parks like the Addo Elephant National Park and Kwandwe Private Game Reserve have good sighting opportunities.
  • Long, lovely days: The long, bright summer days mean you can experience so much more each day. Cape Town, for example, gets over 14 hours of sunshine each day in January. This is great for hiking or relaxing at a beach.
  • Festive season: Summer in South Africa is packed with events and festivals. Top picks include Johannesburg’s Music festival AFROPUNK, Ficksburg’s Cherry Festival, and a re-enactment of the battles of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War.

Top 3 Destinations in South Africa during Summer

From vibrant cities and charming beaches to magical safaris and mountain trails, summer is a thrilling ride in South Africa. Mix some popular destinations with less-frequented gems to make your trip extra special. Here are our picks.

1. Cape Town

A view of Lion's Head Mountain in Cape Town
Hiking the Lion's Head Mountain is a top activity in South Africa.

Modern, cosmopolitan and iconic, Cape Town is famously centered around Table Mountain and is known for its lovely beaches, rolling vineyards, award-winning cuisine and remarkable biodiversity. The summer weather is perfect for exploring the ‘Mother City,’ with temperatures ranging from an average low of 14°C to an average high of 26°C. Here are our tours to Cape Town.

Major attractions: Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens and District Six Museum.


  • The days are long so that you can fit in a lot of activities like swimming, hiking and sightseeing in a single day.
  • This is a great time for snorkeling and scuba diving, thanks to the warm sea temperatures.
    Catch exciting events and festivals in summer, such as Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, held in the city’s beautiful botanical garden, and Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, a New Year celebration that sees singers and dancers parade through the streets.


  • There are more crowds on the beaches because of the high tourist season.
  • Hotels are costlier, so you need to book in advance.

2. Pretoria

A view of Union Building at sunset with red clouds and street lights.
Walk around the city of Pretoria and take in the sights.

Tourists tend to skip Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capital cities. But spending a day or two here is a rewarding experience. Summer is pleasant enough to walk around the city. January, with an average temperature of 24°C is the hottest month in Pretoria. Check out our tours to Pretoria.

Major attractions: Freedom Park, Voortrekker Monument and National Zoological Gardens.


  • There are fewer crowds in summer compared to coastal areas.
  • Though the weather is warm, it’s pleasant and not very humid.
  • There are some excellent opportunities for hiking and horseback riding near Pretoria.


  • Other parts of Gauteng province may be uncomfortably warm.

3. Durban

An ariel view of the port of Durban.
Chill at the sunny beaches of Durban and dwell in the fascinating Afro-Indian culture that the city has to offer.

Durban is a coastal city with a distinctly South Asian flavor and Asian feel. It has a hot and humid summer, with the temperature hovering between 17°C and 28°C. The streetside vegetable and spice vendors reflect the presence of the large Indian community. Durban is a must-visit if you’re a history buff (Mahatma Gandhi lived here), a foodie, or a surfer.

Major attractions: Golden Mile, Mahatma Gandhi House and uShaka Marine World.


  • Cool off the summer heat by taking a dip in the waters along Durban’s inviting beaches.
  • Summer is ideal for water sports like kayaking, surfing and scuba diving.
  • Enjoy events like the Gagasi FM Beach Festival and Durban Summer Festival.


  • The weather can get oppressively humid during the day.
  • Beaches may get crowded during the holiday season.

Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban are among the many thrilling destinations in South Africa in summer. Explore the country’s cultural diversity, varied landscapes, and spectacular beaches this season.

Top activities during summer in South Africa

South Africa in summer is cooler in the south than in the north, while the coastal areas are inviting throughout the year. Surfing, hiking and diving are some of the most popular summer activities.

  • Surfing: With warm waters, plenty of waves, and a long coastline touching two oceans, South Africa's weather in summer is great for surfing. If you’re new to surfing, the gentle waves of Cape Town’s Muizenberg Beach are the best place to start riding the waves. Lower Point (Jbay), some 73 km west of Port Elizabeth, is an iconic surfing zone. Though the point break is easy to navigate, waves at Jbay can throw a surprise. Durban has many surfing hotspots, including Bluff, where Cave Rock throws crazily wide barrels. Cave Rock is strictly for advanced surfers.
  • Hiking: South Africa's summer months offer many opportunities for hikers and trekkers of all experience levels to enjoy its hills and mountains. All popular trails are accessible in this season. Hike over steep hills and through dry riverbeds in the relatively isolated Leopard Trail. The moderately strenuous Rhebok Trail, set in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, offers stunning views of mountain peaks and ravines. Otter Trail is another popular multi-day hike along the Garden Route’s rocky coastline. You’ll pass sweeping oceanic vistas, coastal forests, idyllic sand beaches, and local vegetation.
  • Diving: What better way to combine high adventure with spectacular underwater sightings than scuba diving? Water temperatures in summer in South Africa are ideal for taking the plunge. Kelp Forest in Cape Town is an underwater forest home to pyjama sharks, seals, shipwrecks and a dreamy landscape. Gansbaai (Western Cape) is regarded as South Africa’s cage diving capital, where you get the chance to come face-to-face with the terrifying great white sharks. You can visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park to see manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and magnificent corals.

It’s safe to say that with these activities your summer trip in South Africa will be nothing short of amazing.  

Travel tips to visit South Africa during summer

Two travelers crossing a river on the Otter Hiking Trail in South Africa
Otter Hiking trail includes several river crossings.
  • Though game viewing is popular during summer in South Africa, the thick foliage makes seeing wildlife harder.
  • The weather in summer in Kruger National Park can be hot and muggy.
  • This is a great season for birding enthusiasts, with migrating species flocking to the wetlands and coastal areas in the north.

South Africa’s natural beauty, complex history, thriving cities and long coastline make it one of the most fascinating travel destinations in the world. Combine top-rated destinations with little-known gems, cultural highlights with thrilling adventures and urban experiences with scenic road trips in South Africa. Our travel experts will help you plan a customized trip to South Africa that fits your interests and budget perfectly.

Published by Tim Green, updated on May 19, 2023

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