A practical guide to South Africa
National holidays and celebrations
The majority of the South African population is Christian, so they celebrate many of the same festivals as we do in the UK. In addition there are a number of national holidays of cultural and historical significance.
If you're not sure when is the best time to travel, have a chat with one of our travel advisers who can help you make the most of South Africa's many and varied cultural experiences.
Non religious public holidays
- New Year's Day: 1st January
- Human Rights Day: 21st March
- Family Day: Last day of Easter break
- Freedom Day: 27th April
- Workers' Day: 1st May
- Youth Day: 16th June
- National Women's Day: August bank holiday
- Heritage Day: 24th September
- Day of Reconciliation: 16th December
- Day of Goodwill: 26th December
Religious public holidays
- Good Friday: Friday before Easter
- Easter Sunday: Varies each year
- Christmas Day: 25th December
Money and currency
The official currency in South Africa is the rand (R), which comes in easily identifiable notes and coins. The rate with the British pound fluctuates constantly so it's a good idea to check before you travel. Nevertheless, the exchange rate is usually favourable, making South Africa a relatively cheap destination for UK travellers.
You should have very little trouble changing British pounds at most banks upon arrival. ATMs are also widely available in most towns and cities but check with your bank that your card will work beforehand.
In all inclusive resorts you won't need as much cash but it's always a good idea to take some for tipping and emergencies.
As with everything in South Africa, the food varies depending on where you are in the country. Most cities, like Cape Town and Durban, will have a huge choice of fine dining eateries and local delicacies to choose from, including some excellent seafood.
Sample the 'biltong', a traditional dried meat similar to jerky in the U.S. The local 'bobotie' is often described as South African moussaka and made with mince and spices topped with baked egg. And don't forget to try some of the delicious domestic wines.
As diverse as the people and wildlife it is home to, in South Africa the weather depends on where you are located and what time of year you visit. It can range from sunshine-filled skies in the south west to sub-tropical storms in the north west plateau. The weather in South Africa is always exciting, but you can usually expect a healthy dose of sunshine whenever you visit.
- Summer season is from October through to February and winter is May to July, due to its southern hemisphere location.
- It's a relatively dry country, with the Western Cape region receiving the least rainfall each year.
- UK autumn is considered the best time to go as most of South Africa experiences virtually no rainfall and warmer temperatures during this period.
South Africa Holidays Browse all
Travel through the wonderful winelands region of South Africa before a short stay in a fully-equipped Dubai city hotel
- Doubletree by Hilton Al Barsha is set in Dubai's Al Barsha area, close to world-class shops, restaurants and popular Dubai attractions, just behind the Mall of The Emirates.
- Rental car included for the tour of South Africa
- Travel through the Winelands and Cape Peninsula in one of the most beautiful areas of the world
Go for the experience of lifetime on this self-driven Kruger route - a classical tour that offers something for everyone with magical views along the way.
- The package includes accommodation in carefully selected 4* properties, meals as well as car hire including a GPS during your entire journey
- The tour is 7 nights and 8 days long with insights into the history of South Africa, cultural diversity, adventure, scenic beauty and unforgettable safaris
- Enjoy 4 game drives including morning and afternoon safaris to see elephants, leopards, lions, rhinos, cheetahs, hippos and many more animals
Combine two fascinating countries in one, with South Africa and Dubai as your perfect choice
- Spend a morning with the Big Five in the Kruger National Park
- Enjoy some ice skating in Dubai, even in summer!
- Gasp at the glory of God's Window, with a boundless view of mountains and fertile plains
Dive into an awe-inspiring South Africa and Mauritius package
- Free Wi-Fi connection at lobby, restaurant & bar in Mauritius
- Walk along jacaranda-lined streets and savour all the sights and sounds from the Voortrekker Monument to the Union Buildings
- Visit to a Centre for Endangered Species allowing visitors the opportunity to view and interact with a variety of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals
Combine the wonder of South Africa with the paradise of Mauritius
- Enjoy a wide variety of activities for all ages with a gym, tennis courts, a Mini-Club and a club for teens
- Meander through the extraordinary Panorama route
- Ascend the grandiose north-eastern Drakensberg mountain range via Abel Erasmus Pass and the Strydom Tunnel
Relax under the tropical sunshine in Mauritius before a spectacular look at South Africa
- Trip Advisor has awarded Lux* Grand Gaube the title of "Best Hotel in the World for Romance".
- Go search of Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard, and all manner of wondrous wildlife, birds and plant species
- Indulge in a rejuvenating treatment at The Source Thalassotherapy and Spa. Lux*
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