15 Reasons to Love Winter in South Africa

From dinner parties to jazz nights

To get you motivated and inspired, we've prepared a list of fifteen highlights of winter. Food, wine, flying, cycling (if it's not raining), exploring your city from the sky and under the ground — do something new and never stop having fun, even in winter.


For some of us winter means staying in and watching TV series. Let’s face it, it can be such heaven, but always comes with a pinch of guilt — there are much more exciting things to do than hibernating on the couch for 3 months in a row. Here are 15 things to do when it's cold.

Did we miss anything? Let us know and add your favourite winter adventure to the list.


#1 Coffee in cozy cafes

It’s freezing outside, you rush across the road, open the door and hop into the cozy, warm space of your favourite coffee shop. The sound of the grinding beans, the smell of freshly roasted coffee. The barista smiles and asks if you’d like your usual. Is there anything better? Maybe just a freshly baked brownie with your flat white.

Visit Origin Coffee if you’re in Cape Town and Motherland if you’re in Joburg.

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#2 Red wine in the wine lands

Somehow red wine works better in winter. Somehow sipping it next to a fireplace in the wine lands of Stellenbosch or Franschhoek feels just perfect. Explore the best wine farms, family-run restaurants and boutique wine bars on a Classic Cape Cuisine Walk on one of the weekends. 

Click here to book.

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#3 Paragliding on windless days in Cape Town

Winter in the Cape means still, windless days — when it doesn’t rain that is. Make the most of it and go paragliding from Signal Hill or Lion’s Head. An experienced instructor will take you for a tandem flight and land you safely in Camps Bay. It is truly the best way to spend a sunny winter afternoon to take in the beauty of the Mother City all over again.

Click here to book your tandem paragliding experience.


#4 Ballooning in Magaliesberg

Chilly winter mornings are perfect for finally getting to your bucket-list experience — a balloon ride over the hills of Magaliesberg. Dress warm, have a cup of hot coffee before the flight and go up, up and away. 


#5 Learn to cook a hearty Cape Malay curry

Spend an afternoon in a cozy house in Bo Kaap, cooking, eating and chatting to the lovely host Zainie Misbach. Zainie has been teaching guests to prepare Cape Malay meals for decades — you’re in good hands. Learn how to cook a proper spicy curry and fold tasty samoosas — here is your winning winter dinner party, ready.

Get your hands on the secret recipe: Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour

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#6 Jazz nights

If summer is all about outdoor festivals and picnics on the lawns, winter is the time for groovy nights by the fireplace. It’s your perfect chance to explore the jazz scene of Cape Town. Listen to local bands, meet the musicians and even visit them in their homes. It’s a rare opportunity!

Read more about the Jazz Safari here and book your spot:

City s heritage

#7 Getting to know your city

You don’t have to travel to experience new things — begin with your own city. How well do you know its centre? Its history? Its beautiful old buildings with secret attics, towers and underground tunnels? Explore it all this winter — there are enough warm clear days to venture out and go on a walking tour around town. Begin with a graffiti walk around Jozi:

Food food food

#8 Food, food and more food

South Africa is a foodie’s heaven. All the farmer’s markets, family-run bakeries, craft-beer breweries and award-winning gourmet restaurants can be enjoyed year-round, but in winter overindulgence is officially guilt-free.

Eat everything you see in the gourmet spots of Stellenbosch:

Local design

#9 Local art and design

Spend the day exploring artist’s studios, foundries and tiny shops, hidden away from the crowds. The South African design scene is booming, and new studios and galleries pop up every month. Take a day to see them in all their diversity — from a famous art college to a tiny ceramic studio.

Click here to book the Design Tour of Woodstock in Cape Town. 

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#10 Pedalling around the sunny streets of Jozi

The best part about winter in Joburg is the sun. All day, every day. Take it all in and go on a bicycle-powered adventure on the streets of the city centre. When was the last time you cycled around the neighbourhood of Maboneng, the busy CBD and classy Marshalltown? That’s what we thought. Don’t miss out! Book your cycling trip here:

Underground tour

#11 Going underground

Did you know that Cape Town is pierced with underground tunnels? Built in 17th century, they were used to supply the Company Gardens and passing ships with fresh water, and can now be explored on a 2-hour long underground adventure. It doesn’t get more exciting than this! 

Bar hopping

#12 Bar hopping in town

Even though this one doesn’t really depend on season, bar hopping changes its mood in winter. Little bars, fireplaces, beanies and long tables with drinks flowing create the vibe of a great winter night out. Check Cape Town’s new favourite The Secret Courtyard gin bar and Jozi’s old classics, the Stanley Beer Yard.

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#13 Dinner parties

As much as we love summer dinners hosted outdoors, in gardens and on the terraces, there is a certain charm in a cozy, stylish winter dinner party. Whether you invite old friends or meet new ones, a dark winter night is the perfect time to indulge on a three-course meal, a couple of bottles of wine and a nice long chat. Now imagine it all happens at a surprise location you’ve never been at and all the meals are prepared by a celebrity chef.

Excited? Book your seat at the next Secret EATS dinner now:

Winter menu

#14 Winter menus in the wine lands

We might be repeating ourselves but yes, this one is about food again! There is hardly anything better than a hearty ossobuco or lasagna fresh out the oven, served in an old hall of a Cape Dutch wine farm, enjoyed with a glass of pinotage with a view of the moody vineyards. Ok, this is quite bourgeois, but amazing nevertheless. 

Visit Backsberg farm restaurant for a hearty winter lunch.

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#15 Staying in!

As an adventure site, we’re probably not supposed to point this one out but let’s be honest — spending 10 hours straight on the couch, binge-watching the latest Game of Thrones and sipping hot tea may or may not be one of the most exciting winter activities ever. Oh, and while doing so don’t forget to browse Gummie and pick the next exciting thing you’ll be doing when winter is over.

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Author Gummie
Date 23 June 2015