The usual vacation itineraries in South Africa may seem like a holiday that may break the bank. Still, affordable vacation spots in South Africa are aplenty. The sooner you get familiar with the available options, the better your chances of visiting this fantastic land without straining your budget too much.
Apart from offering high-end, luxurious resorts and hotels, South Africa hides an abundance of low-cost lodgings which are equally well situated, close to all the major tourist spots and attractions. In order to discover a South Africa hotel or a guest house within your means, you don’t have to look much further than those close to Cape Town or Johannesburg.
Vacation Spots Near Cape Town
Cape Town sees major tourist influx all year round and the past few years have been no exception to this unwritten rule. Whether it be for the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, the majestic backdrop of the Table Mountain, astounding beaches, or numerous historical sites, many insatiable travelers give in to the temptation. A high number of tourists only translates to high prices which may divert budget-tight vacationers from visiting South Africa altogether. Luckily, cheap holiday spots near Cape Town are abundant and you will still have the chance to go out and about and explore the beauty of this splendid South African region.
This small holiday town is just an hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town. Stretching over 13 kilometers along the coast, Betty’s Bay is home to some astounding hiking trails, fantastic beaches, and friendly locals. Betty’s Bay Beach and Silver Sands Beach will have you head over heels for their soft, white sand, crystal-clear sea, and peacefulness. Jock’s Bay and Shelly Beach are no exception either. Attractions near Betty’s Bay include the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and Arabella Golf Course but this part of South Africa is also every nature lover’s dream come true for several other reasons. It is here that you can watch rare African Penguins or go whale-spotting in St Sebastian Bay. If you feel up for an active vacay, Rod’s Trail is the perfect opportunity to explore the scenery on foot. Starting at the base of the majestic Kogelberg Mountain Range, the trail will lead you up and down the winding tracks through the lush forests, with spectacular panoramas of the mountain tops and the vast sea, until you reach Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
Accommodation in Betty’s Bay is exceptional too. There are no run-of-the-mill hotels around here. Instead, visitors can pick one of many self-catering houses, BnB lodgings, or guesthouses that are truly exquisite. The houses receive between 6 – 12 guests and the number of rooms vary depending on the capacity. The rates per night start at 500 African Rands.
Right in the center of KwaZulu-Natal and just 40 minutes from Durban, the town of Ballito is flanked by golden beaches, lush meadows, and rocky mountains. It is also the one and only location where you can spot shoals of bottle-nose dolphins as they merrily dart through the shallows of Ballito Beach. Willard Beach and Clarke Bay are just as beautiful and in case you’re wondering about the safety, shark nets provide maximum protection. Just a bit north of Ballito, visitors to this unforgettable region can spend a day picnicking and hiking at Harold Johnson reserve, ride a bike along the sugar cane fields of Holla, or take their little ones on adventures in Sugar Rush Park where the youngsters can go hunting for imaginary treasures or climb the jungle gyms.
In the heart of Ballito, there are many spacious self-catering accommodation options. Beach Forest Lodge, Billfish Apartments, and Zuider Zee Guest House are charmingly decorated, with seafront views and lovely surroundings. The prices of suites per night start at around 800 rands which makes Ballito a truly cost-effective paradise.
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As the third oldest European settlement in South Africa, Paarl has deep historical and cultural roots, right in the heart of the Drakenstein Valley. The town is rich in beautiful pieces of Georgian and Victorian architecture, perfectly blended with trendy restaurants and bars but above all, Paarl is the place where you can taste some of the finest Chardonnays, Pinotage, and Chenin blanc. The Paarl Wine Route is one of the oldest wine routes in South Africa and as such, it’s home to some of the most renowned wine estates. With over 40 estates, some of which are smaller and more intimate than others, Paarl is a perfect spot to round up the breath-taking scenery with a glass of wine. Not only can you taste the exquisite wine but you can also stay at some of the wine estates in the Paarl region.
Back in Paarl Town, you can do a tour of the Cape Winelands, float over the vineyards in a hot-air balloon, or dine at the famous he Red Table Restaurant. Accommodation in and around Paarl is abundant and it suits every pocket.
A great place to experience the breath-taking South African coastline and not break the bank is to travel to Paternoster. This wonderful fishing village is home to over 200 bird species and it also offers a great opportunity to spot whales and dolphins. During spring, the whole area bursts with color as numerous plants and flowers sprout due to extensive rainfalls. Among the popular Paternoster activities such as sea kayaking and mountain biking, visitors may also feast on seafood at the Noisy Oyster or simply enjoy a day in the sun at Paternoster beach.
There is an abundance of lodgings in Paternoster. The cozy rooms at Paters Nessie or Paters Haven cost between 500 – 800 rands per night. If you can’t help but splurge just a tiny bit, indulge in the breath-taking views from your room at Paternoster Lodge & Restaurant or luxury B&B Deja Vu at 1 500 per night. The splendid vistas of the sea and the surrounding mountains are well worth the money.
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The world’s longest wine route – Route 62, is exactly where Robertson is located. Visiting Robertson in spring means that you will have the chance to savor the natural splendors as the whole region awakens with rose blossoms, pleasant breeze, and rich vineyards. The outdoor activities are aplenty in and around Robertson Valley. Horse riding, hiking, or cycling are guaranteed to guide you through the most beautiful trails with splendid backdrops of vineyards and the surrounding mountains.
You won’t be able to fully enjoy Robertson unless you head for a round of wine tasting in some of the world-class wine estates in this part of South Africa. The majority of them are family-owned but still offer wine-tasting tours and visits to the cellars. You can visit the oldest wine cellar in the valley – Fraai Uitzicht 1798, which produces only 6 000 bottles a year, making this wine a really unique product that only the real connoisseurs will appreciate. Other noteworthy wineries in and around Robertson include Ashton Kelder Wine Estate, Bon Cap Organic Wine Cellar, Burcon Wines, Clairvaux, Le Grand Chasseur, and many more.
Accommodation in Robertson ranges from boutique hotels and guesthouses to the phenomenal self-catering cottages. You can stay at some of the wine properties that offer lodgings, such as Cellar1947, available to 6 guests at 2, 500 rands per night. Pat Busch Mountain Reserve and The LemonTree House are also incredibly lovely and set in the surroundings that will rejuvenate your mind and your soul at mere 800 rands a night.
Vacation Spots Near Johannesburg
As the largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg is known for its extravagant restaurants, bustling nightlife, and tons of opportunities for sightseeing. The city’s proximity to the Kruger Nature Reserve makes it all the more appealing. Nevertheless, many visitors who want to escape the crowds or simply don’t want to strain their budget too much may opt for other spots that are rather close to Johannesburg but still offer fantastic attractions, lots of activities, and breath-taking scenery. Needles to say that daily trips to the City of Gold are always an option as these towns are only a few hours’ drive from it.
If you want a taste of authentic South Africa vacations without paying an arm and a leg, Waterberg is your dream destination. This blue-hued stretch of land is pretty much untarred by human interference. For this reason, UNESCO identified it as one of Africa’s most precious biosphere reserves. Among other perks of this region, many locations around Waterberg are malaria-free. If you happen to stay in Bela-Bela, you can relax and unwind in a variety of wellness centers and spas. This area is best-known for its hot springs which are claimed to have curative properties. Game farms in the close proximity of all the major villas and guesthouses offer great opportunities to spot the big five – buffalo, rhino, leopard, lions, and elephants. Mabula, Mabalinwe, and Welgevonden game reserves are only some of the locations to catch sight of these majestic animals in their natural habitat.
The best places to stay in the Waterberg region include self-catering Waterberg Cottages, Summerset Place Country House, Villa Toscane Guesthouse, or Thulani Game Lodge & Eco Estate. The rates are usually based on 2 persons and they range between 760 and 1 500 African rands.
Don’t be fooled by its name because this quaint little town is anything but dull. It’s one of the perfect destinations in South Africa for families and couples alike because it offers plenty of activities, wonderful scenery, and the company of the friendly locals. Above all, Dullstroom is famous for its crystal-clear fishing rivers, making it a true angler’s paradise. Wining and dining are thriving in Dullstroom, too. You can feast on delicious home-cooked meals at Plat de Jour or Mrs. Simpson’s only to quench the thirst at some of the finest whiskey bars and breweries in the area, such as Anvil Ale or Wild About Whiskey.
A wide range of accommodation establishments caters to everyone’s taste, with a variety of different ambiances at your disposal. Fishing lovers may spend their vacay at Stonecutters Lodge, with rivers and fishing reserves at a stone’s throw away. Planters Lodge and Riverman Cabin offer comfortable self-catering accommodation, perfectly snuggled in the heart of magnificent forests, colorful meadows, and bushvelds. The prices are ridiculously affordable, starting at around 300 rands per night and going up until 1 500.
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Located at a mere hour’s drive from Johannesburg and nestled on the banks of the Vaal River, this town is actually unique for one unbelievable thing. It lies right at the center of the 300-kilometer wide meteor crater. Known as the Vredefort Dome, it is the largest meteorite impact on the planet and for that reason, UNESCO recognized it as one of the World Heritage Sites. Water sports opportunities are aplenty in Parys and it also welcomes visitors from all walks of life by offering an abundant choice of antique shops, art galleries, breweries, brandy distillery, and restaurants. If you feel up for some exploration of the surrounding area, make sure to embark on The Vredefort Meteorite trail. It covers the length of about 60 kilometers and along the way, you can explore the offbeat areas and marvel at a variety of plant, animal, and reptile species.
The territory of Free State where Parys is located is the king of affordable luxury lodgings. At just 600 rands per night, you can stay at Tava Lingwe Game Lodge, with its own bar and restaurant accompanied by two swimming pools. The White Giraffe, La Splendia Guest Lodge, and Dome Inn also have private pools and incredibly stylish chalets and cottages. The price per night does not exceed 800 rands although it might go a bit during high season.
Of course, the list of low-cost South African destinations could go on forever. Although it may seem that money is critical in seeing most of this splendid land, the reality is from that. In fact, you can spend an unforgettable low-priced holiday in any of these places and still enjoy every minute of it to the fullest.