The Republic of South Africa comprises the most southern part of the African continent. While much of the interior consists of high plains, the ocean on three sides of the country moderates the weather, accounting for the warm temperate conditions.
Known for its sunshine, South Africa is a relatively dry country. Most of the rain falls during winter in the Western Cape region.
Compared to the other countries located at similar latitudes –such as Australia- South Africa tends to have lower temperatures because of its greater elevation above sea level.
The interior plateau keeps the average summer temperatures under 30 C / 86 F, while during winter the temperatures fall well below freezing point.
The warmest in winter are the coast regions. However, there is striking difference between the east and west coast, as the warm Agulhas Current sweeps the east coast and the cold Benguela the west coast.
In Cape Town, the warmest month is January with an average high temperature of 26 C/ 78 F while the coldest month is July with an average low temperature of 8.3 C / 47 F.
Durban sees slightly higher temperatures with the average high of 28 C/ 82.4 F in the summer and an average low of 11 C/ 51.8 F in winter.
In Johannesburg the average high temperature in January reaches 26 C/ 78 F, while the average low temperature in July is 4 C / 39 F.
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Summer lasts from mid-October to mid-February and is characterized by hot, sunny weather and thunderstorms that clear really quickly. The only exception is the Western Cape where due to the Mediterranean climate, the rain falls during winter.
Autumn lasts from mid-February to April and is characterized by little rain and warm weather, ideal for traveling and sightseeing.
In Cape Town the autumn is characterized by hot sunny days and warm nights, just perfect for a night out at one of the cafes.
Winter lasts from May to July and is characterized cold, crisp days and cold nights in the plateau region.
The KwaZulu-Natal coast and the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces have great weather, with mild sunny days and no wind or rain.
Although Western Cape gets most of the rain, there are quite a lot of warm sunny days rivaling with the best summer days in Europe.
The mountains in the country do get snow.
Spring lasts from August to mid-October and the weather starts to get warmer while the beautiful wildflowers offer very nice scenery. They draw a lot of tourists at the flower festivals held in the Western and Northern Cape.
When to visit
Choosing when to visit South Africa depends a lot on what you want to do. If you want to see the wildflowers, it’s best to come in August and September. If you want to visit the National Parks and enjoy some game viewing, it’s best to come in September and October.
Diving, on the other hand, is best from April through September and so is surfing.
Spring and autumn are best for hiking, while if you prefer to enjoy the sun it’s best to come in mid-summer.