While the northern hemisphere is accustomed to celebrating a white Christmas, in South Africa, shorts and flip flops are the order of the day. Christmas time in SA is synonymous with frequent trips to the beach, fun-filled pool parties, plenty of braais and outdoor picnics. Here are a few ways you can spend the merriest of seasons in the Mother City.
See the Festive Lights in Adderley Street
Celebrate the beginning of the festive season at the official switch on of the Christmas lights in the heart of Cape Town. On December 4, Adderley Street will be transformed into a big street party with live music and numerous stalls selling everything from Christmas gifts to food under the colorful, twinkling lights.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Carols by Candlelight
Feel the Christmas spirit by singing Christmas Carols under the stars at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden (December 15 – 18). Pre-carol entertainment will be provided by the Cape Town Concert Brass and the Cape Town Male Voice Choir. Out in Somerset West, the Vergelegen Wine Estate will be hosting their annual Carols by Candlelight and Christmas pageant in their picturesque grounds on December 14. Bring along a picnic basket and enjoy the festive ambiance. In Stellenbosch, conductor Richard Cock and tenor Siyabonga Maqungo will entertain eager Christmas carolers at the Oude Libertas Amphitheater on December 17 and 18. Sing along to traditional Christmas songs performed by the festival choir, orchestra and soloists.
Shop for gifts at one of the many Christmas Markets
Shopping for Christmas gifts at a Christmas market is a lot more fun than manoeuvring through the long queues and madding crowd at the shopping mall this time of the year. Thankfully, in December there are plenty of pop-up Christmas markets around the city where you can find everything from Christmas decorations to handmade gifts.
Christmas at the Beach
In Cape Town, many families celebrate Christmas at home with gift giving, a traditional Christmas lunch or dinner, and lots of merriment. If you’re from the northern hemisphere, however, you’ll probably want to take advantage of the balmy weather, so consider finding a good spot at one of the city’s gorgeous beaches and enjoy a festive picnic in the fresh air and sunshine.
Eat and Be Merry!
Unless you really enjoy cooking, this is one day of the year you should not be slogging away behind a hot stove. Instead, go to one of the many restaurants and wine estates offering special Christmas lunches and dinners around Cape Town.
Watch a Festive Movie at Kirstenbosch
What better way to end off Christmas than by watching a festive movie under the stars on Christmas night. Bring a friend and head to Kirstenbosch Garden where the Galileo Open Air Cinema will be screening Elf, a quirky Christmas comedy starring Will Ferrell.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.