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Mural of Jan van Riebeeck in Maboneng | © Adamina/Flickr
Mural of Jan van Riebeeck in Maboneng | © Adamina/Flickr
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When's the Best Time of Year to Visit Johannesburg

Picture of Carina Claassens
Updated: 13 April 2018
South Africa’s City of Gold boasts amazing weather all year round; summer days are warm and rounded off by breathtaking thunderstorms, while the mild winter is sunny and dry. Depending on your itinerary, here are the best times to visit this bustling city.

January

January starts off slow in Johannesburg, as most locals only return from their December holidays in the first or second week. It’s also one of the hottest months, but rain in the afternoons and evenings cools things down. If you’re ringing in the New Year here, you’ll definitely find a place to celebrate, whether you want to spend the evening wining and dining, bar hopping or clubbing. Apart from parties, January is one of the best months for outdoor activities, so explore one of the many walking and running routes in and around the city, dine alfresco at top restaurants and laze around by the pool. Remember to pack sunscreen, your sunnies, a hat and a light jacket for those rainy evenings. Other than that, summer wear is ideal for this time of the year.

Rainfall: 15 days

Temperature: 77.9°F (25.5°C)

Backpackers guide to South Africa (16)-min
South African nightlife | © South African Tourism

February

Summer is still in full swing and exploring the city during this month is a must. Locals spend their free time at street cafes listening to live music and chowing down on tasty food. Check out Pata Pata in Maboneng, Voodoo Lilly Café in Birdhaven and Parkhurst’s busy 4th Avenue for a buzzing atmosphere. Evenings are meant for going out, thanks to the warm weather and late sunsets, so book an early dinner at a trendy restaurant and spend the night soaking in all that this amazing city has to offer. Pack light and don’t worry about warm jackets or coats. Summery clothing with something to throw on when it does get a bit chilly (which hardly ever happens) will be perfect.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 77°F (25°C)

Pet friendly restaurant Voodoo Lily
Soak in the sun by taking an outside table | © Voodoo Lily Cafe

March

Locals look forward to March as it holds the first of many public holidays to come. South Africa boasts an incredible 12 public holidays! That means time off work and possibly a getaway to a nearby destination. Human Rights Day on March 21 and Good Friday both fall in this month, which means family time and a celebration of the country’s constitution. Events are held across the city to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre that took place in 1960 so keep an eye on gig guides and social media pages for what’s to come.

Rainfall: 10 days

Temperature: 75.2°F (24°C)

Constitution Hill (2)
The Constitutional Court | Courtesy of Constitution Hill

April

Hard to believe but April is yet another month locals look forward to when it comes to taking some time off. Family Day is celebrated on April 2 and Freedom Day on April 27. The Easter break stretches into the beginning of April and locals who decide to spend it at home do so wisely. The city is quieter than usual at this time and markets and restaurants make the most of it. There are tons of Easter specials, delicious food and live events. Autumn kicks off in April, meaning colder evenings, but an overall mild temperature. Don’t pack too much warm clothing as days can still be very warm.

Rainfall: 10 days

Temperature: 69.8°F (21°C)

Top-live-music-venues-in-Johannesburg_Stanley-Beer-Yard
Aside from live music and amazing craft beer, the bar also hosts regular vinyl markets | Courtesy of Stanley Beer Yard

May

May is the start of this amazing city‘s winter and, although the days are mild, mornings and evenings are chilly. Days are also shorter and locals spend more time indoors. If you’re not one for balmy days, this is the perfect time to hop on a sightseeing bus and explore this city’s many fascinating sites. Head to the Apartheid Museum and take a stroll through the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens where autumn colours create a beautiful spread as far as the eye can see.

Rainfall: 5 days

Temperature: 64.4°F (18°C)

Backpackers guide to South Africa (5)-min
The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg | © South African Tourism

June

Winter in Johannesburg is extremely pleasant. The weather is mild and the sun warm and there’s very little rainfall (if any). Youth Day, celebrated on 16 June, is another public holiday and, yet again, reason to celebrate. To learn more about this day and South Africa’s turbulent history, your best bet is to visit Constitution Hill. Tours are extensive and will open your eyes to the horrific circumstances South Africans had to endure during the Apartheid regime. During the winter months it’s wise to pack a warm jacket or coat, boots, trousers and warm tops. It’s nothing compared to a European winter but cold nevertheless.

Rainfall: 2 days

Temperature: 60.8°F (16°C)

Staircases are all that remain of the Awaiting Trial Block
Staircases are all that remain of the Awaiting Trial Block | Courtesy of Constitution Hill

July

July is one of the coldest months in Johannesburg and probably the best time of year to visit one of the many game reserves near the city. Animals prefer the cool weather and are more active in the daytime than they would be during the summer. Whether you choose to head out for the day or stay overnight in one of the lodges, you’re in for an unforgettable trip. Pilansberg National Park, Madikwe Game Reserve and Mabula Game Lodge are all within a few hours’ drive, and the journey is well worth it. Pack warm clothes, including scarves and beanies, for game drives as it gets very cold on the open vehicles. It’s also a good idea to pick up a travel mug for something warm to drink while spotting animals.

Rainfall: 1 day

Temperature: 60.8°F (16°C)

Game reserves_Mabula-min
The boma | Mabula Game Reserve

August

If your main aim is exploring the streets of Johannesburg, this might just be the month for you. Winter is coming to an end but temperatures are still mild, so pack warm clothes (think jeans, closed shoes, light shirts, a jersey or two and a jacket). The best part about visiting in August is that airfares are much cheaper than in peak season, which is of course during the summer months. Book in advance to ensure you get the best deal and you’ll be well on your way. Another bonus? Tourists are always seen in Johannesburg, but during August the crowds are exceptionally smaller. This is also the month in which South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day (August 9), so check out local event pages and join in the festivities.

Rainfall: 2 days

Temperature: 66.2°F (19°C)

johannesburg skyline
The Johannesburg skyline at sunset taken in the Maboneng neighborhood | © Carina Claassens

September

September in South Africa is associated with warmer weather, braaing, the first rain of the season and tons of poolside R&R. During this month locals unpack their summer wardrobes, grab their flip-flops and get back outside. Spring day falls on September 1 and Heritage Day (also known as Braai Day) on September 24. Music events, markets and more fun activities celebrate the return of spring and South Africans, being as social as they are, spend as much time as possible celebrating. Pack clothing suitable for warm weather and a cardigan or light jersey for cooler, rainy evenings.

Rainfall: 3 days

Temperature: 71.6°F (22°C)

A grill placed over a wood fire
A grill placed over a wood fire | © CoralBrowne / WikiCommons

October

October in Johannesburg is spectacular as the jacaranda trees are in full bloom. They’re scattered all over the city, and when seen from a viewpoint they create a carpet of purple. Head to The Westcliff Four Seasons Hotel for some of the best views the city has to offer, complemented by delicious cocktails served on an open terrace. You’ll soon realise why so many refer to Johannesburg as an urban jungle. Pack summer clothing and ditch the closed shoes, October is when the weather really starts warming up.

Rainfall: 10 days

Temperature: 74.3°F (23.5°C)

Jacaranda_8-min
Each year, jacarandas pop up all over Johannesburg | South African Tourism

November

November is Christmas market month as everyone starts prepping for the holiday season. The city starts winding down and festive decorations start going up. There are so many markets filled to the brim with decor, Christmas treats and gift options for everyone you know, that attending only one is impossible. A highlight is the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market that hosts beautiful Moonlight Markets with a focus on handmade goods, while just about every other market has a Christmas edition.

Rainfall: 15 days

Temperature: 75.2°F (24°C)

Wass skincare
Locally produced skincare products, like Wass Skincare, are stocked at local markets and make great gifts | Courtesy of The Neighbourgoods Market

December

December is when most South Africans head to the country’s coast or other holiday destinations to enjoy a well-deserved break. As soon as the schools close, the hustle and bustle of this busy city dies down. This is the only month of the year where the city is traffic free and you can take your pick of restaurants without booking far in advance. Those who decide to stay home for the holidays relish this time, as the city becomes their playground. Spending Christmas in Johannesburg definitely isn’t a bad idea – it’s city life without the crowds. There are also many family-friendly events like Zoo Lake’s Carols by Candlelight where visitors picnic while listening to renditions of festive favourites.

Rainfall: 15 days

Temperature: 77°F (25°C)

The manicure and pedicure lounge at Fairlawns
After a long day of exploring, why not make a booking at one of the city’s many spas | Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

When not to go to Johannesburg

Thanks to its mild weather and many attractions, Johannesburg really is an all-year-round destination. We would, however, recommend visiting outside of the South African peak season (November-March) if you’d like to see the city in full swing.