20 EPIC Things to Do in South Africa with Kids: Local Guide!

A woman holding a child standing on a rock overlooking a town on the coast

Looking for the most epic things to do in South Africa with kids? I’ve got you covered! South Africa was my 1-year-old son’s 10th country he visited, and one my partner and I have both been to multiple times.

I love it so much, I’ve spent nearly 4 months there over the course of my life, and while I loved it as a solo traveler, I wondered how visiting South Africa would be with kids.

We found that, from penguin encounters to some of the continent’s best wildlife, this destination truly has it all for the little ones.

Get ready to embark on a family journey filled with excitement, wonder, and loads of sunshine as we explore the best kid-friendly activities in South Africa, starting in Cape Town.

If you are in a hurry

If you are here only to find the most amazing adventures for families in South Africa, here are the main tours to book in advance:

1. Meet African penguins at Boulders Beach

two penguins standing on a beach

Opening its sandy shores from 8 AM to 6:30 PM, Boulders Beach is not your average beach day. Get up close and personal with adorable African penguins, as your kids splash in the calm, shallow waters under the watchful gaze of these tuxedo-clad friends.

The Boulders Beach penguin colony is one of the most famous things to see in the area, and for good reason. You don’t get to combine penguins and a beach day all that often!

Entrance for adults is around 176 South African Rand or ZAR (US$10) and kids cost 88 ZAR (US$5).

If you want to explore Boulders Beach and the surrounding area, then you should take this half-day tour which leaves from Cape Town, so you don’t have to plan anything!

NOTE: Check the tide charts before you go and try to go at low tide, or the beach won’t be a beach!

TOUR PRICE: US$36 per adult, and US$27 for children (3-11)

Save your spot

2. Experience the amazing views from Table Mountain

aerial view of a cable car

Table Mountain, the iconic backdrop to Cape Town, offers more than just a stunning view. Take the little ones on a cable car ride from 8 AM to sunset for breathtaking vistas of the city and the sea.

Much of the area is travel stroller and wheelchair friendly if you’re traveling with a little guy like we were.

Kids under 4 ride free, while children aged 4-17 can join in on the fun for 300 ZAR (US$17).

Or if you are feeling more adventurous, then you can climb up the mountain by going on a summit walk for the whole family.

PRICE: US$106 per person aged 12+

Check availability

3. Explore the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

A wooden walkway leading to a mountain in a forest.

Open from 8 AM to 7 PM, Kirstenbosch is a paradise for nature-loving families. Let the kids roam freely in the magical treetop canopy walkway or attend a Sunday concert on the lawns.

If you’re a plant lover like me, you’ll see plenty of flowers and trees that are unique to the area and that you may have never seen before!

PRICE: 80 ZAR (US$5) for adults, and kids under 6 enter for free.

4. See the Animals at the The Two Oceans Aquarium

the entrance of an aquarium

Dive into the wonders of the ocean at the Two Oceans Aquarium from 9:30 AM to 6 PM (hours change seasonally). With interactive exhibits, feeding shows, and a touch-and-learn area, your little marine biologists will be in their element.

Tickets start at 200 ZAR for adults, and kids under 4 enter free.

You can visit the aquarium as part of this amazing full-day private family tour with all kinds of kid-friendly activities in Cape Town, plus a little wine-tasting bonus for the adults!

TOUR PRICE: US$100 for adults, US$50 for children aged 3 to 11

Book your spot

5. Get a taste of seaside village life at Hout Bay

view of a coastal village on a penninsula

For a taste of the seaside village life, head to Hout Bay. Explore the harbor, visit the bustling market, or take a boat trip to Seal Island. The cost varies depending on your chosen activities, but many are family-friendly and budget-friendly.

For instance, you can go on an incredible snorkeling experience and have the opportunity to swim with local cape fur seals at Hout Bay’s Duiker Island.

PRICE: $52 per person (children 9 and under aren’t permitted)

Go on a snorkeling adventure

6. Have some family fun time at Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Hout Bay, Imhoff Farm opens its doors from 9 AM to 5 PM and is a great combo to do with Hout Bay. Kids will love the farmyard, pony rides, and snake park, making it an ideal family day out with farm animals.

PRICE: free entrance, activity prices range from 50 ZAR (US$3) to 150 ZAR (US$9).

7. Relax for the day at Llandudno Beach

aerial view of a beach in a bay

Sink your toes into the golden sands of Llandudno Beach, open 24/7. Known for its gentle waves and stunning sunsets, it’s the perfect spot for a family beach day while in Cape Town.

If your kids are anything like mine, playing in the sand is one of the top things to do! Pack a picnic and enjoy the natural beauty at no cost.

8. Learn more about history at Robben Island

entrance to an old abandoned prison

Uncover the rich history of South Africa by taking a ferry to Robben Island. Tours include a visit to the former prison where Nelson Mandela was held.

While this might not be the best activity for every kid out there, the tour includes a boat ride out to the island and an understanding of South Africa’s Apartheid era. For older kids who are into history, this is important to understand how South Africa’s history shaped the country you see today.

PRICE: US$83 for adults, US$28 for kids

Book your island tour

Now that we’ve explored the wonders of Cape Town, let’s venture westward to discover more family-friendly wildlife escapes. Though many visitors just explore Cape Town, there’s honestly so much more to see well beyond it, including some of my favorite parts of the country.

9. Hike in nature at Tsitsikamma National Park (Eastern Cape)

a person crossing over a suspension bridge over water

For a perfect blend of nature and adventure, head to Tsitsikamma National Park, located in the Eastern Cape. This province is one of the most breathtaking in the country, and worth spending several days visiting.

Open from 7 AM to 6 PM, the park offers family-friendly hikes along the Storms River Mouth on the Garden Route. Encounter the iconic suspension bridge and marvel at the stunning coastal scenery.

Entrance is 296 ZAR (US$17) for adults, and kids under 12 enter for free.

If you are looking for a more adventurous activity in the beautiful surroundings of the National Park, then you can go on a guided quad bike tour through the wild landscape of Tsitsikamma on this excursion in your Garden Route trip.

TOUR PRICE: US$42 for adults, and US$21 for children 3 to 15

Join a quad bike tour

10. Visit Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary (Plettenberg Bay)

a monkey sitting on a branch

Continue your adventure at Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Stroll through the lush forest as monkeys roam freely in the world’s first multi-species, free-roaming monkey sanctuary.

Educational and entertaining, it’s an amazing experience the kids will talk about for days, and the guides are clearly so passionate about the monkeys.

Just be sure to wear lots of mosquito repellent. They even provide it at the park! Tickets are 350 ZAR (US$20) for adults, 175 (US$10) for kids, and babies under 3 enter for free.

If you want to learn more about the monkey population from a guide, you can take this tour and discover cool facts about the 11 different species living in Monkeyland.

PRICE: from US$39 per adult, and US$19 per child between 3 and 12

Join a guided tour of Monkeyland

11. Go bird watching at Birds of Eden (Plettenberg Bay)

a bird standing in water

Adjacent to Monkeyland, Birds of Eden provides a spectacular experience for bird enthusiasts. Open from 8 AM to 5 PM, this free-flight bird sanctuary showcases a variety of feathered friends in a vast, natural environment.

You can get a combo ticket with Monkeyland for 590 ZAR (US$32) per adult and 295 (US$16) per child.

If you are visiting during the high season (November to March), then you can also get a skip-the-line ticket that allows you to book in advance, and you can also get a complimentary guide!

PRICE: US$20 for adults and US$10 for kids

Get your skip the line ticket

12. Elephant encounter at Knysna Elephant Park

a big and small elephants covered in mud

Have a gentle encounter with these magnificent creatures at Knysna Elephant Park, open from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. Kids can touch and feed the elephants, creating lasting memories.

Of course, you want your elephant experience to be ethical! Knysna Elephant Park over the last 25 years has cared for and raised more than 40 elephants. These animals include relocated animals, orphaned calves, elephants rescued from culls, and ex-circus animals. Most importantly, there is no elephant riding.

Another awesome thing about this activity is that you can stay overnight at the lodge to watch them peacefully sleeping from the viewing balcony. Such a cool experience!

PRICE: Tickets start at 950 ZAR (US$52) for adults and kids over 5, while those under 5 enter for free.

13. Go on a safari at Addo Elephant National Park

A white van next to a group of elephants.

After seeing domesticated elephants, you’ve got to see wild African elephants as well! It’s the perfect way to get the best of both worlds.

Spot elephants, big cats, and other wildlife at Addo Elephant National Park (Easter Cape) open from 7 AM to 6:30 PM. Entrance is 397 (US$22) for adults and 119 (US$7) for kids.

However, the best way to see and learn more about all the animals you will encounter is to go on a half-day guided safari of the park. And if time permits, you can also take a full-day safari tour with Braai lunch!

PRICE: full-day US$155 per person, half-day US$75

Go on a full-day safari adventure

14. Spot majestic birds at Oudtshoorn Safari Ostrich Farm

A woman holding a bucket with ostriches eating from it

Delve into the world of these large flightless birds at the Oudtshoorn Safari Ostrich Farm, open from 8 AM to 4 PM. Kids can interact with ostriches, and the whole family can enjoy an informative tractor tour.

In the tour, the whole family can feed the birds and hear stories about them from the guide.

TOUR PRICE: US$10 per adult, and free for children under 18

Book a spot on the tour

15. Discover the animals at Cango Wildlife Ranch

a leopard

For a hands-on wildlife experience, visit the Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn from 8 AM to 5 PM. Cango Wildlife Ranch is a multi-accredited conservation destination, open year-round with over 90 species of beloved animals.

Enjoy their fun and educational guided tours, unique encounter programs, and even the World’s 1st Croc-Cage Dive! Encounter cheetahs, crocodiles, and lemurs, and learn about conservation efforts.

PRICE: 210 ZAR (US$12) for adults, 130 ZAR (US$7) for kids under 12, free for kids under 4

16. Swim and surf at Durban Beaches

a sandy beach

Hop over to Durban for some sun, sea, and surf! The beaches in Durban, including Umhlanga and Ballito, offer warm waters and expansive shores.

You can also go whale watching along the coastline, so check that out while you’re here!

Enjoy a family day out with sandcastle building and beach games. The cost? Totally free!

17. Hike at Golden Gate Highlands National Park

a woman holding out hands at a rock view point over a landscape

Journey to the Free State for a nature escape at Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Hike through golden sandstone cliffs, and keep an eye out for wildlife.

The park gets its name from the way that the sun hits the cliffs as it sets, creating a golden color!

Hiking is pretty easy here, though you’ll want a hiking backpack carrier for the littlest in your crew.

NOTE: Be sure to get out of the park before it’s completely dark, as wildlife frequently crosses the road. That’s great advice for anywhere in South Africa.

PRICE: 266 ZAR (US$15) for adults, 133 ZAR (US$7) for kids.

18. Discover fossils at Cradle of Humankind

fossils in a rock

Embark on a historical journey at the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng, a UNESCO World Heritage site open from 9 AM to 5 PM. Explore the Maropeng Visitor Centre and Sterkfontein Caves for an immersive experience in human evolution.

This is said to be the exact place where humanity originated, plus the area is gorgeous!

It’s an easy drive from Johannesburg, should you be starting or ending your trip there.

Tickets to the exhibition center are 190 ZAR (US$11) for adults, and kids under 4 enter for free.

If you want to get a whole other experience of the site then you should take a guided tour to explore one of the world’s richest concentrations of hominid fossils.

TOUR PRICE: US$85 per person

Join a guided tour

19. Go on a thrilling Magaliesberg Canopy Tour

Better for older kids, thrill-seekers in the family will love the Magaliesberg Canopy Tour, open from 7 AM to 3 PM. Soar through the treetops on a zip-line adventure with stunning mountain views. The kids will love it!

Don’t forget to wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes!

PRICE: 695 ZAR (US$38) per person

20. Explore Kruger National Park (Limpopo and Mpumalanga)

a safari truck standing on a road behind two rhinos

You can’t go to South Africa without spending a few days in what is possibly the best safari destination in Africa!

For a chance to see the big 5 – elephants, rhinos, cape buffalos, lions, and leopards – Kruger delivers, all with paved roads that you can drive in a Ford Fiesta. I should know, I’ve done it many times!

Plus, this makes safari with a baby, if you have one in tow, much easier since babies are often not allowed in open-air safari vehicles. Being able to self-drive with younger kids is a game changer!

This is a huge park, so stay at some of the camps within the park and give it at least a few days of your trip. I recommend Sleepover Orpen Gate, just a few mins drive from the park, for family rooms and a relaxed vibe!

Adults cost 486 ZAR (US$27) per day and children are 243 ZAR (US$13).

If you don’t want to drive by yourself, then you can book a full-day private safari where you’ll explore 7,523 square miles (19,485 square kilometers) with a safari guide who’ll share his knowledge of the animals with you.

PRICE: US$288 for adults, and US$55 for children

Book a full-day private safari

👪 Family-friendly score:high
🤩 Range of activities:large
🤿 Best adventurous activity:Snorkeling experience
🐘 Top safari:Addo Elephant National Park
🚶🏽‍♂️ Best free attraction:Durban beaches
💵 Best tour:Penguin encounter

Practical travel tips for exploring South Africa with kids

two girls standing on a cliff pointing towards the landscape

Traveling with children is always great fun, and exploring the diverse landscapes of South Africa with your little ones can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

However, it’s important to note that South Africa experiences a fair amount of crime, and there are essential things to know about staying safe.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, it’s important to consider factors such as safety, healthcare, and other practicalities.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your family-friendly South Africa trip:

1. Safety first

people and children on a beach

South Africa, like any travel destination, requires a certain level of awareness when it comes to safety. While major tourist areas are generally safe, it’s advisable to take precautions such as:

Health precautions – consult with your healthcare provider well in advance of your trip to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date. Malaria is present in some regions (like Kruger), so take appropriate precautions, especially if you plan to visit a game reserve.

Water safety – South Africa boasts beautiful beaches, but always keep a watchful eye on your little ones around water. Some of the currents are strong, the waves are big, and the undertow is present.

Street safety – keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas. In cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, certain areas are not meant for walking, including Alexandra in Johannesburg, and Langa and Nyanga in Cape Town.

Camp’s Bay is generally fine when you’re visiting Cape Town, but muggings are common, and walking around in many areas, even during the day, is not advised. Be careful with your belongings as well. Never leave anything visible in your parked car. Even if you don’t think it’s of value, it may seem that way to someone else, and car break-ins are common.

Traffic awareness – South Africa has left-hand traffic, so take extra care when crossing roads and use designated pedestrian crossings.

2. Healthcare and medical facilities

a girl leaning against a colorful house in a narrow street

South Africa has well-established medical facilities, particularly in urban areas. However, it’s wise to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances:

Health insurance – ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses. Check if your insurance includes coverage for children and any specific requirements for South Africa.

Medical emergencies – in case of a medical emergency, dial 10177 for an ambulance. Make a note of the nearest hospital or medical center to your accommodation.

Vaccinations and health precautions – be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. Carry a basic first aid kit, including any prescription medications your child may need.

3. Accommodation considerations

A view of a river in front of a hotel in cape town.

When choosing accommodation, especially with children in tow, consider the following:

Family-friendly accommodations – many hotels, guesthouses, and lodges in South Africa cater to families, but many also do not allow children at all. Look for accommodations that offer family rooms, cribs, and other child-friendly amenities.

Safety measures – inquire about safety features in your accommodation, such as window guards, childproof locks, and secure play areas.

Childcare services – some hotels provide childcare services or have partnerships with reputable childcare providers. This can be a helpful option if you and your partner want some adult time.

4. Transportation tips

a public bus

Getting around South Africa with kids involves some planning and consideration:

Child car seats – if you’re renting a car, confirm that the rental agency provides child car seats. It’s a legal requirement for children under 3 years old to use appropriate car seats. We almost always choose to bring our own from home.

Public transportation – while public transportation is available in major cities, it may not be as convenient with young children. Consider private transportation options or plan your public transportation journeys carefully.

Air travel – if you’re flying within South Africa, know that almost every airline will gate or hold check car seats and strollers for free.

5. Cultural and animal sensitivity

a small child petting a lion cub

South Africa is a culturally diverse nation, and respecting local customs and traditions is essential:

Friendly locals – South Africans are generally warm and welcoming, especially towards children. Don’t be surprised if your little ones attract smiles and friendly gestures.

Respect wildlife – if you’re visiting game reserves or national parks, teach your children about the importance of respecting wildlife from a safe distance. Never feed or approach wild animals.

FAQs about things to do in South Africa with kids

a girl and a boy overlooking a bay

🧒 Is South Africa kid-friendly?

Yes, South Africa is great for kids, especially the larger cities, where you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly accommodations options and family-friendly activities.

👪 What is the best time to visit South Africa for a family trip?

The best time to go to South Africa is from May to September, especially September when the conditions for viewing animals are excellent.

✨ What are some free things to do in South Africa with kids?

If you are looking for free activities for kids in South Africa, then you should enjoy the water sports at Durban Beaches, relax in the sun at Llandudno Beach, or explore sea village life at Hout Bay.

🤸 What are some fun kid-friendly tours in South Africa?

There are plenty of fun tours for kids in South Africa, such as this full-day safari adventure at Addo Elephant National Park, or a guided tour at Monkeyland where you’ll meet monkeys and learn more about them.

Conclusion

a woman holding a child standing on a rock with a landscape view of the mountains and the ocean

Now you know all the best things to do in South Africa with kids, you can start planning your trip!

Traveling with children requires some extra planning, but the experiences and memories created are well worth the effort. By staying informed, prepared, and flexible, you can have one of the coolest, most memorable trips in South Africa with your family.

There’s so much to see and do, and it’s such a gorgeous country, there’s a reason I keep going back!

Need any advice? Ping me a note in the comments and I’ll be happy to help!

Happy travels!

Kristin


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a collage of two photos: kids looking at animals on a safari and penguins on a beach

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