Weather in Johannesburg in December

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 20.05.2024

Want to find out about the weather in Johannesburg in December before booking your trip? This month sees summer in full swing, which means it’s hot and sunny, with brief afternoon thunderstorms taking the edge off the heat. While this is peak season for tourism in the region, many Johannesburgers head to the coast for holidays. For more detail, read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting South Africa's second biggest city in December.

Is December a good time to visit Johannesburg?

If you like it hot and can handle thunderstorms (usually brief and in the afternoon) December can be a good time to visit Johannesburg. Add to that opportunities to experience the city in full-on festive mode, and it’s clear there are plenty of reasons to visit Johannesburg in December.

In general, the weather in Johannesburg in December is conducive to enjoying outdoor activities in the mornings and late afternoons, whether that’s venturing to nearby nature reserve to hike and bike, or exploring Jo’Burg’s street art and markets.

Meanwhile, the middle of the day — when it’s super-hot and most prone to rain — is best reserved for checking out museums and indoor cultural attractions.

One thing to note is that although this is a peak season month in South Africa — for example, it’s one of the most popular times to take a wildlife safari trip  — December sees many locals depart the city for the coast.

As a result, Johannesburg itself can actually be less crowded than usual in December, even though this is a high season elsewhere in the country. 

Keen to visit Johannesburg? Browse our customisable South Africa itineraries, or talk to our local experts.

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The weather in Johannesburg in December is hot and sunny with short thunderstorms © Shutterstock

Average temperatures in Johannesburg in December

Summer season weather in Johannesburg in December means average daytime temperatures ranging between 25°C (77°F) and 30°C (86°F).

Night-time temperatures remain pleasant too, with lows of 14°C (57°F) and highs of 18°C (64°F). 

Editor’s tip: for a bigger picture of the weather, read up on when to go to South Africa. And if you are also planning to visit Cape Town read our guide to the best time to visit Cape Town and prepare for your trip.

What about the crowds and cost?

In December, Johannesburg tends to be less crowded because many residents leave the city to take their summer holiday along the coast. This can make the city feel more relaxed and quieter than usual, particularly in residential areas and some business districts.

That said, popular tourist attractions may still experience a fair number of visitors, especially from international tourists. Also note that entertainment venues might also be busier due to festive events.

At the same time, while other areas of South Africa see a rise in costs rise in December  — especially when it comes to safaris — Johannesburg is something of an exception. For example, the cost of transport and attractions are likely to remain the same, and you might also be able to book accommodation for a good price.

In fact, other than some restaurants and entertainment venues having higher holiday pricing for special menus and events, visiting Johannesburg in December definitely doesn’t have to break the bank. 

Set on taking a trip at this time of year? Discover some of the best places to visit in December.

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Johannesburg street scene © Shutterstock

Unforgettable customisable Johannesburg itineraries

If you’re thinking of heading to Johannesburg — or elsewhere in South Africa — browse our customisable South Africa itineraries before booking your trip.

Curated with the guidance of a local expert, they eliminate all the hassle of planning and booking. Check out these sample itineraries for inspiration. 

  • City Life and Safari - South African Gems (17 days): this diverse itinerary kicks off in Cape Town, where you'll explore the likes of Table Mountain and Robben Island before venturing to the Winelands. The trip concludes in epic style with a three-day safari in Kruger National Park before taking to you Johannesburg.
  • Cape Town and the Garden Route - a luxury guided tour (7 days):  Cape Town and the Garden Route have it all — from fascinating cultures and exhilarating safaris, to incredible chocolate and wine tasting experiences. Encompassing the coastal city of Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula and Knysna, this trip winds up in Mossel Bay, where you'll get to go on game drives.
  • Explore the North of South Africa: Sun City and Madikwe game reserve (7 days): if you’re short on time, this trip takes in stacks of unforgettable experiences close to Johannesburg. After having fun at the fantastical Lost City theme park, you’ll head to Madikwe, where you'll go on a 4X4 game drive.

To be fully prepared for your trip, be sure to check out our tips for visiting South Africa.

Black-maned lion in desert portrait, Kalahari, South Africa © JMx Images/Shutterstock

Booking a Rough Guides' trip can take you from safari adventures to city exploration © Shutterstock

What to do and see in Johannesburg in December

Taking into account the summer weather, seasonal events, and the fact many locals leave the city for the festive period, here are some ideas for what to see and do in Johannesburg in December.

Enjoy outdoor markets and festive events

Though a great way to experience culture and local food at any time of the year, come December, Johannesburg’s markets exude extra seasonal sparkle.

For example, head to Bryanston Organic Market and the Neighbourgoods Market for unique gifts and special festive foods. 

At the same time, the city’s parks and public spaces play host to outdoor Christmas events, concerts, and carol nights.

Take history tours

Take advantage of the quieter city streets and explore Johannesburg's rich history by visiting the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, and Mandela House. 

We also suggest booking a guided bike tour of Soweto — an unforgettable, immersive way to learn about the history of South Africa's most famous township.

Editor’s tip: to go further back in history — and enjoy incredible views — book a hot air balloon ride over the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Soweto, Johannesburg © Shutterstock

Uncover local culture

Explore Johannesburg's vibrant arts scene by visiting galleries, museums, and cultural precincts like Maboneng and Newtown. Many venues host special exhibitions or events during the festive season.

Love art? Don’t miss Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Goodman Gallery to see impressive collections of South African and international art.

Editor’s tip: book a guided tour to see Johannesburg's vibrant street art.

Get back to nature

Johannesburg is within easy reach of splendid places to enjoy the great outdoors, and see some of South Africa’s iconic wildlife. For example, you can hike and bike in the Melville Koppies and Klipriviersberg Nature Reserves. 

We also suggest visiting the Lion and Safari Park. Just an hour by car from Johannesburg, it’s an easy, rewarding way to see stacks of incredible wildlife.

Alongside the lions, you’ll also get to see cheetahs, spotted hyenas, African wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, warthogs — and more.

Still making up your mind? Read our first-timers guide to Johannesburg.

Street art by Mr Slippers

Street art by Mr Slippers

Visit Johannesburg in different months

To be better informed before booking your trip, find out what to expect of the weather in Johannesburg around the year.

  • January: being one of the rainiest times of the year, January sees Johannesburg look lush and green. It’s also hot, and subject to afternoon thunderstorms.
  • February: love warm weather, smaller crowds, lush scenery, and don’t mind rain? February is a good month to visit Johannesburg.
  • March: as summer tails off and autumn begins, March’s mild weather is ideal for exploring the city and its wilder surroundings.
  • April: this early autumn month offers a sweet spot between the extreme heat of summer and chill of winter.
  • May: marking the transition to the city’s mild winter season, expect clear sunny days, low rainfall, and small crowds.
  • June: this low season winter month brings mild daytime temperatures, crisp evenings, little rainfall and the same small crowds you’ll experience in May.
  • July: similar to June, expect cool-to-mild daytime temperatures, chilly mornings and evenings, little rainfall, and low visitor numbers.
  • Augustthis low-season month sees the city shift to spring — expect clear days, cool nights and rewarding dry-season wildlife-watching experiences.
  • Septemberheralding the true start of spring, this pre-peak-season month sees warmer weather, blooming landscapes, and clear, sunny skies.
  • October: shoulder-season October sees the city in full spring mode, with warmer temperatures and blooming flowers, thanks to the rise in rainfall. 
  • November: this month brings warmer temperatures, increased humidity and rainfall, and greener landscapes as the region shifts from late-spring to summer.
Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 20.05.2024

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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