Weather in Johannesburg in January

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 20.05.2024

Looking to wise up on the weather in Johannesburg in January? This month sees the city in peak summer mode. Despite the possibility of showers — afternoon storms are common — the month is stacked with sunny days that are ideal for exploring the city and surrounding nature reserves when they're lush and green. For more detail, read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting South Africa's second-biggest city in January.

Is January a good time to visit Johannesburg?

If you like it hot and aren’t averse to thunderstorms, January is a good time to visit Johannesburg.

Less crowded from mid-January, when school holidays end, you’ll be able to enjoy exploring the city’s galleries, gardens, parks, and markets in a more chilled style.

This being rainy season, said gardens and parks will be gloriously green, as will the nearby nature and wildlife reserves. As such, they provide a lush backdrop for hiking, biking, and wildlife-watching adventures.

Two points of note. Firstly, temperatures are high in January, especially around midday, so stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Secondly, come prepared for the afternoon thunderstorms — plan indoor activities or sightseeing for the afternoons, and pack a light raincoat.

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

Johannesburg, South Africa © Mark G Williams/Shutterstock

This weather Johannesburg in January is hot, with frequent afternoon rain © Mark G Williams/Shutterstock

Average temperatures in Johannesburg in January

In January, Johannesburg sees average daytime temperatures ranging between 25°C (77°F) and 30°C (86°F).

January is also one of the wettest times of the year in Johannesburg. So, while mornings are often clear and warm, the afternoons often bring quick, heavy showers. While these cool things down, they also increase humidity.

Come night-time, temperatures drop to around 15°C (59°F) to 20°C (68°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 crowds and cost?

Relatively busy in early January — before locals go back to work, and children return to school after the festive summer holidays — mid-January sees Johannesburg return to moderate crowd levels.

This decrease in local holidaymakers can make it easier to visit popular sites without facing long lines or queues.

At the same time, festive season price hikes are reduced.

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

stairs-johannesburg-south-africa-shutterstock_1208264443

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 January

Considering Johannesburg's warm (and wet!) January weather, here are some of the best things to see and do during the month.

As a general rule, we suggest planning indoor activities during the peak heat of the day — from late morning to mid-afternoon, which is also when rain is most likely to strike. 

When you want to get out and about in the great outdoors —  whether that’s meandering markets in the city, or venturing further afield to nature reserves — set off early. 

Uncover culture and history on guided tours

Join a guided tour to explore Johannesburg's urban culture, historic buildings, and vibrant street art, preferably during cooler mornings or late afternoons.

Love art? Research tours that take in the likes of Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and the Goodman Gallery.

Editor’s tip: we especially recommend booking a guided bike tour of Soweto — an unforgettable way to learn about the history of South Africa's most famous township.

soweto-johannesburg-shutterstock_102107974

Soweto, Johannesburg © Shutterstock

Beat the heat in water parks

When you feel the need to cool off, visit some of the water parks in and around Johannesburg. For example, though primarily known as a theme park, Gold Reef City boasts a bounty of water rides, and it’s close to the city centre.

Meanwhile, Wild Waters — located just outside Johannesburg, in Boksburg — offers a whopping range of slides, pools and rides for all ages, from thrilling high-speed slides to leisurely family rides.

Take trips to surrounding areas

Take a day trip to the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve for a break from the city and a chance to experience South Africa's natural beauty and wildlife.

Editor’s tip: if you’re into walks on the wilder side, head to Melville Koppies and Klipriviersberg Nature Reserves to hike, bike or simply stroll in nature.

Explore outdoor markets and craft fairs

Visit markets like the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein or the Rosebank Sunday Market to experience local crafts, food, and music in an open-air setting.

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

Johannesburg, South Africa, Nelson Mandela Bridge ©  Ehrman Photographic/Shutterstock

Nelson Mandela Bridge, Johannesburg, South Africa © Ehrman Photographic/Shutterstock

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.

  • 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.
  • December: while this hot summer month is peak season across the wider country, many residents of the city head to the coast for their summer holidays.
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.

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Ready to travel and discover
South Africa?

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍