South Africa with kids

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 03.06.2024

Stacked with incredible safari experiences and beautiful beaches, and not short of fun theme parks and child-friendly facilities, South Africa is a great place to head for an unforgettable family trip. For detail, read this guide to visiting South Africa with kids. Covering tips for travelling with infants, through to the best places to take teenagers, here we also share itinerary ideas to kick-start your South African adventure.

Is South Africa suitable for kids?

It certainly is. From wildlife safaris and beautiful beaches, to interactive museums and adventure activities, South Africa offers plenty to keep children of all ages engaged and excited.

Before we dig deeper into the needs of each age group — and suggest suitable itineraries you might want to consider — it’s worth keeping a few general points in mind. 

In bigger cities, you’ll want to stay vigilant, use reputable transport options, and keep valuables secure.

The same is true when it comes to booking safari experiences and accommodation. Always use reputable companies and guides, and be sure to get confirmation of specific accommodation requirements in advance. For example, do you need a cot or high chair? How accessible is the property?

As a general rule of thumb, cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg will suit kids and grown-ups alike, with a range of food and accommodation options, and a high standard of facilities.

In addition, such cities boast tonnes of family-friendly activities, from theme parks and interactive museums, to nearby national parks that offer easy, safe access to incredible wildlife.

Meanwhile, for a chilled-out beach break with kids of any age you could look into visiting less busy coastal towns.

Tempted to take a trip to South Africa? Browse our customisable South Africa itineraries, or talk to our local experts .

Cape Town, South Africa - aerial view © Mark Van Overmeire/Shutterstock

Travelling to South Africa with kids? Consider including Cape Town on your itinerary © Mark Van Overmeire/Shutterstock

South Africa with infants and toddlers

When it comes to travelling to South with infants and toddlers, deciding where to stay and how you’re going to get around are likely to be top of your priorities. 

Bearing in mind that public transport in South Africa is limited, unless you’re planning to stay put, you might want to hire a car. If that’s the case, note that while car rentals can provide child safety seats, it’s best to confirm in advance.

When choosing where to stay, find out whether the places you’re considering have amenities like cribs and high chairs. Though widespread in cities and major tourist towns, if you’re heading further off the beaten track, it’s best to check before booking.

You’ll also want to have a travel health kit handy — something that’s well-stocked with items such as baby paracetamol, anti-rash cream, and rehydration salts. 

Still undecided? Wise up on other family-friendly destinations, and some of the best places to go with kids.

Table mountain cable way, Cape Town, South Africa @ Shutterstock

Table Mountain cable car, Cape Town, South Africa @ Shutterstock

South Africa with pre-teen kids

While the youngest of kids might find a full-on safari too much — and it might be too much for you to handle — they’re ideal for those who’ve moved beyond the toddler phase.

As such, going on safari in the likes of Kruger National Park comes hugely recommended if you’re in South Africa with children.

Alternatively, Johannesburg has much to keep kids happy. Both destinations are covered in more detail below. 

Editor's tips: if you plan to visit malaria-prone areas like Kruger National Park, consult your doctor before travelling, and teach children to stay close, especially in crowded places and while in the wild outdoors.

Set on a safari? Read our guide to how to plan a South African safari. Alternatively, save yourself the hassle and book our customisable Kruger Adventure trip.

Chacma baboon Kruger National Park, South Africa © Shutterstock

 Kruger National Park, South Africa © Shutterstock

South Africa with teenagers 

While teenagers are also likely to love going on a safari, they’ll also be old enough to throw themselves into South Africa’s more adventurous activities. 

In South Africa, they can take their pick from mountain climbing, abseiling, surfing, hang-gliding, and hot-air ballooning. Just ensure activities are booked through reputable providers. 

Depending on their interests, another great way to engage teenagers is via trips that engage with local culture and history. 

For example, known as the street art capital of Africa, Johannesburg’s vibrant Maboneng Precinct district is a must-visit.

Or how about heading to the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site, or uncovering Cape town’s history on a trip to Robben Island?

One last suggestion — to enhance their experience, invite the teenager you’re travelling with to get involved with planning your trip. Give them responsibly for choosing some activities and helping map out your schedule.


Johannesburg, South Africa © Shutterstock

Where to stay

While only you will know exactly what you and your family want from your trip — and your personal practical needs — here’s a run-down of some recommended places to visit in South Africa, considering different age groups.

Infants and toddlers

When it comes to places you might want visit with infants and toddlers, Cape Town makes a great base. With tonnes of modern, family-friendly places to stay, it’s convenient and offers easy access to some incredible experiences that are practical — and enjoyable — for all ages.

For example, you could catch the cable car up to Table Mountain. While strollers can be wheeled right onto it, bring a sling if you want to trails at the top. 

Elsewhere in town, Two Oceans Aquarium and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are also stroller-friendly, and offer plenty of space for little ones to explore.

Another option when in South Africa with kids — including infants and toddlers — is to travel the Garden Route.

Renowned for its natural beauty, the beaches along the Garden Route — such as those in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna — are clean, often calm, and not too crowded, making them ideal for toddlers to play and paddle in the shallow waters.

Meanwhile, nature reserves like Tsitsikamma National Park offer well-maintained boardwalks that are suitable for strollers.


Knysna, South Africa © Shutterstock

Pre-teen kids

Kruger National Park comes hugely recommended if you’re in South Africa with kids.

Alongside taking lots of unforgettable game drives, look into booking a lodge that offers entertaining — and educational — junior ranger programs.

Alternatively, Johannesburg has much to keep kids happy, including the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and Johannesburg Zoo, with Gold Reef City theme park on hand for an easy, fun day trip. 


As will already be clear, Cape Town is a top place to visit if you travelling with kids of any age, but back to the question of travelling with teenagers.

In addition to the suggestions mentioned above, Cape Town offers stacks of adventure activities like zip-lining and sandboarding. Or you could take a family kayak trip to see penguins at Boulders Beach.

Meanwhile, laidback Durban boasts great beaches and is perfect for water sports. Or, for a mix of aquatic fun and adventure sports, head to Shaka Marine World.

How long have you got? Check-out our suggested itineraries for spending a week in South Africa, 10 days, and a fortnight.


Durban, South Africa © Shutterstock

From Garden Route glory, to self-drive safari adventures, here are a couple of recommended South Africa itineraries to consider taking with kids.

Cape Town and the Garden Route — ideal for all ages

Offering beautiful beaches, walks and hikes for all abilities, and seriously good food and wine (grown-ups need to be catered for, too!), trips from Cape Town along the Garden Route are sure to keep everyone happy. 

We’ve already shared why Cape Town is great for various ages, and it’s also a great place to start this itinerary.

Depending on the age range of your party, visit the stroller-friendly Two Oceans Aquarium and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, or else book some adventure activities for the first few days of your trip.

As you drive the Garden Route, take time to stop at the likes of the Elephant Sanctuary near Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay. At the latter, everyone will be happy — take your pick from enjoying the golden beach, or going on an ocean safari to spot dolphins, whales, and seals. 

Travelling with nature-lovers? Visit the nearby Robberg Nature Reserve for scenic hikes and wildlife wonders.

Editor’s tip: read our feature on the best Garden Route itinerary and take inspiration from our customisable Garden Route trip.

Robberg 5 Beach from Robberg Nature Reserve near Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route, South Africa © Shutterstock

 Robberg Nature Reserve near Plettenberg Bay, South Africa © Shutterstock

Swaziland self-drive experience: ideal for older kids and teens

Suitable for all ages — if you can handle longer drives with toddlers! — our Family Self-drive Adventure in South Africa and Swaziland is arguably best-suited to older kids and teenagers. 

First up, hit the highlands in Dullstroom, where you can access walks, hikes and adventure activities like rock climbing.

From here, head to Blyde River Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes to enjoy scenic views and incredible geological formations, before spending a full day on a game drive in Kruger National Park

Next up, cross the border into Swaziland, where the epic Lubombo Mountains await, plus bushwalks along the Msineni River.

Another highlight around these parts is Hluhluwe Game Reserve — a top spot to round off an unforgettable family road trip.

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa © AdobeStock

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa © AdobeStock

Practical tips for travelling to South Africa with kids

To enhance your experience of visiting South Africa with kids, here are some practical tips tailored for families traveling with infants and toddlers, younger children, and teenagers.

Infants and Toddlers

  • Pack wisely: bring along all necessary baby supplies like diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. Also pack a good supply of sunscreen and baby-friendly insect repellent.
  • Plan wisely: schedule downtime and plan activities around your child’s routine to avoid overtiredness. 
  • Accommodation: choose accommodation with family-friendly facilities, such as cribs and high chairs.
  • Getting around: when renting a car, be sure to book a suitable car seat in advance. Also plan regular road breaks to keep everyone happy.
  • Health: talk to your doctor before traveling to discuss health precautions, and always use bottled water for drinking and preparing formula.

Younger children

  • Educate your kids (by stealth!): take advantage of South Africa’s rich wildlife and history through visits to wildlife reserves, museums and cultural villages.
  • Safety: it goes without saying that you should keep a close eye on children, especially in busy areas like markets or when near water. Teach them basic safety rules about not wandering off, and what to do if they’re separated from you.
  • Routine: while it’s tempting to pack a lot into your days, younger children need a slower pace. Plan for early dinners and a good night’s sleep.


  • Engagement: involve teenagers in planning your trip by letting them choose some activities. 
  • Foster freedom and independence: allow older children a degree of independence where safe, such as exploring a market or museum with agreed check-in times and meeting points.
  • Investigate adventure activities: South Africa is full of adventure activities that might just appeal to teens, from surfing in Cape Town, to zip-lining and bungee jumping along the Garden Route.
  • Cultural immersion: encourage teenagers to engage with history by visiting sites like Robben Island in Cape Town, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, or the Battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Connectivity: while you might want to encourage a degree of digital disconnection during your trip, it’s probably to wise to check your accommodation has wi-fi.

For more general advice, read our practical tips for travelling with kids.

South Africa, Tsitsikamma National Park, wooden bridge suspended above Storms River on Garden Route

Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa © Shutterstock

Inspired to visit South Africa? Get The Rough Guide to South Africa and discover the best things to do in South Africa to help you plan your trip.

Not keen on planning? Browse our customisable South Africa itineraries before talking to our local experts to kick start curating your dream trip.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 03.06.2024

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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