How to make the most of a SA staycation

2015-04-24 05:00 - Selene Brophy
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Doorstep travel, Staycation, Shot Left, whatever you want to call it - travelling in and around the city you live in is awesome when you happen to live in South Africa.

The ultimate lure of the staycation is just wanting to be a couch potato as you chill at home for a bit, recharging your batteries and switching off from work and the everyday bustle.

Another popular reason for just staying put is to be able to save some money on accommodation in order to splurge on activities and attractions that you've just been itching to check out but have never really had the time to do.

This is according to the recent #TravelChatSA that took place on twitter - if you don't already know about it, it's run by @TravelOpulent and takes place every Wednesday at 19:00 - join in for a fun conversation with passionate travellers and get to learn a whole lot of interesting and really useful travel facts and things.  

If you missed the staycation chat, here are some of the key tips and ideas shared. Following that you can check out the suggested staycation ideas for three of SA's busiest city. And if you have any of your own to share, why not email us at

#TravelChatSA: So WHY a staycation?

- It requires less planning and makes it easier to find the good deals.

- You actually get the chance to know more about the place you live in.

- You can check out the new cafés, eateries and coffee shops in your hood as you indulge in a spot of people-watching.

- You get to chill out and rest without feeling guilty that you're wasting your money.

- It’s an opportunity to do things you wouldn’t usually do.

- Having a staycation makes it easier to when your partner cannot take leave

- It means saving on accommodation costs or booking into a hotel you've always wanted to check out in order to spoil yourself.

- You can splurge more on activities if you're not paying for accommodation.

- A staycation is extremely family-friendly and makes retreating to the creature comforts after a long day of exploring with the kids really easy.

But the overwhelming benefit? You get to be the ultimate day-tripper in your home city – here are a few things to try and consider in each of South Africa’s major cities.


This view! #lovecapetown #meetsouthafrica

A photo posted by Traveller24_SA (@traveller24_sa) on

The V&A Waterfront is Africa's most visited attraction for a reason. Go have  breakfast at one of the dozens of eateries on offer. It’s the perfect place to catch a movie or indulge in a bit of retail therapy.

How about a 15-minute ride on the The Wheel of Excellence for all-round views – Best time to post an Instagram pic so you can feel like you’re really on vacation, which you are. Also, since you’re saving on accommodation, it means you can definitely splurge on a helicopter flip around the city.

The kids will love a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium with its thousands of sea animals, from penguins to sharks, on display in a variety of settings, from a giant central tank (in which you can dive with sharks) to a kiddie-friendly touch pool.   

A staycation is the perfect time to visit all those World Heritage sites in your city, such as Robben Island.

Hike up Table Mountain, one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature, or take the Cableway for free on your birthday. Just bring your ID along.   

Most of all, indulge your foodie side! As a Capetonian you are spoiled for choice -  click here for some great restaurant suggestions.

In the mood for something completely different? Head for a tour of the underground tunnels.

Or head for the ‘museum meander’ which encompasses the Bo-Kaap, District 6, Iziko, Jewish and South African museums; and/or visits to any of the city’s peaceful and beautiful greenbelts - the Company’s Garden, De Waal Park or the Green Point Urban ‘people’s park’ with its stunning views of the Cape Town Stadium and Signal Hill, and its adventure and heritage section and biodiversity nursery.

If you aren’t all museumed-out, the Castle of Good Hope is worth a visit.

Now is the perfect time to check the The Fringe that includes the Cape Craft and Design Institute, the Cape Fashion Council or the ever-popular Charly’s Bakery

Woodstock is becoming the arts and culture centre of note with a vibey heart. If it’s a Saturday, go source some organic fare at The Old Biscuit Mill

Go take a township tour through Guguletu, Khayelitsha and Langa - use the Citysightseeing bus tour, take one around Cape Town in fact and feel like a tourist as the audio played on board often treats you to quirky facts and insights you might not have known about the places you see every day.

SEE: Ziplining along the Valleys of Table Mountain

READ: Cape Town claims 3rd place in Condé Nast World's Best Food Cities list

READ: SA's favourite museums - as voted by visitors

READ: Get going to LaGuGu

READ: Get ready for the SA Cheese Festival in the Winelands

READ: SA's most adrenalin-filled adventures

But these are by no means the total depth of a Capetonian staycation, we haven't even started with the winelands. Overberg or West Coast – we’d love to hear your suggestions?  So email us at


Jozi, you may be a bit broken, but I love you so. #meetsouthafrica

A photo posted by mzansigirl (@mzansigirl) on

We're so in love with the energy of Joburg and heading there on a weekend away counts as a staycation in our books. And a real fun one at that. But where to start?

Head to Rivonia to check out Liliesleaf Farm museum. It was at this farm, in the 1960s, that members of the ANC met to discuss a strategy to overthrow the South African government, and were arrested after a raid. The subsequent ‘Rivonia Trial’ led to a life sentence for Nelson Mandela and seven others.

Go check out the energetic buzz of Soweto, for some it will be like visiting another universe (and we mean this in a good way). There are many options for Soweto tours; choose one that includes visits to the Hector Pietersen Museum and Mandela House. If you can have lunch in a local home, that’s first prize; otherwise, a visit to a shebeen will fit the bill.

Head to ‘Freedom Square’ (formally, Walter Sisulu Square) in Kliptown for an afternoon. This is where to find the Kliptown Open Air Museum, which uses multimedia to tell the story of the Freedom Charter. Other attractions here are the Freedom Charter monument and the 10 Pillars (representing the 10 articles of the Charter), plus restaurants and shops and a hawkers’ market.

A visit to the Soweto Theatre in nearby Jabulani would make for a fun night out.   

Take the kids to the Johannesburg Zoo in Parkview, built in 1904 on land donated by the business partners of the late Hermann Ekstein, who was responsible for planting three million of the trees that now make up the giant man-made forest you call home.  

The burgeoning Maboneng (which means ‘Place of Light’ in Sotho) precinct is a great place to catch some lunch or simply to celebrate that reinvention of urban decay and neglect into a thriving centre for the creative arts.  

While away the hours browsing in the shops and galleries or simply take some time out to enjoy coffee and cake in the tea-shops and delis.

What to take in a flick, head to the Bioscope independent cinema, which screens unique local films and doccies, indie movies from around the world, and the occasional live musician.

READ: Extreme family fun in Joburg

READ: Joburg's Maboneng listed as cool new attraction

READ: A wild weekend in the Waterberg

READ: Joburg boutique hotel named best in Africa

READ: Hugh Masekela Heritage festival in Soweto hits all the right notes

What else would you do in and around Joburg during your staycation? We’d love to hear your suggestions?  So email us at


Ah, Durban you lucky thing. Those who live there are spoiled with pretty much a year-round holiday climate and tropical beaches aplenty, probably why more often than not, so many nice people come from Durban.

Home to one of the continent’s busiest ports, it’s also the gateway to a vast range of natural and cultural attractions.

But for the intents and purposes of this guide, it's about what you can do in and round the city. So why not treat the family to breakfast on the beach - go put your feet in the sand at CircusCircus Beach Café on the promenade. 

And because you're on a Staycation, it means you have all the time in the world to spend at the beach or even head to an old favourite, uShaka Marine World – treat the kids to a dolphin show or the ‘wet and wild’ play area that includes a huge swimming pool and a waterslide that purports to be Africa’s highest. 

If you've been wanting to tackle that Urban city adventure Durban has become so popular for, head to the Moses Madhiba Stadium in Isaiah Ntshangase Road. Built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, this complex bills itself as ‘more than a stadium’ – and it is.

Here, you can climb the 500 steps up the stadium arch or take a SkyCar ride for a 360-degree view of Durban, stretch your legs in the People’s Park, bungee-jump 80m into the stadium bowl with the Big Rush Big Swing, or go on one of the stadium tours.  

Go check out Suncoast Casino, Hotels & Entertainment for some evening fun, whether it involves a spin on the roulette table, a flutter on the slot machines, a movie or live show, a meal or a treatment in the spa. 

Durban Botanic Gardens in Berea is the oldest botanical gardens in Africa and this green oasis in the middle of a bustling city boasts significant collections of cycads, orchids and palms. It’s peaceful, beautiful - and free. If you’re feeling peckish, you can snack on scones in the tea garden.  

Get historically and culturally acquainted at the KwaMuhle Apartheid Museum. Housed in the former ‘Native Affairs’ building, its video, photographic and historic exhibits give a comprehensive understanding of Durban’s troubled past and people. 

Go exploring with a city and/or township tour – Street Scene comes recommended to see Durban’s high points. Some of these tours include the stadium and botanic garden so plan accordingly.   

For something different go check out Elephant House (the first house built on the Berea, in 1849, at the time in the path of elephants finding their way to drinking water) and then there is the 'afro-oriental’ Victoria Street Market 

Drive up the coast to Umhlanga for sundowners at the Lighthouse Bar in the Oyster Box Hotel. Or explore the Valley of a Thousand Hills with a full-day tour to get a deeper understanding of the Zulu culture as you experience their many continuing practises and traditional lifestyle.

Experience the Midlands Meander for all sorts of arts-and-crafts outlets, restaurants, outdoor activities and other attractions. You can do it on your own or join a Midlands tour.

READ: Wild Drakensberg - Giant's Castle

READ: Durban for Free, no wallet required

READ: Top 10 Durban Cool

READ: Top 10 curries in Durban

READ: Taming the Dragon - 21 things to do in the Drakensberg

READ: A meander through the KZN Midlands

Have any of your own Durban staycation must-do recommendations?  we’d love to hear your suggestions?  So email us at or come join our My Travels community on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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