11 “workation” destinations in South Africa to work remotely

Posted on 17 March 2023 By David Henning

Lockdown may be over, but it completely changed the way we travel, introducing “workations”. A noticeable trend is that travellers are now wanting to stay for longer, combining work and leisure.

Picture: Getty Images

A workation is a combination of work and vacation, where an individual works remotely while also taking time off to relax and explore a new destination. It’s a growing trend among digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers who have the freedom to work from anywhere with an internet connection.

Rather than a one to two-week stay, people are packing their bags for a whole month, setting up base in a quaint location, and getting to know the local favourites.

‘Travel advisors have had to evolve rapidly to meet the changing demands of their customers. The trend towards remote or hybrid work is here to stay and will continue to impact the travel industry as travellers take longer trips, combining work with holiday time,’ said Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA), which released the Travel Reimagined report.

If you are looking to set up an office remotely, South Africa has it all. Whether you want to end the day with G&T on a scorching hot day or drink some wine among the vineyards, from the mountains to the sea, here’s a list of workation destinations to suit anyone’s needs.

1. Elgin

solar power

Elgin valley

Just an hour from the mother city, you can still drive to town for a day of pestilent meetings. But during your stay, you can work from an idyllic valley overlooking vineyards and apple orchards from your desk.

When lunch comes around, you can head to Peregrine Farm Stall for one of their infamous pies and when you feel like treating yourself, The Melting Pot restaurant at Oak Valley wine farm was recently recognised at the Eat Out Awards, taking you on a culinary journey.

Elgin may be known as a renowned stone and pome fruit producer, but it is making waves in the wine industry. It is not known as the home of really cool wines for nothing. Its higher altitude and coastal climate create the perfect conditions for growing varietals such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

We would then also recommend Elgin for a winter escape, where you can cosy up next to a fireplace with a glass of vino while checking your emails (we won’t tell your boss).

2. McGregor

Tucked away among the mountains, Mcgregor is situated in the Robertson Wine Valley with beautiful cottages, fine dining restaurants, and wine oh wine. It is even home to a poetry festival for when you feel like getting cultured or getting in touch with your deeper self through some meaningful prose.

Properties in the village have rambling gardens with whitewashed walls and the aesthetic is not disturbed by the bright lights of a fast food outlet. Here, you’ll find delis, bespoke stores, and a corner shop where the staff will likely know you by name.

You’ll learn to tell the time by the ringing of a church bell, and your morning alarm will become the call of the neighbourhood rooster.

3. Stanford

11 "workation" destinations in South Africa to work remotely

Picture: Anton Crone/ Getaway Gallery

Not exactly perched alongside the ocean, however, the expansive Klein Rivier Estuary next to town suffices for a coastal setting. What’s more, the beach is not too far away, nor is Walker Bay Nature Reserve, or an enchanting milkwood forest.

Take a kayak out onto the calm waters of the estuary, to really get you into the right state of mind to tackle your tasks for the day. For an evening of relaxation, take the Lady Stanford boat, and enjoy a picnic on the deck.

And in case you didn’t know, the Overstrand was awarded the first African City of Gastronomy by UNESCO during the latter half of 2019, so head to Klein River Cheese Farmstead or visit one of the nearby wineries.

4. Chintsa

Chintsa, at the mouth of the Cintsa river, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Just north of East London, the town of Chintsa is the gateway to the Wild Coast. Long stretches of beaches, rolling hills, and meandering rivers eventually widen to form expansive river mouths and lagoons along the coast.

The climate is also more agreeable here, where palm trees will likely frame the view from your desk, without blocking the view of the beach. To reconfigure your thoughts and centre your productivity, take a paddle down the Chintsa River, where you can spot a wide variety of birds or even the African fish eagle.

At Chintsa, you have easy access to the city – East London – and its perks of better internet connection as well as the ease of access to the rest of the raw, rugged Wild Coast, perfect for a weekend breakaway.

5. Calitzdorp

Picture: Nadine Swart/ Getty Images

Known as the port capital of South Africa, there will always be a sweet and delectable apéritif to end the day with.

Home to a bespoke bakery and even a Korean restaurant, there’s more going on in this town than meets the eye. And for when you feel like getting away from town, the Groenfontein Valley Circle Route is a gravel road that takes you into a lush valley with spekboom cascading from the cliffs.

Read: The Klein Karoo Wine Route: Everything you need to know

This loop also takes you past Peter Bailey and Axe Hill wine farms, so be sure to stop for a tasting.

6. Wilderness

SANParks releases stricter measures for Garden Route 11 "workation" destinations in South Africa to work remotely

Map of Africa viewpoint in Wilderness.

The Garden Route is fast becoming more and more commercial but the town of Wilderness has somehow kept the original charm of the South Western Cape. From the Wilderness SANParks campsite to isolated mountain cottages in the forests above, it remains enchanting.

Whether you want a beach, mountains, rivers, lakes, or forest, you can find it all on the Garden Route. Local markets, like the nearby farmers market in Sedgefield, mean you can always get your fill of local produce.

The location will also likely be ideal for some self-care, rekindling a morning yoga or meditation routine, you’ll return back to the office recentred and stress a feeling you left in the past.

7. KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

Midmar dam

Picture: Getaway Gallery

At Hilton, the first sightings of the Drakensberg will lure you in, and is the perfect place to start. Whenever you find yourself on the R103 -the Midlands Meander – ask locals about what you should see and do. One recommendation leads to another, and soon you’ll find a wealth of character and creativity.

Read: A local’s guide to the Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander stretches from Hilton to Giant’s Castle. Hilton has managed to retain its village feel and the nearby Wunterskloof with its indigenous bush offering great cycling routes to venture out before or after work.

There are also plenty of arts and crafts stalls as well as restaurants to keep you entertained.

8. Magoebaskloof

Picture: Melanie van Zyl/ Getaway Gallery

The Magoebaskloof / Haenertsburg area in the Limpopo Province of South Africa is known for its lush forests, waterfalls, and mountainous terrain, making it a nature lover’s paradise.

For a relaxing outdoor adventure, visitors can explore the numerous hiking trails, take a dip in one of the many swimming holes, or simply soak up the breathtaking views. Their must-visit attractions include the Debengeni Waterfalls, the Agatha Crocodile Ranch, and the Zwakala Brewery.

9. Clarens

11 "workation" destinations in South Africa to work remotely

Picture: Getty Images

A picturesque town situated on the foothills of the Maluti Mountains and surrounded by rolling hills, visitors to Clarens can explore the nearby Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which boasts stunning sandstone formations and abundant wildlife.

The town itself is home to a variety of historic buildings and museums as well as numerous coffee shops with strong wifi, so you don’t have to worry about missing your next meeting.

10. Kaapsehoop

11 "workation" destinations in South Africa to work remotely

Horseriding is a popular pastime in Kaapsehoop

Perched on a plateau high above the Lowveld, Kaapsehoop boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. This Mpumalanga village is known for its wild horses, which roam freely in the area and can often be seen grazing on the village outskirts.

The surrounding Kaapsehoop Escarpment offers scenic hiking trails and stunning waterfalls. This picturesque destination is the perfect workation spot to switch off after a long day of grafting.

11. Prince Albert

At the base of the Swartberg Mountains, this quaint Karoo dorpie has a diverse selection of restaurants, cafes, and gorgeous victorian era homesteads.

The internet is pretty good in this town, especially by Karoo standards and the fresh Karoo air will revitalise you so that you won’t ever feel too under the crunch from an inbox of unread emails.

Just simply take a deep breath and a big sip of coffee from a tin cup while you work from the comfort of the stoep.

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