Choose the Best Time to Visit Cape Town
When is the best time to visit Cape Town? Truthfully, the Mother City is a great destination all year-round, you just need to choose your ideal experience. This guide is here to help you do just that!
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Cape Town is a multi-faceted destination that just begs to be explored. This coastal gem lies in the shadow of Table Mountain (one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World) and is a region where wine flows, penguins waddle, and majestic beasts roam.
It’s no surprise that over 39 000 travellers voted it not just the best city in Africa but also the best city on earth for the 7th year running (Telegraph Travel Awards 2019).
This is because the Mother City can truly fit any mood, from romantic honeymooners to affluent travellers who require the most exquisite accommodation possible. Not to mention it serves up an abundance of those ever-popular million-dollar views!
Key facts about Cape Town
South Africa is a large country and depending on where you are it can have a lot of different things to offer holidaymakers. Being based in Cape Town is a convenient way to enjoy cosmopolitan urban attractions and adventures in the Winelands, while also being just a short flight or luxurious overland away from safari attractions like the Karoo Desert and even the Kruger National Park.
When it comes to places to visit in Cape Town, this is a city of mind-boggling cultural diversity, complexity, and intense natural beauty. Fast facts about Cape Town include:
When to visit? The ideal time to visit South Africa depends on what you want to do. Summer (November to March) and Autumn (March to May) are particularly popular periods for national and international visitors.
Where is it? Cape Town is on the southern tip of Africa. It’s a 19-hour flight from New York, 14-hour flight from Perth and only 12 hours from London.
Who visits? There are many types of travellers who choose Cape Town as their destination of choice. From family vacationers to sports enthusiasts and even newlyweds or retirees, the city can cater to almost anyone’s interests and needs. Several celebrities also frequent Cape Town for work, events and holidays. These personalities include Miley Cyrus, Katie Holmes, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Penn, and Oprah. This is because the caliber of accommodation and services is incredibly high here!
Cape Town’s tourism seasons
Peak (or high) season coincides with summer when temperatures tend to climb and there are plenty of outdoor things to do in Cape Town. This is between December and February. These hot summer months also happen to coincide with local school holidays. This is why it’s always a good idea to book your accommodation early if you want to secure the most prime properties for a Christmas or New Year’s visit.
Shoulder seasons tend to be from March to May and September to November. This is when most of the summer holiday crowds have either left or haven’t arrived yet in the Mother City. That being said, the Easter period around April can still get busy for short bursts with local tourism.
Off-peak (or low) season is from around June to August, this is when the Western Cape experiences its winter rainfall. Nevertheless, the city offers a number of stunning attractions and activities for these cosier months too.
Cape Town’s climate & weather
If you ask locals this question, you will probably receive a snide reply about the Mother City serving up four seasons in a day. Even in summer, it’s always a good idea to take a jumper or cardigan out with you for when the sun dips below the horizon and the icy Atlantic Ocean freshens the air.
In general, Cape Town enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate featuring warm, dry conditions from October to April with temperatures peaking between December and February. For those who enjoy sports that require strong winds, the renowned south-easterly (nicknamed the Cape Doctor) blows from December to February but calms down again from March. From June to August, you can expect fireside-friendly activities with the rainy days of winter being dominant.
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Summer in Cape Town
December to February in Cape Town offers up exquisite conditions with both locals and visitors flocking to the city’s Blue Flag beaches. This is also when stronger winds attract kite surfing enthusiasts from around the world. However, you will spot holidaymakers enjoying vibrant nightlife and basking in sunny festive cheer almost anywhere you go during summer. This is also a wonderful time to visit the many Wine Estates sprinkled around Cape Town.
Packing for a summer visit to Cape Town still means preparing for unpredictable weather. We recommend swimming gear, hiking gear, sun hats, sunglasses and, of course, plenty of sunblock. Ensure that you have both light and warm clothes. Even on the balmiest summer days, temperatures can drop when you’re having sundowners next to the ocean.
Visiting Cape Town in December
Visitor rating: Good | Tourist volume: High | Tourist season: Peak
Accommodation prices: Highest | Flight prices: High
Average temperature: ±25°C /77°F | Average rainfall: ±13.9mm/0.5inches (Low)
Average humidity: ±71% | Average wind: ±13.5mph/22kmph
Average sunrise: ±5:30am | Average sunset: ±7:55pm
The festive month is particularly glamorous when it comes to a stay in the Mother City. From picnicking at a Summer Sunset Concert in Kirstenbosch Gardens to sipping on gin at a Twelve Apostles jazz evening, there’s something exciting happening every day when visiting Cape Town in December.
Understandably, this is also the best time of year to visit Cape Town’s beautiful beaches, the weather is simply gorgeous, and this makes the coastline the most popular summertime destination, particularly Clifton and Camps Bay beaches.
Outdoor activities include hiking on Table Mountain and visiting the ever-spectacular Cape Point. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to appreciating sports and nature here. From paragliding to quad biking, horse riding to sailing, there’s an adventure around every corner for enthusiasts. For those who prefer a more laid-back season, you’ll also be able to explore various venues across Cape Town (including the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Winelands), which play host to a summer-long series of popup movie screenings (Galileo Open Air Cinema).
Autumn in Cape Town
March to May in Cape Town is a magical time where the slopes of the mountain and countryside transform into gold and scarlet. Some people maintain that the start of Autumn is the best time of the year to visit Cape Town. The temperatures are pleasant and there isn’t much rainfall yet. That’s why some locals even refer to fall as the “secret” season in the Cape.
Autumn is also an important time for the Cape Winelands. After all, harvest time means one thing in this part of South Africa, an abundance of perfectly ripe grapes in the vineyards!
You should pack warmly for Cape Town Autumn months. On cooler days, fireplaces will add cosy warmth. On warmer days, you can picnic and look out over the landscapes under the shade of ancient oaks. Good food, good wine, good vibes!
Visiting Cape Town in March
Visitor rating: Excellent | Tourist volume: Moderate | Tourist season: Shoulder
Accommodation prices: Average | Flight prices: Average
Average temperature: ±27°C /81°F | Average rainfall: ±10mm/0.4inches (Low)
Average humidity: ±63% | Average wind: ±11.7mph/19kmph
Average sunrise: ±6:50am | Average sunset: ±6:58pm
March heralds the start of the first shoulder season in Cape Town when the summer crowds have truly left but the days are still balmy. Sometimes, the weather is even more idyllic than January and February as there is (usually) less wind. Accommodation and flight prices are also lower.
In short, March is the month for cycling and mountain biking fanatics in Cape Town! This is when the Mother City hosts the Cape Cycle Tour and the Cape Epic, which many athletes from around the world fly in to attend or even participate. For those looking for less vigorous festivities, the inner city hosts the majestic Cape Town Carnival, as well as the International Jazz Festival during this time.
Winter in Cape Town
June to August in Cape Town delivers an entirely different side to the Mother City and the surrounding region. The weather in Cape Town turns cool and crisp, the scenery also becomes luscious with intense greenery, all thanks to the winter rainfall. The cost of accommodation and tours tends to also be lower while the hustle and bustle of crowds almost non-existent.
Packing for a winter adventure to Cape Town means fortifying against cold and also rain. However, you should prepare to dress in layers as Capetonians love entertaining by the cosy fireplace or next to heaters during these colder months. While it is nowhere near as cold as a Canadian or European winter, you’ll find it just as snug and warm inside – with truly wonderful culinary delights around every corner.
Visiting Cape Town in June
Visitor rating: Fair | Tourist volume: Low | Tourist season: Low
Accommodation prices: Low | Flight prices: Low
Average temperature: ±20°C /68°F | Average rainfall: ±66mm/2.6 inches (High)
Average humidity: ±80% | Average wind: ±11.2mph/18kmph
Average sunrise: ±7:50am | Average sunset: ±5:43pm
Many of the city’s restaurants have begun their winter specials by June, and a great number of these immaculate venues will also light up their fireplaces for a warm, cosy atmosphere. Expect to see plenty of places offering soup nights, pie pairings and potjiekos (this is a stew made in the traditional three-legged cast-iron pot over the fire). Some of the local favourite spots for winter warmer meals are La Colombe, La Mouette and Foxcroft.
June is also when the whale watching season starts. You can expect to see these gentle ocean giants migrating north to warmer climates all along the coastline. However, sightings are best in False Bay, Gansbaai and the town of Hermanus, about 1 hour from Cape Town. If you are travelling down the “Garden Route” at this time of the year, be sure to catch the Knysna Oyster Festival at the end of the month.
Spring in Cape Town
September to November months in Cape Town provide visitors with some of the rarest most colourful flora in the whole world. The Cape wildflowers bloom all over the countryside in magnificent shades during Spring here. Even from the city bowl, locals and visitors can gaze upon Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head or Signal Hill to see the brilliant petals carpeting the slopes.
Packing for a Spring visit to Cape Town still means preparing for chilly weather. We recommend both light and warm clothes to accommodate for varying temperatures in Cape Town and also possible rainfall.
Visiting Cape Town in September
Visitor rating: Good | Tourist volume: Moderate | Tourist season: Shoulder
Accommodation prices: Average | Flight prices: Average
Average temperature: ±21°C /70°F | Average rainfall: ±45.7mm/1.8 inches (Moderate)
Average humidity: ±77% | Average wind: ±12mph/19.3kmph
Average sunrise: ±6:40am | Average sunset: ±6:40pm
If we could describe September in Cape Town in just a few words, they would be whales, wine, wildflowers, and literary works! The start of Spring is usually marked by the Namaqualand Flower Festival and later in the month, the Darling Wildflower Show. This is also the time to join local and international writers at the Open Book Festival held at the Fugard Theatre, The District 6 Museum and the beloved Book Lounge.
Another massive attraction to the Western Cape during September is the popular Hermanus Whale Festival. You’ll be able to spot whales while also enjoying live music performances, vintage car shows, a street parade, great food, and quality crafts!
The ideal time for special activities
Cape Town is wildly popular for a number of special activities and events, depending on the time of year and weather.
Weddings and honeymoons
The best time for a wedding or honeymoon in Cape Town can vary to meet a wide variety of personalities. Those who would like long misty walks on the beach and candle-lit evenings in front of a fireplace with a glass of fine wine will love July to August. On the other hand, those who want to bask in landscapes bursting with wildflowers will prefer August to October. While newlyweds looking for lazy days spent on the beach will love the sunshine from November to January.
Golf courses in Cape Town are best explored during April’s Autumn harvest season when tourism slows down and you can rub shoulders with the locals. The springtime in September and October is also a lovely time to enjoy Cape Town’s top golf courses. There is little wind during this time of the year, and you will find bookings less competitive before the high is in full swing.
Luxurious accommodation in Cape Town
Well, there you have it. The best time to visit Cape Town is anytime you wish to visit!
However, if you remain undecided, feel free to contact us so we can help you choose the best month to visit Cape Town considering the weather conditions you like and the attractions you wish to experience.
Our support team stands ready 24/7/365 to serve all of our guests and will ensure a care-free holiday by helping you plan your itinerary. You can also rest assured that all of our accommodation options are in a safe area to stay. Be in touch with our knowledgeable team and we’ll take care of the rest.