When to Go to Cape Town
Cape Town by seasons
With its Mediterranean climate bringing cool winters and warm, dry summers, Cape Town makes for a delightful getaway any time of year. Not too hot – its average temperature is 17°C – it’s perfect for escaping the heat of South Africa’s safari parks and enjoying the refreshing sea breezes before or after a few days inland watching elephants and rhinos.
September to November
As the winter ends, Cape Town’s days are mild and sunny, with temperatures rising to the mid-twenties, and little rain. This is a great time for hiking – try climbing Table Mountain – and admiring the colourful flowers that bloom all over the city and in Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens. Look out for whales too – humpbacks pass by the Cape at this time of year.
Halloween: Cape Town goes a bundle on Halloween, with the South African Horrorfest showing scary movies and putting on elaborately costumed parties, as well as offering ghost tours and murder mystery dinners.
SANParks free week: in mid-September, for one week only, many of the Cape’s national parks are absolutely free! So don’t miss out – get down to Bontebok, Table Mountain or Tankwa Karoo National Parks and start exploring.
December to February
Summer is a very popular time to visit Cape Town, especially for those escaping the European winter. The city is warm and dry with temperatures hitting the high twenties, producing long, balmy evenings best appreciated with a cool glass of local wine. The sun shines for over 10 hours a day, so summer is the ideal time to head down to Cape Town’s beaches and chill out on the golden sands.
Harvest festivals: join in with the annual grape picking season in Cape Town’s vineyards: stomp on the grapes and taste the wines, all accompanied by plenty of eating and merriment.
Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts: throughout the summer, Kistenbosch Botanic Gardens puts on various live music performances at the foot of Table Mountain. Bring a picnic and enjoy.
March to May
Autumn is a lovely time to visit Cape Town. Days are delightful with temperatures hovering around 20°C – not too hot, not too cold – and the trees displaying various shades of gold and red. Take in the colours with a trip to the Winelands or the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, or even an ascent of Table Mountain, which might display its ‘tablecloth’ of cloud.
Taste of Cape Town: in mid-April, sample the very best of Cape Town’s gastronomic offerings at the city’s restaurants and wine estates, which serve up their favourite artisan food dishes.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival: celebrate all thing jazz at this annual festival, held in early April. Established local and international artists perform live, as well as newbies showcasing their talents for the first time.
June to August
Winter in Cape Town isn’t like winter in the northern hemisphere. It’s still relatively warm, with temperatures up to 25°C, although the average is about 17°C. The intermittent rain brings out the greenery, while the wind produces dramatic coastal waves. Small waterfalls might appear on Table Mountain, and the restaurants all light their log fires and do a roaring trade in local red wine.
Whale watching: look out for southern right, humpback and bryde’s whales in Cape Town’s waters. For your best chance of spotting one, head to nearby Hermanus, one of the best whale watching spots in the world.
Christmas: the festive season may not be for another six months, but as it’s a little wintery in Tulbagh, near Cape Town, the locals make the most of it with twinkly lights, glühwein and Santa Claus.