When is the best time to visit Cape Town? The answer depends on your reasons for going to Cape Town. Are you looking for great beach weather, are you looking into specific activities, or are you traveling on a budget?
Regardless of your answer – all three categories are covered below.
When is the best time to visit Cape Town
The best time to visit Cape Town for beach weather
The best time to visit Cape Town for activities
Below is a rundown of the most popular attractions to help you decide when you would want to travel.
Perfect for: the beach, water sports, clear views, outdoor activities, cocktails by the ocean, braais (South African bbq), and adventure.
Pack: sandals, swimsuit, sunscreen, shorts, and dresses.
The Cape Town summers are the most popular time to visit the city, and therefore the peak travel season! Hotels and attractions are at their most expensive and the city is overflowing with local and international travelers as people flock to the beaches and outdoor attractions.
The summer months in Cape Town are balmy, dry, and warm but not overwhelming. Average daytime highs range between lows of 62°F/ 17°C and highs of 84°F / 28°c. Rainfall during the summer averages around three days per month.
If you are choosing to travel to Cape Town during this time, you will want to book your accommodation several months in advance to ensure availability.
And there is so much to do!
- Enjoy the Summer Sunset Concerts at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, (November to March on Sundays)
- The Observatory Festival of Arts (December)
- MCQP (Mother City Queer Project) (December)
- Cape Minstrel Carnival (January)
- Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (February)
- Stellenbosch Wine Festival (February)
- Constantia Fresh Food and Wine Festival (February)
- Design Indaba (February)
- See the African Penguins (December – January). You can see the penguins throughout the year, but the summer months are the best time to visit Boulders Beach because this is when you’ll see the most penguin action. Between September and October, the penguins spend a lot of time feeding out at sea.
- Go to the beach. Keep in mind that this is the peak season—beaches may be crowded.
- Watch cricket at the PPC Newlands Stadium.
- Watch Rugby at the DHL Newlands Stadium from January to June.
Autumn / Shoulder Season: March—April—May
Perfect for: large events, shoulder season rates, smaller crowds, and outdoor activities during March and April. Budget travel, wine tours, and road trips are excellent for May.
Pack: light summer clothes, a swimsuit, and one or two warmer items for the cooler evenings during March and April. If you are visiting in May, pack light sweaters, a rain jacket, boots, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts.
March is the beginning of the shoulder season in South Africa. There are fewer tourists in town so you can expect hotels to start lowering their prices in preparation for the low season.
Temperatures drop slightly. Daytime temperatures are still pleasant, ranging from the high 60s to mid-70s. Nighttime is cooler and you may encounter a few rainy days—be sure to pack accordingly.
But there are lots of Autumn activities to enjoy!
- Participate in the start of the annual wine harvest. Many of the wineries around Cape Town will allow visitors to participate in the gathering and juicing of grapes.
- Cape Town International Jazz Festival (March/April)
- The Cape Town Cycle Tour (March). This tour draws thousands of cyclists every year. It’s the biggest timed cycle tour in the world. This is an eight-day celebration of all things cycling. There’s a Cycling Expo, family-friendly activities, a kids’ bike race, the Cape Epic stage race for mountain bike enthusiasts, which covers 700 kilometers over eight days.
- The Two Oceans Marathon (April) takes place on the Saturday of Easter weekend in April. This is a 56-kilometer marathon and a 21-kilometer half-marathon. It is called the world’s most beautiful marathon because of the stunning ocean and bay views along the route via Chapman’s Peak and Tokai Forest.
- Cape Town Carnival (March)
- Infecting the City (March)
- Shark Cage Diving (March – September). You can go shark cage diving throughout the year but the water visibility is (clearest) between March and September.
- Constantia Food & Wine Festival (May)
- Hiking on Table Mountain. (Late April to early June). The air is clear and crisp, perfect for a Table Mountain hike.
- Stellenbosch Wine Festival Cape Town (April)
Perfect for: off-season rates, wining and dining, hiking, whale watching.
Pack: layers, rain jackets, boots, scarves, sweaters.
If you are visiting this time of the year, expect sporadic rain showers, chilly winds, and big savings on accommodation.
Despite the showers and the wind, daytime temperatures averaging in the low 60s. It is therefore not a bad time to visit.
Some activities you can enjoy this time of the year are:
- The Cape Town Fashion Week (July)
- The Cape Town Festival (July)
- Whale watching (July – November) when migratory whales arrive along the coastline.
Hermanus Whale Festival (late September)
- Stellenbosch Fine Wine and Food Festival (August)
- Wildflower season (August – September). Go to the top of Table Mountain to see thousands of wildflowers in full bloom.
Perfect for: seeing wildflowers, whale watching, outdoor activities, hiking, adventure.
Pack: jeans, sweater & layers—there may be cool days and nights in September and October. If you are traveling in November, pack sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen, shorts and dresses, AND a warm top and jeans for the occasional cold evenings.
Springtime is a great time to visit Cape Town, with daytime highs ranging between the mid-60s and 70s.
Hotel rates will have increased in preparation for the peak season, but if you book a month or two in advance, you may be able to nab a deal.
Some festivities you may enjoy:
- Cape Town Diwali Festival (October)
- Cape Town International Kite Festival (October)
- Stellenbosch Craft Beer Festival (October)
- Franschhoek Art Festival (October)
The best time to visit Cape Town on a budget
Cape Town’s high season is during the summer, (December to February), and its low season is during the winter months (June-August). If you are traveling to South Africa on a budget, the winter months would therefore be a good time to travel to Cape Town.
However, it is important to recognize that even though South Africa is in Africa, it is not hot year-round! Cape Town does get cold, particularly during winter. Temperatures drop slightly.
Yes, you may experience pleasant days here and there during the winter, but it is noticeably colder due to the rain and wind. Having said that, South Africa is in the southern hemisphere and Cape Town does enjoy a Mediterranean climate, so the winters are not nearly as cold as they get in the northern hemisphere. Here’s what you can expect regarding Cape Town weather:
If you are traveling on a budget, the off-season would be the best time to travel to Cape Town. You may miss out on a few seasonal activities, but there are still lots of fun places that can be enjoyed year-round, like visits to:
- The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
- The Two Oceans Aquarium
Vibrant indoor markets
- Wineries for wine tastings
- Robben Island
- The Zeitz Contemporary art museum
- Cape Point—the most south-western point of Africa
- Cape Aghulas—the most southern point of Africa
- The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- The District 6 Museum
Activities you may enjoy year-round include:
- A ride up the Table Mountain cable car
- Viewing an awe-inspiring sunset from Signal Hill
- Driving up Chapman’s Peak around sunset
- Strolling the oceanside promenade in Sea Point
- Paragliding off Signal Hill
- Taking a tour of the Woodstock street art
- Taking a sunset cruise of the bay
- Hiking Table Mountain or Lion’s Head
- Cycling through the Winelands
- Strolling the streets of Bo Kaap
- Having a drink at a rooftop bar
- Eating fish and chips from a fisheries
- Visiting a farmer’s market