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While sitting in our Rhino HQ and listening to the soothing sound of rain pattering on the roof with a steaming cup of coffee cradled in my hands, I realised there a few things about Cape Town’s winters that have a certain charm, and also opens up to new experiences not often possible in summer. Compared to most winters in other cities, Cape Town is warmer with an average of 16 to 20 degrees Celsius. And if you haven’t considered visiting our Mother City during winter, here are ten reasons why you should.
Cloudy days turn into spectacular sunsets over Table Mountain Image Credit: Rhino Africa
Now, it may sound like an odd reason, but everyday in Cape Town is a surprise when it comes to the weather during winter. One day it will be cloudless and warm, while another day will be rainy and cold. Or as the day goes on, the weather changes from rainy to sunny. The beauty of this unpredictable weather means you can enjoy a wonderful range of experiences, indoor and outdoor, and see the city in a different light each day. Our ultimate guide of things to do in Cape Town gives a marvellous account of 56 activities you can do.
All eyes turn to the sky during lightning storms in Cape Town Image credit: Mark Seath
Even though I grew up in Cape Town, I am still captivated by the way the clouds shroud Table Mountain and drift across like steam over the lip of a cauldron. Or the pink and golden sunrises and sunsets silhouetting the mountains. And the way the rains bring everything to life – the grasses and trees are lusher in winter after the dry summer season. And when the fog rolls in or the lightning storm flashes, I envy those who have their cameras out ready to capture these magical moments.
If you love taking photos, sunset/sunrise can produce dramatic shots Image credit: Connor Vercueil
‘Tis the season for hot drinks and munchies Image credit: Ashley Kirk
I must confess that visiting as many different cafes as I can in Cape Town is one of my favourite pastimes – simply because this city has some of the warmest cafes with the most delectable munchies to go with delicious hot drinks. Some favourites include
We’ve tried and tested the best of Cape Town’s restaurants to give you this guide, with recommended dining spaces for every mood or occasion.
Escape to peaceful vineyards for wine tasting Image credit: Rhino Africa
Escape from the bustling city centre is possible, and there’s nowhere better than the Cape Winelands. I love the peacefulness of gentle hills adorned with vineyards and the mountains surrounding these wine farms. You simply must indulge in the experience of tasting award-winning wines near a crackling fireplace. Some of these vineyards are centuries old, and you can feel the history humming within their walls. Some of our best vineyards and tours can be found here.
Sunset over the vineyards Image credit: Rhino Africa
The busy V&A Waterfront is quieter during winter Image credit: Anesh Magan
Compared to the sheer number of visitors during the summer, our popular sight-seeing places are delightfully quieter. There are shorter queues, less pushing and you can enjoy greater interaction without all the crowds. And some places offer great specials during winters, too. The possibilities are endless – Table Mountain’s Cableway, V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Boulders Beach, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to name a few.
It’s much cooler to hike in Cape Town Image credit: Marlin Jackson
For nature-lovers, hiking around Lion’s Head and various routes along Table Mountain is greatly rewarding. I’ve hiked during the summer and winter seasons and agree with the popular consensus that winter is the best time to do this activity. Not only is it much cooler, you also have a greater chance of seeing majestic waterfalls rushing down the mountain. There’s a certain atmosphere of stepping into a different world as the crisp air refreshes everything and the plants glisten with dew, while the birds flutter from flower to flower.
A Cape white-eye drinks the nectar from a fynbos flower Image credit: Rhino Africa
Surfing is best during winter in Cape Town Image credit: Rhino Africa
The experienced surfers of the Cape know that when the strong winds of the summer die down, the biggest and best swells are a beauty to ride. In fact, surf season usually begins at the start of winter and it can be little chilly so best to wear that wetsuit. A popular spot for beginner and intermediate surfers is the laid-back town of Muizenberg, which also has a host of coffee shops and restaurants by the shore.
The beaches in Cape Town are perfect for long walks in winterImage credit: Besir Oz
Enjoy some me-time on peaceful walks along Cape Town’s pristine beaches, which are almost empty compared to the bustling summer season. Camps Bay is perfect for watching the sunsets before dining at one of their top-class restaurants. At Clifton beach, you can take Yoga sessions within a calming environment or simply sit on the sand and be in the moment.
Winter is the season for Whale watching, especially along the Whale Route Image credit: Rhino Africa
A magical experience not to be missed is the whale-watching season along the coast of the Western Cape, which usually happens between June and November each year. Various species of whales visit our shores to mate during the winter months while some come to give birth in early spring. And the best town to witness this is Hermanus, a quaint town with the most spectacular vantage points over the ocean. Read our guide to whale-watching season here.
Flower Season on West Coast of Cape Town Image credit: Rhino Africa
A myriad of yellow, purple and white wildflowers carpeting stretches of land across the West Coast is the highlight for many photographers. And while it isn’t technically during winter season, it’s a marvellous phenomenon ringing in the spring season. The best spot is within the West Coast National Park, where you can also see the wildlife wandering among the wildflowers. You can read here for everything you need to know about visiting the wildflowers of the West Coast.
There are so many other reasons Cape Town is great to visit in winter and our expert consultants can create the perfect personalised itinerary just for you.
Feature photo by Anesh Magan
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Jessica grew up surrounded with stories and photographs of the Congo and Lake Kivu, where her grandfather experienced his childhood. After reading several National Geographic magazines, she realised her dream of travelling and writing about Africa. Jessica is proudly Deaf and fluent in South African Sign Language and hopes to master more languages. Besides being an avid reader, she loves animals and wants to experience owning as many pets as possible.
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