by Jessica Bothma on June 19, 2018
6 min read

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.

1. The unpredictable weather

Sunset lit up the clouds over Table Mountain and Lion's Head

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.

2. Photographic opportunities galore

A lightning strike is captured over Table Mountain in winter

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.

The fog rolled in at sunrise over Cape Town

If you love taking photos, sunset/sunrise can produce dramatic shots
Image credit: Connor Vercueil

3. The cosiest coffee and hot chocolate cafes

A steaming cup of coffee and a blue plate of choc-chip cookies

‘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

  • My Sugar (Sea Point)
  • Bread, Milk & Honey (City Centre)
  • Deluxe Coffeeworks (Gardens)
  • Honest Chocolate Cafe (City Centre)
  • Jason Bakery (Green Point, Gardens)

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.

4. Warm up with award-winning wines

A glass of red wine is poured

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.

A vineyard is bathed in golden light as the sun sets over the hills

Sunset over the vineyards 
Image credit: Rhino Africa

5. Popular sight-seeing attractions are quieter

A view from V&A Waterfront of Table Mountain in winter

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.

6. Best time to go hiking

The sun casts a spotlight on the sea, viewed form Kloof Corner hiking trail

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 sits on a flower

A Cape white-eye drinks the nectar from a fynbos flower
Image credit: Rhino Africa

7. The best season for surfing

Tall, blue wave begins to curl over a surfer in Cape Town

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.

8. Revitalising walks on the beach

A cloudy, winter's day at Camps Bay Beach

The beaches in Cape Town are perfect for long walks in winter
Image 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.

9. Whale watching season

A whale breaches through the water

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.

10. Wildflowers of the West Coast

A zebra stands amid the flowers in West Coast National Park

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