April 25

When is the Best Time to Visit Cape Town?

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By Ian Rowett on
April 25, 2022

Deciding when is the best time to visit Cape Town can be tricky. As an African city that’s great year-round, how can you possibly choose? Well, first things first, well done on deciding to visit Cape Town! Being our home city, we think that’s a no-brainer, but we salute you nonetheless for having such great travel taste. As the World’s Leading Safari Company, we understand that it can be overwhelming to decide when and where to go. But don’t fear, that’s why we’re here! Although we love our city every day of the year, here’s a guide to help you decide when is the best time to visit Cape Town.

Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town

Camps Bay in Cape Town is popular in summer

Best Time to Visit Cape Town: Our Month-to-Month Guide 

From summer to winter, every season brings its unique thrills. Here’s what to expect every month of the year when visiting Cape Town.

When is the Best Time to Visit Cape Town? Cape Town weather and climate chart

When is the best time to visit Cape Town? Image Credit: Rhino Africa (own design)

Cape Town in January and February: Summer in the City

Mediterranean summers are hot, dry, and sometimes windy. Cape Town is no exception, and the distinct lack of humidity makes for epic summers. The southeaster is like a gigantic leaf-blower that cools the air and clears the sky, making for perfect beach weather when it stops.

Summer in Cape Town is a heady concoction of lazy days on the beach, scenic drives to iconic attractions, fabulous streetside lunches and romantic sunset dinners. This bustling urbanity intertwined with mountainous fynbos nature reserves, blue-flag beaches, and elegant wine farms makes Cape Town one of the world’s most attractive city destinations. And in high summer, Cape Town shines.

Highlights: beaches, nature reserves, wine farms, scenic and cultural attractions

Ideal for: everyone, especially outdoor enthusiasts and families

Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town summers are sensational

Cape Town in March, April and May: Autumn Calm

While summer grabs the headlines, Cape Town’s autumnal weather from March into May provides the proverbial calm before the storm. The wind takes a breather, the sun wipes its brow, and the locals, spoilt as they are, come out to play. And there's a reason for it. This is arguably Cape Town's best time of year as the weather is great and number of tourists are low, making it one of the best times to explore the city. 

With plenty of sunshine still to go around and the occasional shower to cool things off, autumn plays host to Cape Town’s major outdoor events, including cycling and running events, music concerts and carnivals. The gentler weather encourages further exploration of the nature reserves, beaches and outdoor attractions.

Highlights: cultural and sporting events, historical and cultural attractions, beaches and hikes

Ideal for: nature-lovers, hikers, beach-lovers, music fans, sports heroes and families

Sunset with Table Mountain

The iconic Table Mountain, Image Credit: Bertus Hanekom

Cape Town in June, July and August: Intimate Winter

Cometh the winter, cometh the cosy log fire, flickering candlelit dinners and glasses of red wine. Cape Town’s winter is a sometimes blustery, rainy affair – nothing like a northern hemisphere winter, but we like the excuse to slow down and enjoy time with our loved ones. And on those crystal-clear days punctuating periodic cold fronts, the celebration of fynbos greenery is a joy to explore. 

Winter is also a time to get your cultural groove on with jazz festivals, literary festivals, classical concerts and delightful theatre shows. For a bonus add-on: winter is prime Big 5 safari time in the rest of the sub-continent. Just remember that this is the rainy season in Cape Town, so your outdoor activities might be a bit more weather-dependent than during the rest of the year. However, we're definitely grateful for this downpour after the drought we experienced a couple of years ago. Luckily, thanks to our excellent rainy winters, we've overcome this drought.

Highlights: cultural events, food and wine festivals, wine tours, nature walks

Ideal for: couples, foodies, wine (or beer, whisky, gin, brandy…) enthusiasts, highbrow culture-lovers

Constantia Winelands Farm

Colder weather calls for sipping wine in the Cape Winelands

Cape Town in September and October: Spring Unfurls

In Cape Town’s spring months, life bursts forth with whales calving up and down the coast, fynbos flowering in great garish swathes and blue skies revelling beneath a mild sun. Warm beach-worthy days intersect with cosy fireside evenings, and we poor bedraggled Capetonians have a spring in our step after a long winter ordeal.

Getting out and about is the order of the day in spring, and there’s no shortage of options. Flower shows, whale festivals, food and wine events, outdoor cinema screenings, music and sporting events all jostle for fine weather and free weekends.

Highlights: fynbos spring colours, whales, quirky outdoor events, food and drink festivals

Ideal for: couples, families, nature-lovers, hikers, festival fans, food and drink enthusiasts

Cape Town in spring

Spring has sprung in a colourful Cape Town, Image Credit: Alexander Hill

Cape Town in November and December: Summer Comes Early

Arguably still spring, November and December are more summer-like than your average northern hemisphere shoulder season. Days are long and warm and more predictably idyllic, ushering in a return to the long beach days, lazy lunches, and sunset strolls along the promenade. 

The days are properly hot by December, and the nights are festive, with Christmas around the corner. Exploring the Cape in November and December is a delight, with many nature reserves to hike, vistas to gawp at, lunches to feast on, and wines to enjoy. The holiday events calendar also kicks in, with many wonderful activities and events to enjoy indoors and outdoors. 

Highlights: nature walks, wine tours, long alfresco lunches and summer events

Ideal for: families, couples, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, beach fans and culture buffs

Stand up paddling in Cape Town

Cape Town is a water play park in summer

FAQs About Visiting Cape Town

Do Cape Town’s Main Attractions Stay Open All Year Round?

Yes. Cape Town’s most popular attractions are Cape Point, Table Mountain, Robben Island Museum, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Constantia Winelands and the V&A Waterfront. All are very much open all year round. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway does close for maintenance every year in late July/early August, usually for a couple of weeks. The good news is you can still hike up the mountain when the cable car is closed.

Table_Mountain_Cable_Car

Enjoy incredible views from the Table Mountain Cable car, Image Credit: Peter Stewart

When is the Best Time to Visit Cape Town and Go on a Wildlife Safari?

Cape Town is awesome all year round, however each season offers a different experience. When it comes to safaris in South Africa, the game reserves in the Eastern Cape are excellent all year round. So, if you want to visit Cape Town in summer, you can take a road trip for an excellent (and malaria-free) Garden Route safari.

If you want to fly over to Kruger National Park, the best time for a safari is generally in winter, from June to August, as the bush is sparse, making it easy to spot wildlife. However, don't discount safaris in summer as the bush is green and lush, with migratory birds and newborn wildlife all around.

Elephant herd at the pool of Gondwana's Kwena Lodge

Your elephant friends at Gondwana on the Garden Route, Image Credit: Gondwana Private Game Reserve

When is Cape Town's Busiest Time of Year for Travel?

While Cape Town is a popular destination all year round, the city receives most of its visitors in the summer between December and February. To skip the crowds and peak season rates, the best time to visit Cape Town is before or after our summer. Those months are October/November and March/April.

Does it Ever Snow in Cape Town?

No, not in the city. Cape Town has a wonderfully mild Mediterranean climate. Winters are cold and wet but nothing like northern hemisphere winters. Snow falls on the mountain peaks of the Cape's interior, but proximity to the sea and local weather conditions prevent Cape Town from ever getting cold enough for snow.

Is Cape Town a Beach Destination?

Yes! Cape Town's beaches are famous for their soft white sands and clear water, with more blue-flag beaches than any other city along South Africa's extensive coastline. The sea temperature can be cold, especially along the Atlantic Seaboard, but the Indian Ocean beaches of Muizenberg and False Bay offer warmer water. Surfing, kiting, kayaking and all types of ocean activities are favourites on both coastlines of the Cape Peninsula. Also, paying the penguins at Boulders Beach a visit is a must! 

Penguin colony at Boulders Beach

The famous penguins at Boulders Beach in Cape Town

Ready to Start Planning Your Cape Town Holiday?

Deciding you want to visit Cape Town is easy. Deciding when is the best time to visit Cape Town is also easy – all year round! But, with each season bringing something to the table, we highly recommend you visit more than once! 

Contact our Rhino Africa Travel Experts to chat about what you want to see and do while visiting our fair city, and let's start planning!

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About the author 

Ian Rowett

Born in Zimbabwe and, having bluffed his way through a Journalism Degree at Rhodes, Ian turned his reluctantly nomadic life into a successful career as a travel writer. With stints in Harare, Joburg, Cape Town, Swakopmund, Port Shepstone and Greyton, he has travelled the length and breadth of southern Africa. Now living in Knysna, Ian combines his innate tendency to write for a living with a deep-rooted love of Africa’s wilderness and a keen interest in the hospitality trade.

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