Anytime of year is great
Here is some useful information about Cape Town South Africa, on when it’s a good time to visit and to help you get an idea of what to expect and how to prepare before you travel.
Its difficult to say when the best time to visit Cape Town is, as it all depends on what type of experience you are looking for. If you prefer the summer vibe with lots of people, then summer is perfect, if you prefer less congestion and lower rates, then winter is the one for you. But read the rest of my article to get all the details. Otherwise, come and enjoy our world class food, wine, accommodations and my photo tours and walks
What is the best time to visit Cape Town you ask. There’s not definitive answer to that question, but I’ll explain some of the benefits to each time of year and let you decide.
To start, being an African country, its summers are nice and hot, great to get that tan going, but not overbearingly so. While a coastal city, the air is actually dry, due to the cold Benguela current along the West Coast, so you don’t get that muggy, humid heat that you do from tropical islands like Thailand or Mauritius. Cape Town winters are cooler but above freezing with a few surprises, as we often have days of 25 degrees Celsius between the colder 10 deg days.
Summers are Cape Town’s windy season and are prone to fires, but this is part of our natural Fynbos plant’s germination process, so they are actually a good thing.
Winters in Cape Town are when the rain comes, but life goes on just as much it does in summer. The gentle rains can last for a few days at a time, but come down so lightly that you wont really get wet walking from your car to a restaurant.
Summer time in December is obviously when there are most people here, not only from abroad, but also South African locals from the interior north, coming to spend their end of year holidays and Christmas at the coast.
As this is the festive season, many Capetonians also take their holiday break during this time. So needless to say, the streets are booming with people enjoying themselves in restaurant and bars, while the beaches are packed with people enjoying the sun. If you like the hustle and feeling of holiday vibes, then summer is an easy winner for you.
If you are like me and prefer things a little quieter, while still enjoying the benefits of summer and the toasty sun, then the later summer months of January to March are your best choice and definitely my favourite.
At this time all the local tourists from the northern interiors such as Gauteng have gone back home and work. Cape Town locals are also back at work, so during the day the city can be busy, but the beaches, hiking trails and other outdoor tourist activates are much less congested and pleasant.
Alternatively September to November on the other side of December are just as good for the same reason.
Don’t discount winter though, the night life and outdoor activities in Cape Town carry on all year round, but it is generally a little quieter among the locals who tend to stay indoors, enjoying a movie under a blanket. This is only because we as South Africans don’t really know true cold! Haha!
If you are from a snowy winter country like the UK, Europe or USA (Chicago, New York etc), then our winters are a joke in comparison to the extremes you are used to. It will actually feel like summer to you. You can easily get away with a jersey/hoodie and a jacket over it on the coldest days.
Winter nights can get very cold if you are like me and you are out somewhere, shooting the stars on a mountain peak, but that goes without saying. I mostly wear gloves and a beanie and maybe some long leg warmers, as extra protection in this case. From a photographer’s point of view the winter days and nights are crystal clear due to there not being any heat haze from the day, and have shot some of my best photos in winter.
If you are planning on staying within the city at night and venturing out to grab some dinner or a beer at one of the many bars and restaurants, then the warm urban heating also adds a few degrees of warmth back.
For those of you from extreme cold areas that are use to massive coats and having established coat hanging facilities, that isn’t the case in South Africa. You will soon be getting far too hot with it and will then need to carry it around with you, which can be tedious. I would suggest leaving your favourite big coat at home and packing lighter weight jacket or jerseys. I often don’t even take a jacket out with me at night, as I prefer to just brave the cold for a few meters from my car to the bar/restaurant and then enjoy the warm aircon once inside. This way I don’t have to lug a jacket I’m not wearing most of the night with me.
The big upside to winter seasons is that accommodations and tours, are generally cheaper and not as jam packed.
There’s no perfect time to visit Cape Town, it’s really up to what you are looking for, but in general you can’t really go wrong at any time of the year in Cape Town.
You are welcome to get hold of me should you have any further questions.