top of page

The Best Time to Visit Cape Town | South Africa

Cape Town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa, attracting over 2 million visitors per year. This vibrant seaside city is known for its stunning natural scenery, exotic wildlife, world-class wineries, diverse cuisine, and rich culture.

With its Mediterranean climate, Cape Town experiences all four seasons. The weather patterns vary throughout the year, making some times better than others for visiting this cosmopolitan city. Determining the ideal time for your trip depends on several factors like budget, weather preferences, and desired activities.

When to Avoid Visiting Cape Town

While Cape Town offers pleasant weather and things to do year-round, a few times may be less than ideal for a vacation.

Summer (Mid-December to February)

Summer in Cape Town brings very hot, dry, and windy conditions. This is peak tourist season, so prices for flights, hotels, tours, and attractions are at their highest. Popular sites will be crowded and reservations need to be made well in advance.

Cape Town
Cape Town

The hot, arid weather also increases the risk of fires in the area. The early 2018 Cape Town fires caused extensive damage. Visiting in summer is best for those who can tolerate the heat and don’t mind large crowds.

Winter (June to August)

Winters are cold, wet, and gloomy in Cape Town. With an average high of just 60°F (15°C), you’ll need to pack plenty of warm clothing. Facilities at some attractions may be limited or closed for the season.

However, the upside is winter sees far fewer tourists, so hotels and flights are much cheaper. It’s also an excellent time for whale watching, as southern right whales come close to shore June through November.

Best Times for Travelers on a Budget

To save money on your Cape Town vacation, visit during the shoulder seasons—either spring or fall. You’ll enjoy pleasant weather with fewer crowds and lower prices.

Fall (March to May)

Fall brings warm days with cooler nights. By March, the summer crowds have dwindled, allowing for discounted hotel rates, cheap flights, and fewer lines at top attractions.

Wildlife viewing in the Cape is exceptional from March through May. Head to Table Mountain National Park or Cape Point Nature Reserve to spot antelope, zebra, baboons, and over 250 bird species. Popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, surfing, and sampling wine.

Spring (September to November)

Springtime brings mild, sunny weather ideal for outdoor exploring. With most kids back in school, you’ll avoid the crowds and high prices of the peak summer holiday travel season.

September and October see beautiful wildflower blooms across the Western Cape province. This is before the hot summer winds arrive, so hiking trails like Table Mountain are lush and green. Head to the beach during the day, then enjoy Cape Town’s buzzing food and nightlife scene.

Best Times for Ideal Weather

To experience Cape Town’s famously pleasant climate, visit during the transitional early fall or late spring months.

Early Fall (March and April)

Early fall has warm, sunny days topping out in the mid-70s F (low 20s C), with cool evenings. Rain showers are infrequent, allowing for plenty of outdoor activities.

The summer crowds have thinned out by March, but the weather still resembles summer. April temperatures are slightly cooler but comfortable. There are over 11 hours of daylight in autumn to explore the Cape Peninsula.

Late Spring (October and November)

Late spring brings sunny skies with moderate breezes and temperatures in the 70s F (low 20s C). These are perhaps the best months for ideal weather conditions in Cape Town.

The incidence of rain is very low, allowing you to stay active outdoors. Cool ocean currents keep conditions comfortable along Cape Town’s breathtaking beaches. October sees the floral spectacle of the annual jacaranda bloom.

Cape town outdoor activities

Best Times for Outdoor Activities

Some of Cape Town’s top things to do involve outdoor recreation and water sports. Here are the optimal times to take advantage.

Summer (December to February)

Summer may bring crowds, but the warm, dry weather is ideal for spending time at the beach. Head out in the morning before midday to beat the heat.

Go surfing at Muizenberg, plunge into the turquoise waters at Clifton and Camps Bay, or swim with seals at Hout Bay. Hiking is best very early or late in the day. Walking trails on Table Mountain and Lion’s Head offer stunning sea views.

Winter (June to August)

While winters are chilly, the low season makes it a good time for photo safaris, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing in nature reserves. You can spot the “Big Five” on a game drive through Aquila Private Game Reserve.

June through November is the peak season for whale watching. Hermanus is the whale capital of South Africa, with southern rights coming within yards of the coast. Try ocean activities like kayaking, kiteboarding, and mountain biking along the Cape.

Conclusion - Best Time to Visit Cape Town

Determining when to visit this stunning seaside destination depends on your budget, weather preferences, and desired activities. With its Mediterranean climate, the Cape offers agreeable conditions throughout the year.

For budget travelers, shoulder seasons in fall and spring provide lower prices and comfortable weather. To experience Cape Town’s famously sunny climate, plan a trip in early fall or late spring. If you want to take advantage of beach and outdoor activities, time your travels for the summer or winter accordingly.

Wherever you decide to go in the Cape Town area, you’re sure to find stunning scenery, world-class cuisine, exotic wildlife encounters, and exciting things to do. With some flexible travel planning, you can have an amazing experience any time of year in this iconic South African destination.


bottom of page