When's the Best Time of Year to Visit Cape Town?

Lions Head from Clifton Beach, Cape Town 
Lion's Head from Clifton Beach, Cape Town  | © Craig Howes / Cape Town Tourism

Freelance Writer - instagram.com/andrewthompsonsa

Cape Town is an incredible city to visit all year round, thanks to the moderate climate and growing selection of year-round events, both indoor and out. Though peak tourist season tends to run in conjunction with high summer temperatures, there’s no reason why you should skip the shoulder seasons heading into and out of winter. And even midwinter is a unique time to visit, particularly if you’re on a budget. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning a trip to Cape Town. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.


This is peak tourism season in Cape Town. It’s hot, and it’s common to have heatwaves of several consecutive days with temperatures above the 30°C (86°F) mark. Though many locals head out of town, tourists descend on Cape Town in their thousands, filling up beaches, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants. Most are here to take full advantage of the city’s hot, dry summer and perfect blue skies. Though many bemoan the crowds, higher prices and longer queues, with the traditional Newlands New Year’s Day cricket test match and the popular Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) celebrations, there’s a palpable energy on the streets, and beaches, throughout January.

Rainfall: Six days

Temperature: 26°C (79°F)

Hiking Lion’s Head


February in Cape Town is still upbeat, though it feels decidedly quieter than December and January. Although most residents have returned to work, there’s still perfect weather for tourists to enjoy, usually with slightly shorter queues. It’s the middle of the cricket season, and there’s often a game or two on the go at the Newlands Stadium, along with the odd outdoor rugby festival that focusses more on food and drink than the actual sport. But if you’d prefer to avoid South Africa’s national pastime of consuming sport, it’s also a perfect time to take in an outdoor picnic, summer concert or movie under the stars.

Rainfall: Five days

Temperature: 26°C (79°F)

Lion’s Head from Clifton Beach, Cape Town


March is a great time to visit Cape Town. Most of the seasonal tourists have started to leave, and the wind, for the most part, is starting to die down, but the weather in general is still very agreeable. There is also a slew of great events that take place in the city at this time: the Cape Town Cycle Tour and Cape Epic will keep cycling fans on the edge of their saddles, while culture fans can soak up the atmosphere of the Cape Town Carnival and witness some incredible jazz at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Though the odd rain shower might start to appear, and the days are noticeably shorter, there’s still a great chance you’ll get weather worthy of a day on the mountain or beach.

Rainfall: Six days

Temperature: 25°C (77°F)

Penguins at Boulders Beach


This month is Cape Town’s best-kept secret. April offers slightly more temperate weather, and usually signals the start of the first seasonal showers in the city, but it’s beautifully still and is the ideal time if you’re looking to escape the crowds. Though there’s a risk of the odd day being rained out, you’ll find considerably shorter lines at your favourite attractions, and even the start of some special off-peak offers.

Be aware that Easter and its associated public holidays often block out large chunks of the month of April. This means that some restaurants and stores may close, either for the entire Easter period or just on the specific public holidays, and certain attractions, like Cape Point and Boulders Beach, will swell with local tourists visiting Cape Town from other cities. Still, avoid the Easter crush, and you might just find you have large parts of the city to yourself, with sublime sweater weather to boot. And if you’re looking to run off all that Easter chocolate, book your entry into the famous Two Oceans Marathon.

Rainfall: Nine days

Temperature: 22°C (72°F)

Top of Table Mountain at sunset


The month of May is the entry point into the main rainy season, which means that several outdoor days may be lost to the weather. But when the clouds clear, you’ll be left with beautiful blue sky days, perfect mid-range temperatures and barely another visitor in sight. Local attractions also work hard to keep visitors and residents entertained, and given that it’s harvest season for many, you’ll find a selection of food and wine festivals on the go, both in the city and in neighbouring towns. If you’re not too concerned about that tan, and instead would prefer to potter between wine farms, restaurants and other notable attractions, May might just be your best bet.

Rainfall: 12 days

Temperature: 20°C (68°F)

Cape Town after a rain shower


If you’re a fan of whales, then everything from June onwards is for you. This is the start of the whale season, and there’s a good chance you’ll spot these gentle giants frolicking in a bay near you. Food and wine shows continue unabated, and as the colder weather sets in, so too do many winter restaurant specials. With many establishments geared up with warm fireplaces and cosy atmospheres, it’s one of the best times to visit if you intend sampling the best food that the city has to offer. And even though it’s one of the colder, rainier months, don’t let that fool you: when those clouds clear for a day or two, you’ll be left with idyllic hiking conditions and weather perfect for long walks on the city’s beautiful beaches.

Rainfall: 14 days

Temperature: 18°C (64°F)

Cloudy day in Cape Town


July is traditionally among the coldest months in Cape Town, with daytime averages slipping down into the high teens. When the dip in temperatures combines with seasonal rains and wind, it can be a bit debilitating. But thanks to the mediterranean climate, a good weather day is never that far away.

You’ll benefit from a quieter city, great deals on food and accommodation, and there are several annual events designed to keep you warm. If your intention in visiting Cape Town is to spend days on the beach or be guaranteed hot hikes, avoid July. But if you’re satisfied with the city’s indoor attractions, whale sightings and holding out for the occasional cool but clear day, this month may surprise you.

Rainfall: 14 days

Temperature: 17°C (63°F)

Child on top of Table Mountain


The cold and wet weather continues into August, and its common to have grey skies for a few days on end. It may not get frigid in Cape Town, but you will need to layer up with a sweater and a rain jacket. The days are shorter, and the daytime temperatures seldom reach above 20°C (68°F). But then again, the lowest is seldom worse than 8°C (46°F).

Though it’s a quiet month to visit Cape Town, there’s a charm and beauty to the city at this time, and there’s still a good chance of spotting whales at various points along the coastline. The end of August is also typically the start of the famous wildflower season, and just a short drive out of the city you can witness the stunning natural display as spring starts to take hold.

Rainfall: 14 days

Temperature: 18°C (64°F)

Wild flowers outside of Cape Town


September is mid-whale season in the Cape, and there are few better places in which to view them than nearby Hermanus. The popular Hermanus Whale Festival takes place towards the end of the month, and though whales are common throughout the season, it’s a vibrant, festive time to visit the town. Book ahead of time if you’re looking to stay overnight, and be prepared for traffic jams and organised chaos if you’re there for the day.

Still, with exhibitions, performances, shows and the incredible wildlife displays out to sea, it’s a good reason to visit. In the actual city of Cape Town, you’ll find the weather slowly starting to warm up, and there will be fewer rainy days. It’s not uncommon to have the occasional blinder of a day suitable for the beach or mountain.

Rainfall: 12 days

Temperature: 19°C (66°F)

Cape Town


October might just be the best season for hiking in Cape Town. Average temperatures are still on the low side overnight, but perfect for sunburn-free outdoor excursions. The rain is also abating, and there’s a slow shift in momentum as the city slowly prepares for the impending tourist season.

Music festivals, like the popular Rocking the Daisies, appear on the calendar, and together with a selection of indoor options, there’s barely a day that goes by without something to do. The moderate temperatures, low visitor numbers and the slowly thawing city make October a great time to experience Cape Town.

Rainfall: Nine days

Temperature: 21°C (70°F)

Summer wine tasting at Groot Constantia


By the time November hits, the city is almost ready to launch into silly season with full force. The city’s residents have warmed up and start to take to the streets, beaches and mountain trails, bringing with them an increasingly upbeat tempo. Outdoor festivals are also kicking into full swing, with the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts and Galileo Open Air Cinema both getting going.

Daytime temperatures start to climb, the rains are all but gone until winter, and it’s clear that the city is gearing up for another high-intensity summer. Still, if your focus is on warm weather and outdoor events, but without the major peak-season crowds, early November may be your best option.

Rainfall: Seven days

Temperature: 23°C (73°F)

The Volvo Ocean Race visits Cape Town in late November


December and January tend to blend into one big, hot, homogenous hedonistic mess in Cape Town. Christmas is usually only celebrated publicly in South Africa in the form of shopping centre Christmas trees and excessive consumerism, so don’t expect the quaint markets or authentic festivities common in the northern hemisphere. But if you’re looking for late-night parties with out-of-towners, extravagant New Year’s Eve celebrations and packed, vibrant beaches, then you can’t go wrong.

The weather at this time of year is hot and the days are long, but provided the southeaster isn’t pumping, you can easily cool off in the chilly Atlantic ocean at the beaches that surrounds the city. Most locals take leave between Christmas and New Year’s Day, adding to the festive atmosphere, and in spite of a string of public holidays at this time, most tourist attractions stay open to cater for the massive influx of seasonal visitors (with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) – though this means long waits at places such as Table Mountain Cableway, Cape Point and Boulders Beach.

Rainfall: Seven days

Temperature: 25°C (77°F)

Summer is an idea time to be outdoors in Cape Town

When not to go to Cape Town

Cape Town’s moderate mediterranean climate makes it a good location to visit throughout the year, and there’s no wrong time to visit the city. Make your decision based on weather, crowds and costs. If you’re looking for guaranteed hot and dry weather, you can’t go wrong with the peak seasons of November to February. But if you’re happy to deal with shorter days, cooler temperatures and occasional all-day rain, then there’s something quite appealing (and more affordable) about the quieter winter months of March to September.

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