Cape Town is not only the second-largest city in the country of South Africa, but also the most popular tourist destination in Africa. Despite being at the bottom of the continent, Cape Town is considered to have an oceanic Mediterranean climate, meaning that the winters there are cool and damp, while the summers are warm and dry. Somewhat comparable climates could be Madrid, Los Angeles, or Galveston (Texas), for those well-travelled in other parts of the world. However, being on the far side of the southern hemisphere, the seasons flip, so summer runs from December to March, and winter stretches from June to August. Be aware of this seasonal change if you are not normally from a southern hemisphere seasonal setting.
Chance of Rain16°/8°
Summer (December – February)
Summer in Cape Town is a popular and fun time to visit the city, with warm to hot temperatures making the beaches come alive. Also, there is a lower number of precipitation days during the “dry” season, so expect only 5 days of rainfall per month in the winter season. Occasionally, in summer, the Berg Wind (Mountain Wind) blows down off the mountains and heats the region to an uncomfortable level, which is why February and March can have intense, random heat waves.
The average mean temperature of summer in Cape Town is an overnight low of 16C (61F) up to a daytime high of 26C (79F).
Summer in Cape Town is a wonderful chance to experience the vibrant culture and fine weather of a leading center of tourism for an entire continent! No matter what season you travel to Cape Town, the shadow of Table Mountain is an immediate visual attraction, and is something you will definitely want to visit. There are two ways to get to the top, either hiking or taking the Table Mountain Cableway. This location is prime for the New Years Eve celebrations in summer, with discount prices in order to get as many people as possible up top to enjoy the city’s firework show in style! The seasonal shift of the southern hemisphere makes crowds less of an issue in summer, so cultural activities like museum and gallery hopping are much more fun for some relief from the sunshine. Woodstock is the area where art concentrates, and don’t miss Stevenson or Whatiftheworld galleries in that artsy space in the city. Robbens Island is an educational way to spend a day during summer in Cape Town. The World Heritage Site of a famous apartheid prison is located there and visitors can better understand modern African history, but nature lovers can also explore the island for the large number of exotic birds and species that can be found there. In the same vein of nature exploration, rent a sea kayak for a day and paddle out to find some of the penguins rocketing along beneath the waves near Boulders Beach. Walk back down the coast to Clifton Beach, the most exclusive beach in the city, which is close to the city center and lined with ritzy real estate. Get your feet back on solid ground and tune your ears to the awesome summer season of the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts. The outdoor location of Skeleton Ravine provides a breathtaking view during the shows and the concerts run from November until the end of summer.
The summer heat waves have moved on in March, and the rainfall begins to increase in preparation for the wet seasons in winter, but autumn in Cape Town is still a lovely time to visit, with plenty of cultural opportunities and season-specific activities for the many visitors who come during this time of year.
The average mean temperature during autumn in Cape Town is a low of 12C (53F) and a daytime high of 21.5C (71F).
The autumnal months are a perfect combination of mild weather for tourism, including mild wind, rain, and temperature. There are still outliers, chilly days you will seek the indoors and scorchers for a late season beach break, but the city is generally moderate and comfortable throughout autumn. The colors do change, however, so long hikes through nature are a popular pastime in these months. Some of the best spots are in the City Centre itself, but to get away from the mainstream, explore outside the city. The walking and hiking trails of Silvermine Nature Reserve are stunning to behold in autumn, and the changing colors at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve also inspire a number of autumnal visitors. After working up an appetite or a thirst during your hike, enjoy the fruits (literally) of the Cape Winelands. This is the season to enjoy the exquisite South African wines that are everywhere in the city, so put your walking feet up, and sample some of the local specialties. Although not an activity to do whilst drinking, some adventurers see autumn as the beginning of dive season. Diving in Cape Town might be a little different than in other parts of the world, as Great White Shark diving is a popular activity. The bravest tourists choose to go underwater with these beasts, but parasailing and helicopter rides are also autumnal activities that keep a bit more distance between you and the water. Finish your day with a delicious meal at one of the restaurants near the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the heart of the city, where you can also see the Nelson Mandela Gateway, the spot to take a boat to Robbens Island where that leader had been imprisoned.
The winter months are slightly cooler, but still comfortable, but the rain comes in with a vengeance, and there is an average of 13 days of rain per month during the winter months.
Average mean temperature during winter in Cape Town is an overnight low average of 8.5C (47F) and a daytime high of 18C (64F).
Winter in Cape Town is a popular time to visit because these months are considered summer vacation in much of the tourist-packed American and European markets. Therefore, the city is alive with festivals and activities for its’ visitors. The Two Oceans Aquarium is a great destination for an afternoon, with thousands of fascinating creatures and sights to entertain your family, while for those tourists who want to see animals in a natural setting, the end of winter is a great time for whale watching and dolphin spotting off the coast and near Robbens Island. The Kirstenbosch Winter concerts are centered at the Silvertree Restaurant, so live music can regularly be enjoyed along with a delicious local meal, followed by a relaxing walk through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. To get a taste of “winter” in South Africa, stop in at the Grandwest Entertainment Center for hockey games, figure skating competitions, and open skating opportunities on the huge indoor ice rink. The Cape Winelands are now in full swing during the winter months, so take a day trip to the nearby estates of Stellenbosch or Constantia to taste the wines directly from the source amid the beauty of the Cape’s vineyards. Shopping is a good way to chase away any winter blues, so meander through the large shopping centers of Canal Walk and Cavendish Square for local offerings as well as stores featuring international fashion and designer products. Winter in Cape Town is also a great chance to soak up some culture, so enjoy some of the performances of ballet, theatre, opera, and comedy that picks up in regularity at the Masque Theatres and the Theatre on the Bay!
The rain begins to lessen in severity during spring in Cape Town, so all outdoor activities begin to fill back up with locals and tourists, while the temperature climbs to a more comfortable level. The nights are not as cool as winter, so the daytime activities can stretch far into the evening during this season in Cape Town.
The average mean temperature on spring in Cape Town is an overnight low of 11C (52F) and a daytime high of 21.5C (71F).
Spring in Cape Town shows signs of new life throughout the city, and the number of activities and must-see activities is perfect for a first-time visitor to this South African capital city. Signal Hill is the less notable mountain overlooking Cape Town, but still worthy of a wander if Table Mountain is a bit too strenuous for you. If you do make it up Table Mountain, check out the lesser-known views from Devil’s Peak or Lion’s Head. Back on lower ground, walk down the beach to Boulders, where you can see thousands of penguins lounging on the sand. Within the city proper, explore the shops and stands of the famous Long Street, a central avenue of the city filled with bookshops, antique stores, restaurants, cafes, and a vibrant nightlife for fun-seekers. For those travelers who wish to have some education along with their relaxation, spend some time learning about the sometimes troubled history of South Africa at the Iziko South African Museum and Plantation and the Iziko Slave Lodge. Take the kids to the Ratanga Junction amusement park for a brief escape from the city, or if you are in town for a longer stay, take the Premier Classe Train for a luxurious ride to Johannesburg. This old-style train may be a bit pricey, but with all meals included in the rustic setting and beautiful scenery of the trip, it is worth it for tourists who want a unique local experience. If you choose to stay in Cape Town, no visit will be complete without a trip to the Castle of Good Hope, or the new Greenpoint Park and Biodiversity Garden, one of the legacy projects of the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa.
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