Everything you need to know about your Cape Town holiday
Welcome to Discover Africa’s Cape Town holiday guide. A Cape Town holiday offers the visitor the best of South Africa’s natural and cosmopolitan attractions. From the world-renowned wine producing regions, to the exquisite natural beauty of Table Mountain National Park and everything inbetween. Curate your holiday experience and let us do the rest for you. It couldn’t be more easy.
January enjoys hot, sunny days with clear skies and plenty of daylight hours. Sunset is only after 8 pm! Daytime temperatures are in the mid to high 20’s, although it is not uncommon for temperatures to rise well over 30°C. Cape Town falls within a winter rainfall region, so this month is mostly dry. Expect the occasional (very) windy day.
January is the perfect month for just about any outdoor activity. A day on the beach is the best way to enjoy the hot weather and a visit to Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is particularly special since you might spot juvenile penguins. January often experiences windy days, which is popular with kite-surfers in areas like Bloubergstrand. For calmer conditions, head for the picturesque beaches of Clifton where the coastline is sheltered from the wind. Hiking trails on the Table Mountain range are best done early mornings when it is cooler, while sunset-picnics on Signal Hill are a treat. In the evenings, movie lovers can look forward to the Galileo Open Air Cinema screenings at various venues around the city, including Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Winelands. The one of a kind Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, a colourful parade that dates back to the city’s slave era of the 1800s, takes place on the 2nd of January in the city center.
Long, warm and sunny days make exploring the city and surrounding areas a joy and Cape Town’s social scene blossoms in this period with a plethora of events and activities on offer. On the other hand, January is one of the busiest months of the year, so Cape Town gets crowded with visitors. Flights and accommodation are harder to find and more expensive.
February has hot and sunny days that often push temperatures over 30°C. Since this is the dry season and rain is scarce most days have clear blue skies but expect the occasional windy day. Evenings are generally mild and pleasant.
Wine aficionados have plenty to look forward to in February as two of the nation’s top wine regions, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, both host wine festivals in February. With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, Cape Town’s beaches are less populated yet the weather is still perfect for the beach. The city center plays host to the acclaimed Cape Town Art Fair mid-month and the vibrant Cape Town Pride Festival at the end of the month. Dance music lovers can look forward to the popular Cape Town Electronic Music Festival which takes place in various locations around the city.
By February the peak holiday season in Cape Town is over, school terms have resumed and residents are back at work, so popular destinations are less crowded and accommodation and flights are cheaper.
March has some of the best weather of the year since daytime temperatures are still balmy while the windy days of peak summertime fade away. Expect daytime temperatures in the mid 20’s, mild evenings and little to no rain.
March is a busy month for sports enthusiasts as Cape Town hosts the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, Cape Epic and the Two Oceans Marathon.
The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in the Southern Suburbs plays host to a series of much-loved open air summer sunset concerts.
The inner city hosts the colourful Cape Town Carnival as well as the International Jazz Festival at the Cape Town International Conference Center.
March is much quieter than THE peak holiday season and flights and accommodation are cheaper. There aren’t many reasons not to visit Cape Town in March but do take into account that the city becomes very congested and sees road closures during the big sporting events this month.
The month of April sees autumn arrive in Cape Town and the heat and wind of the peak summer months disappear. Days are generally fair with clear skies and the average temperature in the low to mid 20’s. Evenings are generally mild and pleasant.
Hiking on the Table Mountain range is great this time of year since daytime temperatures are cooler and it’s not as windy. The last of the open air Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, featuring top local and international musical artists, takes place during April. Various venues across Cape Town including the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and the Cape Winelands host the last of a summer-long series of pop-up movie screenings called the Galileo Open Air Cinema.
Accommodation prices are lower at this time of the year, the weather is cooler but not yet rainy and Cape Town sees fewer tourists. Try to avoid Easter Weekend towards the end of the month when Cape Town is a popular destination for locals.
Winter arrives in Cape Town, but not with great force as the city experiences a fairly mild yet rainy winter. Daytime temperatures average just below the 20°C mark while evenings can drop to around 10°C. Expect some cloudy and rainy days.
In response to the colder weather Cape Town moves its social scene indoors. It is the perfect time to explore indoor markets, live music nights, theatre performances and classic movie screenings at the iconic Labia Theatre. The Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival takes place at the end of the month at the Baxter Theatre in the Southern Suburb of Rondebosch. In the Cape Winelands Stellenbosch hosts the annual Oyster & Bubbly festival while the Franschhoek Literary Festival is centered around writers, classical concerts and fine dining.
The cooler weather and coming winter mean there aren’t many outdoor activities, but Cape Town makes up for it with great indoor events. Accommodation and flights are generally at their cheapest around this time of the year.
June is the first proper winter month in Cape Town and sees chilly, rainy and windy days. Daytime temperatures only occasionally climb above 20°C and evenings are usually wet and cold.
The whale watching season starts in June when the gentle ocean giants migrate north to warmer climates. Sightings are best in False Bay, Gansbaai and the town of Hermanus, about 1 hour from Cape Town. Robertson in the Cape Winelands hosts a popular wine festival at the start of the month called the Wacky Wine Weekend. Experienced surfers prefer Muizenberg in winter as the waves are best this time of the year.
While outdoor activities are limited by cold weather, Cape Town’s social scene is still buzzing with plenty of indoor events. If you can handle the colder weather you’ll save with lower accommodation and flight prices too.
Winter is at its peak in the month of July with daytime temperatures on most days struggling to exceed 20, although you might encounter the occasional mild day. Evening temperatures can drop below 10 and you can expect a fair bit of rain and wind too.
On rainy days visits to the Two Oceans Aquarium, Zeitz Mocaa and the Cape Town Comedy Club in the V&A Waterfront make for a great day out, as do craft beer tastings in Newlands or wine tastings in the Cape Winelands and Constantia. In rebellion against the cold weather restaurants across the city turn cozy with roaring fireplaces at night and live music offerings to warm those cold bones. Evenings at the Labia, Artscape or Fugard theatres are a treat and throughout the month of July the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch hosts a comedy festival, called the Funny Festival. The Cape Winelands town of Franschhoek celebrates its French roots with Bastille Day on the 14th of July
Cold, wet and windy weather lessen the city’s outdoor activities and events, but Capetonians have long since learned to simply move the vibe indoors. Local schools have their winter holidays at the end of the month which leads to crowds at popular tourist destinations.
August sees the last of the winter rains with some wet and windy days, although sunny days with clear skies are not uncommon. Daytime temperatures hover around 20°C while evenings are chilly.
Towards the end of the month, the spectacular flower season arrives with the first hint of Spring. The best region for seeing colorful wildflower displays is along Table Bay and northward up the West Coast. Migrating Southern right, Bryde’s and Humpback whales can be spotted in the waters of False Bay, Gansbaai or Hermanus (all 1-2 hours outside Cape Town).
The weather can be unpleasant, with some days experiencing four seasons in one. However, August is a quieter time and less populated by visitors which means flights and accommodation is cheaper.
Spring officially arrives in Cape Town in September and you can expect mild days with average temperatures in the low to mid-20’s. Rainy days are fewer but evenings can still get chilly.
Springtime brings with it a stunning burst of flowers that turn the landscape into a sweeping kaleidoscope of colour. The best regions for the flower season are on the northwestern coastline, but good floral displays can also be seen along the West Coast an hour outside Cape Town. The Cape Winelands celebrate spring mid-month with the two-day Franschhoek Uncorked Festival, while venues all over Cape Town’s metropole play host to top performing artists during the Cape Town Fringe Festival. September is peak whale watching time. The quaint town of Hermanus, the country’s top whale watching destination, hosts the popular annual Whale Festival at the end of the month.
September is a great time to visit Cape Town, but the weather might not let you fully enjoy the beaches, just yet. Local schools have a week-long break at the end of the month which brings more visitors to the city’s tourist attractions.
October enjoys very mild weather with daytime temperatures hovering around the low to mid 20’s. A few rainy days may be expected while evenings are still cool, but not too cold.
In the first week of October one of South Africa’s top outdoor music festivals, Rocking the Daisies, takes place just outside the city. The lineup draws top international and local musos. Whale watching is good during the month of October. Keep an eye out for these sea creatures in the waters of False Bay, or take a day trip out to the town of Hermanus further north.
October often has beautiful mild and sunny days perfect for the beach and outdoor activities and since it’s not yet peak season you won’t find many tourists around. Accommodation and flights are also cheaper.
In November things start hotting up as summertime arrives in Cape Town. Days are generally hot with clear skies and temperatures often climb over 30°C. Rain is scarce and evenings are warm and pleasant.
November is a great time to visit Cape Town’s best beaches, especially those of Clifton and Camps Bay, before the peak holiday season in December. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens host the much-loved Summer Sunset Concerts series that sees top local musicians and international guests perform on an open-air stage. The Wavescape Surf & Ocean festival takes place at various venues around the city. The festival focuses on ocean-conscious events with local and international movie screenings, beach cleanups, art exhibitions and informational courses.
In November you get all of the great summer weather but much fewer visitors at popular tourist sites. There’s not much of a downside to visiting Cape Town this month and you might even grab some accommodation specials before the peak holiday season truly kicks in.
In December Cape Town experiences some of its hottest weather with daytime temperatures often rising into the mid 30’s. Expect hot and cloudless days, long daytime hours, warm nights and little to no rain. December sees the occasional very windy day.
The warm weather makes Cape Town’s beaches by far the most popular summertime destination. Outdoor activities on Table Mountain and visits to Cape Point are equally great during this month. On New Year’s Eve, the whole of Cape Town is abuzz with celebration and you’ll find events on the beaches, at restaurants, dance clubs and rooftop bars in the city. The biggest all-day event takes place in the V&A Waterfront which builds up to a spectacular fireworks display at midnight. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens plays host to a series of open-air music shows, called the Summer Sunset Concerts, featuring top local musos and a handful of international artists. Various venues across Cape Town including the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and the Cape Winelands play host to a summer-long series of pop-up movie screenings called the Galileo Open Air Cinema.
Cape Town is alive with events, festivals, concerts and loads of outdoor activities.
On the southern tip of Africa sits an almost impossibly picturesque city at the foot of a great flat mountain. The thriving waters of the Atlantic Ocean wash onto its stunning beaches, as pristine today as when the first Europeans set foot on them hundreds of years ago. Little did those early explorers realise this spot would become the birthplace of a country and many of its peoples and cultures. It’s no wonder Cape Town is affectionately known by its inhabitants as the Mother City.
The very first mention of the Cape in the annals of history was by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeus Diaz who in 1488 found the oceans offshore very unforgiving, dubbing the peninsula the Cape of Storms. Subsequent Portuguese sailors came to view it in a more positive light as it became an important landmark on their sea journeys between Europe and the East, thus renaming it the Cape of Good Hope.
In 1652 the Dutch explorer Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post here to serve as a way station for trade routes. He built the first settlement, planted a range of useful crops and before long an economy grew into what became known as Cape Town. The very, very abbreviated historical record of the next 300 years tells that the Cape kept expanding, although not without a fair share of political and social conflict, into what today is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Africa.
Cape Town’s diversity extends to its natural environment too. In fact, the prominent landscape is the most striking feature that makes the city one of a kind. The iconic flat-topped Table Mountain dominating the city skyline is world-renowned as a symbol of South Africa, but it is also home to an important biosphere. The whole of the Table Mountain range, including the rocky Cape Point peninsula to the south, is protected as a national park and contains rich vegetation types including unique fynbos, renosterveld, Afromontane forests, rivers, fountains and wetlands.
Healthy populations of fauna are present too, although you won’t find the Big Five here. Keep an eye out instead for the tiny klipspringer, cute rock hyrax (or “dassie” in the local tongue) or cheeky chacma baboons. On the peninsula larger antelope like eland, red hartebeest and bontebok roam and you might even spot a Cape mountain zebra or two.
The oceans of the Cape Peninsula are incredibly rich and diverse. It sustains a thriving fishing trade as well as playing an important role in tourism. Cape fur seals are abundant and bottlenose dolphins are often spotted surfing in the waves around the peninsula. Migrating Southern Right, Blyde’s and Humpback whales breed in the area during the late winter months and the infamous great white shark can be spotted, especially in False Bay to the southeast of the city.
The suburbs of Cape Town are equally diverse thanks to the lay of the land. The inner city is relatively small and surrounded by the peaks of Table Mountain, Devils Peak and Lions Head which separates it from the Atlantic Seaboard, a long stretch of seaside suburbs overlooking the ocean. The eastern slopes of Table Mountain see a lot of precipitation, turning the leafy neighborhoods of the Southern Suburbs vibrant and lush year-round.
To the south the rocky tip of the peninsula culminates at Cape Point, an important landmark for early seafarers and now a protected nature reserve. Bookending the peninsula to the north and east are the panoramic coastlines of Table Bay and False Bay, both home to a number of quaint fishing towns. Finally, to the interior the sweeping vineyards of the Cape Winelands are home to the oldest and most prestigious wine farms in all the land.
Now, with such an impressive resume, only one question remains: where to first?