The gorgeous city of Cape Town is one of the most interesting places to visit in South Africa. Alongside the amazing scenery and fun activities, it is also well known for its unpredictable weather. Locals will jokingly warn you to expect all four seasons in one day.
Even during high summer, an icy breeze can pick up in the afternoon, making you grab a jacket by the evening. Or after days of rain in the winter, a beautiful wind-still sunny day will surprise you with the prospect of a beach outing. The rule of thumb for a Cape Town holiday is be prepared for anything!
Here’s a little insight into the seasons, their temperatures, and unique qualities to help you prepare for your Cape Town holiday.
Weather Conditions and Seasons in Cape Town
Cape Town naturally has a warm and temperate Mediterranean style climate. During the peak of summer temperature can reach up to 35°C. And in the winter it can drop below 10°C in the mornings and evenings, hovering around 15°C midday.
Spring and autumn are usually filled with just the right temperatures to visit the natural scenery around the city. Summer time is perfect for appreciating the icy ocean. And the rainy winters are perfect for snuggling up in front of a fire with a glass of wine.
Your choice of holiday time in Cape Town will greatly depend on what kind of trip you are planning. If you intend to make the most of the Mother City’s wide variety of outdoor activities, peak summer or winter time will not be ideal.
Summer in Cape Town
In Cape Town the locals refer to the months of November till February simply as “season”. This is the time of year the most tourists ascend on the city. The peak season is during December when the local tourists from across South Africa also visit the beloved city.
On average, the temperature can reach up to 30°C, with the warmest months being January and February. The maximum summer temperatures can reach up to 35°C. Evening temperatures drop to around 14°C, but the wind factor can add an icy chill to the air. Try to carry a light jersey or jacket in your bag.
Summertime is the best time to enjoy the beautiful Cape Town beaches. But beware, you won’t be the only one who jumps at the opportunity to head over to the beach on a lovely wind-still day. If you head over to popular beaches such as Camps Bay or the Clifton beaches, you will have contend with big crowds. Especially during local summer school holidays (beginning-December to mid-January), and significant public holidays.
Related: Best Secret Beaches in the Cape
The ideal time to visit, is mid-March when the busy tourist season starts to fade and the weather is still pleasantly warm. Keep in mind that when traveling to Cape Town during peak season you will not only be joined by higher volumes of tourists, your flights and accommodation rates will also be more expensive. Make sure that you book everything in advance to avoid disappointment and snatch up special prices.
Autumn and Spring in Cape Town
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Cape Town if you are looking for cheaper accommodation rates and flights. The autumn temperatures start dropping from late-March. In the mornings the temperature hovers around 15°C and by mid afternoon it ascend to the low 20’s. Evenings become chillier. This is a great time to visit the historic wine farms in the area surrounding Cape Town. It’s also perfect weather for hiking and biking.
Spring arrives by late August, early September with temperatures inching closer to the mid-teens during the morning. During the day the peak temperatures are in the low 20’s. Evenings can still be chilly. It’s the perfect time to explore the outdoor scenes of Cape Town, without worrying about being too hot and bothered. Read our post Where to see The Wildflowers in the Cape for one of the most spectacular moments of the Western Cape’s nature.
As mentioned, traveling to Cape Town during these seasons will give you cheaper rates for air travel and accommodation, except for late March to early April when the Easter weekend takes place and the school holiday.
Winter in Cape Town
Winter arrives by late June and lasts till August, sometimes hovering into early September. The cold fronts start rolling across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing strong winds and rain. In the mornings temperatures drop below 10°C and only climb to the high teens during the middle of the day. The evenings can be icy cold.
Mostly this is the least popular season in Cape Town because of the rainy weather. Which means you can grab the best flight and accommodation deals. But winter in Cape Town has its own charms. The countryside turns a luscious green and you can also enjoy the whale season before the area becomes too crowded. Read our post 5 of the Best Ways to See Whales around Cape Town for a few tips.
The other big treat, is that during the peak of winter, you can go snow hunting on the outskirts of the city. Read our post Where to See the Snow in Winter in Cape Town and consider booking a few nights outside of Cape Town to appreciate the rugged beauty of the Western Cape. And make sure you look out for accommodation that offers a fireplace in the room or dining area to complete your winter getaway.