A large city square in Cape Town with Table Mountain covered in white cloud behind it

Best time to visit Cape Town – Guide to the best time to go to Cape Town

Published on: May 28th, 2020 at 11:30 am

Are you thinking of planning a visit to Cape Town, South Africa but not sure when you should go? The city of Cape Town and the surrounding areas are full of picturesque landscapes, beautiful beaches and fun activities that have many tourists flocking there throughout the whole year. Trying to discover the best time of the year to visit Cape Town will really depend on what you want to see and what you’re planning to do while in South Africa

Plan a travel adventure to Cape Town according to the best time to visit the city

If you’re combining this trip with other destinations in Africa, such as visiting one of the seven wonders of the world in Victoria Falls, then it would be handy to find out and plan around when the best time to visit Victoria Falls also. There are many attractions in Cape Town for tourists so let’s try and determine the best time to go to Cape Town for the things you wish to do and see while there.

A large city square in Cape Town with Table Mountain covered in white cloud behind it
This is one of the main squares found in Cape Town city and behind the clock tower you can see Table Mountain covered with the famous “tablecloth” cloud cover

When booking your trip, remember that if you’re located in the northern hemisphere the seasons are opposite. So, if it’s winter in the northern hemisphere it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. Cape Town sees over 1.5 million international visitors a year, so if you want to experience Cape Town without all the extra people, March to May will be your best bet for visiting. Weather in South Africa in March can also be some of the best in my opinion with temperatures likely to be between 22º and 27ºC. Let’s take a bit more of a look at the best times to visit Cape Town and see if they suit you. 

Best time to visit Cape Town and events throughout the year

Below is a small section of festivals and events held throughout the year in Cape Town, South Africa. Combining your trip to either see or avoid these could improve your travel experience to Cape Town. 

Why visit Cape Town from March to May: 

This is during South Africa’s autumn. Weather is still warm, but not hot, crowds begin to thin out which means local accommodation prices are slightly lower. Autumn is also when Cape Town starts its annual wine harvest, and many local wineries allow visitors to participate in gathering and juicing the grapes.

Local running ducks are used in vineyards in South Africa
These are a special breed of ducks called Running Ducks. Vineyards around South Africa and Cape Town use these ducks as important employees

KEY EVENTS:

Cape Town International Jazz Festival (March)

Known for being the flagship event for local event management company espAfrika, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is also referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering,” this festival is the largest music event in Arica. The 2020 dates are March 27 and 28th. Get tickets and more information here.

Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival (April 30- May 3rd 2020)

Considered to be the best Pride Event in South Africa, this celebration has been going on for more than 18 years. The festival attracts DJs, floats and performers from all over the world, and profits from this festival go to a number of local charities and LGBTQ+ organizations. Go here for more information about the festival.

If either of these event suits you then planning the best time to go to Cape Town could be between March to May.  

Visit Cape Town from June to August: 

South Africa’s winter, temperatures have dropped and Cape Town is relatively free of tourists and lodging prices suddenly drop. Winter is South Africa’s wet season period, so as long as you don’t mind sporadic rain showers and chilly winds with average day time temperatures of around 16ºC, then this could be the perfect and most budget-friendly time to plan a visit to Cape Town. Make sure to pack your raincoat as Cape Town sees the most rain during the winter.

KEY EVENTS:

The Night Feast Festival (July)

Who says festivals only happen in the summertime? Indulge in food, music and drinks during Cape Town’s yearly Nigh Feast. Get more info here.

 Cape Town Nu World Festival (July)

Held during Mandela Day weekend at Cape Town’s City Hall. This two-day music festival is said to “inspire, unite, and educate” event-goers by representing South Africa (and beyond) in a musical discovery journey. Get more info and tickets here.

If visiting during the winter and cooler months is not an issue for you then between June to August could be the best time of year to visit Cape Town for you.

Best time to visit Cape Town – September to November: 

This is generally noted to be the best time to visit Cape Town. During spring, the average daily temperatures are between the 16-22ºC, and a lot of local plants are in full bloom which makes for a very colourful scenery. This is also the best time for whale watching.

Wild flowers bloom to live in Cape Town like this pink flower with purple sections
Timing your trip to visit Cape Town when the wild flowers are in full is a great experience

 KEY EVENTS:

Cape town Diwali Festival (October)

Also called the ‘festival of lights’ the Diwali Festival is the biggest and brightest Hindu festival and showcases some of the Indian cultures most beautiful sights, sounds and tastes. Participate or watch in the talent competition, vibrant on-stage productions showcasing the legends of Diwali, and cheer on your favourite contestant in the glamorous Sari Queen pageant. Get more info here.

Cape Town International Kite Festival (October)

Hosted by a local non-profit organization and South Africa’s oldest mental health charity-Cape Mental Health since 1994. This extravaganza brings together over 20,000 visitors yearly with kiters from across the globe along with local families and tourists. Watch kites fly, make your own or indulge in the fun with food stalls from local vendors, kiddie rides, an eclectic craft market and programmed entertainment. Get more info here.

The period between September to November is known as the best time to visit Cape Town South Africa so the tourist numbers and prices are higher than throughout other periods of the year.

Each month of the year broken down

Below you can see the standard weather conditions and temperatures to expect for each month of the year in Cape Town. This should assist you in planning the best month to visit Cape Town.

Cape Town best time to go according to weather:

Weather in South Africa in January:

Generally, the month of January is considered to be the hottest month throughout the year in Cape Town and also the driest. If you are planning to complete a lot of hikes and outdoor activities in Cape Town then this might not be the best month to visit Cape Town although the tuna fishing is great.

  • Min temperature average: 15º
  • Max Temp average: 25º
  • Ocean water Temp: 18º
  • Average wet rainy days: 7
  • Average humidity: 70%

Cape Town in February:

The month of February sees the ocean around Cape Town to be the warmest of the year. While the water is warmer this is still considered the “low season” for great white shark cage diving. However, the game fishing season in Cape Town is at its peak.

  • Min temperature average: 15º
  • Max Temp average: 24.5º
  • Ocean water Temp: 20º
  • Average wet rainy days: 6
  • Average humidity: 72%

Weather in South Africa in March:

March along with April are two great months to plan a trip to Cape Town. The weather in South Africa in March across the whole country is of nice temperatures is minimal rainy days. Some think this month is one of the best times to visit Cape Town.

  • Min temperature average: 14º
  • Max Temp average: 24º
  • Ocean water Temp: 18º
  • Average wet rainy days: 6
  • Average humidity: 73%

Cape Town weather April:

As mentioned above April is one of the most desirable months to visit Cape Town. It has pleasant daily temperatures, minimal rain and a nice evening sleeping temperature if staying in a backpackers dorm. It’s also the start of the best couple of months for people wishing to go hiking in Cape Town.

  • Min temperature average: 11º
  • Max Temp average: 23º
  • Ocean water Temp: 17º
  • Average wet rainy days: 8
  • Average humidity: 79%

Cape Town in May:

The weather in Cape Town in May is really beginning to change into the winter months. It begins the get a few rainy days yet the outside temperature is still generally nice. The month of May is a great chance to head on a few hikes while in Cape Town, the days are clear which provide great viewing conditions.

  • Min temperature average: 9º
  • Max Temp average: 20º
  • Ocean water Temp: 16º
  • Average wet rainy days: 11
  • Average humidity: 80%

Cape Town in June:

Cape Town in June is at it’s wettest with an average of 90mm of rain falling throughout the month. This month along with July and August are the most likely to cause major issues with travel plans. It is the cheapest time to travel to Cape Town though.

  • Min temperature average: 8º
  • Max Temp average: 17º
  • Ocean water Temp: 16º
  • Average wet rainy days: 13
  • Average humidity: 80%

Cape Town weather in July:

The Cape Town in July weather sees the start of the great white shark cage diving “high season”. This is also regarded as the middle of the “low season” when it comes to tourists so grabbing a bargain on accommodation is likely.

  • Min temperature average: 8º
  • Max Temp average: 16º
  • Ocean water Temp: 15º
  • Average wet rainy days: 12
  • Average humidity: 80%

Weather Cape Town August:

The ocean temperature in August is generally the lowest of the year in Cape Town. If you are wanting to go swimming then this is not the time to visit. It also sees an average of 14 days of rain throughout the month which could make planning things to do in Cape Town difficult. Weather in cape town August is the less appealing but most cost-effective.

  • Min temperature average: 8º
  • Max Temp average: 16º
  • Ocean water Temp: 14º
  • Average wet rainy days: 14
  • Average humidity: 80%

Cape Town in September:

September sees the chance to go whale spotting in Cape Town as well as one of the best months to combine a visit to Kruger National Park with your vacation in Cape Town.

  • Min temperature average: 8.5º
  • Max Temp average: 19º
  • Ocean water Temp: 15º
  • Average wet rainy days: 10
  • Average humidity: 78%

Cape Town weather in October:

October is the first month after the rainy season where tourist numbers begin to visit Cape Town again in higher numbers. Prices will begin to rise to reflect this is accommodation yet it is still one of the best time of year to visit Cape Town.

  • Min temperature average: 10º
  • Max Temp average: 22º
  • Ocean water Temp: 16º
  • Average wet rainy days: 9
  • Average humidity: 75%

Cape Town in November:

November is starting to see some warmer days begin to appear. The rainy weather is all but gone by now and November sees an equal lowest amount of rain of any month throughout the year. The last chance to go visit Cape Town before the “high season” really starts.

  • Min temperature average: 13º
  • Max Temp average: 23º
  • Ocean water Temp: 16º
  • Average rainy days: 6
  • Average humidity: 70%

Weather in South Africa in December:

Cape Town in December is something you either love or hate. The tourist numbers are high and the daily temperatures begin to stay in the mid to late 20’s. This is the best time to go to Cape Town for a beach holiday. The shark cage diving is not at its best yet still has a 90% sighting rate. The game fishing is good during this time of year though.

  • Min temperature average: 14º
  • Max Temp average: 24º
  • Ocean water Temp: 18º
  • Average rainy days: 7
  • Average humidity: 70%

In summary:

  • During the months of July through to September, you can enjoy the best whale watching months. The migrating southern right whales travel along the coastline.
  • If you are wanting to do some hiking while in Cape Town the best time for a hiking holiday is during the months from late April through to the beginning of June. You can expect comfortable hiking temperatures, clear skies and generally pleasant outdoor conditions.
  • July to September sees the wildflowers bloom in Cape Town and views from the top of Table Mountain are amazing.
  • The best period to see Table Mountain covered in cloud or as the locals call it “the table cloth” is from December to February.
  • Combining your visit to Cape Town with a trip to Kruger for game viewing is best done between May to October. The weather conditions in Kruger National Park are generally at there driest and this makes the wildlife much easier to locate.
  • Low season in Cape Town is generally recognised as from June to August.
  • High Season in Cape Town is from December to February. It is the most popular period of the year to enjoy a beach holiday in Cape Town as well.
  • Cape Town best time to visit is either during the months of March-May or October-December. This is when you will get comfortable weather, better prices and fewer tourists.

Best time to visit some of Cape Towns main attractions

Cape Town is, like Africa in general, an adventure playground for travellers from all over the world. It has some amazing day trips and city adventures to choose from and bellow I have highlighted three that you may want to consider planning your trip around.

a group of black and white penguins on the sandy beach of Boulders Beach, South Africa
A group of small local penguins are the main attraction for tourists who visit Boulders Beach just outside of Cape Town

Best Time to Climb Table Mountain

One of Cape Town’s most visited and well-known spots, Table Mountain is open to hikers and tourists year-round. However, you might want to wait until spring so you can take in the beautiful views of Cape Town combined with of all of South Africa’s native plants and flowers in full bloom from the top. If you’re visiting from October to March, these are the drier months where the days become too hot and the plants and flowers are not in bloom.

If you plan on taking the trip between October and March, venture to Table Mountain early in the morning and try to take the first cable car if you don’t plan on hiking to the top. If you DO plan on hiking to the top of Table Mountain, try to start before the cars begin to operate because you’ll avoid busy areas, and dodge the heat.

Table Mountain in the background with yellow wild flowers in full bloom in the foreground
Table Mountain in the background is the most iconic image of Cape Town. Climbing and seeing the views of Cape Town are best in different parts of the year

Combining your trip to Table Mountain with the transport option of the hop on hop off bus will allow you to see much more of Cape Town.

Best Time for Shark Cage Diving and Fishing in Cape Town

South Africa is one of the few great white shark hotspots in the world, with many of its diving companies having a 90% or higher sighting rate with each dive or boat outing, your chances of seeing sharks at any time of the year are quite good. However, it has been noted that the BEST times for shark sighting and diving is between June and September, also known as the ‘high season’ for sharks.  

‘Low season’ is considered to be between December and February. Although there is still a 90% chance you will see a shark, the lower water temperatures mixed with decreased water visibility during these months means there are no guarantees. If you’re thinking of cage diving in Cape Town, your best months will be between March and September, which is during shark ‘high season.’

Cape Town is a great destination to head if you’re wanting to go tuna fishing. The best time to go fishing in Cape Town will depend on the type of fishing you wish to do, the official fishing season in Cape Town runs from December to March. For deep-sea tuna fishing, the best time will be from October to December, where water visibility is high. Trout are mainly caught between September and May and fly fishing is best during the Springtime (September to October) and Autumn (April to May).

large fishing rods that are used to go tuna fishing in Cape Town with a beautiful sunset in the background
large fishing rods that are used to go tuna fishing in Cape Town with a beautiful sunset in the background

Find out more about the excellent tuna fishing in Cape Town or 5 ways to fish in Cape Town. You can also find the best fishing charter options in Cape Town right here, which includes the one I went on.

Best time to go on an African safari

When people think of South Africa, most start dreaming of going on a safari, watching wild animals hunt, and gather in groups near popular watering holes. The best time to go on safari in Cape Town is going to be between May and September, this is when the brush dies down which makes it easier to spot animals, and when they are usually congregating around drying out watering holes. Daytime temperatures are lower which makes it more pleasant to be in the sun for longer periods of time.

If you’re wanting to combine the best time to visit Cape Town and Kruger National Park then I suggest visiting close to the month of September.

two lionesses laying in the shade to escape the heat in South Africa
Completing a wildlife safari in Africa and having the chance to get up close and watch wildlife is a highlight of any trip to the continent

I personally completed an African safari from Cape Town to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and had the trip of a lifetime. Find a review of the exact safari I completed or read through some of the different African safari options I recommend.

Find a complete blog post on the best things to do in Cape Town if a safari doesn’t interest you.

Which South Africa National Parks to visit and when

Below is a list of three National Parks in South Africa that are popular locations to complete an African safari adventure. Discover which park is best to view the animals you wish to see and when to go. Packing for a safari adventure can be tricky so use this packing guide to assist you and I have more details on National Parks close to Cape Town in a separate blog.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve: 

Big5 Game Park located KwaZulu Natal Regine is also the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa. Explore over 96,000 hectares of wilderness in open game drive safari vehicles with registered Game Rangers. The best time to visit will be during the drier months between May to September. Vegetation thins out and animals congregate around water sources so they will be easier to spot. Winter is also considered to be the low season, and the park will be less busy.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: 

Located in the Kalahari Desert, this park is known for its red dunes and dry rivers. Notable wildlife includes wildebeest, raptors and black-maned Kalahari lions. The best time to visit is between March and May when animals congregate around the riverbeds for easier sightings and temperatures are lower.

Kruger National Park: 

Located in northeastern South Africa, Kruger is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. This Big5 park is home to lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffalos, and diverse bird species. The best time to visit this park will also be during the drier winter months from May to September when animals can be seen due to the thinning of the bush.

Learn more about the National Parks in South Africa.

Best activities to do in Cape Town

As I mentioned before to ensure you have the best time in Cape Town South Africa a bit of planning is required. The same can be said for the activities on offer at Cape Town. We have discussed some of the best times to go hiking Table Mountain, fishing for tuna and spotting wildlife on safari. However, there is much more to see and do while in the city. Below are 4 of my favourite things to do.

Take the cable car to the top of table mountain: 

Table mountain is considered a must-see on most travel blogs. If hiking the mountain is not something you are comfortable with then grabbing the cable car is for you. The views are the same once at the top and getting an almost 360º view of the surrounding areas of Cape Town is breathtaking.

Grabbing your tickets for this cable car beforehand is a good idea to avoid missing out.

An aerial view of the city of Cape Town and Lions Head from Table Mountain
Here you can see both Lions Head and the city of Cape Town which is divided by the green hilly mountain range

Visit Kirstenbosch: 

You can get transport to here via your hop on hop off bus pass and the 1,300 acres of botanical garden slop down from Table Mountain through Cape Town’s suburbs. The Tree Canopy Walkway provides an elevated spot for sight-seeing.

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art: 

The largest collection of contemporary African art on the continent which features works from all over the diaspora. Get tickets here.

Robben Island:  

Nelson Mandela served most of his 27-year prison sentence here, along with hundreds of other political detainees. A trip out to the island via a ferry ride is required and you discover a true story of the past life in Cape Town. Ensure you book your tickets in advance for this activity.

Search the list of over 100 things to do in Cape Town to assist planning your trip to Cape Town. Alternatively, if you are wanting to escape the city for a few days why not check out these day trip options from Cape Town.

Popular things to do in Cape Town

Other Useful Blogs on Cape Town

I hope this blog was helpful if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Cape Town but are not sure when the best time to visit Cape Town is. I fell in love with both the city of Cape Town and the broader continent of Africa. I have numerous blogs on Cape Town activities to do, day trips to take and general information on National Parks, Africa Safari Options and visiting Victoria Falls and the Okavanga Delta.

Find a complete list of Cape Town blogs and a helpful travel guide to assist in planning your upcoming trip.

Cape Town Blogs of Interest:

Travel budget tips

Either booking a new travel holiday right from the start or while on such a holiday can be expensive. Things like flights, accommodation, meals, transport and tours can add up fast and put a strain on what should be a fun time. These budget travel tips will assist with booking a holiday at the best price or staying on budget while travelling.

Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use

Book Your Flight

Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.

Book Your Accommodation

This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.

My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?

As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.

I also have a couple of great blogs that share quick and easy ways to save money on flights or accommodation. Take a look and save some cash on your next trip.

The Best Place To Book Your Tours

If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.

They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.

Other posts that might interest you:

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visit Cape Town South Africa during the best time of the year

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Last Updated on: May 25th, 2020 at 2:29 pm

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