The best time to visit Cape Town
As the second largest city in South Africa, Cape Town is one of the most popular destinations in the country. The so-called ‘Mother City’ is situated at the foot of Table Mountain, one of the icons of the city. But that’s not the only thing to see here – you’ve got other fantastic experiences such as Bo Kaap, Simons Town, Robben Island, the Cape of Good Hope and the Water Front that will keep you occupied for days. The city also serves as a fantastic starting point to road trips and tours of South Africa, the Garden Route being a particularly popular itinerary to follow. If you’ve got your heart set on Cape Town but don’t know when a good time to go would be, then be sure to read my guide about the best time to visit Cape Town. You’ll get detailed insights into the climate as well as weather conditions you can expect while you’re there. Enjoy!
When is the best time to visit Cape Town?
If you’re desperate to avoid those winter chills at home, then you’ll love the best time to visit Cape Town – from October to April! The South African summer – i.e. December, January and February, are popular with holidaymakers. If you don’t want to bear the cold, dark winters in Ireland, Cape Town offers a fantastic escape from it all.
December, January and February are therefore the best time to visit Cape Town thanks to their optimum weather conditions. Temperatures hover at around 25 – 27°C, and there are 11 sunshine hours during the day. Ideal for a sun-drenched holiday! Nights cool down to around 15 – 16°C. You won’t have to worry about rain either, since it’ll rain a maximum of just 5 – 6 days in December, January and February. The lovely water temperatures of around 19°C provide ideal conditions for a swim in the sea as well. The perfect way to cool off from those warm summer days.
An overview of the best times to visit Cape Town:
- Best time to go: December, January and February
- Other options: October, November, March, April
The months of October, November, March and April are not summer months in South Africa, but they’re still a fantastic time to visit Cape Town. October and November are spring months, and while temperatures aren’t as hot they are in summer, they’re still lovely and warm with daytime temperatures of 21 – 24°C (11 – 12°C at night). If you’re going in October or November, it’s best to bring a light jacket with you to be on the safe side. March and April, which are autumn months in South Africa, still provide plenty of sunshine and the Atlantic is still warm enough to swim in, if a little cooler than in the summer. You can expect of around 5 – 9 days with rain.
Climate and weather in Cape Town
The Atlantic Ocean has a huge influence on the climate in Cape Town. The location in the southern hemisphere provides a temperature, subtropical climate that ensures stable temperatures across the year. The winters are mild and wet, whereas summers are hot and dry. And while there are the usual four seasons in Cape Town, it’s important to remember that they’re inverted! Our summer is their winter, our spring is their autumn… and so on. Cape Town enjoys around 3,100 hours of sunshine during the year, and air humidity is low enough that the high summer temperatures aren’t unbearable. South-easterly winds that blow from August until March ensure that humidity is never too great. In fact there’s a local belief that these south-easterly winds help to disperse and clear up air pollution, hence why the locals also call it the Cape Doctor!
Summer temperatures lie between 24 – 27°C, but the thermometer can also potentially go higher. But even when temperatures are approaching the 30 mark, it’s never too unbearable thanks to the low humidity. Nights are a little cooler at a fresh 14°C. The summer months also come with the lowest amount of rain with just 5 to 6 days. Autumn brings cooler temperatures, averaging at around 23°C, before the winter temperatures take effect. Temperatures will be just below 20°C during the day and 10°C at night, with an increased amount of rain to go with it as well. Not to say that it rains all the time of course – you’ll mostly find that it’s just short showers here and there that will be over pretty quickly. The increased rain means that the plant life will be looking beautiful and lush – that’s why some locals also call the winter months the “green season” too. As soon as spring rolls around, temperatures will start increasing as well as the amount of daylight hours, while the rain slowly starts decreasing too. Here’s another useful tidbit of information – the Atlantic Ocean stays at a relatively stable temperature of just below 20°C across the year – there are highs of 14°C in winter and hights of 19°C during the summer.
Climate table – Cape town
|Max. temperature in °C||26||27||25||23||20||18||18||18||19||21||24||25|
|Min. temperature in °C||16||16||14||12||9||8||7||8||9||11||12||15|
|Sunshine hours per day||11||11||10||8||7||6||6||7||8||9||10||11|
|Water temperature in °C||18||19||19||18||17||16||15||14||15||16||17||18|
|Rainy days per month||6||5||5||8||11||13||12||14||10||9||5||6|
Weather in Cape Town – Monthly overview
Cape Town in January
The perfect time to go for sun lovers. Summer is in full swing and temperatures will reach up to 26°C, or even 30°C too! Evenings are wonderfully mild at around 16°C, so you’d just need a cardigan with you. Be aware that the locals will be on their holidays too. Beaches, restaurants and bars will often be full, and the high amount of foreign tourists mean that hotels and sights may only have limited availability.
Best time for: Sightseeing, wind and kite surfing, beach holidays, penguin watching at Boulders Beach, Table Mountain
Cape Town in February
The warmest month of the year. The minimum daytime temperatures are 27°C, nights are noticeably cooler at 16°C. As well as high temperatures and long days, February also features little rain – with a bit of luck you might not see any during your holiday. With water temperatures of 19°C, the Atlantic offers a great way to cool off from the sun.
Best time for: Sightseeing, wind and kite surfing, beach holidays, Table Mountain
Cape Town in March
Summer is still going, though temperatures will have cooled town a little from their February highs. Still, it’s the perfect weather to kick back at the beach or go for a swim in the Atlantic. If you want to go surfing, then you’re best to time your visit for the beginning of March. After that, winds start to die down and kite/wind surfing opportunities are limited.
Best time for: Sightseeing, beach holiday, Table Mountain (wind and kite surfing)
Cape Town in April
The highs of summer have now gone, and the cooler autumn climates begin to show. April is a somewhat changeable month, and the weather can a bit unpredictable. The highest temperature is around 23°C during the day, or 12°C at night. Definitely pack a few thicker layers for the evenings. Daytime hours start to shorten, coming in at around 8 per day. If you wake up to a good day of weather with plenty of sun, there’s nothing stopping you from swimming in the Atlantic!
Best time for: Sightseeing, surfing, wine tours, Table Mountain (Beach holiday)
Cape Town in May
Autumn is here! Temperatures of 20°C means that things are lovely and warm. However I wouldn’t recommend going swimming in the ocean, as the Atlantic would have cooled town to 17°C by this point. Nights are pretty cold with temperatures of just 9°C. The days get shorter and shorter with just 7 hours of sunshine in May, and the probability of rain also increases to 11 days in the month.
Best time for: Sightseeing, shortboard surfing, walks
Cape Town in June
June heralds the beginning of winter in Cape Town. Alright, so winter in South African is nowhere near as blisteringly cold as it can be at home, but compared to the summer highs there’s certainly a difference. During the day you can expect temperatures of 18°C during the day. You’ll need a thicker jacket at night, since evenings can drop to 8°C. Winter is the wettest time of year, with rain on 13 days of the month. Sunshine hours are also at their yearly low of just 6 per day.
Best time for: Sightseeing, surfing
Cape Town in July
Fresh and rainy – that’s how you could describe July in South Africa. Temperatures during the day won’t exceed 18°C, and you’ll come across the most rain during this month. Perhaps it’ll be worth bringing an umbrella with you! You should also pack a thick winter jacket, since the nighttime temperatures of 7°C are certainly fresh! The wind can make it feel even colder.
Best time for: Museum tours, surfing, diving with sharks
Cape Town in August
The so-called Cape Doctor will be in full force, preventing the city from experiencing any smog. The air is clear, fresh and cold. Maximum temperatures in August are at the 18°C mark, however the winds make it feel just that little bit cooler. Nighttimes especially are cold with average temperatures fo 8°C. I recommend bringing a few extra layers with you, just like the kind of things you’d wear at home. The Atlantic is too cold to swim in, but surfers will profit from fantastic conditions.
Best time for: Museum tours, surfing
Cape Town in September
Temperatures begin to rise again in September. You can expect temperatures of around 19°C, but nighttime temperatures won’t be that much warmer than they were during the winter, so don’t forget to bring those extra layers. There are 10 rainy days on average this month, but in return the amount of daylight hours will also be increasing again. However the Atlantic will still be too cold to go swimming in.
Best time for: Sightseeing, surfing, whale watching
Cape Town in October
October marks the beginning of Spring. The lows of winter still leave their mark, but temperatures will be climbing back to a comfortable 21°C. Sometimes it can be even warmer! However still be sure to pack for the possibility that it might be a little colder, since temperatures can fluctuate a little. While the Atlantic is still too cold to swim in, surfers will enjoy fantastic waves.
Best time for: Sightseeing, kite and wind surfing, Table Mountain
Cape Town in November
November is a wonderful month in spring, bringing with it the hints of an impending summer. Temperatures reach an average of 24°C – not too hot, not too cold! There will be 10 hours of sunshine, and nights come in at around 12°C. There are only 5 rainy days a month. The Cape Doctor will be doing its thing, providing the city with all sorts of lovely breezes and winds that create the perfect surfing conditions. The Atlantic will finally be warm enough for a short dip.
Best time for: Sightseeing, surfing, kite and windsurfing, Table Mountain (beach holiday)
Cape Town in December
December marks the official start of the summer season. Due to the ideal weather conditions, December is the beginning of the best time to go to Cape Town. Daily temperatures will be climbing above 25°C, and nights remain mild with a comfortable temperature of 15°C. With 11 hours of daylight, you’ll have plenty of time to kick back at the beaches. And the Cape Doctor is still there providing the city with wonderfully fresh air!
Best time for: Sightseeing, surfing, kite and windsurfing, beach holidays, Table Mountain, New Year’s Eve
The best time to visit Cape Town – my verdict
if you want to see Cape Town at its best, you should make your way over in October, November, December, January, February, March or April. The months of December, January and February are the best time to visit Cape Town thanks to the perfect weather. Summer temperatures, little rain and refreshing water temperatures make a winning combo. And it’s not just European holidaymakers who are drawn here – South Africans also spend plenty of time in the city during their summer holidays. However this does mean that hotels are completely booked up and beaches are heaving. Due to this I’d actually recommend October, November, March and April. You’re still benefiting from warm temperatures, but the crowds will have eased off by then and the prices for flights and accommodation will be more affordable.