Best time to visit Cape Town

Ties Lagraauw

written by
Ties Lagraauw

updated 03.06.2024

For most travelers, the best time to visit Cape Town is between December and April, when it's warm and dry, which means you can mix outdoor activities like hiking Table Mountain with blissing out on beautiful beaches. That said, there are plenty of good reasons to visit the city around the year, as revealed in our guide to the best time to visit Cape Town.

Best time to visit Cape Town at a glance

  • Visit Cape Town from December to April for optimal beach weather. Average temperatures of 18°C to 28°C (64°F to 82°F) are also ideal for outdoor activities like hiking Table Mountain.
  • April to May is shoulder season, offering smaller crowds and cooler, pleasant temperatures that average 20°C (68°F).
  • June to August is low season with cooler, wet weather averaging 18°C (64°F), and prices that'll please budget travelers.

Want more detail and context on weather? Read up on the best time to visit South Africa.

Fish Hoek Beach at False Bay, Cape Town © Shutterstock

Fish Hoek Beach at False Bay, Cape Town © Shutterstock

When is the best time to visit Cape Town?

For beach bums and anyone keen on enjoying the city's great outdoor life, the best time to visit Cape Town is December through to April. 

This season provides just the right amount of warmth and sunny days with temperatures at around 23°C (73°F) — ideal for sunbathing at Clifton's or Llandudno beaches, or hiking Table Mountain.

For the most part, the April-May shoulder season heralds cooler temperatures that average 20°C (68°F) through the daylight hours. It's a great time to explore the Winelands, and enjoy easy strolls in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden just as the landscape bursts into autumnal colors.

Meanwhile, June to August marks the low season, with cooler, wetter weather, and temperatures averaging 18°C (64°F). Being wet, it's a good time to visit if you want to explore indoor cultural attractions such as Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art. 

It's also a good time to visit if you're travelling on a budget, or into photography — the surrounding countryside is lush and green at this time of year. 

Temp. (°C)23°C23°C22°C20°C18°C16°C16°C16°C17°C19°C21°C22°C
Rainfall (mm)15 mm17 mm20 mm41 mm69 mm93 mm82 mm77 mm40 mm30 mm14 mm17 mm

Keen to visit Cape Town? customisable Cape Town itineraries, or talk to our local experts.

Bench at Llandudno beach, Cape Town South Africa © Shutterstock

Bench at Llandudno beach, Cape Town South Africa © Shutterstock

December — March: best for beaches and buzz

Warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 27°C (59°F to 81°F), December to March is summer in Cape Town.

Given the gloriously warm weather and low rainfall, this is the best time to visit Cape Town to make the most of the beaches, including Clifton and Camps Bay.

It’s also perfect for visiting the vibrant V&A Waterfront, and enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking Table Mountain or picnicking in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Note that this is also peak tourist season, which means it’s the most expensive time to visit Cape Town, with high demand for accommodation. You can also expect top attractions to be crowded.

Love to travel in sumptuous style? See our luxury guided tour of Cape Town and the Garden Route.

View over Camps Bay South Africa © Marisa Estivill/Shutterstock

Want a beach break? The best time to visit Cape Town is from December to March © Marisa Estivill/Shutterstock

Spring and autumn: best for hiking and wine

Cape Town’s autumn (March- May) and spring (September-November) shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Cape Town to enjoy the great outdoors, and soak up local wineries.

With low rainfall, and warm weather that’s much more comfortable than during the peak of summer, there’s no better time to get active around Cape Town.

For example, you could hike to Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge — a moderate-to-challenging route that takes 2-23 hours to ascend. 

The most direct route to the top of Table Mountain, this is steep and strenuous but very rewarding, courtesy of it offering panoramic views of the city and the Atlantic Seaboard.

Or how about exploring Silvermine Nature Reserve? With tonnes of trails to choose from according to your fitness level, this is part of Table Mountain National Park.

Into active trips? Check out our cycling trip that kicks off in Cape Town.

Table mountain cable way, Cape Town, South Africa @ Shutterstock

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa @ Shutterstock

With fewer crowds than December to February, the spring and autumn shoulder seasons are also top times to explore the Cape Winelands, with vineyards and wineries offering wine-tasting experiences.

Stellenbosch is a great place to start. One of the oldest and most prestigious wine regions in South Africa, it boasts 170+ wine estates that produce everything from rich reds to crisp whites.

Then there’s Franschhoek. Known as the food and wine capital of South Africa, this picturesque town offers opportunities to sample wine from over 50 vineyards, while also enjoying fine food in award-winning restaurants.

Can’t decide how to focus your trip? Our customisable Complete Cape Town itinerary includes wine, whales and other wildlife.


Sttellenbosch © Shutterstock

June and July: best for budget breaks and culture

June and July are winter months in Cape Town, which means it’s cool and pretty rainy, with temperatures ranging from 7°C to 20°C (45°F to 68°F).

Given the likelihood of rain — though note it usually comes in short, intense showers that are quick to clear —these months are a great time for culture vultures to explore museums and galleries.

You won’t want to miss the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), District Six Museum, or the South African Jewish Museum. 

This being low season, you can also expect to have more space in such attractions, and you’ll be able to bag yourself a bargain on flights and accommodation. 

June and July are also good months to enjoy Cape Town’s food scene, or to head to the Winelands for cosy tasting sessions 

These months are also the start of whale-watching season, though August, September and October see the biggest numbers of whales, as detailed below.

Before you head to South Africa, also be sure to read our guide on whether South Africa is safe, which contains everything you need to know about travel safety.

Humpback whale breaching, Hervey Bay, Queensland © Shutterstock

Humpback whale breaching © Shutterstock

August—October: best for whale-watching

While whale-watching season runs from July to November, the highest number of sightings around these parts tend to happen in late-August through to October.

At this time, whales are more active near the surface, making sightings more frequent and dramatic.

Southern right whales are the most commonly sighted species, and come very close to the shore. 

At this time of year humpback whales  known for their spectacular breaching — are frequently seen as they migrate through the region to their breeding grounds further north.

As for where to see them, Hermanus is renowned as one of the best whale-watching locations in the world. 

About a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, September sees the town hosts the annual Hermanus Whale Festival to celebrate the return of the whales. 

Your best bet is to book a guided boat trip from Hermanus. Prefer to stay on land? Head to the coastal paths and cliffs around Hermanus and Walker Bay.

Travelling as a family? See our self-drive family trip, and read up on visiting South Africa with kids.

Aerial view of coastline of Cape Town with Signal Hill and Table Mountain in background, South Afric

Aerial view of Cape Town's coastline © Shutterstock  

Whenever you decide is the best time to visit Cape Town, get yourself The Rough Guide to Cape Town, Winelands and the Garden Route and read our tips for visiting South Africa to help you plan your trip.

Not keen on planning? Browse our customisable Cape Town itineraries, or talk to our local experts.

Ties Lagraauw

written by
Ties Lagraauw

updated 03.06.2024

Ties is a true world explorer - whether it be for work or leisure! As Content Manager at RoughGuides, and the owner of Dutch travel platform, Ties is constantly on the move, always looking for new destinations to discover.

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