Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, the warm, dryish summers balanced by cool wet winters. The best time to visit Cape Town depends on the kind of trip you’re planning; come prepared for hot days in winter and cold snaps in summer, and always pack a jumper and jacket.

For sun and swimming, the best time to visit is from October to mid-December and mid-January to Easter, when it’s light long into the evening and there’s an average of ten hours of sunshine a day.

Between mid-December and mid-January, the whole region becomes congested as the nation takes its annual seaside holiday. In Cape Town, this is serious party time, with plenty of major festivals and events; if this is when you plan to visit, arrange accommodation and transport well in advance, and expect to pay considerably more for your bed than during the rest of the year.

Despite its shorter daylight hours, the autumn period, from April to mid-May, has a lot going for it: the southeaster drops and air temperatures remain pleasantly warm and the light is sharp and bright. For similar reasons the spring month of September can be very agreeable, with the added attraction that following the winter rains the peninsula tends to be at its greenest.

Although spells of heavy rain occur in winter (June and July), it tends to be relatively mild, with temperatures rarely falling below 6˚C. Glorious sunny days with crisp blue skies are common, and you won’t see bare wintry trees either: indigenous vegetation is evergreen and gardens flower year-round. It’s also in July that the first migrating whales begin to appear along the southern Cape coast, usually staying till the end of November.

The southeaster, the cool summer wind that blows in across False Bay, forms a major obsession for Capetonians. Its fickle moods can singlehandedly determine what kind of day you’re going to have, and when it gusts at over 60kph you won’t want to be outdoors, let alone on the beach. Conversely, its gentler incarnation as the so-called Cape Doctor brings welcome relief on humid summer days, and lays the famous cloudy tablecloth on top of Table Mountain.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
Cape Town's irrepressible township revolution

Cape Town's irrepressible township revolution

Many visitors to Cape Town leave with a fairly limited view of the Mother City. They see the whitewashed beachfront restaurants and hotels, take the cable car u…

24 Dec 2015 • Chris Clark insert_drive_file Article
7 places to sample Cape Town’s hedonistic nightlife

7 places to sample Cape Town’s hedonistic nightlife

Whatever your scene, from sweaty electronic music dancefloors to open-air beer gardens, Cape Town has it all. Being a hedonistic city – especially in the sum…

30 Jan 2015 • Site Editor insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right