Cape Town in winter is a chance to experience South Africa’s stunning city by the sea in a different light. With fewer crowds, lower prices and cooler temperatures than in the summer months, you can also enjoy some unique experiences, from whale watching to the wildflower season, that you won’t find at other times of the year.
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When is winter in Cape Town?
Unlike the northern hemisphere Cape Town’s winter season falls between June and mid September. Temperatures cool and rain falls more frequently than in summer. But it’s still a very mild winter compared to those in the UK and northern Europe.
Is Cape Town in winter worth visiting?
Is Cape Town worth visiting in winter? Lots of people say yes! Although summer is the most popular season for visitors, winter in Cape Town is something of a best kept secret. Don’t let the risk of rain and clouds put you off, Cape Town has some amazing experiences in store for you and you can enjoy them without the crowds and heat of summer. There will be rainy days and colder weather but there are still plenty of things to do in Cape Town in winter. Check below for the pros and cons:
The pluses of Cape Town in winter
Fewer crowds: the winter months are the low season in Cape Town. This means you can enjoy the city sights without crowds or long queues at major attractions.
Lower prices: Cape Town is good value for money in the low season. Flights are often cheaper and some tour operators offer deals for winter in Cape Town. Plus many hotels and restaurants have promotional specials so it can be a great time to splurge on a luxury hotel, spa day or restaurant.
Mild weather: Cape Town’s winter temperatures are mild, with the average temperatures daily max around 18°C (64°F). So you won’t experience the high temperatures of mid summer. Another plus is that Cape Town in winter is generally less windy than in the summer season.
Whale watching: a big bonus of a winter trip to Cape Town is the chance to spot whales! It’s the season when Southern right whales migrate from Antarctica to the warmer Cape coast to breed and calve. Whale spotting from land or sea is one of the best things to do in Cape Town in winter.
Lush landscapes: winter in Cape Town is ‘green season’. Renewed rainfall causes a burst of new growth across the Western Cape and wild flowers bloom. August to September is the perfect time of year for nature lovers to experience one of the natural wonders of the region.
Water sports: for surfers and kite surfers a Cape Town winter means consistent waves and bigger swells. The thermals can be good for paragliders too.
Plan a 2-centre trip
Combine a visit to Cape Town in winter with a safari in the Eastern Cape. Unlike the western Cape, winter is the dry season in the eastern Cape regions of Kruger and KwaZulu Natal province. The lack of rain here, coupled with cooler weather, means that wildlife are more active and likely to congregate at water sources. September in particular is a great month for wildlife viewing in Kruger. By splitting your time between Cape Town and the Eastern Cape you can enjoy two very different South African experiences, in one trip.
Trade offs of a Cape Town winter
Winter weather: While Cape Town’s winter temperatures are generally mild, it is cooler and wetter than in the summer. Beach days are less likely, whilst a rainy day can put a damper on outdoor activities in Cape Town.
Reduced daylight: Cape Town’s winter days are shorter. In mid July the sun rises around 7.50am and sets around 17.50pm.
Seasonal closures: Some attractions and restaurants may close or have reduced hours. For instance the Table Mountain cable car usually closes for two weeks at the end of July for maintenance. It’s worth checking ahead when you’re planning your trip.
Fewer flights: Less direct flights from London to Cape Town compared to the high season months.
Planning a visit to Cape Town in winter?
If you’re short of time here’s a quick summary of Cape Town’s must-do winter experiences. Book these top rated tours now to avoid disappointment.
Fun things to do in Cape Town in winter:
These two memorable outings are unique to the winter months in Cape Town. You can find out more about them later in this post.
Whale watching in the Cape: book this once in a lifetime experience
Winter is the season in which Southern Right whales migrate to the Cape coastline. And Hermanus, just two hours from Cape Town, is one of the best places in the world to see them. On this well reviewed tour you can also explore the Hermanus Winelands with tastings at one of the excellent wine estates. On the way back to Cape Town you’ll also visit an African penguin colony at Stoney Point in Bettys Bay.
Click this link to read the great reviews and book a private tour to Hermanus with wine, penguins and whales!
Don’t miss Flower season in the beautiful West Coast national park
Swathes of seasonal flowers come into bloom in the Western Cape during mid August and September. You can see them at their best on clear days at Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens and also in the West Coast national park, an hour’s drive north of the city.
This private tour of the West Coast takes in the national park’s carpets of daisies during flower season. It also includes land based whale spotting and a fascinating visit to learn about the culture and heritage of the San people. Try this private full day tour to explore the West Coast.
Romantic things to do in Cape Town in winter:
Roaring fires, wine tastings, cosy dinners at world-class yet affordable restaurants, exhilarating hikes, natural wonders: there are lots of romantic experiences to enjoy in Cape Town in winter
Cosy up around a fireplace to taste world class wines
In winter you can be the first to try the new vintages as you tour the Winelands vineyards and wineries. During these quieter months your day can be unhurried and more intimate. Spending time together, with wonderful food and wine in beautiful scenery is one of the most romantic things to do in Cape Town in winter.
This Guided Wine Lands Day Tour from Cape Town is geared to your own tastes and interests with the chance to try reds, whites, bubbles and new vintages. All transport is provided too.
Take a sunset hike up Lion’s Head
The bold colours of a winter sunset are unforgettable. And cooler temperatures mean that hiking is more comfortable now than in the heat of summer.
This small group guided hike is a safer option as darkness falls. It includes head torches for the descent and transfer options to and from your accommodation if needed. Click here for reviews and to book: Hike Lion’s Head at Sunset
Is Visiting Cape Town in winter worth it?
Cape Town has lots of unique and exciting activities to keep you entertained during its winter months. And personally I prefer cooler temperatures when I’m exploring a city.
I’ve already visited Cape Town with my teenage sons and now I’m planning another trip. This time I’m asking the advice of a friend who has an apartment there. Sam visits several times a year and knows the city well. He has no compunctions about winter trips. And he’s suggested plenty of ideas for things to do in Cape Town in winter.
Temperature in Cape Town in winter
From June to September Cape Town experiences cooler temperatures, averaging between 9 to 17°C. The season also brings more rainfall than the rest of the year with 8 to 10 rainy days per month. As a result the city has more cloud cover too. Check here for info on Cape Town’s climate and year round weather conditions.
But it can vary! To get an idea of winter temperatures, check out this breakdown of Cape Town weather day by day in July 2022. It shows 6 days of rain, 9 cloudy days and 16 days of sunshine at 17°C +, with a one day high of 26°C.
So as you can see, weather which Capetonians consider wintry can actually seem quite mild and pleasant to visitors from chillier climates!
Things to do in Cape Town in winter
Despite the chance of rain, the winter months are actually the best time of year for many outdoor activities in Cape Town. And there’s no shortage of adventures waiting for you.
Winter is the best time to see whales in Cape Town
If you’re visiting Cape Town in winter a whale watching tour should be top of your to-do list. From June to November you can witness the spectacular sight of migrating whales breaching and fluking (tail in the air as they begin a deep dive) along the coast of the Western Cape. Literally thousands of whales come to visit during the season and it’s a unique and unforgettable experience.
Southern Right and humpback whales, come up from Antarctica in the winter season. They travel the ‘whale route’ along the coastline to their breeding grounds in the warmer shallower waters of Hermanus. This has earned the town the nickname of whale capital of the world.
You can spot whales close to land from vantage points along the False Bay coastline and also on boat trips from Hermanus. Experiencing these majestic creatures close up and in the wild is one of the unique fun things to do in Cape Town in winter.
This day tour from Cape Town to Hermanus and Gansbaai includes a 2 hour boat trip in search of whales. As well as the superb whale watching opportunities the road trip to Hermanus takes the stunning Overberg south coast route and you can make stops at a botanical gardens or a penguin colony too. The reviews are excellent: “incredibly worth it” says one recent reviewer! Click here for availability and to book.
Go Hiking in Cape Town
Make the most of the cooler temperatures by getting outdoors for walks or hikes. On a clear day you’ll have wonderful green views and you can enjoy an energetic hike in the mountains without the scorching heat of summer. Cape Town has wonderful hiking trails for all abilities.
The Pipetrack hike around (not up!) Table Mountain is a good winter walk. Although it’s very exposed in the summer heat, that is less of an issue during Cape Town’s winter. You’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, including the king proteas, South Africa’s national flower, which bloom June to October. Click here to check availability and book: Pipetrack hike for whole family on Table Mountain.
Pack waterproof hiking boots and bear in mind that after heavy rain the trails might be slippery or inaccessible. A guided hike is the easiest and safest option both from the point of view of safety on the mountain and the risk of crime. Always stay in a group when hiking in Cape Town and check out this link for safety guidelines which also apply in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
For gentler walks stroll along the Atlantic Seaboard on the Sea Point Promenade, explore the magnificent beaches in and around Cape Town or enjoy the seasonal blooms at Kirstenbosch.
Winter is the best time to see flowers in Cape Town
You’ll be awestruck by the backdrop of mountains and the lush greens of the Western Cape during the winter months. Thanks to the rain, flowers bloom throughout the winter but especially in late August and September before the full heat of the summer. During flower season, which is slightly changeable each year according to rainfall and temperatures, the West Coast National Park is carpeted with blooms.
You’ll find spring blooms in Kirstenbosch too. Click here for a seasonal guide to the flowers you’ll see in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Catch a Cape Town winter sunrise
Shorter days mean a later sunrise, and in winter in Cape Town the sun comes up a couple of hours later than in high summer. This makes it quite feasible to catch a beautiful sunrise, weather permitting, without having to get up at 5 am.
One of the most spectacular views is from Cape Point as the sun comes up over False Bay. The Reserve opens at 7 am in the winter which allows just enough time to reach a viewing point.
Other great sunrise views around Cape Town include Muizenberg beach and, of course, Signal Hill.
Day trips from Cape Town in winter
Chapman’s Peak Drive Make sure you take a journey along Chapman’s Peak Drive. Just 20 minutes south of Cape Town, this vertiginous coast road is one of the world’s most scenic drives with grandstand views across False Bay. It’s a spectacular spot for whale watching and you’ll find picnic spots along the roadside. To economise on time combine it with a visit to the Cape Peninsula.
The Cape peninsula With its spectacular rugged cliffs at the southwestern edge of the African continent, this is a must-visit spot whatever the time of year. Here you can see the Cape of Good Hope which is one of the most famous locations in maritime history. As well as the panoramic ocean views, you can hike through the nature reserve, part of the Cape Floral region, see local wildlife like baboons and ostriches and go wine tasting at a local vineyard. If you arrive early in the morning you might just catch a magical sunrise too.
Book a tour of the Cape Peninsula
Try this private day trip which allows you to create a bespoke day out including visiting the penguin colony at Boulders Beach, hiking on Cape Point and returning via Chapman’s Peak Drive. Click to book Private Cape Point Nature Tour and Hike here.
Go star-gazing during winter in Cape Town
Clear and crisp winter nights are the best times to view star-studded skies and Cape Town is no exception. You’ll need to leave the city light pollution behind and travel into the Western Cape but the star-gazing is out of this world! In the semi-desert Karoo region you might spot the Southern Cross, the Milky Way or the celestial Big Five.
The South African Astronomical Observatory in remote Sutherland in the Karoo offers day and night tours. Sutherland also has a Planetarium for telescope star gazing. Whilst the Cedarberg Observatory, 240 km north of Cape Town, holds regular evenings where the public can star gaze using its telescopes.
Outdoor sports in Cape Town winter
The ocean may be cold and the air cooler than in the summer but the winter months in Cape Town are peak season for some water sports.
Surfing and kiteboarding
The winter months of June to September offer the best conditions for surfing, kitesurfing, and kiteboarding. The swell pushed by storms between Cape Town and the Antarctic has surfing pros from all over the world heading here to test their skills. But beginners or intermediate surfers will find suitable consistent waves at popular surf spots like Muizenberg. Surfing is yet another fun thing to do in Cape Town in winter.
Book a surf lesson at this surf school, which can also help advanced surfers hone their skills. Includes board and wet suit hire, pick up and drop off and takes you to the beach with the best conditions on the day. Click here for the Stoke Surf Lesson.
If fishing’s your thing you can charter a boat and crew to take advantage of the season’s rich marine life from May to September on in-shore or deep water tours.
Eating out in Cape Town in winter
Make a point of sampling Cape Town’s finest food and wine during the winter season when the crowds have gone and the city relaxes.
Restaurant Winter Specials
From street food to gourmet tasting menus, eating out here is a foodie’s delight all year round. But a bonus of visiting Cape Town in winter is that many restaurants offer specials. These set menus or discounts are a chance to sample amazing food at low season prices. Google for latest winter deals in Cape Town restaurants. And try Dineplan to search by cuisine, attribute ( fireplace/views/sunset etc), price and rating.
More Cape Town winter treats
Hot chocolate Cape Town is famous for its coffee shops and local roasteries, but it does a pretty good hot chocolate too. If the weather turns chilly indulge in one of the best from Honest Chocolate or branches of Bootlegger.
Fish and chips As a girl who grew up on a windy British coastline I know all about the joys of freshly fried fish and chips. And Cape Town knows it too! There’s nothing like it on a winter’s day by the sea, sunshine optional. Track down the best of the Cape at Kalky’s in Kalk Bay harbour or Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay.
South African and Cape Malay private cooking class On a cooler Cape Town winter day, stay indoors and cook up some traditional treats. In this class with a local expert in her own home you’ll learn favourite family recipes and then share the meal together. Read the great reviews and book a Private South African and Cape Malay cooking class here.
Private food tour Discover the best of the city’s food heritage in this private tour tailored to your own tastes. Visiting restaurants, cafes and markets, you might sample Cape Malay cooking, braai (bbq), biltong and curries. Click to read reviews and book this Taste of Cape Town’s Cuisines tour.
Wineries and Wine Tasting
Wrap up warm and take advantage of the cooler months to explore Cape Town’s famous wineries and vineyards. Without the crowds and heat of summer you can enjoy the crisp air and green surroundings, then indulge in indoor wine tastings by crackling log fires. And don’t forget many wine farms have add on treats like fine dining, spa facilities and overnight stays.
Numerous wineries around Cape Town offer guided tastings, giving you a chance to learn more about the rich wine culture in the region. Plus at this time of year you’ll get the chance to taste new, just released vintages.
The Franschhoek wine valley has a winter wine festival in July, to celebrate Bastille Day in honour of its French Huguenot heritage. Check out the Franschhoek tourism website for more details.
Food Market and Workshops
Cape Town is home to fantastic food markets, where you can immerse yourself in local flavours as well as dishes from round the world. Whatever the weather you are sure to eat well in Cape Town!
Mojo Market in Sea Point is a buzzy indoor space packed with food and drink vendors and shopping opportunities. Plus it has free live music on stage several times a week.
Neighbourhood Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is open every weekend and is very popular with locals. Browse the wonderful array of food traders and producers, eat at communal tables and shop the wares of local artisans and designers.
Oranjezitch City Farm Market gathers on weekend mornings under tented roofs at Granger Bay on the V&A Waterfront. It’s fun for food shopping and eating, offering global flavours and locally grown produce. You’ll also find lifestyle stalls with crafts and souvenirs, all with a view of the sea.
Things to do in Cape Town when it rains
As a centuries old trading hub, multicultural Cape Town has a rich history as well as a vibrant contemporary cultural scene. So there’s lots of things to do on a Cape Town winter day when it rains. All of which can be enjoyed on a sunny day too!
Cape Town is famous for its high quality hotels, so spa aficionados should be on the look out for tempting winter spa deals. Some indulgent indoor pampering is the perfect way to spend a rainy day in Cape Town.
Cape Town Museums and Historical Sites
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa A vast collection of African art in the historic industrial Grain Silo complex at the V&A Waterfront, this re-designed space is a work of art itself. On a rainy day in Cape Town you can combine art, shopping and lunch in one building. Don’t miss the terrace for Instagram-ready views.
Robben Island A ferry ride across the bay from the V&A Waterfront takes you to this isolated island. It was here that Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years before eventually becoming South Africa’s president. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, former inmates lead tours of the bleak concrete prison which give insights into the resilience and courage of the anti-apartheid fighters. It’s a must-do visit.
Iziko Slave Lodge Housed in a former slave lodge, this museum takes a sobering look at the history of slavery in South Africa. It explores the lives of enslaved people, as well as the legacy of slavery today.
Bo-Kaap and other Walking Tours
You can choose from a wide range of walking tours in Cape Town that explore the city’s culture and surroundings. A guided walking tour let’s you relax as you discover an unfamiliar area with a knowledgeable local.
Bo-Kaap. A visit to Cape Town isn’t complete without exploring the colourful area of Bo-Kaap. A symbol of Cape Malay heritage in the city, the area is famous for its brightly coloured houses lining the cobblestone streets. To learn more about the area’s culture and traditions, take a guided walking tour led by a local resident. Click here for Bo Kaap Walking Tour and Malay Cooking Class which includes a cooking lesson in a local home with a chance to enjoy the meal afterwards.
District Six Museum A chronicle of the lives of former residents of this multicultural neighbourhood who were forced to move out during Apartheid. This small vibrant museum can be combined with a walking tour to learn the history of District Six and how the neighbourhood is re-developing. Click here to book a guided walking tour of the area, including coffee and street art.
Take a Cape Town food tour. Famous for its global flavours and world class cuisine, Cape Town is the perfect place for a guided food tour. This Cape Town Essentials Food Tour introduces you to the different food cultures of the city with stories behind each of the tastings.
Other Cultural Venues
During the winter season in Cape Town, you can enjoy cultural events, live music and theatre performances. Venues like the Artscape Opera House and the Baxter Theatre Centre host an array of local and international musicians, as well as contemporary and classic productions. You’ll find something to suit your tastes, whether you’re after classical music, jazz or local bands showcasing their unique sounds.
What to Pack for winter in Cape Town
This depends on what you plan to do. For normal city and country sightseeing then pack according to the average daily temperatures. Bring warm layers, waterproof footwear, and a raincoat. A folding umbrella is always handy. And bear in mind that Capetonians don’t usually have central heating because winter is mild and short, so pack some warm pyjamas!
If hiking is on your agenda then you’ll need waterproof hiking boots, a suitable day pack and all the usual layers and kit you’d normally pack for a (potentially) wet or chilly hike. That’s not to say it’s guaranteed to rain, but Cape Town’s weather is very changeable, even in summer, and especially so when you are up a mountain.
Where to stay in Cape Town in winter
With lower prices in the winter months you could treat yourself to a stay in one of Cape Town’s world-class 5 star hotels. Or make the most of winter deals and book a few extra nights!
In a stunning position between ocean and mountains, this 5-star luxury hotel has an award-winning spa, perfect for a pampering and relaxing stay. With restaurant options from fine dining to authentic braai barbecues you’ll be happy to stay in if the weather turns cloudy. Free transfers to V&A Waterfront and Camps Bay mean you won’t need a car although free private parking is available. Reviewers rave about the impeccable service and amazing views. Click here for availability and to book Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa.
Set on the slopes of Table Mountain, this listed building in Oranjezicht is a contemporary classic. It has 12 bespoke rooms, some of which have a fireplace for winter cosiness. It’s just a short Uber drive to restaurants and city centre attractions. Reviewers describe it as a home away from home and praise the exceptional helpfulness of the staff. Click here for availability and to book 4 Rosmead Boutique Guesthouse.
A stroll away from the beachfront promenade at Sea Point, the Mountview Guesthouse has been recently refurbished. Its infra red sauna is a tempting option for Cape Town winter visitors! Sea Point is handy for the V&A Waterfront and has plenty of local restaurants to chooose from. Guests comment on the peaceful location and warm welcome. Click here for availability and to book Mountview Guesthouse
If you’d prefer an affordable self-catering option then check out Sam’s light and comfortable apartment in Sea Point. Just moments from the Promenade, it’s newly renovated to a high standard with two double bedrooms and two bathrooms. Sam is an Airbnb Superhost, with 5 star reviews. Click here for availability and to book 🥂 Mention Map&Family when you message Sam to receive a welcome bottle of bubbly! 🥂
Cape Town in Winter FAQs
Cape Town is an amazing and world-class tourist destination. Unfortunately, across the wider city region, it is known to have high levels of crime. However, by sticking to tourist areas, and following common sense principles, you can do a huge amount to ensure you – like the vast majority of Cape Town’s visitors each year – have a trouble free trip. Check out the sensible guidance here and here.
It very rarely snows in the city centre as temperatures don’t get low enough. Although occasionally a dusting of snow can be seen on Table Mountain. However, it is possible to see snow in the nearby mountains during winter.
You might spot snowy peaks on the Cederberg Mountains, 200 km north of Cape Town though it isn’t guaranteed every year. Ceres, 135 km away in the Winelands close to the Matroosberg mountains, enjoys snow boarding and snowball fights if it snows in July. Whilst the historic valley town of Tulbagh hosts a Christmas in Winter event at the end of June and is a picturesque setting to view snowy peaks.
Cape Town is a true year round destination. The hot summer months of December, January and February are the most popular. And the Spring and Autumn shoulder seasons offer benefits of fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. But the winter season between June and September, although cooler and wetter, also provides unique opportunities for visitors.
Please note that all visitor information here is for guidance only. Please check the relevant websites for the most up to date information eg. accommodation details, tickets, entrance requirements, opening times etc.
All photos are all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce these photos without prior written permission
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About the author Nancy Roberts is a former women’s magazine editor and writer who lives in London and is mum to two 20-something boys. In Map&Family she shares info and inspiration for curious travellers: singles and couples as well as families travelling with teens and young adults.