If you are planning a trip to South Africa, don’t miss out on Cape Town. Join this breathtaking city’s 2.6 million yearly visitors, and discover the pristine natural beauty and unique landscape of the Western Cape.
To best enjoy all that Cape Town has to offer — from gorgeous forest canopies and deserted scenic shores to legendary monuments and cityscapes — you need to do a little research.
Thankfully, we’ve done it for you.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best — and worst — times to visit The Fairest Cape so you can enjoy the best weather and lowest price without the guesswork.
Why You Should Visit Cape Town
Cape Town — one of Forbes magazine’s must-see destinations — is a diverse South African city located on the Southernmost tip of Africa, at the intersection of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and the beloved surf-friendly shores of the Atlantic.
Encircled by the imposing natural beauty of mountain peaks and golden beaches, Cape Town is truly a magical place where penguins and lions coexist, and metropolitanism meets history.
Visit the Mandela monument or swim (safely) among sharks and whales. Embark on a wine-tasting journey or to the legendary aquarium.
Additionally, Cape Town is home to the following:
- The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, from which you can catch sweeping views of the city
- Captivating safaris and nature tours
- Penguin colonies
- Wine tours in renowned vineyards like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek
- A vibrant, diverse cultural landscape
- Memorials, museums, and landmarks.
Cape Town is a dream destination with much to do for every kind of tourism.
Overall Best Time to Visit Cape Town
Cape Town is ideal during the spring and autumn seasons. To enjoy optimal weather, fewer tourists, and an authentic experience, visit Cape Town between March and May or September and November.
During these months, the temperature typically falls between 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit, and with low rainfall, you can comfortably lounge on the beach and stroll through the city.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the hottest (and most crowded) months fall between November and February, so springtime and autumn feature pristine, deserted beaches, lower hotel and travel costs, and more temperate weather.
Between June and August, rainfall is high, and temperatures are chilly, hovering around 60-64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, the harvest months of March through May are ideal for wine lovers, while the springtime season of September-November features fun festivals and nature in full bloom.
Cheapest Time to Visit Cape Town
The cheapest time to visit Cape Town is during the winter season of June to August.
Although it is technically wintertime, temperatures hover between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit — temperate conditions for most. According to the city’s official tourism website, winter visitors are likelier to enjoy fewer crowds, off-season deals, peak whale-watching season, and verdant landscapes.
Book in advance to score the best deals on flights from a budget-friendly airline or website like Kayak or Orbit. The cheapest way to get around the city is the Golden Arrow Bus, which costs between $0.60 and $1.30, and public transportation is the least crowded during the winter months.
Additionally, some of the best restaurants offer winter specials to entice winter travelers, and many hotels, like the Boschendal and Big Sky Cottages, offer winter promotions at super-low prices. You can find articles on the best winter deals on most Cape Town news publications’ websites.
Least Busy Time to Visit Cape Town
The least busy time to visit Cape Town is during the winter months of June through August.
Due to winter rainfall and cooler temperatures, many tourists avoid Cape Town in the winter — though temperatures rarely drop under 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter in Cape Town is a magical experience: lush greenery coincides with the warm, inviting atmosphere of restaurants and hotels offering fireside lounging and warm drinks. Most major destinations provide winter specials to encourage more tourists.
Despite these many incentives, many tourists avoid visiting in the winter, so beaches are empty, and lines are short.
Winter is also one of the best seasons for winter sports, partly because Cape Town’s usually crowded waves give way to clear, open waters.
Additionally, the Roaring Forties winds contribute to sizable swells, with waves reaching 15 feet, so remember to participate in watersports through an accredited company or professional guide.
To score deals on wintertime travel, visit budget-friendly travel sites and comb Cape Town’s tourism websites for promotions.
Worst Time to Visit Cape Town
The worst time to visit Cape Town is during peak summer between December and February.
The summer months coincide with the holiday season, and most South African students are on summer break. During this time, the weather is warm, reaching the high 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit.
Additionally, little rainfall contributes to dry conditions and the natural beauty of the Western Cape withers in the heat and desiccation.
The period between December and February is also when most tourists choose to visit South Africa so you can expect long lines, soaring prices, and crowded beaches.
However, if bar-hopping and mingling with foreigners is your scene — and you don’t mind higher travel and accommodation costs — you may prefer the summer months to Cape Town’s deserted winters.
You can still enjoy Cape Town’s many attractions and beaches during this time, and if you do your due diligence and search for promotions and specials, you may be able to work within a tighter budget.
Ultimately, there are advantages and disadvantages to visiting Cape Town during the summer. Still, if you book your trip closer to spring or autumn (late November-early, December, or late May-early June, respectively), you’ll have more luck enjoying the best of what Cape Town offers.
Things to Consider
While planning your trip to South Africa, you’ll want to prepare for weather conditions, activities, accommodations, and travel costs. Depending on when you visit, you may also book tours, visits, and activities ahead of time.
We’ve provided the essential items to consider before your trip by season so that you can prepare accordingly. Take the following tips into account before embarking on the trip of a lifetime.
Before You Go: General Checklist
Regardless of when you choose to visit Cape Town, the following tips will help you plan your trip:
- The earlier you book your flight and accommodations, the cheaper they will likely be.
- Check out Cape Town’s tourism website for promotions and special deals—during any season.
- The cheapest ways to get around Cape Town are by car and bus. If you rent a car, do it ahead of time.
- Safaris are a popular pastime for Cape Town tourists, so book yours early.
- Although Cape Town is relatively safe, take precautions in selecting accommodations, securing your valuables, and choosing tours.
- The tap water is potable so that you can drink it safely.
- Cars drive on the left side of the road.
- Avoid swimming alone or in murky water, as great white sharks are active in South Africa.
- Cape Town has excellent public transportation, so you can still quickly get around if you don’t rent a car.
Autumn Checklist (March-May)
Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Cape Town. To prepare for your fall trip, read the following tips:
- Prepare for temperate weather, with temperatures ranging from the low-60s to the low-80s.
- Prepare for little to no rain (2-4 days per month)
- Autumn is harvest season—and Cape Town’s many vineyards extend special offers. You can even help harvest grapes!
- The weather is crystal clear, and prime time for hiking, sightseeing, and climbing.
- Consider attending the Cape Town Jazz Festival in April or the Knysna Literary Festival in March. The Splashy Fen music festival takes place in April as well.
- With thinning vegetation, wildlife is easy to spot in the autumn months, so book your safari ahead of time!
- Autumn is the best time for hiking; consider checking out the Drakensberg Mountains, Tugela Falls, or the Royal Natal National Park.
Spring Checklist (September-November)
Before visiting Cape Town in the spring, consider the following:
- Pack for temperate weather and bring a bathing suit: temperatures range from the mid-60s to the mid-80s.
- Plan for 5-8 days per month of rainfall.
- Plan for average prices and moderate crowds.
- The natural scenery is most spectacular in the spring, so this is an excellent time to go on a safari, climb Table Mountain, or visit nearby forest preserves and national parks.
- Consider attending springtime festivals like the Hermanus Whale Festival in September, the Rocking the Daisies music festival in October, or the Jamestown Strawberry Festival in November.
- Spring is for wildflowers, so consider attending the Namaqualand Flower Festival or Darling Wildflower Show in September.
Winter Checklist (June-August)
Should you visit Cape Town in the winter, consider the following:
- Plan for a slimmer budget since prices are generally lower.
- Pack for temperate weather and bring a bathing suit.
- Book nighttime activities since sunlight hours are more limited.
- Check out restaurants like La Colombe, Foxcroft, and La Mouette, which offer winter promotions and special meals.
- Winter is the best time for water sports since waves reach 6-15 feet.
- Winter is also the best time to whale watch, so book your tour!
- Consider attending one of Cape Town’s many winter festivals, like the Knysna Oyster Festival in June and the Franschhoek Bastille Festival in July.
If you choose to visit Cape Town in the summer, consider the following:
- Pack warm-weather clothes and a bathing suit since the temperature rises from the mid-60s to the low-90s.
- Plan for little to no rain, but very high winds and poor visibility.
- High winds make the summer an excellent time for kitesurfing.
- Plan for a bigger budget and larger crowds since Cape Town is busiest in the summer.
- Remember sunscreen, as Cape Town receives high UV rays in the summertime
- Cape Town often faces droughts in the summer, so be mindful of your water consumption!
- Because Cape Town is crowded in the summer, prepare for lines, crowded beaches, and higher crime rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you are preparing for your trip, you may have questions. Consider the answers to our most frequently asked questions below before embarking on your journey to Cape Town:
What is the average price of a flight to Cape Town?
Although flight costs vary depending on the season, the average prices for flights to Cape Town are as follows:
- Flights from New York to Cape Town typically cost between $900 and $1,300.
- Flights from Los Angeles to Cape Town usually cost between $1,000 and $1,500.
- Flights from Chicago to Cape Town typically cost between $1,000 and $1,300.
- Flights from London to Cape Town typically cost between $900 and $1,100.
What language do people in Cape Town speak?
Cape Town is a very diverse place, and most people may speak one or more of the following languages:
- Afrikaans (a variant of Dutch)
- Various Bantu dialects.
What are the best things to do in Cape Town?
The most popular destinations in Cape Town are:
- Table Mountain
- Lion’s Head
- V&A Waterfront
- Boulders Beach
- Cape Point
- Safaris (outskirts of Cape Town)
- Shark Diving in Gansbaai
- Hout Bay
- Cape Canopy Tour
How safe is Cape Town?
Cape Town is relatively safe, though you should exercise good judgment. South Africa is a developing country, so there are occasionally petty crimes (namely, theft) and specific areas you should only avoid with proper guidance, like the Khayelitsha shanty town.
Long Street, though popular, is also a pickpocketing hotspot, so secure your valuables carefully before heading out on an expedition.
How much should I budget for my trip to Cape Town?
Your budget will depend upon when you visit, the quality of your accommodations, and what you choose to do while you are there. The average cost of a 7-day trip is roughly $2,300 for a single traveler, $4,200 for couples, and $8,000 for families of four.
How does tipping work in Cape Town?
Tipping expectations in Cape Town are generally similar to those in the United States. Restaurant patrons are expected to tip 10 of the bill, and you should tip your valets, drivers, and guides as you would anywhere else.
How can I visit Cape Town on a budget?
If you are on a tight budget, consider visiting Cape Town in the winter when prices are the lowest. Additionally, plan to take public transportation and visit accessible landmarks and destinations, like Table Mountain, Boulders Beach, or the City Bowl.
You can also purchase cheap groceries and souvenirs from Green Market Square, an outdoor market in the City Bowl.
So, What Is the Best Time to Visit Cape Town?
Cape Town is an incredible destination at any time of year, but you will enjoy lower prices, optimal weather, and fewer tourists in the autumn and spring months.
Consider visiting Cape Town in the winter if you are on a budget or in the summer if you prioritize warm weather. It’s also relatively safe, affordable, and diverse — making it an excellent travel destination for single people, couples, and even families.
Just remember to follow the advice above to make it the best possible experience. Ultimately, your trip to Cape Town will be one to remember, regardless of when you choose to visit. Happy travels!