Weather in Cape Town
Cape Town boasts the warm dry summers (November to April) and wet but mild winters (May to October) of a Mediterranean climate. Whether it’s the temperate spring and autumn weather or the sunshine of summer, Cape Town’s climate leaves nothing to be desired for the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Cape Town is the ideal holiday destination in South Africa. It doesn’t have the humidity of the east coast or the extremes of interior regions such as the Karoo and Johannesburg. Visitors to Cape Town in spring will experience occasional rain, while summer is peak tourist season, but with summer comes the wind. Autumn is arguably Cape Town’s most attractive season with mild temperatures. Winter is characterised by cold fronts, high rainfall and chilly winds.
Best time to visit Cape Town
Cape Town has something to offer in all seasons, but most visitors tend to choose the summer months of November, December and January. Summer and the beginning of autumn in Cape Town are best spent on a beach beneath beach umbrella followed by a Kirstenbosch summer sunset concert. From the end of winter through spring, visitors to Cape Town can view whales along the coast or great white sharks at Seal Island.
Spring temperatures in Cape Town peak between 20 and 25°C (68 to 77°F) with lows falling to 10 to 15°C (50 to 59°F). Cape Town’s spring is a season filled with flowers, occasional rain, mild temperatures and some wind. Spring starts in September and finishes in October. Early September can be quite rainy as the remnants of winter are shaken off. Cape Town’s weather warms up in October and the days begin to get longer.
Summer temperatures often reach the high 30s while the lows occasionally dip to 15°C (59°F). Cape Town’s summer climate is ideal for the many tourists who choose to visit during this season. Humidity can reach uncomfortable levels. The summer holiday period from December to January is peak tourist season for Cape Town, but the wind is a force to be reckoned with.
Autumn, in March, April and May, is Cape Town’s best-kept secret. Temperatures are mild and crisp with highs averaging in the mid twenties accompanied by refreshing breezes and cooler night-time temperatures. Autumn is the best season for visitors wishing to go hiking up Table Mountain or for those entering the famous Cape Argus Cycle Tour or Two Oceans Marathon.
Winter in Cape Town is a wet and windy affair. The wet weather tends to set in from late May, June, July and August. The rain can set in for days and the winter weather explains Cape Town's nickname 'the Cape of Storms'. Winter temperatures in Cape Town drop to between 8 and 18°C (46 to 64°F). Cape Town winters are best enjoyed beside a fire, although there are many winter days which have bright sunshine and tourists can stroll along beautiful empty beaches with crisp, bright weather.
There is one weather phenomenon that stretches across all four seasons in Cape Town, and that’s the wind. The city is well known for strong southeasters, which are so famous they’ve been nicknamed the Cape Doctor – they blow away pollution and cloud. Warm ‘berg winds’ sometimes blow from the interior regions of South Africa; these winds can make even temperate days seem unbearably hot. Summer is particularly bad for wind – the cable car at Table Mountain often has to close because of gale force winds. Visitors wishing to avoid the wind in Cape Town should book their holiday during autumn.
What to pack for a holiday in Cape Town
Key items for visitors to Cape Town during the summer months include sunglasses, sunscreen, a beach towel and swimwear. A light jersey is a wise item to pack, as with its maritime climate Cape Town always cools down in the evening. A raincoat is advisable for visitors in Spring and Autumn, while winter visitors to Cape Town will need waterproof shoes, raincoats and warm jackets, but a slightly cooler outfit may also come in handy for the beautiful days in between storms.