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Which is the best season to visit Cape Town?

Posted on Tue January 30, 2024.

Plusses & Minuses of visiting Cape Town during the different Seasons.

Cape Town experiences it's biggest domestic tourist influx over the Summer season( December-February) due to 1) school holidays falling in December & January. 2) Businesses being closed from mid December to mid January. 3) Northern hemisphere foreign tourists (known as swallows) escaping from their winter.

The age old debate as to whether this is the best time to visit Cape Town continues unabated.

Summer season plusses include hot weather with little or no rainfall ,encouraging Beach activities such as sun bathing, board sailing , yachting & kayaking. Other plusses are that a vibey holiday atmosphere prevails with abundant night life and generally plenty of leisure / holiday activities such as cruises & helicopter flights taking place. 

The downside to summer season is that the South Easter is often unpleasantly strong making visits to the beaches uncomfortable affairs. As demand outstrips supply, flights into the city are at their most expensive , while accomodation costs are prohibitive. Factor in weather that is sometimes too hot along with busy streets, long & time consuming queues at all tourist destinations & traffic jams on all major routes. All these create challenging holiday conditions.

There is a growing concensus that maybe the ideal time to visit Cape Town is during Autumn( March - May) or Spring( September - November).

In Autumn's favour is the fact that the tourists have left with the associated spinoffs of cheaper prices, fewer queues & quieter beaches.Bonusses include cooler hiking weather. A good time to visit the wine farms.( Some say any time is a good time to visit).Whales can be seen. Autumn's only con is that the Easter weekend falls within this period(with all the cons of Summer).

Visiting in Winter realises lower prices, few queues, empty beaches & plenty of indoor activities such as visits to  restaurants, pubs & museums etc. Conditions are good for snorkelling & scuba diving thanks to water visibility being clearer. Surfing is also good. Also an excellent time for whale spotting. The downside of winter is that the north-westerley wind has brought rain. Cape Town is well known as the place of horizontal rain. Jackets are a necessity. Cold & wet days are often followed by a few perfect days.

Spring is also a good time to visit: The tourists are yet to arrive.Prices of flights and accomodation are cheaper.One finds the queues at popular tourist destinations like Table Mountain, Robben Island and Cape Point far shorter. The Whales are still active.The floral displays in the national parks are spectacular.The only real minus for Spring is that the South Easter has started picking up.

Conclusion: The Cape Town season that best suits you really depends on what you are looking for.There is certainly something to do in Cape Town for everyone.