First Published: 6 August 2016 and updated 13 August 2019
Cape Town, often referred to as the trending city in South Africa, and that’s with good reason: the city seems to have an inexhaustible offer of all things cool, innovative and extraordinary – be it urban pools, open-air festivals or rooftop bars. Not taking into account the usual touristy sights, Cape Town is a popular tourist destination in summer but not so much in winter.
Tip: To save time, buy a Cape Town City Pass, So you can avoid waiting in long lines for tickets.
Most people are not aware that Winter is low season in Cape Town (and most destinations), meaning you’ll have more of the city to yourself and won’t have to compete with hordes of tourists for entry to exhibits, monuments or when making restaurant reservations. Not to mention the fact that accommodation and flights are cheaper than in peak season.
Temperature in Cape Town in Winter
In Winter (June – August) the average temperature is 64 F/18° C (high) and 46 F/7°C (low). It also rains a lot and for a city where outdoor activities are the main attractions, most people are discouraged to visit. In Cape Town most things weather-dependent but I didn’t let this affect my decision to visit the city.
Things to do in Cape Town in Winter:
Get an Introduction to the city
Learn more about the city, its history, interesting facts and take in the beautiful sights with Cape Town Free Walking Tours. With the following tours available: a historic tour, an Apartheid to Freedom tour, a Bo-Kaap tour, and a Taste of Cape Town tour. Each one offers a unique perspective on Cape Town and what this amazing city has to offer.
Helicopter Tour of the Mother City
A helicopter ride is a wonderful way to see the majestic Cape Town – Perfect for dates, family adventures, special occasions and even proposals, there’s always an excuse to jump on a scenic flight.
There are different tour options, we went on the hopper tour which takes off from the iconic V&A Waterfront, passes through City Bowl, Green Point, Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay, The Twelve Apostles and back.
A day trip to Robben Island
Known as the island where Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Govan Mbeki and other political prisoners were imprisoned, Robben Island is actually more than just a prison.
For a guided tour around the island, a visit to the maximum security prison – including meeting a former political prisoner and seeing the cell that housed Nelson Mandela. More information about my experience HERE.
Get lost in the city
I find the best way to explore a city is; purchasing a bus pass, hoping a random bus, getting off a random stop and finding your way back. This can be done with the City Sightseeing Bus.
There are 2 ticket options available. If you opt for a 1-day ticket it allows you to experience all four routes – Red, Yellow, Blue and Purple Routes. The 2-day ticket allows you to take advantage of all routes – Red, Yellow, Blue and Purple Routes – for 2 consecutive days. The 2-day ticket also includes 2 walking tours and a harbour cruise.
Head to Boulders Beach, a sandy stretch of shoreline on the Cape Peninsula with rocky outcrops and wild waves. Particularly as it’s home to a load of African penguins. The water will be extremely cold, I wouldn’t recommend swimming, but makes for a wonderful coastal walk.
See the best view of Cape Town
A trip to Cape Town is not complete without visiting Signal Hill (I mean… why are you even in Cape Town?). If you don’t want to walk up an elevation of 350m, rather drive. Signal Hill looks out over the whole bay, city and even Table Mountain. Its name is un-cryptically derived from the Noon Gun, a time signal given off each day at midday since 1806.
Feed your adrenaline need with a zip-lining experience.
Thankfully with SA Forest Adventures, your safety is their #1 priority. They make sure that you have the equipment properly harnessed and they explain in detail exactly how the tour works before starting.
Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain
Buy your tickets here and check the weather conditions.
Admire the flowers at Kirstenbosch
A visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a must. Set against the backdrop of Table Mountain National Park, you’ll find a garden that not only showcases the unique and incredibly diverse flora of the Cape, but also offers incredible views. The garden was founded in 1913 on an estate that covers 528 hectares and supports a diverse fynbos flora and natural forest.
Visit Cape Point
Head to Cape Point known as corner of the continent – where the two oceans meet. It’s a breathtaking site with cliffs covered in fynbos flanked by beaches and hidden coves.
Dive with sharks at The Two Oceans Aquarium
The underwater nature reserve with extraordinary experiences fit for all ages. Home to over 3 000 marine creatures.
Explore the townships
Mehndi (also known as Henna in Urdu) is an important part of Hindu tradition. A ceremony is held the evening before a wedding where the application of the mehndi on a bride’s hand (starting from the elbows) and feet (starting from below the knees). After a few hours the mend starts to peel off and you are left with a deep brown color pattern dye on your body.
Updated: July 2019 – With over 2000 murders on the first quarter of 2019 in the townships near Cape Town, I would only recommend visiting the townships with a local.
Visit the museums and galleries. The ever popular District Six Museum and The Springbok Experience get extremely busy. I recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds or heading a little out of the main tourist traffic and heading to Rhodes Memorial or Bo-Kaap Museum. All these museums have fantastic exhibits and experiences for kids of all ages.
Taste SA’s finest beers
When only beer can quench your thirst, head over to SAB’s Newlands Brewery.
Making your way up each level, through the ‘History of SAB’ then you finally end up in the bar, where you can sit back with bottles of the finished product.
Go wine tasting
Theres nothing like a bottle of wine to keep you warm in winter. The Cape region is one of the most beautiful wine regions, in fact South Africa produces 7% of the world’s wine. There are a lot of wine tasing tours available from Cape Town to Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Robertson and surrounding areas.
Read more: Best wine experiences in Stellenbosch
Go for lunch in Muizenberg
Home to the insta famous colourful beach houses. Spend the day in Muizenberg, it’s a popular surfing destination with cute cafes and boutiques to visit.
Where to stay in Cape Town?
With close to 50,000 beds available in the greater Cape Town area. Find your home away from home, with world-class services and facilities for work and play. I’ve shared a list of my favourite hotels in Cape Town and also reviewed some.
Cape Town is always a good idea, even in Winter! Don’t you agree?