CAPE TOWN IN WINTER IS THE BEST VALUE | Sharon Henry
Blessed with in-your-face natural beauty and a fascinating culture it’s easy to see why the city of Cape Town tops travel lists the world over.
A summer holiday is obvious but did you know visiting Cape Town during the ‘off season’ winter (end May to August) is just as enjoyable and also a lot cheaper. Yip, during those lean months hotels pretty much slash their prices in half making the Mother City a fantastic value destination.
A dreary winter’s day in South Africa is like a crabby summer’s day in Britain, temperatures range from 7 – 20C, chilly to some and balmy for others. But winter days in the southern tip of Africa can also be spectacularly crystal clear and crisp. We’ve made a number of winter visits now and we both love it.
Whatever the weather, Cape Town is positively beautiful and oh so photogenic. Here’s our very own tried and tested list of 15 things to do in Cape Town during winter. There’s so much to experience you’ll want a holiday extension!
You can’t go to Cape Town and not go up Table Mountain. Not only does it dominate the city’s skyline it steals the show of our top things to do. Take the five minute revolving cableway ride 1,089m to the summit for spectacular aerial views of the Mother City. Make sure to look out for the camera-loving dassies (rock hyrax), tiny cousins of the elephant, and if in need of an energy boost after a walk across the mountain top, try a slice of the cafe’s cheesecake, divine.
Table Mountain is a ‘New7 Wonders Of Nature’. Take note: The cableway closes for annual maintenance for two weeks between July to August.
City Sightseeing Tour
Another definite ‘must-do’ is the hop-on, hop-off City Sightseeing tour which runs around the beautiful backside of Cape Town and along the glittering Atlantic coastline. We went wine tasting, watched an impromptu seal show, ate renowned fish and chips and marvelled at the incredible scenery. It makes an excellent day’s excursion. The onboard commentary will keep you informed and entertained throughout journey.
Bo Kaap – Oldest Mosque In The Southern Hemisphere
A visit to the residential district of Bo Kaap (westside of Buitengracht Street) is like stepping through the gates of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory; the houses are so deliciously colourful you’ll want to pop one in your mouth. The vibrantly painted homes have become a tourist attraction and makes #instagood photos. The Bo Kaap community are predominantly Muslim, descendents of slaves brought in from Malaysia, India and Indonesia during the 17th and 18th century. The Auwal Mosque on Dorp Street was built in 1794 and is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. 1652
The Company’s Garden started life as a vegetable patch for the Dutch East India Company in 1652, and is now a wonderful public park in the city centre surrounded by museums and historical buildings, with the ever-present backdrop of Table Mountain. It’s the perfect spot for a little relaxation, and to people, squirrel and Egyptian goose watch.
District Six Museum
Next for things to do in Cape Town during winter is the District Six Museum which tells the real-life story of 60,000 residents who were forcibly evicted from their homes during South Africa’s Apartheid era. This is an educational, as opposed to ‘fun,’ attraction but a visit is very helpful in gaining a wider appreciation of the city’s history. We highly recommend booking a guided tour as these are given by ex-residents who will make it a powerful, personal experience.
Guided tours cost R45 (approx £2.60) per person and self-guided tours, R30 (approx £1.76.)
V&A Waterfront – Food Market Shed
The V&A Waterfront is the modern, face of Cape Town, driven by tourism with plenty to see and do; live music, boat trips, an aquarium, restaurants, shops and cinema. Cinema tickets in South Africa are the cheapest we’ve come across; just 75R (£4.40) to watch newly released blockbusters. Don’t miss the Water Shed full of innovative, unique crafts, and the tantalising Food Market featuring cuisine from around the world.
Groot Constantia Wine Tour
If you don’t mind a little day drinking 🙂 you’ll love a tour of the Groot Constantia wine cellar, ending with a guided tasting session of five generous samples of their finest offerings, learning to ‘swirl’ and pick out the characteristics of the wine. This stuff is so good Napoleon Bonaparte reportedly asked for a sip on his death bed back in 1821.
The Groot Constantia cellar and tasting tours cost R100 (South African Rand), (£5.81) per person. The estate is one of the stops on the ‘City Sightseeing’ bus tour route.
Cape Malay Cooking Safari at Bo Kaap
Spice up your life and learn to cook Cape Malay style in the colourful setting of the Bo Kaap district. The lesson is fun and suited to all levels of ability, you’ll make curry, roti’s, samosas’ and chilli bites from scratch, and the best part – you get to eat it after!
South Africa National Museum
There’s nothing like being dwarfed by the size of a blue whale to put things into perspective and the museum’s skeletal cast of this ocean giant does just that. There are 700 million year old fossils to marvel over and drawings and tools made by early man. The South Africa National Museum is world class and well worth a visit.
Admission: adults 30R (£1.74). Children 6-18, students and pensioners 15R (£0.87)
Things to do in Cape Town during winter
Long Street – Mama Africa
The atmosphere on Long Street at the weekend is electric and stepping through the doors of Mama Africa, the vibe continues as the beat of live music gets your shoulders jigging. You can choose to be adventurous with ostrich, crocodile, springbok and kudo on the menu or conservative like us with beef and lamb. (There are also vegetarian options.) Either way you’ll leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face.
Theatre In The Backyard
If you like your theatre with superb acting and a gripping plotline then this quirky take on an outdoor performance might tickle your fancy. The whole Theatre in the Backyard production takes place in the backyard of a house in the Nyanga Township of Cape Town and gives the feeling you’re ‘in’ the show. Bonus point, you get to meet the production team and chat over a home-cooked meal at the end of the performance.
Bree Street – Hail Pizza
Cape Town is a foodie paradise. Delectable, affordable, and aplenty, and trendy Bree Street seems to have it all, lined with restaurants presenting menus on wooden clipboards (cool.) We stopped by Hail Pizza twice, such was the food (not just pizza) we came back for more.
Hail Pizza 133A Bree St, Cape Town CBD, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa. +27 72 349 3551
Cage Diving With Great White Sharks
For the adventurous bucket-list- types, cage diving with Great Whites is up there with the extreme options and Cape Town, well Gansbaai (2 hours drive out of the city) is the shark capital of the world. And check this, the winter months (end May to August) have a higher probability of sightings so cage diving with Great White Sharks is perfect as one of the things to do in Cape Town during winter.
Green Market Square
Craftwork in Cape Town is phenomenal and the stalls in Green Market Square showcases African talent to the max with wooden carvings, paintings, beadwork, tin art, leather goods and fabrics. It’s full of colour and is the perfect place to browse and pick up souvenirs at bargain prices. Be warned, vendors won’t want you to pass by without tempting you to buy, it’s all part of the culture of Green Market Square so don’t be intimidated, get your game face on and search out that bargain.
Burg St & Longmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre.
Sunset At Sea Point Promenade
Wrap up warm and head out to get some fresh salty air with a stroll along the beach at Sea Point. The water’s too cold to even think about a dip but the walk and a little beachcombing is wonderfully therapeutic and the sunsets from here are simply stunning. The promenade is popular for all sorts, families, joggers, young love-birds, dog walkers etc., all bringing a relaxing atmosphere to the Sea Point promenade.
PS. Listen out for the Noon Gun being fired on Signal Hill- so accurate you can set your watch by it.