by Sharon Henry
We can confidently recommend this list of 15 things to do in Cape Town in winter as we have tried and tested them all. Some we’ve done a few times over the years, like Table Mountain, whereas cage diving with Great White sharks has been a completely new experience for us.
Whatever the weather, Cape Town is positively beautiful and oh so photogenic. There’s so much to experience you’ll want a holiday extension!
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. For a wonderful 2 week South Africa itinerary click here.
A summer holiday is obvious but did you know the best time to visit Cape Town is during the ‘off season’ winter (end May to August), it’s 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 Cape Town winter visits now and we both love it.
What To Do In Cape Town South Africa
- Table Mountain
- City Sightseeing Tour
- Bo Kaap
- The Company’s Gardens
- District Six Museum
- V&A Waterfront
- Groot Constantia Wine Tasting Tours
- Cape Malay Cooking Class At Bo Kaap
- South African Museum
- Mama Africa – Long Street
- Theatre In The Backyard
- Hail Pizza – Bree Street
- Great White Shark Cage Diving
- Green Market Square
- Sunset at Sea Point Promenade
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 best places to visit in Cape Town. 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 in Cape Town, taking in all the Cape Town attractions is the hop-on, hop-off City Sightseeing tour. It 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 marveled at the incredible scenery. It makes an excellent day’s excursion and is one of the best activities to do in Cape Town. The on board commentary is peppered with anecdotal stories and will keep you informed and entertained throughout journey. It’s an excellent choice for fun things to do in Cape Town with kids.
Best Things To Do In Cape Town In Winter
Bo Kaap – Oldest Mosque In The Southern Hemisphere
A visit to the residential district of Bo Kaap (west side 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 top Cape Town tourist attractions and makes #instagood photos. It’s one of the most iconic things to do in Cape Town on a budget.
The Bo Kaap community are predominantly Muslim, descendants 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.
The Company’s Garden in the city centre started life as a vegetable patch for the Dutch East India Company in 1652. It’s now a wonderful public park 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 – all good free things to do in Cape Town South Africa. Look out for the Company’s Garden Restaurant tucked away among the trees.
Entrance to the Gardens can be found from Wale, Queen Victoria or Orange street where St George’s Cathedral and other places of interest in Cape Town can be found.
District Six Museum
Next for things to do in Cape Town in 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
Of the most touristy places to see in Cape Town is the V&A Waterfront. It 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. It’s possibly the safest place to enjoy fun things to do in Cape Town at night. Cinema tickets in South Africa are the cheapest we’ve come across; just R75 (£4.40) to watch newly released blockbusters. Don’t miss the Water Shed full of innovative, unique crafts, and the tantalizing Food Market featuring cuisine from around the world.
Cape Town Wine Tours At Groot Constantia
South Africa is a wine country and if you don’t mind a little day drinking one of the most exciting things to do in Cape Town is a tour of the Groot Constantia wine cellar. It ends with a guided wine tasting session of five generous samples of their finest offerings, learning to ‘swirl’ and pick out the characteristics of the wine. This South African wine is so good Napoleon Bonaparte reportedly asked for a sip on his St Helena 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! A great contender for romantic things to do in Cape Town with your partner.
IZIKO South African Museum
There’s nothing like being dwarfed by a blue whale to put things into perspective and the South African Museum’s skeletal cast of this ocean giant does just that. There’s even the mighty jaws of a Megalodon shark! The exhibits are world class and perfect for indoor activities in Cape Town. Inside there are 700 million year old fossils to marvel over and drawings and tools made by early man. Quite fascinating.
Admission: adults R30 (£1.74). Children 6-18, students and pensioners R15 (£0.87)
Things to do in Cape Town during winter
Long Street Cape Town – Mama Africa
The atmosphere on Long Street at the weekend is electric and stepping through the doors of Mama Africa Cape Town, 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 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 Theatre in the Backyard production takes place in the backyard of a house in the Nyanga Township and gives the feeling you are ‘in’ the show. It’s perfect for those seeking unusual things to do in Cape Town. 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
The restaurants in Cape Town makes a foodie’s paradise. The Cape Town food scene is delectable, affordable, and aplenty – and trendy Bree Street seems to have it all, lined with eateries 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 top things to do in Cape Town during winter. It’s such a rush!
Green Market Square
Craftwork in Cape Town is phenomenal and the stalls in Green Market Square showcases talent to the max with African wooden carvings, paintings, beadwork, tin art, wire work, leather goods and fabrics. It’s full of colour and is the perfect place to browse, buy African artwork and pick up Cape Town 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 to search out a bargain and support the local artists.
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.
Safety Tips and Other Good Stuff To Know
It pays to be prepared when visiting new countries and here’s a useful list of things you should know before going to South Africa.
As with most cities it pays to be streetwise and vigilant for your personal safety. Here a few tips to help make your trip a happy one.
Cape Town Tourism advises not to engage with beggars that may approach you for a handout on the street.
Avoid carrying cameras and valuables in plain sight.
Be aware of pickpockets.
Avoid walking in deserted places especially at night.
Cape Town weather is a little unpredictable and can sometimes experience four seasons in a day. Be prepared and carry an extra layer and sun protection.
South Africa power outlets are 230V AC and two or three prong, round pin plugs. Bring an adapter.
South Africa is two hours ahead of GMT.
Getting Around Cape Town
Other that walking, we use Uber and taxis to get around Cape Town. We found Uber in Cape Town reliable and affordable, and if you haven’t already, we suggest downloading the app before your visit.
We also tried the MyCiTi bus system which operates 18 hours a day on 44 routes including Cape Town International Airport. You’ll need to buy a R35 myconnect card and preload it with money. We bought our MyCiTi cards from the bus terminal outside the Civic Centre on Adderley Street. Click here for info on how it works.
And off course, there is the CitySightseeing bus tour for getting around and exploring Cape Town.
Cape Town Water Crisis
Although Cape Town rainfall has improved over the past months, the city is still experiencing a drought and as a result level 3 water restrictions are imposed. Locals and visitors are to use less than 105 litres a day. To be water-wise take two-minute showers, avoid baths, don’t let water run whilst brushing teeth, try flush toilets as little as possible, refrain from requesting fresh towels and linen daily and use hand sanitizer instead of water.
Using these measures to help save water really makes you conscious of how precious water is. Cape Town Tourism fully encourages visitors to the city but to be mindful of water conservation.
Where To Stay In Cape Town
Cost of accommodation in Cape Town during winter, between June and September can be 30% to 50% cheaper than peak season. There is a vast choice of places to stay in Cape Town, we prefer the CBD to be within walking distance of the main attractions. We’ve stayed at a few different places ranging from hotels, to boutique hotels to self-catering apartments.
As you can tell – we absolutely love Cape Town. Hopefully you will too when you visit and try our list of things to do in Cape Town in winter. Or any season for that matter.