Cape Town is a top summer destination because of its beautiful beaches and lively vibe in “season”. But what many visitors discover is that visiting in winter can be just as rewarding. Cape Town winters are actually rather mild and nothing like the grey and freezing ones up in the Northern hemisphere. In fact, when it’s not raining (which these days is rather rare) you can have gorgeous sunny days that are even better than a summer day in London. Local Capetonians in the know even prefer to go hiking in winter as the weather is more preferable – missing the heat of summer and less chance of wind. As it is also “low season” most popular attractions are less crowded and you can benefit from out of season rates. Below are some wonderful winter activities to enjoy in Cape Town.
The Cape Winelands are beautiful all year round but, in this writer’s opinion, really show off during Autumn and Winter. In Autumn, the leaves of the vineyards are beautiful hues of red, orange and brown and the sky has a crisp blue clearness that provides a delightful contrast. In winter the weather can be a bit misty which adds a romantic air to sipping on delicious red wines in large cavernous wine cellars, some with hearty fireplaces. Cape Town and its surrounding areas of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl all have magnificent wine farms and many will have winter specials which make it even more rewarding.
While it might be a little cold to go swimming during winter there’s no reason you can’t experience the wonders of the ocean and South Africa’s marvellous marine life. The 2 Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront (truly a one-stop shop for entertainment!) is a great indoor activity for when the weather is less than desirable. The aquarium is fun for all ages. You can learn about the unique marine ecosystem of South Africa, wander through a jellyfish hall, find Nemo, walk through an underwater tunnel, and even swim (SCUBA) with the sharks. There is also daily penguin feedings, amongst many some amazing marine exhibits, some that are permanent and some that are specially curated.
Can you give me a hint? Hint Hunt is an exciting Escape Game Attraction in Woodstock, a neighbourhood of Cape Town. A group of three to six players are locked in a room for an hour and need to solve riddles, find clues and keys to get out. It’s a thrilling activity that really allows you to use your problem-solving skills as well as see how you interact with other people under pressure. Once you are out you can enjoy delicious craft beers at a nearby brewery and even explore the hip urban area of Woodstock. Click here to find out more about HintHunt.
Visit a Market or Africa’s Most Popular Mall – The V&A Waterfront
Cape Town has many fantastic markets that are bustling on a Saturday morning and some in the week as well. In Hout Bay, the Bay Harbour market has some of the most beautiful locally made crafts, clothes, and jewellery as well as a smorgasbord of delicious food and even a live band all in a large beautifully decorated warehouse. The Oranjezicht Farmer’s Market under a large canopy tent at the V&A Waterfront has amazing food and fresh organic vegetables and is where Cape Town’s fitness freaks like to go after their morning hike or exercise. The Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill was one of the first Saturday morning markets and actually started the trend, so it’s the truly original and incredibly popular. The Mojo market is Sea Point is open all week and late into the evening and has a live band in the evenings. The V&A Waterfront Food Market also has delicious food and very reasonable prices and from there you can go on to explore the famous mall! The Waterfront is Africa’s most visited tourist attraction and is so much more than a mall, located in a working harbour with historical buildings there is truly something for everyone. Besides a huge variety of shops and world-class restaurants, there is also entertainment in the form of live performances, the beautiful views of the harbour, the seals and seagulls, as well as the Ferris wheel.
Cape Town, of course, has some important history so many of its museums are well worth a visit. The Castle of Good Hope, The District Six Museum, the Iziko Slave Lodge, and the Bo Kaap Museum all provide important connections to the city’s past. The Natural History Museum houses the Planetarium, and the Iziko National Gallery is just across the way. For more art, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art is an impressive addition that is placing Cape Town’s art scene and contemporary African art on the world map. There is also the Heart Transplant Museum where you can learn about the world’s first successful heart transplant and for Rugby fans, the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum is worth a visit.
As you can see you’ll be simply spoiled for choice if you visit during winter! Another tip is that winter is whale season, so while you may not be able to tan on the beach you might be able to spot these majestic creatures just off-shore. Come discover an alternative “winter wonderland” in the Southern hemisphere!