Updated: January 2020
I’m gearing up to spend my first full year in South Africa! The weather in Cape Town is similar to that of Southern California, and my new stomping grounds are beautiful 365 days a year.
In the Southern Hemisphere, which includes half of the continent of Africa, summer runs from November to February while winter in South Africa is from June to August. The region offers so much to do every month of the year, and there really is no bad time to visit.
Here’s what you need to know about the best time to go to South Africa.
December to February
Summers are long here. Temperatures vary a bit across the country, but generally, you can expect daytime highs to get into the mid-eighties while overnight lows fall to the mid-sixties. It’s perfect beach weather, and the coastlines are consistently sunny.
If you’re looking to soak in the sun, get to the Cape Town beaches. Clifton and Camps Bay are the best of the best.
In terms of festivals, Up the Creek festival is a one-of-a-kind music festival that floats along a river outside of Cape Town. For an incredible boutique summertime fest in the heart of Cape Town, don’t miss We Love Summer festival.
March to May
Fall is one of the best times to visit South Africa. From March to May, the weather is warm but not too hot, and the sun never stops. If you want to do some real exploring without overheating, this is the best time to come.
While daytime temperatures are usually seventy-something and sunny, the nights can drop below fifty degrees, so you’ll want to pack a light jacket to stay warm.
Africa’s answer to Burning Man, AfrikaBurn, is held in Tankwa Karoo National Park annually between May and June. This is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience that I highly recommend checking out if you can make it work with your travel dates. The festival does require a bit of planning, so be sure to check out their website for more info.
On the other end of the spectrum from the wild party of AfrikaBurn is the ultra-chill Cape Winelands harvest festivals. Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, and the surrounding area are at their yearly best when the grapes from one of the world’s greatest wine regions are ripe for the picking.
June to August
Winters range from the mid-forties to the mid-sixties. While it’s chilly, you can easily bring a warm layer and still get out to do everything you want to do.
From June to August is the best time for a safari (especially since the bush can get crazy hot in the summer). It’s also the time of the annual J-Bay Open surf competition, where the world’s best surfers put on an astonishing show.
September to November
Another one of my favorite times in South Africa, spring is a prime time to see the best of South Africa. From Cape Town to Johannesburg to Durban, the sun shines, and we start to see temperatures get into the seventies during the afternoon.
Everything is starting to blossom, beaches are gearing up, and incredible festivals are a’comin’! Held annually about an hour outside of Cape Town, Rockin’ the Daisies is South Africa’s biggest music and lifestyle fest.
It’s the perfect introduction to South African culture and the ultimate kickoff to summer.
Of course, it’s not all about partying though! To take in the true beauty of this unique country, you have to get away from the crowd. In the spring, that means whale watching in Hermanus, home to the world’s numero uno land-based whale watching.
I also suggest looking into a trip with Rovos Rail and booking a stay at the famous Oyster Box Hotel in Durban— it’s picture-perfect!