The weather in Cape Town is, in a word, unpredictable. Which makes packing for your first visit kind of confusing. Add to that the fact that many visitors think it’s not-stop safari as soon as they land in South Africa and you’ve got way too much khaki and not nearly enough cute dresses on your hands. The reality is that Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city, with a diverse fashion scene and lots of different things to do. There’s a laid-back approach to fashion and makeup, but that doesn’t detract from this city’s style. With my guide to what to pack for summer in Cape Town, you’ll be covered for almost anything.
What to Pack for Summer in Cape Town
Not technically a “beach town”, it’s more a city by the sea, so think coffee shops, hip bars, amazing restaurants and a few mountains to scale too. In summer you can expect sunny days temperatures in the high 20’s °C (60’s °F) with light to strong wind cooling things down a little. It’s unlikely to rain between October and April, although anything can happen these days. With this in mind, it’s advisable to pack lots of layers. The Atlantic breeze can be pretty chilly on your skin, even if the sun is shining, so a light cardigan should always be in your bag.
There’s loads to do in Cape Town, from hitting the hottest bars and restaurants, to spending the day on the beach and climbing mountains, so you’re going to want to pack accordingly. You’re not going to need head-to-toe safari gear, that’s for sure, so don’t worry about investing in khaki. You’re also not likely to be “clubbing” much, since there’s no Vegas-style nightlife, so don’t weigh yourself down with too many glam outfits.
Hitting the Streets of Cape Town
Cape Town has a really exciting streetwear culture. With our melting pot of influences from around the African continent and the world, you’re likely to spot bright colours and vibrant patterns between hipster-inspired looks. The city is not known for being overly-flashy, so bodycon dresses and sky-high heels are likely to be forgotten at the bottom of your suitcase for most of your visit. Think jeans, trendy tops, sneakers and sandals for days spent shopping or pounding the pavement sightseeing.
The beautiful Cape winelands are unmissable in summer. In nearby Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, lush green vines are heavy with grapes and the sky is normally a clear blue. A few pretty summer dresses, light cardigans, cute jumpsuits and of course a straw sunhat will be perfect for a wine tasting in a beautiful Cape Dutch manor or a picnic on the rolling lawns between the vines.
A full day of road tripping the Cape Peninsula is highly recommended. This route passes the famous a colony of adorable penguins at Boulders Beach and stops for amazing views at Cape Point. For this, I’d recommend a comfy jumpsuit or pretty dress. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, because no matter how cold the water is (14 to 16°C / 57 to 61°F – eeek!) those turquoise waves are very tempting.
A Night Out in the City
Like I said before, Capetonians aren’t known for dressing up. In fact, our “going out” style is pretty laid back. A great white t-shirt with black skinny jeans, boots or sneakers and a leather jacket would pass at most of our nightlife hotspots. If you’re really feeling a more dressed-up look, a little black dress with a denim jacket and a pair of wedges would work too.
A Day of Activities
You can’t visit Cape Town without being taking a hike to see it from the top of one of the peaks around the city. Lion’s Head is the quickest and easiest route, with amazing 360 views. If you’ve got more time, and you’re suitably fit, Skeleton’s Gorge is a must. Bring along a pair of yoga pants, comfortable walking shoes (sneakers or trainers will be good enough) and a few comfy t-shirts and sports bras. Don’t forget a hat and a water bottle – this African sun is no joke and you wouldn’t be the first visitor who needed to be airlifted off the mountain thanks to sunstroke.
I hope my guide for what to pack for summer in Cape Town has given you some ideas and made you even more excited for your visit! If you have any questions, please pop in them in the comments.
More about summer in Cape Town
Summer in Cape Town is pretty dang exceptional. There’s a major buzz in the air, the streets are always milling with tanned locals and visitors from around the world and the extra long days mean more time for activities! Whether it’s your first visit to the Mother City or your annual return to the mountain, read my guide to having the best time in Cape Town this summer here.