Toolkit » Top Unexpected Winter Experiences in Cape Town
Top Unexpected Winter Experiences in Cape Town
Cape Town is usually associated with summery blue skies, white sand beaches, sun downer boat cruises and late dinners with friends but winter is Cape Town’s atmospheric season of culture; a time of pampering, a blast of action-adventure fresh air and a journey through a gourmet wonderland.
Cape Town is a food-lovers playground, from international fine dining to traditional South African cuisine, eclectic grab and go options and casual family fare, there is something for everyone on Cape Town’s culinary map.
• Try just a taste of local Cape Town: Get Cape Malay takeaways in Town and park off at Signal Hill or Green Point Urban Park to enjoy your spoils; alternately, experience a real chisa nyama (braai/ barbeque) at Mzoli’s in Gugulethu or Amadoda in Woodstock.
Endless Good Wine
The slightly cooler temperatures of winter encourages tasters to mull a little longer over their wine as they sit back to enjoy views from wine estates in Constantia, Somerset West, Durbanville, Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek.
• Enjoy a lazy afternoon in front of a roaring fire or endless Cape vista indulging in good food and wine at a few of the boundless wine estates in the Cape Town vicinity. With the great selection of wines to be found in the Cape, delicious food and wine paired menus are diverse with a more intricate approach than the usual ‘red wine with red meat and white wine with fish’ scenario. Try La Colombe or Constantia Uitsig at Constantia Uitsig farm, offers excellent cuisine and perfect service – Buitenverwachting in Constantia, shares the ambience of a stately home – and 96 Winery Road in Somerset West, offers typical South African flavours in the Helderberg countryside.
From gorgeous designer labels at the V&A Waterfront to hand-crafted township beadwork and local designer travel routes; all tastes and pockets will find something to treasure in Cape Town.
• Follow the Design Route Map - a trail of designers and boutique stores throughout the Cape born of local creative flair, as chosen by Design Indaba – the biggest design-led event on the African calendar – and Cape Town Tourism. Stops along the route include the Cape Craft and Design Institute, Streetwires Artist Collective and Township Patterns.
Weekends leave Capetonians spoilt for choice when it comes to on-trend communal markets that offer fresh produce, clever products by small industries, crafts, antiques and gourmet food on the go; however, they are also highly sociable meeting points.
• The seaside suburb of Hout Bay is a creative hub and hosts two popular weekly markets – the Hout Bay Sunday market has long been an established feature of the area, and the fairly new Hout Bay Harbour Market is a bustling market open all weekend. Situated in a working harbour, it offers great food as well as live music on Friday evenings.
The sun may linger behind the clouds a bit more often but it is the perfect time for surfing and adrenalin pursuits like paragliding, abseiling, helicopter flips and sky-diving. Winter in Cape Town is not likely to be spent under the duvet.
• The ABSA Cape Epic, held in the Cape at the end of March each year, is the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world and fits in perfectly with the Cape Town vibe. Although trails aren’t always easy to find, mountain bikers are spoilt for choice, particularly in Tokai, Constantia, Durbanville and Somerset West, as well as beyond Cape Town’s borders - if there’s time for trips out of town.
The air is fresh and the mountain is fynbos-fragrant. Winter is the time to see Cape Town’s natural parks and settings at their verdant best.
• Walk Noordhoek. The suburb, situated on the far side of Ou Kaapse Weg, is renowned by locals for its Long Beach, horse-riding, arty inhabitants and lazy winter days spent at the fireplaces of one of the many pub-type restaurants dotted around the area.
Breaks in the Rain
The average night to day temperature in Cape Town’s winter season is between 7 and 20 degrees Celsius (45 -70 degrees Fahrenheit). Despite this, it’s not uncommon to enjoy a week of sunshine and temperatures ranging from 21-26 degrees Celsius. In that case, take yourself for a stroll on one of Cape Town’s many fantastic beaches.
• Diaz Beach is situated in Cape Point reserve but is secluded and extremely beautiful, with spectacular views. It’s quite a task to get to. Once you reach the Cape Point parking lot take the path to the right all the way down to the beach. There are no mapped out paths down to the beach so it could be a bit of a scramble but it is definitely worth the effort.
Fauna and Flora
Few of the world’s cities can boast, as Cape Town does, such effortless access to gorgeous natural fauna and flora.
• Winter in Cape Town is known particularly for its whale season (June – November) – a drive along any of Cape Town’s coastal roads could provide stunning views and exceptional snapshots. Enjoy a tipple at the Brass Bell or Polana and watch the whale’s breach and seals leap through the waves. Stop and chat with a shark spotter on Boyes Drive for an interesting conversation about the Great White, and visit the penguin colony at Boulder’s beach to complete your sightings of the Capes marine life.
Cultural Mixing Pot
Cape Town’s intricate past is a fascinating and sometimes highly emotional journey. Choose a rainy winter’s day to explore the city’s carefully curated museums, monuments, religious venues and places of memory – it’s likely to be a fascinating experience.
• Learn about Cape Town’s underground sweet-water spring called Camissa; the ancient Khoi name for Cape Town meaning ‘the place of sweet waters’. A Reclaim Camissa Tour with Figure of 8 Tours will teach you about this untapped water source, whilst the Reclaim Camissa project aims to use the Camissa’s water source for urban infrastructure. The project’s approach to the design, implementation and management of the system is sustainable and its vision for the future connects people to the river through parks, pedestrian walkways and public urban spaces.
Winter is the time to be kind to yourself. The Cape Peninsula offers top-class spas that promise to relieve the stress of a jam-packed travel itinerary.
• Enjoy a quintessential Cape Town massage in the morning and then take yourself off to an indulgent High Tea at one of Cape Town’s upmarket hotel venues such as the Twelve Apostles or Mount Nelson, Ellerman House or the One & Only Cape Town.
Coffee and People Watching
Examine Capetonians as they work and play by spending time with them in their favourite coffee shops.
• Watch the kites and beginner surfers at Muizenberg beach whilst enjoying freshly baked bread and great coffee at Knead bakery, Surfer’s Corner.
Cape Town gets energetic in winter. Numerous events from sports to comedy and cooking keep us inspired and creative.
• Some of Cape Town’s biggest winter events include the Good Food and Wine Show, the Vodacom Funny Festival 2012, Cape Town Fashion Week, Creative Week Cape Town and the annual Loerie Awards.
Cape Town’s arts scene always has something on the go and the many theatres across the metropole offer forums for dance, live adult and kids’ theatre productions, music and musicals, opera and ballet.
• There is no shortageof home-grown artistic talent in the Mother City to keep you warm on a cool Cape Town evening. The Baxter Theatre, Artscape Theatre and Fugard Theatre are favoured by locals for their diverse and consistent theatre offerings.
Although South African musicians are always out and about providing live shows at Cape Town clubs and venues - keep your eyes peeled for dates, times and venue information on flyers and poster boards - it is jazz that feeds the soul of Cape Town.
• Do a Cape Town Jazz Safari with Coffeebeans Routes and meet a Cape Town musician in their home for dinner and an intimate performance. The tour then moves on to a jazz club or a visit to a second musician for a nightcap.
Plenty for the Kids
Parents need not fear that their kids will be suffering from cabin fever on their winter holiday in Cape Town. Not only is the winter climate conducive to plenty of outdoor rough-and-tumble but there are indoor activities galore to keep little people content.
• Picnics are the life blood of parents needing to tire out their little ones with surplus energy. Take a picnic on one of the many contour paths, beaches or green belt walks dotted around Cape Town and let the kids go wild outdoors ... then get a peaceful night’s sleep! Try Silvermine and let the kids enjoy a splash in the refreshing river or Rhodes Memorial where kids can enjoy bouncing around on the monuments lion statues.