Hurtling at an alarming rate towards what will soon be the start of the second quarter of 2014, it’s hard to believe that Christmas and New Year were almost four months ago. For Cape Town and the rest of Southern Africa, the months of April and May represent the gateway to the start of our winter months. For many business’s within the travel and tourism industry this time represents a sad close to the highly lucrative market of the peak Summer period. For myself this period represents the pure and utter bliss of all that Cape Town in winter encompasses. The city is quieter, the roads are quieter, the thermometer has dropped by just a few degrees and a beautiful and less commercial Cape Town lies waiting to be discovered.
If comparing with a European winter, a Cape winter is fantastic. Although the region is one of winter rainfall the general climate is pleasurably mild with the average daytime temperature being in the region of around 18℃ (64.4℉) – it’s not unusual, however, to have days that reach up to 28℃ or even 30℃ (82.4 to 86℉) on the barometer. One must, however, bear in mind that the weather is never going to be an exact science and as such temperatures will plummet and it’s likely that there will be a number of long days or weeks of relentless rain. In their own very special way these days are quite magnificent and with Cape Town being such a show off city with so much diversity, an itinerary jam packed with activities and great things to do and see is more than possible. Not only that, but it’s also Nirvana for tourists visiting on a budget. The mass market of tourists has left so prices come down enormously. Hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, car rentals, flights and even restaurants vastly reduced their prices. Accommodation rates can drop as much as 50% and many popular restaurants offer winter ‘2 for 1’ specials… And you can be guaranteed that the level of quality is not ever going to be reduced just because the prices are reduced.
Three great things to see and do in the Cape winter
1) The Grape Route
Better known as the Wine Route, the Grape Route is divided into 4 regions:
- The Paarl Valley Wine Route
- The Stellenbosch Wine Route
- The Franschoek Valley Wine Region
- The Constantia Valley Wine Region
If your time is limited and you’re only able to visit one of the four then my suggestion would be Franschoek. My reason for this choice is quite simple – it is without doubt one of the most scenically spectacular places that you’ll ever see. That, coupled with the gastronomic delights of restaurants serving world class cuisine, Franschoek is not a place to leave off your itinerary of places to visit. In order to make the most of your time in Franschoek (or any of the other wine regions), it is advisable to rent yourself a car in Capetown. With such an abundance of things to see and do you’re going to want to have the independence of being able to stop and spend time at some places or move on swiftly from others. Perhaps you’ll even love the area so much that you’ll decide to stay the night at one of the many quaint, gorgeous Bed and Breakfast establishments.
2) False Bay Coastline
Another fantastic winter outing is a visit to the small towns that run along the False Bay coastline. Beginning at Muizenberg and ending at Smitswinkel Bay (just before Cape Point), each small town is steeped in history and is a haven for shoppers in search of unusual trinkets and magical second hand finds. Once again if you’re wanting to experience the area at your own pace, then a car rental is a necessity. Alternatively, one can catch the old train from the Cape Town Station. This train runs on what is known as The Southern Line and certainly does provide for an adventure of a different kind.
3) Cape Town Markets
The many Indoor Arts and Crafts Markets provide an inspired outing. Scattered all across Cape Town with new markets popping up on a regular basis, these markets have become the platform for a great meet up and venue for social gatherings. The local talent that is displayed amongst the marketers is really quite extraordinary and you’ll find that once an individual has visited a particular market, they can with certainty be seen to visit over and over again. For the most part the markets are open all day during the week and then on Fridays and Saturdays they open in the evenings. These evenings are a hustle and bustle of live musicians, food tastings, wine tastings and various other offerings of talented individuals showing off their wares. Not to be missed.
The list of activities and adventures for a Cape winter vacation are limitless and I will be sure to post content of a similar nature in the future. In the meanwhile, however, this short guide is more than enough to cover a traveler’s first few days in Cape Town.