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Weather and Climate in South Africa

Traditionally each season is regarded as being three months long. Summer should fall between December and February; autumn is from March to May; winter is from June to August and spring is from September to November. Based on the weather, however, South Africa doesn’t actually experience four distinct three-month-long seasons.

Seasons in South Africa, based on the actual weather, look more like this:

  • Spring: September - October
  • Summer: November - March
  • Autumn: April - May
  • Winter: June - August

South Africa is famous for its sunshine. The climate in South Africa is sub-tropical and generally warm, with temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.

South Africa has an average annual rainfall of about 464mm. The Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, while the rest of the country is generally a summer rainfall region.

Summer weather and climate in South Africa

South Africa’s seasons are opposite to those experienced in Europe and North America, so South Africans spend Christmas on the beach. Summer starts in November and can last until March, spilling over into the spring and autumn months. The sun shines for roughly 10.5 hours a day during these summer months.

The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, experiences sunny summers, while Johannesburg experiences summer rainfall.

Summer in Cape Town is pretty close to perfection, and its beautiful warm and dry weather attracts loads of tourists. December is South Africa’s peak holiday season, when people from all over the world flock to Cape Town. Airfares, prices of accommodation and car rental are usually higher during this holiday season.

The humidity is low in Cape Town, and the temperature on summer days can range from 20 to 30 degrees. The warmest months in Cape Town are January and February, with an average temperature of roughly 25 to 30 degrees. Temperatures seldom go over 30 degrees, but can on occasion reach 36 degrees.

Cape Town is known for its heavy south-eastern winds that sweep in during December and January. The south-eastern wind is locally known as the ‘Cape Doctor’ for its ability to clear all pollution in the city, presenting amazing clear skies and views. The Cape Doctor’s cool breeze is a saving grace on those boiling hot days. The Cape Doctor can arrive suddenly and linger for a day, but this is great news for windsurfers and kite surfers. Blouberg beach has the most consistent wind conditions in the world, and is the perfect location for windsurfers and kite surfers during the summer months.

Cape Town has some of the most stunning beaches, which are usually packed during the summer months. To avoid the Cape Doctor, the best beaches to visit are the sheltered Clifton beaches 1, 2 and 3. Here you will be protected from the south-easter, while catching a tan in the African sun. When the wind isn’t howling there are many other great popular beaches to visit, such as Camps Bay, Llandudno, Kommetjie, Noordhoek or Muizenberg.

Muizenberg, Llandudno and Noordhoek beaches are also popular surfing spots as they have prime surfing conditions during Cape Town’s summer months.

While the Western Cape experiences winter rainfall, Johannesburg has summer rainfall, often in the form of amazing lightning and thunderstorms. These can last for 20 minutes or go on intermittently for days, but they are usually followed by warm sunshine.

Although Johannesburg experiences summer rainfall, it also has days that are warm and sunny with an average temperature of 25 degrees. The combination of warm weather and summer rains creates beautiful, thick, green vegetation. With the birdlife active, and it being calving season for many antelope species, these summer months are a great time to see the lush African bush at its finest. The air is fresh, and the sunsets during the summer season are a gorgeous array of reds, pinks and oranges.

Autum and spring weather and climate in South Africa

Summer tends to roll into autumn and spring, making these seasons rather short; they only really last for two months each, whilst summer goes on for 5 months.

Spring is evident during the months of September and October.
Spring is a great time to visit Cape Town as it isn’t as busy as it is in summer, but the weather is still pleasantly warm. Temperatures during spring average from 17 to 20 degrees, with some days reaching the mid-twenties.

Spring is flower season in Cape Town! The colourful display along the coast is a must-see major spring attraction when visiting Cape Town. Cape Town hosts many famous spring flower festivals, showing off the natural beauty and diversity of the magnificent wild flowers and plants.

The mild sun, low winds and beautiful blooming flowers make spring the ideal season for hiking, outdoor activities, and viewing scenery.

The Southern Right whales hang around the coast of Hermanus during spring, making it an ideal time for whale watching.

Autumn falls between April and May. Autumn is a great time to visit the Western Cape as the wind drops and the weather is warm and sunny, with an average temperature of between 18 and 20 degrees.

Autumn is also a good time for cycling and hiking because of the pleasant mild weather and the striking scenery in shades of red, yellow, orange and brown. During autumn the Cape Winelands transform into fields of gold and scarlet. This ‘off-season’ is a fantastic quiet time to visit the stunning Constantia valley and Stellenbosch area.

Winter weather and climate in South Africa

South Africa experiences winter from June to August. Because of South Africa’s height above sea level, its temperatures are cooler than other countries of the same latitude.

Winter in Cape Town is mild, with day temperatures averaging 18 degrees, and night temperatures as cold as 7 degrees. Cape Town experiences a wet winter with many cloudy days and rainy weather. There are also many sunny days in between, so make sure you pack for every season. Temperatures sometimes reach above 20 degrees during winter.

Cape Town receives rainfall of approximately 82mm in August and 105 mm in June. The north-westerly winds do not blow every day of winter, but when they do blow, they can be very strong and bring in major stormy weather. These stormy days can last for a 2-3–day period, but they are typically followed by crisp blue skies.

If you do experience the cold front while in Cape Town, don’t worry. There are still loads of fun things to do, and many restaurants and cafes offer great food specials.

Johannesburg experiences winter as dry and sunny, with cool days and very cold nights. During winter this area changes into shades of yellow and brown. The temperatures range between 0 - 12 degrees at night.

Winter is a great times to view game on safari as the days are mild but not unbearable; visibility is better because of the loss of leaves; and water is scarce in the reserves so animals flock to waterholes.

South Africa is a fantastic place to live all year round. Contact us if you would like to find out more about relocating to and living in South Africa.