Cape Town is the second most populous city in South Africa. The capital of Western Cape Province, it is also the legislative capital of the nation. Cape Town is on South Africa’s southwestern coast close to the Cape of Good Hope, and is the southernmost city on the African continent. It is the gateway to the globally renowned Cape Winelands which includes the towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl.
Cape Town is nicknamed the Mother City within South Africa. Compared to the more business oriented Johannesburg it is known for its relaxed and leisurely atmosphere. Some jokingly claim that the reason it is called the Mother City is that it takes at least 9 months to get anything done in Cape Town! Compared to other parts of South Africa Cape Town is also distinctly more “western”, and South Africans from other provinces sometimes jokingly say they are traveling to Europe when visiting Cape Town.
The metropolis of Cape Town is spread over a wide area, from Somerset West and Durbanville in the east to Atlantis in the north and Cape Point in the south. The city centre is situated in a fairly small area between Table Bay and Table Mountain.
The original Dutch settlement, and the heart of the current city, is southwest of Strand St, “Beach street” in Afrikaans, since it followed the original waterfront during the 17th. Since then, centuries of landfills have successively moved the beach some 1,200 m (3,900 ft) northeast to its current position. The old city centre is intersected by avenues like Long St, St Georges Mall and Adderley St, and is approximately bounded by the Company Gardens in the southwest, the Castle of Good Hope in the east, and the slopes of Signal Hill in the northwest. During the 19th century, these slopes were settled by Cape Town’s Muslim population, creating the area Bo-Kaap, which translates into “Above the Cape”.
- The months of summer are from December to February. The days are mostly hot but low in humidity, so you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Stay indoors or at least in the shade during the midday heat and use adequate sunblock. International tourists jostle for space on the beach with the domestic beach-goers around the holiday period. However, it is still an exciting and eventful time to be in Cape Town.
- The months of winter from June to August are rather wet. It does not rain every single day though it can sometimes rain for two weeks straight. It can also get very chilly at night, with the mercury dropping to as low as 2–3 °C (36–37 °F) (this temperature is comparable to the sea so it should not get any colder unless you head inland) but 5–7 °C (41–45 °F) is more typical. It warms during the day, with typical temperatures between 9–15 °C (48–59 °F). The winters tend to be overcast with not as much sunshine.
- The ideal times to see the city are:
- October and November: Winter is over and the temperature is warming up. Spring has arrived, but it is not yet as warm as the middle of summer. This period is often windy too. The Southeaster is also called the Cape Doctor because a significant chunk of pollution gets blown away.
- December to February: These are the prime summer months with long, sunny and hot days. The sun sets late in the evening (staying bright up til 20:30 in December) with a lot usually happening. February is the most reliable month for weather, with day after day of warmth and sunshine.
- March to May: While this varies every year, it generally starts raining during the autumn period and the temperature starts to become cooler. The number of tourists around the city drops, giving you an opportunity to get great deals on travel services, including accommodation, activities and food.