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Posted on: Friday, 6 September 2013
What to wear in South Africa

What to Wear in the Western Cape – The Ultimate Packing List

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The Western Cape is a particularly beautiful province of South Africa and certainly one of its most popular tourist attractions. To ensure that you get the most out of your time in the Western Cape, which has Cape Town as its capital city, it is wise to be prepared and to pack properly.

This province enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Due to its large proportion of coastline, the cool wind that comes off the Atlantic Ocean means that the coastal areas (such as Cape Town and the entire West Coast area) enjoy a lower average temperature than the inland areas, which do not benefit from the chilled breezes. The coastal summer days average noontime highs of about 28 to 32 degrees Celsius and night-time lows of around 15 to 18 degrees. The inland areas can expect temperatures of about three to five degrees higher, on average. In winter, the coastal temperatures are usually between seven degrees in the morning and 18 degrees at midday. In areas that are not along the coast, the nights tend to get two to three degrees chillier, but the days warm up to about 22 degrees. High lying regions and the tops of the mountain frequently experience at least one snowfall during the winter months (June to August).

March and April are certainly the most temperate months in which to visit, as the very hot days of summer have cooled, but are still warm and sunny.

Cape Town is known for the Cape Doctor, an extremely strong wind that, although seldom, is known to blow pedestrians off their feet. This is a south-easterly wind that may make its appearance between August and April. While not harmful or cold, it can be disruptive. It is never wise to hike or explore the beaches and mountains during this time.


Western Cape packing list

What to Pack:
Summer (December to March):

Summers are hot and sunny. Light, cotton items that allow plenty of air and breathing are generally the most comfortable. Remember to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

  • Shorts, skirts and summer dresses (1)
  • Long trousers and long-sleeved shirts in a light fabric to cover the skin in the sun (4)
  • T-shirts (6)
  • Swimwear (2)
  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring the wine farms and mountainous areas (5)
  • A broad-brimmed hat (7)
  • A high-factor sunscreen
  • Sunglasses that are effective for protecting the eyes against harmful UVA and UVB rays

Winter (June to August):

Winters are cool to cold, although the sun does make its appearance fairly often during these months.

  • Jeans and similar heavy trousers
  • Long-sleeved t-shirts
  • Knitted or fleece tops for warmth
  • A warm hat and scarf
  • A windbreaker and a raincoat
  • Comfortable, warm boots
  • Comfortable, waterproof walking shoes
  • An umbrella

Spring and Autumn:

These months are, generally, temperate and pleasant. It is best to pack items that can be layered so that you are able to strip off as the day warms up and put back on towards evening.

  • A pashmina or similar wrap that can be thrown over the shoulders
  • Jeans
  • Cooler trousers, skirts and dresses
  • Sunscreen
  • Comfy shoes for walking or hiking


The Western Cape towns (such as Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Camps Bay, etc.) have plenty of fabulous restaurants, theatres and shows. It is advisable for ladies to bring along a LBD (Little Black Dress) or your own equivalent, and for gents to have a jacket and tie handy for these events. Most restaurants, however, are fairly casual, making jeans, summer dresses, and so on, perfectly acceptable.

Planning your trip to the Western Cape

We’ve selected a few pages that might be useful for planning your holiday to the Western Cape.

Amelia Meyer


Amelia is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for all things travel-related. She is based in Knysna, but has studied, lived and travelled further afield. She studied Film, Media and Literature at the University of Cape Town. She began her solo career in the form of Voxate Writing & Editing in 2008 and loves every minute of it. Amelia believes in silver linings, lessons learnt and the responsibility to do what’s right. When she is not writing, she can frequently be found at the local animal shelter, on the bicycle trails of the nature reserves or sampling new restaurants with her family.