Packing for Summer in Cape Town

Summer is the most popular time to visit Cape Town and thousands of tourists flock here during the summer months. It’s no wonder why too; the days are longer and warmer and we see a lot more sunshine. So, obviously, the first things that most people think of packing are their swimsuits and summer dresses.

These are obvious choices, but with the warmer weather and more (and more intense) sunshine, comes the risk of heat stroke and sunburn and severe dehydration. This is especially true if you are planning on spending a whole day on the beach or in the mountains.

Summer is the best time of year to visit Cape Town, especially if you love beaches. Make sure you don't forget to pack these essentials for your perfect summer holiday in Cape Town...

Even though Summer can get insanely hot here, the weather can get very very erratic. You never know what to expect from Cape Town’s weather from one day to the next and it can change dramatically without any notice. It’s also not uncommon to get a perfect Winter’s day in the middle of Summer, and last year we even saw snow on the mountains well into Spring (this almost never happens). The wind also picks up during this time of year so you won’t be able to spend all your time in breezy summer dresses (or you’ll be spending most of your time holding it down from the gusts of wind)

This means that if you are going to be visiting Cape Town you will need to be prepared for any and all seasons, no matter what time of year you will be going.

This makes packing for Cape Town really tricky and if you’re not prepared for this it can easily ruin your trip.

Obviously you won’t be taking your down jacket with you in Summer, but a light jersey and a raincoat for just in case are not out of the question.

Packing can be a tricky matter as it is with weight restrictions, so obviously you won’t be able to bring every item you own even though you may want to.

I’ve sifted through my wardrobe and found there there are a few items that are absolute must haves during Summer. I simply cannot cope without these within easy reach during Summer here in Cape Town.

Here are the basics that I keep in my cupboard for the Summer months in Cape Town. If you add these to your packing list you should be prepared for any kind of weather tantrum Cape Town throws at you.

Here are the must have items for Cape Town in Summer.

Summer packing list

BPA free water bottles

essentials for summer

Summer can get very hot and very dry, and dehydration is a real threat especially if you are going to be out in the sun all day. You will need to make sure you stay hydrated at all times. Even though this isn’t an item of clothing I find that this is an essential item to carry with you everywhere. Consider packing a couple of these so you always have one on hand.

I like using BPA free water bottles because they are more rugged, and better for you than regular plastic water bottles which can leak toxins into the water. They are also lighter than glass bottles so you can carry them around easily.

Sunscreen in any form

The sun gets very very intense here in Cape Town and sunburn is no fun at all. You will really want to be able to enjoy a pain free holiday, so sunscreen is an absolute essential.

I prefer using an SPF 50 sunscreen only because I haven’t found anything any higher. The spray on kind works well, but if you don’t like getting sunscreen on your hands then you could also try the stick version. Both work well.

Try to keep these with you at all times too. You will need to reapply sunscreen as the day goes on.

A hat

Again, sunburn is a holiday fun-killer, especially if you get burned on your face.

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the beach then you should try to block out as much UV as possible. A hat will be a lifesaver if you have sensitive skin and eyes. Make sure you pack a versatile hat that’s easy to carry around.

I like those big floppy kinds because they protect my neck too, not just my face.

Polarised sunglasses

Because of the buildings, the beach sand and the reflection from the ocean, Cape Town can get very bright on sunny days. During my first year in Cape Town I kept getting horrible migraines and I just couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until I bought some polarised sunglasses that i figured that this was the problem.

I did notice that normal tinted or UV protecting sun glasses didn’t work as well as polarised ones, so it’s worth investing in a good pair of glasses and carry them with you at all times.

A light backpack

This is so handy for carrying all your little items like sunscreen, sunglasses and your hat, that it is an absolute must to pack for any trip. I like the little ones that fold into a tiny parcel because they can easily fit into your luggage when you are not using them, but when you need them for the day they make perfect little day trip bags. I call these my day trip travel bags and if you want to know more about what I keep in these bags you can check out my article on them.

A tote bag will also work well, but if you have to carry stuff for other people, as well as your water too then it can get too heavy for your shoulders.

A light jacket or shawl

Even though the Summer days can get so hot and dry that you may feel like you are in a desert, the temperature can still drop suddenly in the evenings.

There are also those freak days when the weather suddenly changes dramatically and you feel like it’s the middle of Winter in Summer.

When packing make sure you take some warm clothes with you for these kind of days so that you can still carry on with your holiday as normal.

Warm clothes

bright cold day

The weather in Cape Town is incredibly erratic. One day can be swelteringly hot, and the next can be cold and rainy.

The trick to making to most out of your trip, no matter the weather, is to come prepared for anything.

When you are packing for your trip to Cape Town make sure that you pack a good pair of jeans and a few jerseys and you should be fine for a cold Summer’s day.

If you really want to play it safe bring along a raincoat or an umbrella. You won’t regret it.

These are the top essential items that I have in my cupboard during the Summer months. Of course I add some summer dresses and summer clothes, but these items in particular keep me adaptable and help me cope with the weather here during Summer.

I find that if I have these on hand I can easily handle anything that Cape Town’s erratic weather throws my way.

The trick to coping with the weather here is to be adaptable. And the easiest way to stay adaptable for any weather situation is to pack items that can be used in multiple ways for any weather situation. If you have items that you find come in handy all year round then make sure you pack these too.

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