What to pack
Climate and lifestyle
In South Africa, lifestyle follows climate, and with Cape Town’s beautiful landscapes you are likely to find yourself spending a lot of time outdoors, from soaking up the sun on upper campus or our world class beaches, to climbing mountain peaks above the city or dancing in a forest at an outdoor music festival.
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and wet winters. Summers get very hot. Temperatures vary between 15°C and 43°C (59°F and 110°F) so be sure not to leave the house without a protective layer of sunscreen, a hat and a water bottle. Never underestimate the strength of the African sun. Winter is rainfall season and temperatures drop to between 3°C and 15°C (38°F and 59°F).
If you are coming in winter be sure to pack a good raincoat (umbrellas can be rendered useless by the fierce Cape winds). While Cape Town winters are not as severe as those in the US or Europe, most buildings don’t have central heating. Bring clothing that can be layered for the cold – both indoors and out.
Come rain or shine, the Mother City is famous for its four seasons in a day, so always take a jumper when you head outdoors, or be ready to remove a layer when the sun comes out.
Keep in mind that Cape Town is in the southern hemisphere. December and January are the height of the summer months, while our coldest months tend to be July and August.
If you take a prescription drug on a regular basis, bring the prescription and the original drug packaging with you (the same drug may have a different brand in South Africa).
Power and plugs
US-made appliances may need a voltage converter.
Check with your service provider whether your phone will work in South Africa and what the charges are for international roaming. We recommend you buy a South African sim card for easy access to the local mobile phone providers, including toll-free numbers. Sim cards are available at the airport or local retail outlets including supermarkets.