The awe-inspiring Table Mountain, one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature, estimated to be 240 million years old the rocks even 600 million years.
Table Mountain is truly magnificent and it’s a must to get to the top when in Cape Town, South Africa. The iconic landmark offers stunning views of Cape Town and its surroundings. For a spectacular view of Table Mountain hike to the top of Lion’s Head. Table Mountain can be visited year-round. However, we are happy to provide you with the best daytime, tips, and details about the best months. [This guide was updated in March 2020 after our fifth visit]
When to Go
The best time to visit Table Mountain is from October to March. Those are the driest months, as most rain falls between May and September. The perfect time of day to go up is in the morning before it gets busy and too hot. Either take the first cable car (8:00 am / 8:30) or start hiking early. I also love the evening for a stunning sunset from the top.
Read more details below about the cable car operating times, time of day tips, getting to the top, weather, and why we would visit in the winter months as well.
Opening Times - Cable Car Operating Hours
Table Mountain is 'open' and accessible 24 hours each day throughout the year. However, don't hike in darkness - safety first! But you can spend a night on top of the plateau of table mountain. More about it in the description below. The aerial cableway starts to operate after sunrise but always until sunset. Either take the cable car up and down or what we prefer; hike up, watch the sunset and take the last ride down. Below are the operating hours but keep in mind that during poor weather, especially strong wind the cable car won't operate. If you aren't sure about the weather conditions on a certain day and if the cableway is running call the hotline: 021 424 8181
Cable Car Operating Hours 2019/2020
|First Cable Car up||Last Cable Car up||Last Cable Car down|
|16 Dec - 15 Jan||8:00||20:30||21:30|
|16 Jan - 31 Jan||8:00||19:30||20:30|
|1 Feb - 31 Mar||8:00||19:00||20:00|
|1 Apr - 30 Apr||8:00||18:30||19:30|
|1 May - 31 Aug||8:30||17:00||18:00|
Detailed Time of Day Tips
- If you plan to hike to the summit via Platteklip Gorge, start early in the morning. That way you'll avoid busy areas and dodge the heat as well in the summer months.
- If you use the cable car to get to the top, also be there early. Arrive as soon as they start operating in the morning. That way, you'll avoid long waiting lines of 1.5 hours during midday. For operating times, fee for the cable car, and buy ticket online; click the official link (then scroll down): Cableway - Rates - Hours
Getting to the Top | Hiking Trails and Cable Car
- Cable Car (Cable Way): You can get up and down via cableway. Please keep in mind, that it doesn't operate when the weather is bad, the visibility poor, or the wind is too strong. Find rates and operating times here: Cable Car Table Mountain - Official Site. Getting to the cable car itself is not difficult: Cableway - Getting There | Official Site. The easiest way is to book the combo tour (see the tours section below).
- Hiking: An even better experience is hiking. There are many different routes to get to the plateau of Table Mountain. However, most visitors choose to hike up and then take the cable car down or vise versa. If you plan to hike up and take the gondola down check the wind forecast first. You can find a detailed description of our 5 favourite hiking trails around the Table below. There are two alternative routes for hiking if the cable car is closed; Platteklip Gorge and India Venster. Both hiking trails are spectacular taking 1.5 up to 2 hours. The first one is more challenging and well maintained, the second one more strenuous and not marked. The best choice hike one way up and the other down. Never hike alone due to safety reasons!! During quieter times security is lacking.
Weather and Seasons in Cape Town
November feels already like summer reaching 25°C. January and February are the hottest months with almost 30°C. March is still warm and dry. Nights are refreshing cool ranging between 15°C to 17°C. The summertime is the driest time of the year with 9-11 sunshine hours daily. The sea is refreshing at 20°C from January to March. During summer, the southeaster, often called "Cape Doctor" by the locals, can blow for days on end. Always bring a suitable jacket or layer of clothes. However, showers occur even during this season. The Table is also famous for endemic flowers and plants like the pride of Table Mountain. The "disa uniflora" is an orchid that blooms from January to March at waterfalls and streams of the plateau and the Twelve Apostles. December to February is the busiest season; prices for accommodation are the highest, especially during the Christmas Holidays. Advanced booking is recommended.
Decreasing rainfall in April but still warm during the day around 25°C. May though a little cooler but pleasant above 20°C. Nights are colder, on average 15°C and below. May experiences already rain on nine days on average. Therefore, it’s less busy in Cape Town; more accommodations are available.
You won't experience any extremes, which results in a mild winter. That means winter isn't a bad time to visit Cape Town! But keep in mind that it's colder at the top of the Table and windier. Day temps are still around 20°C and nights, on average above 10°C. Most rainfall (almost 80%) throughout the year happens from May until September though June to August are the wettest; expect precipitation on average on ten days. A little snow can occur on the Table but already melts away during the day. Usually, winter is the low season, but during the summer holidays in Europe, it’s a little busier. Plenty of accommodations are available, and some are closed for maintenance.
Rainfall decreases in September, temps are pleasant above 20°C; for me, the best time of the year. Roughly mid-August starts the flowering season along the coast and in the desert. Southern Right Whales are here with its peak from July to October. October is already warm, and rain is still decreasing. It’s not too crowded in Cape Town, hikes around Table, and the cable car are still not super busy.
Accommodations (Hotels, Lodges, B&Bs) - Our Top Tip
There are tons of lodges, cottages, private houses, B&Bs, and hotels in Cape Town. It's rare that Cape Town is fully booked. However, we always book these accommodations in advance. First, rates are lower and we only choose the safe and better rated self-catering cottages or B&Bs. Usually, 80% of the accommodations are already booked a couple of weeks before during the peak season. Check out booking.com for the best rates and read the recommendations first. Bookmark the link for the lowest prices. If you click on the picture above you get to our last accommodation close to Cape Town in Hout Bay on Mount Bay in summer 2020. The view was fantastic, the sunrise spectacular, and even a gas BBQ was available.