Spending two weeks in South Africa was a dream come true. But figuring out what to wear in Cape Town was no easy task.
Cape Town has such a wide assortment of activities. From beaches and swimming to city sightseeing, hiking through mountains, and the safari.
Knowing that I was about to try all these activities and more… and try to keep my luggage at a reasonable weight… was going to take some planning.
Fortunately for you, I’ve compiled a list of what I recommend you wear on your trip to Cape Town, and what you should leave at home.
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Packing Light On Your Trip To Cape Town
The easiest way to pack light on your trip to Cape Town is to keep everything within the same color palette. That way you can also mix and match your wardrobe and wear pieces more than one time.
I wore this white button down several times throughout my time in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s lightweight and packs easy. It works as a cover up when it gets a little chilly out, and looks cute dresses up for dinner or dressed down for a casual day around town.
Some of the colors I chose to go with are; black, white, tan, green, and other earth tones. But let me break it down for you by activity.
What to Wear Site Seeing Around Cape Town
Cape Town has so much to do and see, you could spend several days literally in Cape Town itself and still not see or do everything you want.
You’ll most likely be out all day long exploring this city and like most major cities, expect to do a lot of walking. Safety is also a concern in Cape Town. While mostly safe for tourists, there is still a lot of petty theft and you will want to be aware of this.
Cross Body Bag – I recommend not bringing expensive or flashy purses to Cape Town. I loved this cross-body bag from Amazon. It was stylish, fit my color scheme, was super roomy inside, and fit snuggly across my chest for safety reasons.
Comfortable Sandals – Yes, you could wear a nice pair of gym shoes. But do you want to? Being comfortable doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish too. I LOVE these sandals from Steve Madden. They are super comfy to walk all day in. And they go great with everything. I pair them with casual clothes, nicer dresses, and even jeans, which helps me pack light for long trips!
Lightweight Outerwear – Cape Town can go from warm and sunny to freezing wind… all in the same day. The best way to be prepared is with layers. I loved my lightweight denim Jacket. It was perfect to throw over jeans and a tee or even a casual dress for dinner. Dress it up with a cute lightweight scarf for dinner too!
Lightweight Clothing – Comfort is key but dont get me wrong, I want to be stylish too. A couple of key pieces of my wardrobe include; this long casual sleeveless jumpsuit (great for dressing down with a white tee and sneakers or dressing up with nice sandals and a cute jacket).
I also love this simple black tee-shirt dress. I wear it everywhere! It’s comfy and can be styled in so many different ways. Not to mention, it is easy to pack because it takes up barely any room in my suitcase.
What To Wear For Water Activities in South Africa
If you are traveling to Cape Town, you’ll most likely do some kind of water activity. Cape Town is located on the southern coast of South Africa and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water.
While in South Africa, I swam with penguins at Boulder Beach, kayaking, shark cage diving, paddleboarding, and snorkeling with seals. Not to mention just having a regular beach day!
Here are some outfit essentials I recommend you bring to South Africa for all the water activities!
Swimwear – I recommend you bring both a bikini (or something you’d want to wear to the beach. But also a sporty type of swimsuit that you can be very active in. I practically lived in my sporty swimsuit while in Cape Town.
Board Shorts – Board shorts are perfect for throwing on over your bathing suit so you can go inside establishments or just walk around in. I used these board shorts constantly, even while driving to destinations or just having something to throw on over my swimsuit.
Rash Guard – Just like the board shorts, it’s a good idea to bring a long-sleeved rash guard on your trip to South Africa. It not only can be used as a cover-up if you need to go inside a store, but the long sleeves keep you warm on some of the chilly mornings by the ocean.
Water/hiking shoes – I ALWAYS travel with a good pair of water hiking shoes. Something that can get wet and go swimming with me, but also be good for walking around in. Then you can go straight from an Uber, to the rocks, to the water.
Cover Ups – Once I Left my hotel in the morning I did NOT want to go back and change. So I would just throw on whatever I needed or bring it in a backpack with me. It makes it so much easier to just layer your outfit over a bathing suit and have a comfortable cover-up you can throw on at any time.
Hiking Accessories For South Africa
South Africa is also home to some of the most beautiful mountains. And what comes with mountains? HIKING!
But with everything else, you need to pack for South Africa, less is more. So here are a few easy examples of what to wear In Cape Town if you want to go hiking.
Lightweight Hiking Shoes – If you want to do a good hike like Lion Head, or just a moderate hike, you’ll still want a good pair of hiking shoes. But lightweight is always ideal when it comes to packing! I love these lightweight hiking shoes because they are easy to pack, super comfortable, and great for hiking.
Hiking Outfit – While there are so many hiking outfits you can wear, I love packing a pair of leggings and a matching sports bra with a top over it. Leggings are just so easy to pack and barely take up any space.
Backpack – Any time I travel, I love bringing this backpack with me. It’s spacious enough to use as a good carry-on, but durable enough to use for hiking excursions. Each day in Cape Town, I would leave my hotel and go do about 3-4 different activities. Having a good backpack to take with me was essential for outfit changes, different hoes, and even my water bottle and snacks. (OK, and maybe a souvenir or two).
What To Wear In Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa is a place of beauty, adventure, wildlife, shops, and dining. There is so much to do and see and everything requires a different kind of wardrobe!
Don’t forget to check out What to Wear on a South African Safari… with details on what to wear and what to bring on your most exciting South African Adventure… which deserved a whole post of its own!
You May Also Be Interested In:
- How To Get Around Cape Town Without a Car
- Traveling to Cape Town! What To Pack For South Africa in 2024
- What To Wear On A South African Safari