Although a number of airlines now fly to South Africa, the distances involved mean that the fares are normally quite pricey. Johannesburg International Airport the main international airport, although Durban and specifically Cape Town are both seeing an increasing number of flights. Due to its size, getting around the country is something you should put some thought into. Hiring a car is a popular option, although driving in cities or on highways can be intimidating. Another option is bus or train transport. For those wishing to cover vast distances in short amounts of time, there are a number of airlines offering domestic routes for competitive fares.
Be sure to research all your options, to make sure you get to see all you want to see in your time in South Africa!
Below are listed some transport providers servicing South Africa; as well as a breakdown of how best to get to South Africa, and also how to get around once you're there. You will find our South Africa Country Guide and the South Africa Tours page to be quite useful when planning your trip.For more specific destination transportation information, check out our destination sites.
South Africa Transportation Guide
As mentioned previously, Johannesburg International Airport is the major airport in South Africa, and as such it is the hub for 45 different airlines from all five continents. Flights from Europe are generally overnight. The direct flights between the east coast of the USA and Johannesburg or Cape Town are normally about 15 hours, and flights between London and Johannesburg take about 12 hours.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world, including Cape Town.
Visit our partner Air Valid for Airline Reviews and Information about South Africa.
If you are intending on drivings whilst in South Africa, you are required by law to obtain an international driver's permit. You will not be able to rent a car without a valid driver's permit, and anyone found driving without a permit will be fined and not permitted to continue driving. Wearing seatbelts is compulsory and strictly enforced.
Distances in South Africa can be quite large, and those not comfortable with driving long distances may feel more comfortable taking a bus, rather than renting a car. Companies such as Translux, Greyhound and Intercape all offer a variety of routes, which cover much of the country. Bus tickets can be booked at Computicket.
The national rail network of South Africa is known as Spoornet. Whilst not particularly fast or luxurious, it is relatively clean, safe and comfortable, and is quite a relaxed way of travelling. However, South Africa does not have a massively developed rail system, and as such it is usually only useful for travel between major cities.
If you are planning on covering big distances in a short amount of time, you may wish to book a domestic flight. There are a number of airlines flying between the major cities in South Africa, with some of its smaller ones also on certain routes. The fares range from first-class to heavily discounted economy, and tickets can be booked online from anywhere in the world.
There are seven major domestic airlines operating in the country, as well as a number of smaller charter airline companies. South African Airways, South African Airlink and South African Express fly between all the major cities, as well as to some of the smaller ones. Meanwhile, Kulula.com and 1time offer cheap flights on the more popular routes, between Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit and George. Nationwide and British Airways, which is operated by Comair both also operate flights between the major centres.
All flight operators offer online booking services, with payment by credit card.
You need to be at the airport at least an hour before departure for domestic flights.