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How to Get to Johannesburg

How to Get to Johannesburg by Air

The Johannesburg International Airport was called Jan Smuts till recently, and lies about 20 km east of the city.

From the airport, if you are looking to go to the city centre the Impala bus service will take you directly to Rotunda, the intercity bus and train terminal on the corner of Rissik and Wolmarans streets, in Braamfontein. The CBD area, popular with business visitors for accommodation, is close by. If your accommodation is in the northern suburbs (like Parkview, Rosebank or Melville), then your best bet is the Sandton Shuttle from the airport. Taxis from the airport to anywhere are a safe, although expensive bet – be prepared to shell out at least R80 for most destinations. Make sure you take an authorized, metered airport taxi, and specify the destination clearly before starting. Alternatively you could book a car at the baggage claim area to meet you at the airport.

When travelling to the airport out of the city, take the M2 route, and then get on to the N12 highway. It usually takes about 35 minutes to reach the airport from Johannesburg city centre.

How to Get to Johannesburg by Rail

Intercity trains terminate at the central bus and train station, Rotunda in central Braamfontein, on the corner of Rissik and Wolmarans Streets. From here, take a taxi to your destination and avoid waiting for long at the station itself due to the risk of theft.

How to Get to Johannesburg by Bus

South African roads are generally in excellent condition, and are usually not heavily crowded, except in downtown areas. Most international car rental companies are represented well in South Africa and hiring a car is possible here. A number of companies that offer car rentals are African Leisure Travel (475 8135), Avis luxury car hire (086 160 0414), Easy car rentals (083 226 6882) and Wozani car rental (086 660 6962). There are many more companies in Johannesburg from where you can hire a cab to move in and around the city. The major drawbacks are high petrol prices and the possibility of car theft and hijacking. Make sure your car doors are securely locked. It is also necessary to acquaint yourself with safety precautions around parking lots.

There are several good inter-city bus services, and the congregation point is the Rotunda bus station on the corner of Rissik and Wolmarans Streets in central Braamfontein. From here, the best option is to take a taxi to your destination. Avoid waiting for long hours at the bus stop with all your luggage and valuables around you.

Getting Around Johannesburg

Using the road is probably the best option for getting around, since local transport is notoriously unreliable and slow. You can either take your own car, rent or even buy a car in Johannesburg. Car rental companies abound in Jo’burg, both the international companies and cheaper local ones.

If you are looking to buy a car for the length of your stay, scout around in magazines like Junk Mail and newspapers like the Star, which have a motoring supplement. There is a Sunday Car Market in Simmonds Southway, Park central, that is also good. The driving inside Jo’burg can be difficult, with aggressive drivers, but the grid system of the city makes orientation easier. The M1 connects the centre to the suburbs, all the way from Soweto in the southwest, to the northern suburbs and even Pretoria in the north.

Private taxis are also a good option – these cannot be flagged down; they have to be ordered by telephoning.

Minibus taxis are even cheaper than buses, and more flexible, but they have a very poor safety record.To board a minibus taxi, one will need o first get to the appropriate taxi rank as they cannot be called for. The Noord Street taxi rank is by far the largest and busiest rank in the middle of the city.

Jo’burg buses leave a lot to be desired, with infrequent services and overcrowding, and almost no service on weekends or after commuting hours. But if you persevere, you should be able to make the best of them. Metrobus is the metropolitan bus service of Johannesburg transporting thousands of passengers daily from one part of the city to another. Travelling by Metrobus is affordable and also the quickest way of getting around. Gandhi Square located in the Central Business District of Johannesburg is the main bus terminal.

The city’s main station is the Park Station. Passengers can choose between the Metro class and the more expensive Metro plus. On a Johannesburg – Naledi route, Metro class would cost R 79 while the same ticket on the Metro plus will cost you R180. You can therefore choose between the two classes.

There are several informative and entertaining tours that are a great way to see the city, since they sidestep all the hassles of crime and problematic public transport. These cover the famous mining history of the city, the posh northern suburb mansions and their history, a fabulous ballooning tour that includes champagne and breakfast and many that take you to surrounding areas like Pretoria, Sun City and Gold Reef city.


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