Travelling in South Africa - Getting There & Getting Around

South Africa is a safe place to travel, even as a woman alone. Common sense is all you need really to get by without problems. Below is a collection of useful information to help you get off on the right foot. We are always happy to discuss these matters in more detail with you by telephone or email. We have many years of experience and have lived in the country for over a decade and will be able to help you with any questions you may have.

Getting There & Getting Around

South Africa’s three major international airports are Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), Cape Town International Airport (CPT) and King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban. 

From London, three airlines combine to offer around 50 direct flights per week.  Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and South African Airways all have services to Johannesburg (11½ hours), while Virgin and BA also fly to Cape Town (12 hours).  Note that it’s often much cheaper, if more hassle, to take two flights using the likes of Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines or even easyJet. 

There are also many regional airports - some state-run like Port Elizabeth (PLZ), others such as Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MKP) privately owned.  Seven major domestic airlines operate in the country.  The main ones are South African Airways, South African Express, Airlink and Comair (BA’s codeshare), with kulula and Mango more low-cost.

South Africa has excellent road infrastructure.  The speed limits are 120kph (about 75mph) on national highways, 100kph (62mph) on secondary roads and 60kph (38mph) in urban areas.  Most roads are in good condition, with only a few exceptions.  See our car hire section for more on renting vehicles.

Prefer to take the train?  There are rail connections between all the main cities.  The best bet are the long-distance Shosholoza Meyl trains linking Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth.  They're safe, comfortable and thrillingly affordable.  The Cape Town to Johannesburg train takes in the same scenery as the famous (and famously expensive) Blue Train, but costs barely over £30 including a bed in a two-berth sleeper. 

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