Johannesburg Travel Guide

Getting Around

Johannesburg was a city built for the car and so public transport is in the development process. The Gautrain (a speed train not part of the metro system) is a good, clean and safe way to jump fast between the airport, Malboro, Midrand, Rosebank, Pretoria and Centurion. There are buses and minicabs on the streets, but there tends to be no designated stops, so buses may be flagged down on main roads such as Oxford street and Jan Smuts. They can be unsafe, but larger double decker metro bus are easy to use all along Oxford, starting in Ghandi Square, going through Killarney, Rosebank, Illovo, Sandton, Rivonia and Sunninghill (bus no. 5C and 5D). The other bus alternatives, are orange putco buses, coming more regularly than the metro buses and its slightly more expensive. Lastly there are the Gautrain feeder buses connected to the Gautrain, these have quite extensive routes from each station - these can be found easily on the gautrain website or mobi site. The problem is that buses are quite problematic on weekends and public holidays, Gautrain buses do not run, Metro buses have two route runs, and putco buses are at a complete halt. This is when the train would be a good alternative, or rent a car.

You enter where you want (make sure you know where the taxi is going, and generally locals use specific handsignals to ensure the correctly destined taxi stops) and it stops where you want along the fixed route. Generally, it is ill advised to make use of minibus taxi's unless accompanied by locals. Minibus taxi drivers often say whatever they need to secure a fare. Renting a car will give you the best flexibility and opportunity to tour the city, however driving is fast paced, but by no means difficult as long as you stay alert. Heavy traffic into Sandton in the morning (6:30 to 9:00) from all directions leading towards Sandton and in the afternoon all routes leading out of Sandton (15:30 to 18:30) in all directions could delay your journey by up to 2 h, so plan accordingly.

Car rental

Renting a car is your best option if you are a confident driver as the city's public transport is very, very limited. It is worth buying a good road map of Johannesburg, using a GPS (available when you rent a car) and planning your trips carefully before setting out. The city large and somewhat poorly signposted. Make sure to be exceptionally clear with your rental agency what types of things are covered by their insurance plans. The phrase ``Full coverage" doesn't necessarily mean full coverage. Traffic can be aggressive, and minibus taxis in particular often defy the rules of the road.

Like any big city, there are some areas of Johannesburg that you don't want to stray into if you look like a tourist or don't have enough fuel to get out of. Ask advice. If in doubt, stop at a police station and ask them for directions.

From the airport: Stay on the freeway between the airport and Sandton, and don't divert through the townships and Alexandra on London Road. A GPS following the fastest route will usually divert around the townships, but it pays to know where you are going. (If you are coming from the airport and you are afraid of getting this wrong, carry on past Marlboro Drive with the N3 (which becomes the N1) until you reach Rivonia road. Then turn left/south and this will take you straight into Sandton, bypassing any townships.)

Europcar Car HirePhone: (011) 883-4352Car rentals in Johannesburg and Johannesburg Airport.
Pace Car RentalPhone: (011) 262 5500Long-term car rental in Johannesburg and Sandton, Cars, Bakkies and Minibuses.
Rent a WreckPhone: 011-402-5150/1/2Very cheap car rental. The cars are old but are reliable.
By bus

Public transport in Johannesburg is provided by city buses and informal minibus services. Bus (other than the feeder buses attached to the Gautrain system) is not a viable option if you are a foreign tourist/business visitor unfamiliar with South Africa. Large blue city buses run up and down the main roads and mini buses can be flagged down on the side of the street although they are not the best mode of transport as they are unreliable and often associated with crime. These should not be used unless you are very familiar with the way of life in South Africa and the basic geography of Johannesburg.

Rea VayaThis Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is designed offer a safe, secure and affordable public transport system on main routes to and from the city. Rea Vaya has dedicated bus lanes and stops every 500 m. Smaller buses (feeders) and taxis will add value to transport people to and from the main routes.
MetrobusPhone: +27 (0)11 833-5538Buses are available but routes and times are somewhat limited by western standards.
Minibus taxisshould be avoided unless you are with a local: the routes are very confusing, and conductors will often say 'yes' when you ask 'are you going to X?' so that they get your money and then drop you at some crossroads and say 'change here'. Thus if you travel with minibuses it's safer to ask directions from the other passengers, not the driver - people are generally very friendly and will help you out. Minibuses are frequently not roadworthy (although they are in much better condition than in most of the rest of Africa) and involved in fatal accidents. Extreme and sometimes warlike competition has resulted in affordable transportation for the masses.
By Taxi

Foreigners are advised to use use only normal sedan taxis (metered or fixed-price taxes that transport only you and your travel partners) as minibus taxis have a reputation for being rather unsafe. The minibus taxis, however, are very cheap and are the quickest way between two points. It is a great experience but if you are using these, you must understand the risks. Using these relies mostly on a variety of local hand signals but if the locals will gladly help you get onto the right taxi. Metered taxis are not as abundant as many big cities but are available and in most cases, need to be called before hand. This could incur long delays as you wait for the taxi. Unless you are visiting for a very short time, it would be worth your while to rent a car.

In general all the taxi operators collude with one another and fix prices so taxis are not cheap or metered. Haggling is usual so it is best to agree a price when you phone. Do not rely on taxi ranks in shopping malls as often there are none. Always have a few taxi telephone numbers and cash with you so you avoid being stranded anywhere.

Airport LinkPhone: +27 (0)11) 792 2017Fixed price airport transfer service.
EliasPhone: +27 (0)76 834 0670Friendly taxi driver based in the CBD.
MagicbusPhone: +27 (0)11 548-0822Offers shuttle services between OR Tambo Airport and Sandton. They also offer door-to-door transfers. A bit expensive for the single traveller but reasonable when traveling in groups.
Maxi TaxiPhone: +27 (0)11 648 1212Reputable taxi firm based in Yeoville.
Roses TaxiPhone: +27 (0)11 403 9625Operates throughout the city.
Zebra CabsPhone: +27 (0)86 110 5105Operates throughout Johannesburg. Every car is equipped with a GPS. R11/km.

source: Wikivoyage

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