Johannesburg Travel Guide

Flights, Train & Cruise

By car

A number of highways from everywhere in South Africa go to Johannesburg, the N1 from Cape Town and Bloemfontein or the N3 from Durban making it an easy to reach destination, including:

N1 from Cape Town and Harare in Zimbabwe
N3 from Durban
N4 from Nelspruit and the Kruger National Park, as well as Botswana
N14 from Upington and Namibia

Traffic can be particularly bad during peak hours (M-F 6:30AM-9AM and 3:30PM–6:30PM) so plan your journey accordingly. Accidents are frequent and can cause delays at any time of the day and night. Take extra care if you are taking a car to OR Tambo airport as accidents are frequent on at the Gillooly's Interchange and on the R24 towards the airport.

Due to the increasing number of cars on the roads, traffic has progressively worsened. If traveling in the city Monday through Friday, make sure you take into consideration the possibility of traffic jams delaying your journey. As the city is large and spread out, getting around may require covering large distances e.g. from Midrand to Soweto is in excess of 45 km (28 mi).

By plane
OR Tambo International Airport, ( ), formerly called Johannesburg International and before that Jan Smuts Airport, these old names are still commonly used. tel,+27 11 921-6911, is the main airport for Johannesburg. It is the busiest airport in Africa and is the connecting hub for flights to other cities in Southern Africa. There are many flights to Johannesburg from international hubs, especially London. Most flights from Europe are overnight and arrive in the early morning. If you arrive on one of these flights be prepared for very long waits at immigration. Remember your yellow fever certificate.

Terminal A is for international flights, and B domestic. When flying out some international flights may have their check-in in Terminal B, but will still leave from Terminal A. The two terminals are adjacent to each other and a 5 minute indoor walk between the two.

The airport is located to the east of Johannesburg, 24 km (15 mi) from the city center. There is a highspeed train to Sandton and Pretoria (see below) from the airport. If you are taking a taxi, keep walking straight until you exit the building and then turn left until you see a long line of taxis (mainly Mercedes) with yellow TAXI signs on their roof. These are licensed taxis with meters (tell the driver the address and insist on using the meter before you get in the car). Do NOT go with anyone who approaches you offering a taxi while you are inside the airport building, these are unlicensed touts, and you'll end up paying more. If you are staying in a hotel, try to get the hotel to send a shuttle to pick you up (though it may cost).

For getting money try to avoid the many banks and money changers on the left of the arrivals door: They display the exchange rates but don't indicate their excessive "commissions" that can reduce what you actually get by 10% or more - this is the case at all banks and bureaux de change in South Africa. Better to use the ATM machines to withdraw cash (South African ATMs do not charge fees for withdrawals). The ATM machines are located one floor higher up in the airport, in the retail mall where there are many shops and restaurants.

Lanseria Airport ( ), is Johannesburg's other airport that caters for passengers on commercial airlines. It is privately owned unlike O.R. Tambo which is run by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). Situated north west outside of Johannesburg, it is reachable from the Sandton, Pretoria, Westrand and Midrand regions, but can be traffic hell to get there. Fewer airlines fly to this airport and it is mostly used for regional, corporate and diplomatic passage. There are however regular flights from Lanseria on some of the budget airlines such as Mango and 1Time.

The airport is mainly for smaller charter, cargo and classic airlines flights, it is in fact busier than Johannesburg International and sees more air traffic. is currently flying a commercial flight to Cape Town from the airport.

For South African travel and discounted fares you can search for : Discount airlines in Africa airlines like Mango, Kulula and 1 Time.

Rand Airport ( ) Primarily a business and general aviation airport.
Grand Central Airport ( ) Located just off the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria this airport is primarily a business and general aviation airport.
By train
Park Station is Johannesburg's central station and is in the city center between Rissik (west), Wolmarans (north), Wanderers (east) and De Villiers (south) streets, it occupies several blocks. Whilst the station itself is quite safe, the areas around it may not be. Be careful and try to organise onward transport prior to arrival. All long-distance Spoornet trains are quite safe, as are most MetroRail trains. The best is, prior to using any public transport to ask local people.
Spoornet is a freight train company but they do have a branch that offers a passenger service called: Shosholoza Meyl. There are 8 primary routes that link South Africa's cities with smaller towns along each route. There are regular inter-city trains to destinations all over the country, including Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, East London, Pietermaritzburg, Nelspruit and Polokwane. Passengers can choose to travel in the tourist class where there is an option of either a coupe that can accommodate two people or a compartment that can seat four people. If traveling over night these compartments become bedrooms. Another option is the economy class which of course is cheaper, with chairs that can recline but not, alas, turn into beds. There is a dining car on the trains where you can buy food. If you are travelling in a coupe or compartment then there is a trolley service available saving you from ever having to leave your compartment
MetroRail operates frequent commuter trains to many suburbs and outlying towns. As Metrorail operates services in several separate cities, for operational purposes it is subdivided into five regions. The Witwatersrand region is the region that covers the greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area. Trains run from Johannesburg and Germiston outwards to Springs, Pretoria, Soweto and Krugersdorp.
Gautrain is the new high-speed train between Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo airport. A fantastic, first-world-quality train service takes just 15 minutes from airport to Sandton. From Marlboro or Sandton stations you can connect to Pretoria or Rosebank. Very secure - lots of cameras and guards on the trains and platforms. Fares are reasonable except if going to or from the airport - where an additional R80 is slapped on the fare. Don't try and walk to / from the nearby Rhodesfield gautrain station to avoid this surcharge - its a gauntlet of freeways and flyovers.
By bus

Long-distance buses arrive at Park Station. All major bus companies provide a service to and from Johannesburg. A few of these include:

Greyhound the well know bus service is offering services to destinations all over South Africa.
Translux, their route network extends to many South African destinations and major cities in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Magic Bus, Focuses on short distance transportation i.e. scheduled airport shuttling.
S.A Roadlink, Has coaches traveling to and from major major city centers in South Africa.
The Baz Bus, Offers a Hop on Hop off service aimed at backpackers. It runs from Johannesburg to Durban via the Drakensberg, and then continues along South Africa's coast to Cape Town. (Note that the second route previously offered between Johannesburg and Durban via Swaziland no longer operates).

source: Wikivoyage

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