Everything You Need to Know About Getting Around in South Africa

Modes of Transportation in South Africa

Renting a Car
Renting a car is a popular way to get around South Africa. It gives you the freedom to explore the country at your own pace and on your own schedule. However, it’s important to note that South Africa has left-hand traffic, which may take some getting used to if you’re used to driving on the right side of the road. Additionally, some areas, particularly in the rural parts of the country, may have unpaved roads, so it’s essential to rent a car that can handle rough terrain.

The cost of renting a car in South Africa can vary depending on the type of car and the rental company. However, it’s generally affordable, with rates starting from around R150 ($10) per day for a basic car. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of the rental agreement carefully, as some rental companies may charge additional fees for things like insurance, fuel, and mileage.

Public Transportation
South Africa has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, minivans, and trains. While it’s a cheaper alternative to renting a car, it can be challenging to navigate, particularly if you’re not familiar with the routes and schedules. Buses and minivans are popular modes of transportation in urban areas, while trains are more common in the rural parts of the country.

One of the most significant benefits of using public transportation is the cost. Fares for buses and minivans can range from R6 to R20 ($0.40 to $1.40) per trip, depending on the distance traveled. Train fares are slightly higher, ranging from R10 to R50 ($0.70 to $3.50) per trip.

However, it’s essential to note that public transportation in South Africa is not always reliable or safe. Buses and minivans can be overcrowded, and there have been incidents of theft and violence on public transportation in some areas. As a result, it’s important to take precautions, such as avoiding carrying large amounts of cash and keeping your valuables close.

Taxis are a popular mode of transportation in South Africa, particularly in urban areas. There are two types of taxis: metered taxis and minibus taxis. Metered taxis are more expensive but are generally considered safer and more reliable. They can be hailed on the street or booked through a taxi company.

Minibus taxis, on the other hand, are less expensive but can be overcrowded and operate on fixed routes. They can be a challenging mode of transportation for tourists to navigate, particularly if you’re not familiar with the local language or customs.

It’s essential to note that taxi services in South Africa are not regulated, and there have been incidents of violence and crime associated with the industry. As a result, it’s crucial to use reputable taxi companies and exercise caution when using this mode of transportation.

Ride-Hailing Services
Ride-hailing services like Uber and Bolt are becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, particularly in urban areas. They offer a safe, reliable, and convenient mode of transportation, with fares that are comparable to metered taxis.

One of the significant benefits of using ride-hailing services is that you can track your driver and make payments through the app, which eliminates the need for cash and reduces the risk of theft. However, it’s important to note that ride-hailing services may not be available in all areas of South Africa, particularly in rural parts of the country.

Freeway in South Africa Freeway in South Africa

Tips for Getting Around South Africa

Plan Your Routes in Advance
Whether you’re renting a car, using public transportation, or hailing a taxi, it’s essential to plan your routes in advance. Make sure to research the areas you’ll be traveling to and familiarize yourself with the local transportation options. Use maps and GPS apps to help you navigate your way around the country.

Take Precautions to Stay Safe
While South Africa is a beautiful country, it’s essential to take precautions to stay safe, particularly when using public transportation or taxis. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, keep your valuables close, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you’re traveling alone, consider using a ride-hailing service instead of public transportation or taxis.

Be Respectful of Local Customs
South Africa is a diverse country with many different cultures and customs. When traveling around the country, it’s important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Learn some basic phrases in the local language, be mindful of dress codes, and avoid behavior that may be considered disrespectful or offensive.

Be Prepared for Long Distances
South Africa is a large country, and traveling between cities and towns can take several hours. Make sure to pack snacks, water, and other essentials for long journeys, particularly if you’re using public transportation. It’s also important to factor in travel time when planning your itinerary and allow for extra time for unexpected delays.

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town Bo-Kaap, Cape Town


Getting around South Africa can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to choose the right mode of transportation for your needs and take precautions to stay safe. Whether you’re renting a car, using public transportation, or hailing a taxi, make sure to plan your routes in advance, be respectful of local customs, and be prepared for long distances. With the right preparation and a bit of flexibility, you can explore all that South Africa has to offer and create memories that will last a lifetime.