Some major airlines (KLM, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, and South African Airways) fly direct to Cape Town from Europe, while others will require you to transfer in Johannesburg. Give yourself at least two hours for this transfer, so you’ll have time to pass through immigration, collect your bags, recheck them after customs, and then proceed to board your domestic flight to Cape Town. Cape Town International Airport is located 20km east of the city center. Options for transport include the MyCiTi Bus, rental cars, or metered cabs. Some cabs will negotiate a flat rate, but make sure you don’t pay more than R200 (about US$20) to get there.
Though most Capetonians drive everywhere, Cape Town is an extremely walkable city. If you’re short on time, you’ll likely spend most of it in the City Bowl, the part of central Cape Town encapsulated by Table Mountain. With more time to explore, branch out and visit the variety of suburbs surrounding the city and down the Cape Peninsula. Some, such as Hout Bay, are easier accessed by car, and others, like Kalk Bay, are a scenic train ride away. Most shops, hotels, and bars are located on or near Long Street and at the V&A Waterfront. Walking is generally safe, but the city center can be very quiet on the weekends, so stick to the main roads. A bicycle is a great way to get around, and dedicated bike paths are being created. Public transport is usually safe to use during the day, especially during commuting hours. Minibus taxis can be a cramped and hair-raising experience, but they’re a cheap way to travel from the Southern Suburbs into the City Bowl. The Golden Arrow buses run along the same route. MetroRail trains run regularly and offer a choice of fare—first or third class (with no major difference in comfort). When driving a rental car, remember to drive on the left. Stoplights operate the way American lights do but are called “robots.” Park your rental car in a secure, gated area overnight (if possible), and never leave belongings or valuables visible. Car guards work in most parking areas and streets, so don’t forget to carry some small change for a tip (up to R5).
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