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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > South Africa > Johannesburg

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Getting around Johannesburg

Public transport

Metrobus (tel: +27 860 562 874; www.mbus.co.za) offers scheduled services within the Greater Johannesburg metropolitan area between 0600-1900. Most routes start and finish in Gandhi Square bus terminus, corner of Main and Rissik Streets, and cover six zones. Fares depend on how many zones are crossed. You can buy pre-paid tickets from Computicket (tel: +27 861 915 8000; www.computicket.com) kiosks in shopping malls, which are cheaper than buying onboard fares.

Gautrain (tel +27 800 4288 7246; www.gautrain.co.za) is a modern train service linking Johannesburg Park Station with OR Tambo International Airport and Pretoria.

Metrorail (tel: +27 11 773 5878; www.metrorail.co.za) provides daily train links to many parts of Greater Johannesburg but is considered to be unsafe for visitors.

Taxis

Shared minibus taxis are fast and cheap but not necessarily safe; some are poorly maintained. They depart when full, pick up anywhere and serve the main routes between 0500-2100. The main city minibus rank is at the Metro Mall on Ntemi Piliso Street, Newtown.

Metered taxis are much more expensive but safer and more convenient than minibuses. You can't hail them in the street but you can pre-order them during the day, night and for day trips. Although journeys are metered, you should ask the driver for an estimated price before setting out.

Rose Taxis (tel: +27 11 403 0000) and Maxi Taxi Cabs (tel: +27 11 648 1212) are recommended.

Driving

Johannesburg's roads and highways are excellent and parking is more than adequate, with purpose-built multi-storey car parks across the city. If parking on the street, it is customary to pay a few Rand to security guards identifiable by a badge or work vest.

Expect traffic congestion during rush-hour periods. The main road hazards are poor driving, lack of visible traffic policing and the threat of attack by smash-and-grab thieves and armed hijackers. You should never stop for hitchhikers or at accident scenes and always keep your doors locked and windows up. After dark, many motorists also (illegally) ignore red traffic lights for safety reasons.

Car hire

A hired car is the easiest way to get around Johannesburg, especially for excursions to outlying areas. Major companies include Avis (tel: +27 11 492 0069; www.avis.co.za), Europcar (tel: +27 11 390 3909; www.europcar.co.za) and Tempest (tel: +27 11 578 8300; www.tempestcarhire.co.za).

Third-party insurance is included in the rates but comprehensive or full-cover insurance is usually offered as an optional extra and is highly recommended, particularly against theft. You must be at least 23 years old, and have a credit card and International Driving Licence, unless your national licence is printed in English with a photograph.

Bicycle hire

Bike Life, 198 Oxford Road, Sandton (tel: +27 872 310 180; www.bikelife.co.za) can arrange bicycle hire. 

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Featured Hotels

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The Palazzo Montecasino

This extravagant Johannesburg hotel is part of the Montecasino gambling, leisure, entertainment and shopping complex in Fourways, just 30 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport. Styled like an Italian palace, its luxurious accommodation overlooks lush, landscaped Tuscan gardens. All rooms have one king-size or two double beds, custom air-conditioning, internet point, hairdryer and refreshments. There is also a fully equipped fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool, plus the 1,900-seater Montecasino Theatre.

The Westcliff

This claims to be Johannesburg's most luxurious hotel and with unique features such as the city's best sunset and moonrise viewing spot, it probably is. It clings to a steep mountainside, with breathtaking views of the Magaliesberg Mountains and of elephants in the zoo below. The rooms and suites are individually furnished; most also feature charming terraces, balconies or private courtyards. Facilities include a magnificent hilltop heated swimming pool. The Westcliff is conveniently near upmarket shopping districts and golf courses.

Faircity Quatermain Hotel

The epitome of gracious living and a home-from-home atmosphere, The Quatermain, located in the upmarket suburb of Morningside, provides a convenient and tranquil base close to Sandton and Johannesburg. Set in manicured indigenous gardens with oak trees and swimming pool, The Quatermain offers Zimbabwean teak furniture and queen- or king-size beds in all 114 rooms.

Sunnyside Park Hotel

Built in 1895 as a gracious country residence, the Sunnyside Park Hotel is a National Monument. Set in glorious English gardens, it retains its original magnificent balustrade, wood panelling, historic fireplace and glittering chandeliers, but has been extensively refurbished to provide modern touches. Located just off the M1 freeway in exclusive Parktown, it is a few minutes' drive to the Killarney Mall, Rosebank and Sandton City and 30 minutes to the airport. Its restaurant, Milners, is all starched linen and quiet elegance with a British bent in food, tempered to suit all tastes.

StayEasy Eastgate

This ultra-modern hotel in Johannesburg fits into the budget bracket but is surprisingly well equipped, with air-conditioning, a swimming pool and secure parking. Situated 15 minutes' drive from OR Tambo International Airport and 10 minutes' walk from the Eastgate Shopping and entertainment complex (10 cinemas), it's just off the start of the N12/R24 freeways, within easy reach of Sandton, Pretoria, Durban and Kruger National Park. Continental breakfast is available in the lobby and guests can order meals delivered from local restaurants.

Indaba Hotel

Set in a 30 hectare (74 acre) country estate featuring indigenous flora and fauna, the white-walled, thatched buildings of this well-equipped hotel are minutes from the N1 highway. There are 210 very reasonably priced en-suite, air-conditioned bedrooms, three popular restaurants, a swimming pool, tennis courts, volleyball, outdoor chess, a beauty therapist and a jogging track.