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

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Travel to Johannesburg

Flying to Johannesburg

British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights to Johannesburg from the UK. Delta and South African Airways run direct flights from the USA. Cheap flights to Johannesburg are available outside the peak summer travel season between December and March. But bear in mind that Johannesburg is a year-round destination.

Flight times

From London - 11 hours; New York - 15 hours; Los Angeles - 21 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 20 hours (including stopover); Sydney - 14 hours 20 minutes.

Travel by road

Johannesburg is accessible from almost anywhere in the country. Driving is on the left and drivers must be aged 18 years or over. All vehicles must carry two red triangular warning chevrons to be placed 20m (66ft) in front of and behind the vehicle in case of breakdown or accident.

The speed limit is 60kph (37mph) in suburban and city areas, 80-100kph (50-62mph) in rural areas and 120kph (75mph) on national roads. The latter are toll roads. There are 24-hour service stations with convenience stores, restaurants and ATMs at regular intervals on major routes.

Foreign licences are valid if they are in English with a photograph of the holder, but the AA recommends an International Driving Permit to prevent potential complications. You must carry your licence at all times.

The main motoring organisation in South Africa is the AA (tel: +27 861 000 234; www.aa.co.za).

Emergency breakdown services

The AA (tel: 0861 000 234, in South Africa only).

Routes

The north-south road artery of South Africa, the N1, runs north to Johannesburg from Cape Town and Bloemfontein, and south from Pretoria and Zimbabwe. The N3 links to Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal coast. The N4 offers access to the west including Sun City, Botswana and Namibia, while the N4 Maputo Corridor goes east to Nelspruit and Mozambique. Access from Kruger National Park is via the R536, R40 and N4.

Coaches

Johannesburg is linked by deluxe and standard bus services from all major cities in South Africa and many other southern African cities including Bulawayo, Harare, Maputo and Windhoek. The Park City Transit Centre on Rissik Street is the terminus.

Coach operators include Intercape (tel: +27 21 380 4400; www.intercape.co.za), Greyhound (tel: +27 11 611 8000; www.greyhound.co.za) and Translux (tel: +27 861 589 282; www.translux.co.za). The national booking agency Computicket (tel: +27 861 915 8000; www.computicket.com) provides centralised information and reservations for all routes.

The Baz Bus (tel: +27 21 422 5202; www.bazbus.com) offers a hop-on hop-off backpackers’s bus service to Johannesburg from Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban.

Time to city

From Sun City - 2 hours 30 minutes; Kruger Park (Skukuza) - 5 hours 30 minutes; Durban - 6 hours; Cape Town - 14 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Trains to Johannesburg arrive at Park Station on Rissik Street, Braamfontein. This is the city's main long-distance rail and coach terminus, 1km (0.5 miles) from the centre of town. 

Although services are limited and slow, trains are a cheap way to travel. There's also a choice of luxury tourist train services.

Operators

Shosholoza Meyl (tel: + 27 86 000 8888; www.shosholozameyl.co.za) is South Africa's passenger train operator. Services from Johannesburg go to and from Durban, East London,Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Simple accommodation is provided in compartments with four or six berths and there's a snack bar.

There are no direct trains direct to neighbouring countries.

The Premier Classe train (tel: +27 11 773 9247; www.premierclasse.co.za) runs between Johannesburg and Cape Town once a week, and offers a formal dining car and extras such as gowns and toiletries.

The Blue Train (tel: +27 12 334 8459; www.bluetrain.co.za) and Rovos Rail (tel: +27 12 315 8242; www.rovos.co.za) offer luxurious cabins with baths, digital entertainment, gourmet food and fine wines in elaborate dining cars. They both run between Pretoria and Cape Town via Johannesburg. The luxury Shongololo Express (tel: +27 11 486 4357; www.shongololo.com) runs from Cape Town to Johannesburg and other sightseeing spots in southern Africa.

Journey times

From Cape Town - 25 hours; Durban - 14 hours.

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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.