by Pippa de Bruyn from The Telegraph
An insider's guide to getting to Cape Town, including flights to South Africa and airport transfers, as well as recommendations for car hire and public transport. By Pippa De Bruyn, Telegraph Travel's Cape Town expert.
Flights: British Airways (ba.com ) and Virgin Atlantic (virgin-atlantic.com) offer direct flights to Cape Town. If you have time and are prepared for the inconvenience of disembarking once en route, there are plenty of other airline options, and usually cheaper. Flight time is around 12 hours, but with a mere one-hour time difference (two hours during daylight saving), there is no jet lag.
Transfers: Several official operators offer shuttle services, and have desks in the airport terminal, though I’d highly recommend prebooking so that you have someone waiting for you with your name on a board at arrivals. Expect to pay around R270 (270 South African Rand – about £16.68) for the first person and R30 (under £2) for every additional passenger thereafter to the City/Waterfront area. Centurion (00 27 21 934 8281; [email protected] ; centuriontours.co.za) is very efficient and transfers in spacious seven-seaters; there's a small surcharge for pick-ups before 7am and after 10pm, and to book an exclusive/private transfer.
If you’re travelling on your own, the MyCiti Airport Shuttle (0800 65 64 63; myciti.org.za) is a cheaper option, but you’ll need to change buses or catch a cab from its drop off point at the Civic Centre in town. Tickets are on sale at the kiosks in both the Civic Centre and Airport bus stations. Buses leave every 20 minutes from both destinations; the trip takes about 20 minutes; 45-55 minutes during rush hour.
Bus: The Myciti currently links the airport, the city centre, the Gardens area, Waterfront, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and beyond. For the latest routes and fares visit the user-friendly site: myciti.org.za. The initial card can be purchased from MyCiti stations and costs R35 (around £2); fares are calculated according to mileage- the website provides more details.
The open-topped CitySightseeing bus (citysightseeing.co.za) offers the usual hop-on, hop-off service visiting many of the city’s top attractions, with a recorded commentary on headphones. A day pass for any of the hop on-hop off routes costs R170/£15.70 if purchased online.
There are two main routes with two additional routes you can add on. The Red City tour focuses on the central city, with 11 stops en route as it links the Waterfront with the central city, Table Mountain and Camps Bay beach. You can easily add on a Yellow Downtown Tour to this and check out Cape Town’s museums. The Blue mini-Peninsula route circles the back of Table Mountain, to the gardens of Kirstenbosch, past Constantia neck (where you can easily join the Purple Wine Route and visit three Constantia wine farms) and on to Hout Bay, before heading back through the Atlantic Seaboard and into the city centre. The Blue route has 14 potential stops; 17 with the Purple. The company now also offers a Cape Point tour – this is not a hop on-hop off route; it’s a full day tour in a luxury A/C bus to see Cape Point and the penguins at Boulders, with a variety of hotel pick ups in the morning (R530; £30.90) Check it all out online.
Taxis: Like elsewhere in the world, Uber (uber.com) – the smartphone app that allows users to hail the nearest Uber drivers, track their movements and be transferred without exchanging cash – has revolutionized the local taxi industry, and is just the simplest, cheapest, fastest way to get from A to B. If you haven’t yet registered – do so now. Be sure to select the Uber X driver service. If you’re a technophobe, or don’t have a smartphone, you will have to call for a metered taxi (R10 to R13 per kilometre) as they don’t cruise the streets but congregate in zoned ranks. Either ask your host or concierge for a recommendation or contact Excite (021-418-4444) who offer a reliable fleet and charge R9/km. Another good option are the Rikkis, comfortable London-style cabs (i.e can fit up to five) call 086 174 5547 for a quote.
Car hire: The Western Cape scenery and roads are ideal for roadtripping, and I would highly recommend hiring a car for a few days and heading into the mountains or along coast. Road rules (including driving on the lefthand side of the road) are virtually identical to UK, traffic outside of rush hour is relatively uncongested, parking is easy, signage is good and there are so many wonderful places to stop.
Of the nationwide car-rental chains, Tempest (tempestcarhire.co.za) offers the same fleet as the bigger, better-known international companies but is usually cheaper, though it’s worth comparing prices with Avis (avis.co.za) and Eurocar (eurocar.co.za) If you’re on a budget, Value Rentals is a reliable option (00 27 21 386 7699; valuerentalcar.com)
Bus tours: Hylton Ross (00 27 21 506 2575; hyltonross.co.za), African Eagle (00 27 21 464 4266; daytours.co.za) and Springbok Atlas (00 27 21 460 4700; springbokatlas.com) all offer half-day, full-day and multi-day tours in minibus and large coaches; Hylton Ross also offer the option of a private full-day minibus tour, i.e to any destination(s) you choose, for R3950 (£243.15), including driver/guide.
Boats: For 30 to 60 minute harbour tours, jet boat, whale watching or sunset and champagne trips on a variety of chartered and/or scheduled boats, there are two main players: Waterfront Charters (00 27 21 418 0782; waterfrontcharters.co.za) and Waterfront Adventures (00 27 21 418 3234; waterfrontadv.co.za). There is a Waterfront Harbour Cruise departing from the Aquarium chugging through the working Victoria & Alfred Bay; fun, especially if you are travelling with young children ( citysightseeing.co.za ). Fares: R40 adults, R20 children.
Trains: This is not recommended for tourists. Even the picturesque route followed by the commuter train line linking Cape Town with Simonstown is marred by filthy windows and carriages sprayed with graffiti.