Transport in South Africa

Transport in South Africa
Updated 2020-04-23 08:39

On moving to South Africa, whether to work, study or for any other reason, travelling will be part of your everyday life. As the most developed country in Africa, it hosts a comprehensive transport network including buses, trains, taxis, airplanes, among others. These can take you anywhere across the country at rather affordable rates.

Some of these offer luxury travel, while others are very basic, known for not being on time, and sometimes even a little dangerous.

Buses in South Africa

Bus lines are provided across the country by several bus companies. Some of these inter-city lines even link South Africa to neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia and Malawi. In general, prices vary from one season to another. There are many bus companies that offer different services and prices.

Urban buses are cheaper, but you are advised to find out about the safety of travelling by urban buses in the evening. In Cape Town, there's the MyCiti bus service that compares to an average European city bus service.

Major cities also provide the "hop-on, hop-off" coach service, inspired by European countries. This concept is quite popular as it goes from one city to another rather rapidly. Bus stops have been set up on all lines so that you can get on and off anywhere you wish. In the case of a group trip, you can even hire a private coach bus.

On the other hand, local coach buses are available in major cities as well as in rural areas. To stop a local coach bus in the street, you just have to make a hand sign. However, make sure to inquire about its destination as local coach buses do not display line or direction signs. In all cases, these vehicles are clean and comfortable.

South African trains

There are different types of trains in South Africa. In some cases, a train trip can even last for 36 hours.

The Shosholoza Meyl, for instance, is a long distance line going from Johannesburg to Cape Town and from Durban to Port Elizabeth. These trains provide both a tourist class with berths and an economy class with seats. These are fairly comfortable and convenient for small groups who want to enjoy the scenery.

The Premier Classe Train goes from Johannesburg to Cape Town twice a week and to Durban once a month. These trains include compartments with two berths. Meals are also included in the fare.

The Blue Train is a high standard line connecting Pretoria to Cape Town. The Rovos Rail, which is quite similar, is even more expensive. These luxury transport options can be a little holiday on its own with excellent service and international standards at a price.

The Metrorail is similar to suburban trains and is comprised of two classes. These are rather cheap trains, thus more accessible. However, by travelling on this line, you will be exposed to risks such as thefts and even assault.


Most South African cities have their own taxi services. Most vehicles are equipped with a meter which indicates the fare per kilometre. Uber is available in every major city and large town. Like elsewhere in Africa, you will also find bush taxis known as 'minibus taxis'. These are likely to take on board as many passengers as possible and will start only when full. However, 'minibus taxis' are not recommended for long trips, especially if you are not yet acquainted with the area.


Domestic flights are provided by a number of competitive, low-cost airlines, such as Kulula, Fly Safair, and Mango Airlines, all offering affordable inter-linking trips between Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Useful links:

Baz Bus hop-on, hop-off service
South African Railways
Shosholoza Meyl
Blue Train
SA Express
Kulula Airlines

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