With so much to see and do in Cape Town, you’ll want to dart all over the city, soaking up the sights and sounds, and making the most of your holiday. And it’s important to do this efficiently and safely. Cape Town’s transport options are varied, and there are great options for all budgets. This is an overview of the types of transport you can take in Cape Town.
If you’re prepared for the many hills and long distances between sights, the Cape Peninsula is a terrific place to explore by bicycle. Dedicated cycle lanes are a legacy of the World Cup: there’s a good one north out of the city towards Table View, and another runs alongside the Walk of Remembrance from Cape Town Train Station to Green Point. Bear in mind it’s nearly 70km from the centre to Cape Point. Unfortunately, bicycles are banned from suburban trains.
Pick up a free copy of the Cape Town Green Map Cycle Map at one of the tourist offices or download it from www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/cyclemap.
Check out Critical Mass Cape Town for news about the monthly full moon rides from Green Point along Granger Bay Boulevard through Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay, culminating in Long Street.
There are numerous places in Cape Town that offer bicycle hire.
Awol Tours Bikes for rent (per half/full day R200/300).
Cape Town Cycle Hire
Cape Town Cycle Hire Delivers and collects bikes free of charge to/ from the City Bowl, and down the Atlantic seaboard to Llandudno.
Up Cycles Has pick-up and drop-off points in the City Bowl, Silo District at the Waterfront, Sea Point Pavilion and Camps Bay.
The Golden Arrow buses run from the Golden Acre Bus Terminal, with most services stopping early in the evening. You might find them handy for journeys into the Cape Flats, Northern Suburbs and south to Wynberg through the Southern Suburbs. The fare to Wynberg is R16.
You can see the schedule and timetable on the website.
The MyCiTi network of commuter buses runs daily between 5 am and 10 pm, with the most frequent services between 8 am and 5 pm. Routes cover the city centre up to Gardens and out to the Waterfront; along the Atlantic seaboard to Camps Bay and Hout Bay; up to Tamboerskloof along Kloof Nek Rd, with a shuttle service to the cableway; to Woodstock and Salt River; to Blouberg and Table View; to Khayelitsha; and to the airport.
Fares have to be paid with a stored-value ‘myconnect’ card (a non-refundable R35), which can be purchased from MyCiTi station kiosks and participating retailers. It’s also possible to buy single-trip tickets (R30 or R100 to or from the airport). A bank fee of 2.5% of the loaded value (with a minimum of R1.50) will be charged, eg if you load the card with R200 you will have R195 in credit. The card, issued by ABSA, can also be used to pay for low-value transactions at shops and businesses displaying the MasterCard sign.
Fares depend on the time of day (peak-hour fares are charged from 6.45am to 8am and 4.15pm to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday) and whether you have pre-loaded the card with the MyCiTi Mover package (costing between R50 and R1000), which can cut the standard fares by 30%.
For journeys of under 5km (ie from Civic Centre to Gardens or the Waterfront), standard fares are peak/off-peak R13.90/9.10; city centre to Table View is R17.50/11.70; city centre to the airport is R98.80/90.40, and city centre to Hout Bay is R17.50/11.70.
Car & Motorcycle
Cape Town has an excellent road system. Rush hour is from around 7am to 9pm and 4.30pm to 6.30pm. Road signs alternate between Afrikaans and English. You’ll soon learn, for example, that ‘Linkerbaan’ isn’t the name of a town – it means ‘left lane’.
Petrol costs around R13.50 per litre, depending on the octane level you choose. Most petrol stations accept credit cards. An attendant will always fill up your tank for you, clean your windows and ask if the oil or water needs checking – tip them 5% to 10% for the service.
Drive with caution, as Capetonian drivers are inveterate rule breakers. Breath-testing for alcohol exists, but given the lack of police resources and the high blood-alcohol level permitted (0.08%), drunk drivers remain a danger. It’s highly unlikely that the police will bother you for petty breaches of the law, such as breaking the speed limit (although you may well end up with a fine if caught on a speed camera).
Rates range from R140 per day for a Hyundai i10 to around R5000 for a Porsche convertible. Standard rates generally include 100km to 200km per day. If you’re sticking to the Cape Peninsula, you will probably get by, but if you plan a few jaunts to the Winelands, Overberg or West Coast, it might be better to opt for unlimited kilometres.
When you’re getting quotes make sure that they include VAT, as that 14% slug makes a big difference.
One problem with nearly all car-hire deals is the ‘excess’, or the amount you are liable for before the insurance takes over. Even with a small car you can be liable for up to at least R3000 (although there’s usually the choice of lowering or cancelling the excess for a higher insurance premium). A few companies offer 100% damage and theft insurance at a more expensive rate. You may also be charged extra if you nominate more than one driver. If a non-nominated driver has an accident, then you won’t be covered by insurance. Always make sure you read the contract carefully before you sign.
Car-hire companies include:
Around About Cars Friendly local operation offering one of the best independent deals in town, with rates starting at R140 per day.
Status Luxury Vehicles Contact them if you wish to cruise around town in a Bentley or a sporty Porsche Boxter S Cab convertible (per day R6550).
Motorcycles & Scooters
The following places hire out two-wheeled motors:
Cape Sidecar Adventures Hire a motorbike chauffeur to drive you around in one of this company’s vintage CJ750 sidecars, manufactured between the 1950s and 1970s for the Chinese army to WWII BMW specifications.
Monday to Saturday during business hours there will often be a one-hour limit on parking within the city centre in a particular spot – check with a parking marshal (identified by their luminous yellow vests), who will ask you to pay for the first half-hour up front (around R5).
If there’s no official parking marshal, you’ll almost always find someone on the street to tip a small amount (say, R5) in exchange for looking after your car. Charges for off-street parking vary, but you can usually find it for R10 per hour.
Consider taking a nonshared taxi at night or if you’re in a group. Rates are about R10 per kilometre. Uber & Taxify are very popular and works well.
Excite Taxis is a Cape Town based meter cab company that has been operating since 1994. We are based at 289 Lower Main Road, Observatory. Excite Taxis seeks to render an efficient, reliable, safe and value-for-money service.
In Cape Town (and South Africa in general) a shared taxi means a minibus. These private services, which cover most of the city with an informal network of routes, are a cheap and fast way of getting around.
The main rank is on the upper deck of Cape Town Train Station, accessible from a walkway in the Golden Acre Centre or from stairways on Strand St. It’s well organised and finding the right rank is easy. Anywhere else, you just hail shared taxis from the side of the road and ask the driver where they’re going.
Cape Metro Rail trains are a cheap and – potentially – handy way to get around. However, there are few (or no) trains after 6pm on weekdays and after noon on Saturday. The service is also very unreliable, prone to breakdowns and, on certain services, sometimes unsafe.
The difference between MetroPlus (first class) and Metro (economy class) carriages in price and comfort is negligible. The most important line for visitors is the Simon’s Town line, which runs through Observatory and around the back of Table Mountain, through upper-income suburbs such as Newlands, and on to Muizenberg and the False Bay coast. These trains run at least every hour from 6am to 9pm and, in theory, as often as every 15 minutes during peak times (6am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm).
Metro trains also run out to Strand on the eastern side of False Bay, and into the Winelands to Stellenbosch and Paarl. They are the cheapest and easiest means of transport to these areas. For all routes security is best at peak times when the carriages are busy – but then they can also be dangerously overcrowded.