Public Transport in Cape Town for tourists
This is a comprehensive guide to all the modes of public transportation in Cape Town and how to travel around Cape Town if you are a visitor.
If this is your first visit to the Mother City of Cape Town then you must read our Local’s Cape Town Travel Guide and The First-Timer’s Ultimate Travel Guide to South Africa for tips on what to do and where to go.
The Golden Arrow Bus Service is one of the most popular modes of public transport used by locals in Cape Town for the past 150 years. This is a daily bus service that has multiple routes and operates on an hourly basis.
There is a fixed bus service route guide found on the Golden Arrow website where routes and times can be established. This is a very reliable mode of transport but bear in mind that it is not a luxury mode of transport, making it more affordable. It is also very economical for those travelling on a strict budget and wanting to save where they can.
The MyCiTi Bus Service is a bus service that operates on a daily basis to and from the city center. The MyCiTi Busses were initially created for the use of visitors during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. However, it does not have as many routes as the Golden Arrow Buses and is currently limited to higher income areas.
With this being said, the MyCiTi Buses do cover most of the popular tourists routes found in Cape Town, it all depends on what it is you would like to see and where you would like to travel to. This is a more organised and comfortable mode of transport and it is more pricey than the Golden Arrow Busses.
If you wish to make us of the MyCiTi Buses, you are to purchase a card at a station, load money on this card and the fare for travel will be calculated by the distance travelled.
The City Sightseeing Bus is a great option for those who wish to explore Cape Town’s most popular attractions and not worry about where to find the next taxi or bus. This is however a pricier option as a one-day ticket costs approximately R200 (US$14) per person. It is not a cheap option but it is definitely worth the price and allows visitors to experience all of Cape Town’s best attractions in one day.
There is an office found in Long Street and when a ticket is purchased for a particular day then it is valid for that entire day. There are opportunities for guests to get off the bus and explore the attractions. Please keep in mind that one needs to have patience when embarking on these tours. There are also options to choose from according to your preference.
The rail network in Cape Town is also a cheap mode of transport and much used by locals who often buy weekly tickets for commuting from the suburbs into the city center. A basic train ticket costs approximately R10 (less than US$1) and it can be purchased at the Cape Town Train Station or suburban station ticket offices.
Again, this is not a luxurious mode of transport and commuters are warned to be very cautious when using trains to get around as it can be very dangerous. Be very observant and aware of your belongings. It is also best to travel during peak hours in the early hours of the morning and late in the evenings when there are more people around.
5. Metered taxis
Metered car taxis have specialised designated taxi ranks in the city center. These taxi services are available 24 hours per day and may be booked via the call centers of the various legal taxi companies or at the designated metered taxi ranks. If you wish to make use of these taxis door to door service, it is advisable to make a booking in advance.
There are also Rikki Taxis that started out as a shared taxi service ferrying students between the various University of Cape Town campusses in the city. They now operate both a regular metered and shared taxi services.
There is a fixed price per kilometer plus flag down price shown outside on the vehicle. This is definitely a very expensive mode of transport as they offer door to door service. If you do not mind paying the price, it is a good way of getting around the city and it is also a very safe manner of getting around.
Tariffs range between R8-R15 per kilometer.
6. Shared Mini-bus taxis
Shared mini-bus (15-18 seater) taxis are found on most of the city and suburban transport routes. They are often overcrowded and not very comfortable but are usually cheaper and faster than most of the other public modes of transport.
Locals often use mini-bus taxis to get around but many have started using MyCiti bus services if they are operating on the same routes.
These taxis rates start from R5 per trip and increase with the distance travelled.
7. Uber & Taxify
Uber and Taxify are two of the newest modes of transportation available in the city and is an excellent way of getting around town. E-hailing has become a globally known mode of transport and it is also very convenient for commuters.
However, with convenience comes a price. The e-hailing services in Cape Town are quite expensive but it is very convenient and comfortable as there is no fixed route and you will be conveyed to your exact destination.
To make use of this mode of transport, you need to download the Uber or Taxify app, complete the registration procedure and then you are able to book a ride. A bonus is that you have three options and the price to the destination is set before pick-up. One can pay via card or cash. Although visitors should be cautious when using these services it has been proven to be relatively safe.
One word of caution – both Uber and Taxify drivers struggle with obtaining the necessary operating licences from the regulatory bodies. Although both companies require drivers to have Professional Drivers Permits they don’t insist on the operating licenses for e-hailing services.
8. Car Rental
Car hire is a good option if you wish to travel outside of Cape Town or to the surrounding towns and attractions. Many companies have branches located at the Cape Town International Airport terminals to facilitate pick up on arrival.
If you are a confident driver and you feel you are able to drive in and around the city then this is definitely the option for you. This way, you will have your own means of transport and you are also able to explore according to your own schedule.
There are disadvantages to making use of a rented vehicle:
- The biggest disadvantage is probably the price of hiring a vehicle and prices vary among car rental companies.
- If the hotel or rental accommodation does not include parking facilities, visitors have to use street parking or pay for parking.
- Occasional parking is available in many of the CBD parking garages, car parks and private garages and rates vary.
- Managed street parking in the city center has become very expensive and payment is monitored by parking marshals. There are safety concerns in certain areas and you should ensure that the vehicle is insured for theft.
- Getting lost on a journey is also another possibility as many vehicles do not have GPS enabled. It can be very dangerous if you are not familiar with the places and are lost in high crime areas on the outskirts of the city.
This may be an obvious option but many people tend to forget that taking a walk in the city from time to time will reveal new places that might not be mentioned on websites or blogs.
There are many tiny markets in Cape Town where one can purchase little gifts and ornaments for memories of travel. By taking walks through the city, it will give you a better insight of what the people are like and also the actual vibe of the city as well.
One of the best places to take a walk in the city center is through the Company Gardens which provides access to the Iziko Museum, The Houses of Parliament and also the Planetarium which are also excellent attractions.
This is a unique way to see the city and it’s sights but is increasingly popular with tourists.
There are numerous companies that provide city and mountain bicycle rental as well as guided tours.
Bike hire rates start at R150 (US$ 10) per day excluding delivery and collection.
Have you or your family visited Cape Town? Would you return and why?
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