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Cape Town, also called the Mother city, is the most cosmopolitan city in South Africa, where a myriad of cultures have met and meshed over the centuries. The Dutch influence is most obvious, but the French brought winemaking skills and gabled farmhouses, while the English left Georgian mansions and Victorian terraced homes. Africans from across the continent have added their distinct cultures into the melting pot that is Cape Town. The temperate climate produces warm, dry conditions from October – April, with temperatures peaking at 76 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit between December – February, making these months the most popular time for tourists. Flights and accommodation should be reserved well in advance if you want to visit during Cape Town’s busy summer. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall boast enviable weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. During winter, temperatures make a beach vacation less desirable, with daily highs ranging from 63 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit and frequent rainfall, but you can probably find the best deals online at this time, so consider visiting between June – August.
There are no airlines offering direct flights to Cape Town from the US. Airlines offering flights with one or more stops include: British Airways, Lufthansa, United, Emirates, South African Airways, Singapore Airlines, American Airlines, Air France, SWISS, Delta, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, and Condor.
Cape Town’s primary airport is one of the busiest in all of Africa, and is located 20 kilometers from the city center. You have several options for travel into the city.
The MyCiti shuttle bus A01 can take you from the public transport plaza directly opposite the central terminal building entrance to the Civic Centre bus station in Downtown Cape Town in about an hour. Buses leave every 20 minutes and the fare varies depending on what time of day you travel, ranging from R54.00 ZAR – R80.00 ZAR (including R35.00 ZAR for the myconnect card which is necessary as you can’t pay using cash). If you prefer, instead of a myconnect card, you can buy a R85.00 ZAR single-trip card and make 1 journey anywhere on the MyCiTi network.
You’ll find the taxis at the transport plaza which is accessible by pedestrian subway from the passenger terminal main entrance. You can hail a metered taxi here or pay a flat rate, but always negotiate the cost up front. A metered taxi will cost about R300.00 ZAR – R400.00 ZAR and gets you to Downtown Cape Town in about 20 minutes. You can also call Uber to arrange a ride.
Shuttles, limousines, and sedans
Several companies offer shuttle services to and from the airport in a variety of vehicles with prices ranging from about R60.00 ZAR and up depending on the transport and the number of people in your group.
Rental car offices are also located in the transport plaza opposite the central terminal. If you plan to drive, look for deals on car rentals with momondo.
Cape Town is a sprawling city, but there are several neighborhoods that are compact enough to explore on foot, including the City Bowl (city center), the Bo Kaap, and the Waterfront. It’s also an easy city to drive around, with ample parking and relatively light traffic. Here are some details about other useful modes of transport:
MyCiTi is Cape Town’s efficient bus service, and a cheap way to get around the city and see many of the major landmarks. You must purchase and load a myconnect card from MyCiTi stations or select retailers. Fares vary depending on the distance you are traveling. For a different experience, you can buy a ticket on the open-topped city Sightseeing bus, a hop-on, hop-off service visiting many of the city’s top attractions. A day pass costs R170.00 ZAR if purchased online.
Taxis are available in Cape Town and fall under the jurisdiction of the city. All of the legitimate taxis are metered. They are not allowed to stop for customers on the streets, so you should call for a taxi, or you can find them at one of the city’s designated taxi ranks. You can opt for a Rikki taxi which will save you money. These London-style taxis have operated here since 1984, which makes them a ride-share transport option predating Uber. You can go just about anywhere in central Cape Town for around R20.00 ZAR – R25.00 ZAR.