Some useful tips for getting around Joburg

UPDATED JUNE 2023

My apologies – this is a really utilitarian post. But often international guests expect to be able to get round Joburg as they do in a European or North American city .. and that just isn’t the case!  So here goes …. 

GETTING AROUND JOBURG

Joburg is very spread out with no single city centre but rather a number of different centres and neighbourhoods.  Please see my blog on Where the city centre is .. or isn’t”!  Fortunately  Craighall Park is very centrally located for easy access to the central suburbs and areas of Rosebank, Sandton, Randburg and Joburg Central.

Positive comment on Tripadvisor:  Great suburb too, quiet and beautiful – close to main areas.  Stay – May 2017

Map showing relationship between Sandton, Rosebank, and Johannesburg City Centre.  Craighall Park is to the south of Hyde Park and West of Rosebank – VERY central. Source: Johannesburg In Your Pocket mini-guide 2017

OPTIONS INSTEAD OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Effective public transport for visitors to Johannesburg is virtually non-existent. But there are various ways around this:

  1. Use our Liz at Lancaster on-site transport with Mr.T. 
  2. Load the Uber app while still at home (the App is often funny about taking a “foreign” credit card when in South Africa. Also if at home you will have IT back-up to help if you need it.
  3. Contact various designated drivers whom we have worked with for many years 
  4. For the most significant Joburg tourist sites the Red City Bus is an ideal option.
  5. From OR Tambo International Airport the Gautrain is safe fast efficient and means that you will never be caught in a highway traffic jam. 

For more on all of these see below

1. ON-SITE TRANSPORT

Mr T. who works at Liz at Lancaster is a registered transport provider and is available for on-site transport and airport transfers. If you want an airport collection please email me prior to arrival with flight details.  He will collect you in the Arrivals hall which is always reassuring when arriving in a strange city.

Tagala Mlalazi (aka Mr T) will meet you at the airport. Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

We have kept the rates on a par with Uber. When here please ask Tagala for his business card so that, if away from the guesthouse, you can get hold of him to make arrangements. On his days off however it would be useful to be able to use UBER so we suggest you download the UBER app as per below. 

Rates of on-site transport

(Subject to change due to fluctuating rising petrol prices and the introduction of toll road costs) Also (as with Uber) rates are dependent on traffic.  Cost for collection trip for above might vary according to traffic/waiting time

  • Airport collection varies according to parking cost       from R530
  • Airport Drop Off                                                                            R500
  • Local: Dunkeld, The Woods Centre (Colony), Hyde Park,  Parkhurst, Parktown North (also traffic- dependent)                                                                        R45   
  • Drop-off Wanderers, Rosebank including Gautrain Station R60 
  • Sandton, Wits, Braamfontein, Newtown, Melville                 R90  
  • Linksfield                                                                                        R120
  • Bedfordview                                                                                   R215
  • Johannesburg Central (depending on where)           from    R100
  • Apartheid Museum, Monte Casino, Sunninghill & Woodmead R185 
  • Lanseria Airport                                                                             R325 
  • Surcharge for after-hours restaurant collection (After 9)     R40

For any trips of over 30 km the charges are R10.00 per km.  If Tagala waits then there is a R70 per hour waiting charge. So for example a half day excursion to Lesedi (10.30 to 2.30) would be R280 plus R10.00 X 84 kms= R840; a total of R1120.  And the Cradle of Humankind for a full day trip of 6 hours and approx 100km would be R1420.   We can arrange a tour guide for Pilanesberg and Sun City usually from R1500 per person for 2 or more; rate does not include meals and entrance fees; single rate by arrangement.

2. JOHANNESBURG TAXI SERVICES: UBER

See Liz’s blog on Uber transport. For many international guests, Uber will be familiar to you.  You will need a Smart phone to download the Uber appIf you have data or airtime then, when loaded, this App will put you in touch with the nearest available Uber car, take payment via credit card, and enable you to check your route and to receive reliable arrival times.    Enter your pick up and drop off points and request a cost estimate.  

Uber has become a little less efficient and effective than when it first started in South Africa in 2013. Covid, loadshedding the economic climate have all take their toll. Sometimes drivers do not want to take short trips and so several calls have to be logged before a successful ride is available. Also there are some hotspots where opportunistic people who, in a drive-by) steal cell phones from hands while waiting on the street for an Uber. So please be aware of this.

There are various options: from Under Go (Cheapest to Uber Black and Uber Comfort)

When your ride is over, Uber debits your credit  card. Uber can raise rates at peak periods, (usually Friday and Saturday evenings) something it calls “surge pricing”, to ensure more drivers are on the roads at those times.  Cost may also vary dependent on traffic delays – hence the estimate you are given. 

3. DESIGNATED CAB DRIVERS 

There are NO roaming taxis that can be ‘hailed’ from the roadside. Although locals use mini-bus taxis, these are largely unregulated and require too much local knowledge to be used by visitors.  Except for outside hotels, and outside the Gautrain Stations, there is nowhere you can hail a taxi in the street. And these taxis overcharge, are often not metered, and often do not carry or refer to maps – so rather use one of these designated drivers. Both cab drivers below are excellent. Just say you are from Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse.

  • Abey  +27 (0) 82 979 5589 
  • Alfred +27 (0) 72 300 9468

4. RED CITY BUS HOP-ON HOP-OFF  

www.citysightseeing.co.za/en/joburg  This is an ideal way to get an overview of the city. I often recommend either:

1) a 2 day pass (the tour alone without getting off takes 3 and a half hours).  Some sites like the Apartheid Museum require about 3 hours, as would Soweto, and Constitution Hill requires at least 2 hours. So if you want to get a good sense spread it over 2 days.

OR  

2)            Take a one-day ticket and then take a separate Soweto tour

Red City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus; Green route from Rosebank to Constitution Hill; Red Route (circular) from Con Hill and back again. Source: www.lizatlancaster.co.za

5. HIGH SPEED TRAIN (GAUTRAIN) FROM AND TO THE AIRPORT

For a single person the Gautrain is a very practical way of getting to the airport from Liz at Lancaster. It is fast, safe, clean and efficient.  For the latest schedule NB Please check that there is not a more updated one.

  • Weekdays Peak periods 05h20 to 21h00 | 16h00 to 19h00 Every 12 mins
  • Weekdays off peak 08h30 to 16h00 | 19h00 to 20h30 every 20 mins
  • Weekends: every 30 mins

Cost:

To Sandton:

o             Cost from OR Tambo is R206 per person 

o             To collect from Sandton is R90 for the trip

o             Time of train trip is 12 minutes

To Rosebank:

o             Cost to OR Tambo is R217 per person 

o             To collect from Rosebank is R60

o             Time of train trip is 16 minutes but need to change trains at Sandton

Car Parking: Open from 05h00 to 21h00, seven days a week.

Transfer: from the Gautrain station (Rosebank or Sandton) to Liz at Lancaster. Phone (by prior arrangement);  Gaubuses operate between Sandton and Rosebank weekdays only.  

Gautrain to Rosebank or to Sandton? 

In peak hour traffic (7.30 – 9.30 am and 3.30 to 6.30 pm) we recommend that you change at Sandton and go to Rosebank station.

  • Rosebank is closer to Liz at Lancaster than Sandton.
  • There are really bad traffic snarl-ups in Sandton
  • Uber drivers wait outside the Alexander Forbes entrance in West St Sandton rather than directly outside the Gautrain Station (because of pressure from “metered” taxis). 

We hope this helps with preparing you for your Jozi visit – this fast-paced city of extremes. 

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