Traveling the 870 miles (1,400 km) between Cape Town and Johannesburg can take anything from a mere two hours by plane to two days by car, if you go straight there—but there's much to see and do along the way, and it's easy to make this route into a multi-week road trip.

A flight to Johannesburg is the most convenient method of travel, and after arriving, travelers can rent a car, use a private transfer or take the train. Those with extra time can drive—either with a rental car or a private driver—with the option to explore the Garden Route and much more.

Other travel options are by bus or train, although these are not recommended both for convenience and safety reasons.

By Plane

Duration: 2 hours

A two-hour flight is the most convenient way for travelers to get between these two cities. After arriving in Johannesburg, travelers can leave the airport using a private transfer, renting a car, or using the Gautrain. Those who choose to rent a car from the airport should factor in extra time for traffic, which is particularly bad in Johannesburg.

By Car or Private Transfer

Duration: 2-3 days (up to 3 weeks as an extended road trip)

Driving between Johannesburg and Cape Town will appeal to adventurous travelers with extra time. Those interested in exploring the Garden Route can leave Cape Town on the N2 and turn onto the N10 highway at Port Elizabeth which will take travelers back to the N1 highway. Or, you can wind your way through the Garden Route, Wild Coast, and Drakensberg. This trip should be broken up over at least three days, and up to three weeks—see this itinerary for more details. 

The most efficient, though less scenic route, is along the N1 highway, which can do done in two days. Travelers can overnight in either Gariep Dam or Hanover.

Those who are self-driving should keep cash or a credit card accessible for the pay tolls.

By Bus

Duration: 18 hours

This travel method is not recommended. Most bus lines will include a few refreshment stops but the trip can be made longer due to delays. Travelers will need to book a private transfer from the bus stop and should try book tickets that arrive in daylight for safety.

By Train

Duration: 26 hours

This is the least recommended travel method due to ongoing inconsistencies of the Shosholoza Meyl with arriving on time. Travelers should also take note that this train route only runs once a week.


Map of How to Get from Cape Town to Johannesburg
Map of How to Get from Cape Town to Johannesburg