5 Things You Should Know Before Travelling to Johannesburg


As the capital of Gauteng and the hub of business in South Africa, Johannesburg, often referred to as Egoli or The City of Gold, is both a tourist destination full of incredible uniquely South African experiences and adventures, as well as a port to entry for those businessmen and businesswomen looking to invest in Africa’s leading emerging market. With its incredibly rich history beginning as a 19th Century gold-mining settlement, to the south western township that is Soweto and the former home of the likes of Desmond Tutu and the late Former President Nelson Mandela, the cultural diversity and rich heritage of Johannesburg is visible from entry to exit as you make your way through the city streets.

But before planning your trip to South Africa’s biggest city, there are some things you may want to familiarize yourself with to ensure that your travel and stay in the city is as fruitful and enjoyable as you would expect.


The Best Way To Get Around Johannesburg

Car hire johannesburg airportOne of the first things you’re going to want to do if you’re planning to enjoy the sites and sounds of Johannesburg is to rent a car. Whether you’re headed straight to some of the best hotels near Johannesburg airport or looking to explore all that the city has to offer, car hire in Johannesburg is relatively affordable and is the best way to make your way around from one location to the next. Beyond the ease and accessibility this gives you to the many locales and spots in Jozi, public transport in Johannesburg is not ideal, particularly if you are exploring the city. Some of the cheapest car hire in Johannesburg can be found upon landing at the airport.

Language’s Spoken in South Africa and Johannesburg Airport

Johannesburg is a cosmopolitan city, and beyond the 11 official languages spoken in South Africa, you won’t be hard-pressed to find multilingual residents from all over the world. So, what languages do they speak in Johannesburg? The most common languages spoken in Johannesburg are English, Afrikaans and isiZulu, and the dominance of any particular language changes as you make your way further north or further south of Johannesburg. Either way, English is a common language of communication across the country and the city alike.

Get Local Currency at Johannesburg Airport

Right off the bat, you’re going to want to make sure you get enough local currency to use as you make your way through the city. While some of the best restaurants near Johannesburg airport and beyond may accept your international debit and credit cards, your best bet is to make sure you have enough local currency to pay for meals and other things where cards are not accepted. Many local spots do not accept any foreign currency. So perhaps a good idea would be to take advantage of the currency exchange facilities at O.R Tambo International Airport upon landing and have some Rands on hand for the duration of your visit. In the same breath, and for your own safety, try and avoid carrying all your cash on you at once.Get Local Currency at Johannesburg Airport

Don’t Forget to Tip

Upon landing in South Africa, you may immediately want to visit some of the best restaurants near Johannesburg airport or even head straight to some top spots for a quick burger and bevvy. No matter what your plans are while visiting Johannesburg, don’t forget to tip your servers. It’s common practice and good etiquette to tip between 10% and 15% of your bill. So don’t be surprised if your waiter comes to your table with the card machine and asks you, “how much?” That’s your cue to include your tip to the payment. And while tipping is on your mind, the guy standing next to your car when you leave a venue is also expecting a cash tip for guarding your car – whether you asked him to or not. They’re good friendly folk and are usually happy with even a R5 to R10 tip for their consideration.

Johannesburg Is As Safe As Any Other Cosmopolitan City

johannesburg airportIt’s one of the most common questions for those travelling to South Africa. Is Johannesburg safe? The truth is that like any other city in the world, Johannesburg has crime but not much more than any other city or destination of its size. If you take the right set of precautions as you would when travelling to any other destination, your trip will be a safe and enjoyable experience. Some of the things you should consider as proactive precautions include driving instead of walking to and through certain hubs, avoiding using your cell phone while walking, don’t leave your cell phone on the restaurant table while dining, be aware of your surroundings and avoid stopping your car under bridges or in uncomfortably quiet and isolated areas. It is also advisable to take extra precautions when making use of any public transport in Johannesburg. Let people know where you’re headed and if and where possible make use of trip tracking tools and options available on different apps and platforms.

Things You Should Know When Hiring a Car in Johannesburg

Taking advantage of car hire in Johannesburg is possibly the best way to get around the city and enjoy your stay whether long or short. But there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to car hire.

  • Renting a car at O.R Tambo airport upon landing in South Africa is your best bet for getting the quickest and cheapest car hire in Johannesburg.
  • For your own convenience, make sure you book your car well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Choose optional extras when considering your car hire in Johannesburg. You’re going to have a better and possibly even safer experience getting around when you include options like mobile Wi-Fi, GPS and adding an additional driver.
  • The legal driving age in South Africa is 18.
  • You must have a valid drivers license with at least 2 years driving experience before you can leave the lot with the car. An international drivers license is usually accepted on condition that the license is in English, with a photo or ID/passport number, and a signature on it.

When looking into your car hire in Johannesburg it is important to remember that each car rental company will have its own terms and conditions for allowing the car hire, some of which will differ in terms of payment methods, limitations, pricing and liabilities. Compare car rentals here 

Please note all information in this article is correct at time of publishing and is subject to change without notice.

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