Car rental Johannesburg
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Why rent a car in Johannesburg?
Johannesburg is one of the most impressive urban centers in Africa. From grand history to varied cultural influences and countless landmarks, this city has plenty to offer, but it’s number one attraction is its unique atmosphere. Get a rental car and see as much as you can, and then travel to nearby cities and natural areas!
Top ways to enter Johannesburg
- Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport. With 21 million travelers served every year, Johannesburg Airport is one of the busiest in Africa. It has domestic air routes, flights to other African countries, and flights to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The airport is about 20 km (12 mi) northeast of the city center.
- Johannesburg Lanseria Airport. The smaller of the two international airports serving Johannesburg, Lanseria is 47 km (29 mi) northwest of downtown Johannesburg. As of 2019, the airport only has domestic flights.
- Gaborone Airport. Serving the capital of neighboring Botswana, this international airport is just a five-hour drive from Johannesburg. Do keep in mind, however, that you’d be crossing a national border, so first, make sure that your car rental provider permits it.
- Durban King Shaka Airport. Located on the Indian Ocean, this international airport serves Durban, South Africa’s third largest metropolis. It is about a six-hour drive east of Johannesburg.
- By rail. If you arrive in Johannesburg by train, you can conveniently pick up your rental car at Johannesburg Park Station.
Useful city facts
Although only 957,000 people live in Johannesburg proper, its wider metro region has a population of more than 9 million, making it one of the 50 most populous urban areas in the world. It is also the fourth largest city in Africa, with only Cairo, Lagos, and Kinshasa having a higher population.
Locals sometimes say that Johannesburg is Africa in miniature. Indeed, you can find Somali, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Sudanese, and many other ethnic neighborhoods in the city, each with their own culture, cuisine, and atmosphere that is fascinating to explore.
Top destinations and activities
Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden. There are many beautiful nature reserves near Johannesburg, but even within the city, you can find large green areas. Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden is home to such different animals as reptiles, jackals, and beautiful Verreaux eagles. Learn more about the opportunity to visit from the garden’s official website.
The Apartheid Museum. Telling the very important story of South Africa’s recent complicated past, the Apartheid Museum is one of the landmarks of Johannesburg. The museum includes many artifacts, testimonies, pictures, and videos from the victims and survivors of the Apartheid regime.
Origins Centre - The South African Museum of Rock Art. Telling the story not only of South Africans, but, quite possibly, of all humanity, the Origins Center features many unique fossils, artworks, and other artifacts from prehistory. The museum is located on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand, locally known as “Wits”.
Traffic and parking tips
- Unless specifically indicated otherwise, the speed limits are 120 km/h (74.5 mph) on freeways, 100 km/h (62 mph) on any public road outside of an urban area that is not a freeway, and 60 km/h (37 mph) on any public road within an urban or built-up area.
- Plan your route around the city in advance and always ask trustworthy locals for advice. While many parts of Johannesburg are safe, certain areas are not, and you would not want to drive or get stranded in them.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% per 100ml of blood and 0.24% per 1000 ml of breath for experienced drivers and is 0.00% for novice drivers. Exceeding the allowed limit can lead to large fines, deportation, or imprisonment.
- Proof of insurance and the car’s registration needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
- If you’re the driver, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- The emergency number, like elsewhere in the EU, is 112.
There are many toll roads in South Africa. However, unlike in most of the world, no payments are made on the highway, neither in cash nor by credit card. Instead, a vehicle is identified either by an electronic tag that is on the vehicle or by the vehicle’s licence plate number.
Many rental cars are equipped with an e-tag that will be used for making toll payments. Some rental car providers will charge an additional fee for this service. Ask your car rental provider about it beforehand.
The exact fee for using the toll roads depends on the type of road. See more information about the latest toll road fees on this website.
If your rental car is not equipped with an e-tag, the bill for using the toll roads will be sent to your car rental provider. Due to delays in the South African toll road system, you could be billed and charged after the end of your rental period.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Old Kromdraai Gold Mine. One of the oldest mines in South Africa, gold was extracted in Old Kromdraai before the big gold rush of South Africa began. If you visit, also drive to the nearby Wonder Caves, a truly impressive place that’s believed to be more than 2.2 billion years old. The gold mine is located about 40 minutes northwest of Johannesburg.
- Lion & Safari Park. Visiting this nature area will let you see lions, as well as giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and many other animals. It is possible to drive through the lion enclosures, but for safety reasons, make sure that your windows are closed at all times. The Lion Park is about an hour’s drive north of Johannesburg.
- Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. A mouthful to pronounce, but a truly beautiful place, Suikerbosrand is the place to go when you want to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are many great hiking trails or spots for picnics and relaxation. The reserve’s inhabitants include aardvarks, kudus, cape foxes, and hyenas. The nature reserve is just a 35-minute drive south of Johannesburg.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental car type in Johannesburg is mini, followed by economy and compact. The most popular rental car is the Kia Picanto. Travelers also pick the Toyota Corolla and the Ford Figo AMB a lot.
- Botswana. A country with perhaps even more impressive wildlife areas than South Africa (largely thanks, perhaps, to its much lower population density), Botswana is a destination you don’t want to miss if you’re in the region. Calm and relaxed, it is best enjoyed at your own pace and with the freedom of your own ride. Botswana’s capital Gaborone is just around a four-and-a-half hour drive northeast of Johannesburg. Keep in mind that you’ll be crossing a national border, so first, ask if your car rental provider permits this. Alternatively, you can drop off your rental car in South Africa and pick up another in Botswana. Also, check to see if you require a visa to enter Botswana and the process for obtaining one if so.
- Lesotho. A small country surrounded on all sides by South Africa, Lesotho is known as the Kingdom of the Sky thanks to its high altitude. This means that it is also one of the coldest countries of Africa, but the immense hospitality of the locals and the breathtaking views from its mountains more than make up for it. Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, is just a tad more than a four-hour drive south of Johannesburg. Keep in mind that you’ll be crossing a national border, so first, ask if your car rental provider permits it. Alternatively, you can drop off your rental car in South Africa and pick up another in Lesotho. It should also be noted that Lesotho’s entry requirements may significantly differ from those of South Africa, so be sure to check if you require a visa or not.
- Swaziland. Recently renamed the Kingdom of Eswatini, Swaziland is another small and fascinating country bordered only by South Africa and Mozambique. An absolute monarchy, but much more accessible to citizens of most countries than Lesotho or many other African destinations, Swaziland attracts visitors with its unique culture, wildlife areas, and surprisingly diverse nature. Its capital Mbabane is just a four-hour drive west of Johannesburg. Do keep in mind that you’ll be crossing a national border, so first, ask if your car rental provider permits it. Alternatively, you can drop off your rental car in South Africa and pick up another in Swaziland. Also, be sure to check the latest visa requirements.
How can I save money on my rental car?
These are some of the tricks you can try to land a good car rental deal in Johannesburg:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Johannesburg is the cheapest in November when renting a car is about 53% cheaper than the yearly average. Come see Johannesburg in South African spring!
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