Cape Town Travel Guide

Car Travel

Car Travel

A car is by far the best way to get around Cape Town, particularly in the evening, when public transportation closes down. Cape Town's roads are excellent, but they are unusual in a few respects and can be a bit confusing. Signage is inconsistent, switching between Afrikaans and English, between different names for the same road (especially highways), and between different destinations on the same route. Sometimes the signs simply vanish. Cape Town is also littered with signs indicating "cape town" instead of "city centre", as well as "kapstaad", which is Afrikaans for Cape Town. Good one-page maps are essential and freely available from car-rental agencies and tourism information desks. Among the hazards are pedestrians running across highways, speeding vehicles, and minibus taxis. Roadblocks for document and DWI checks are also becoming more frequent.

Parking attendants organized by municipal authorities and private business networks provide a valuable service. Most wear brightly colored vests; pay them R2-R3 for a short daytime stop and R5-R10 in the evening. Parking in the city center can be a hassle. Longer-stay parking spaces are scarce, and most hotels charge extra for them (even then you won't be guaranteed a space). There are numerous pay-and-display (i.e., put a ticket in your windshield) and pay-on-exit parking lots around the city. For central attractions like Greenmarket Square, the Company's Garden, the South African National Gallery, and the Castle of Good Hope, park around the Grand Parade in Darling Street. The Sanlam Golden Acre Parking Garage on Adderley Street offers covered parking, as does the Parkade on Strand Street.

The main arteries leading out of the city are the N1, which bypasses the city's Northern Suburbs en route to Paarl and, ultimately, Johannesburg; and the N2, which heads out past Khayelitsha and through Somerset West to the Overberg and the Garden Route before continuing on through the Eastern Cape to Durban. Branching off the N1, the N7 goes to Namibia. The M3 splits off from the N2 near Observatory, leading to the False Bay side of the Peninsula via Claremont and Constantia; it's the main route to the False Bay towns like Muizenberg. Rush hour affects all major arteries into the city from 7 to 9, and out of the city from 4 to 6:30.

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