At press time, Cape Town International Airport (tel. 021/937-1200, or 086/727-7888 for flight information) is undergoing a final phase of a much-anticipated expansion in preparation for unprecedented arrivals in 2010. The good news is that authorities have been listening to passenger feedback and taking complaints and suggestions seriously, so airport staff, security, and even passport control have been upgrading their systems to cope with the expected influx. The airport is 17km (11 miles) from the center of town, so it should take no longer than 20 to 30 minutes to get into the city and surrounds (set aside at least twice that amount of time if traveling toward the airport during evening rush hour, 4-6pm). Tip: If you've arrived early or are waiting for a connection, you can relax in a Rennies Travel "Premier Club" lounge (tel. 021/936-3014), which offer first-class lounge facilities; entry costs R145 (international terminal) or R90 (domestic).
Airport Transfers -- In the rare instances that a hotel offers a complimentary airport transfer, we have mentioned this. You can ask any of our recommended lodgings to arrange an airport transfer, but you will definitely save money by doing this directly with Centurion (tel. 021/934-8281; firstname.lastname@example.org), a hugely reliable company that offers an efficient door-to-door service in clean minibuses. Ideally, you should book your ride 2 days in advance. From the airport to the city center, it costs R140 for the first person and R20 per person thereafter. Mail or call them, and they'll be waiting at the airport arrivals area with your name on a sign board; note that there's an early-morning (before 6:30am) and late-night (after 10:30pm) surcharge of R40. Rikkis (tel. 086/174-5547) offers an efficient airport taxi service costing R180 (city center) or R200 (Atlantic seaboard) for the first passenger; discounts apply to each additional person. You'll also find taxis directly outside the terminals; the same trip costs upward of R300, but you can usually bargain them down if you agree on a price up front. Car-rental desks are inside the arrival terminals, and a bureau de change stays open for international flights; the rates aren't always the best, so use an ATM instead.
Warning: The Early Bird . . . -- Getting to Cape Town's airport can be the ultimate vacation come-down; traffic jams, breakdowns, and accidents have caused many people to miss their flights home, particularly during the weekday rush hour. Don't let Cape Town's relatively small size fool you: Plan sensibly and head for the airport well ahead of schedule.
If you're driving directly from Johannesburg, you will arrive on the N1, traveling past the Winelands area of Paarl. From Port Elizabeth, via the Garden Route, you'll approach the city center on the N2, passing Somerset West in the Winelands. The N2 splits into the M3 (the highway, known as De Waal Dr., that connects the southern suburbs to the city center and the City Bowl suburbs) and Eastern Boulevard, which joins the N1 as it enters the perimeter of town. The entrance to the Waterfront is clearly signposted off here, and there are signs pointing the way to the Table Mountain cableway as well as Camps Bay.
The main intercity buses, Greyhound, Intercape Mainliner, and Translux, all terminate at the junction of Strand and Adderley streets. Note that the Baz Bus -- a minibus service aimed at backpackers -- offers a more flexible hop-on, hop-off option throughout the country.
The luxurious Blue Train (tel. 021/449-2672; www.bluetrain.co.za) and Rovos Rail (tel. 021/421-4020; www.rovos.co.za) roll into Cape Town station (tel. 021/449-2991) from Pretoria. A more affordable alternative is a Premier Classe coupe from Johannesburg on Shozoloza Meyl (tel. 086/000-8888; www.shosholozameyl.co.za), South Africa's main-line passenger services. Note that the bus is quicker and much cheaper, albeit not as comfortable (the Trans-Karoo to Jo'burg takes 25 hr., and the bus takes 18 hr.).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.