From Johannesburg To Cape Town: A Classic South African Road Trip


May 24, 2024
Team Pineapple

Suppose you heard the city names ‘Johannesburg’ and ‘Cape Town’ in a single sentence. You’d probably assume their only connection is each city’s spectacular business district or the endless job opportunities. 

But, of course, you’d be wrong.

Each city's beauty lies beyond the concrete jungle of the city centre. 

You'll navigate through soaring sandstone cliffs, serene wine regions, historic towns, and world-class whale-watching spots.

You may also witness sights so incredible it’ll be hard to believe you haven’t left South African soil.

Planning Your Road Trip

A road trip from Joburg and Cape Town will give you a first-hand experience of the delightful route along the two cities.

Spanning exactly 1397.8 kilometres and taking about 15 hours in regular traffic, this iconic road trip showcases South Africa's diverse landscapes, rich history, and enchanting wildlife.

Embarking on the unforgettable journey from the bustling city of Johannesburg to the stunning coastline of Cape Town, this classic South African road trip will treat you to some of the country’s best offerings.

Best time of year to travel

The best time to travel can be between the spring/summer months of November to March when the weather will be ideal for outdoor activities.

You can expect warm, dry weather – perfect for sightseeing.

The catch, however, is these months also coincide with the public school holidays, so you can expect everyone and their mother to be out and about, making for jam-packed roads and fully booked accommodation.

But if large crowds aren’t your thing, having your road trip fall between March to May or September to November would be better.

The low season months mean fewer hordes of people, price drops, and the weather is relatively pleasant.

Recommended length of the trip

The trip’s duration will depend on your itinerary, a.k.a, the number of stops you plan on making.

You can complete the drive in a day, but to truly enjoy the sights and attractions along the way, plan for at least 5-7 days.

Yet, you're free to do so if you prefer to spread the trip over a more leisurely ten to fourteen immersive, experiential days. 

Rental cars and driving tips

Instead of cruising around in your vehicle, you can opt for a rental car instead.

Never rented a car before? Not to worry; it’s a simple procedure.

Look for a vehicle that’s both comfortable and reliable and suits your needs. Consider the size of your party and the amount of luggage you’ll carry.

And despite being on holiday, the rules of the road won’t disregard any infractions. 

Always follow speed limits and local traffic rules:

  • 60 km/h on a public road within an urban area
  • 100 km/h on a public road outside a metropolitan area which is not a freeway; and
  • 120 km/h on every freeway.

Accommodation options along the route

The road from Johannesburg to Cape Town will take you from Joburg to Bloemfontein and Gariep Dam to Cape Town. 

There isn’t a shortage of places to stay, and the following areas won’t be too far out of your way: 

1. Gariep Dam (584 km from Joburg)

2. Colesberg (628km) - 

3. Hanover (698km) and 

4. Richmond (762km).

An array of accommodation options are available, from luxury lodges and boutique hotels to guesthouses and campsites. 

Johannesburg to Bloemfontein

You'll head south from Johannesburg, traversing the vibrant and vast landscapes while going to the city of roses, Bloemfontein.

The distance between Joburg and Bloem is about 397,8 km and should take roughly 4 hours of driving.

As you immerse yourself in nature’s beauty, you'll be met with history and culture around every corner.

Top attractions along the way

We’ve compiled a short list of places to visit and sights during this stretch of the trip that you don’t want to miss.

Voortrekker Monument

Located just south of Pretoria, the granite monument sits atop a hill and is 40 metres high, with a base of 40 metres by 40 metres.

The Voortrekker Monument commemorates the Pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of Afrikaners – those who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854 in search of freedom and self-governance.

And in 2011, the monument was declared a National Heritage Site by the South African Heritage Resource Agency.

Hector Pieterson Memorial

Another must-see historical sight is the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum.

It’s located at 8288 Khumalo Street, Orlando West in Soweto, just steps away from two blocks away from where Hector Pieterson was shot and killed during the 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising.

The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, named after one of the first casualties, was built to commemorate students' role in the fight against the Apartheid regime in South Africa.  

The museum allows you to peek into the history of South Africa and witness the events that influenced life in the present day. 

Vredefort Dome

The Vredefort Dome is Earth's oldest and largest verified meteorite impact site (Asrobleme). With a radius of 190 km, it is also the largest and the most deeply eroded.

The dome was formed over 2000 million years ago when a gigantic meteorite hit the earth close to where Vredefort is today.

But not to worry, we’re not sending you here simply to look at a big hole in the ground – the area also boasts numerous activities you can enjoy.

If you’ve always wanted to try river rafting, tubing, abseiling, horse riding, mountain biking, archery or walking in nature, this is the place to do it. 

The Free State National Botanical Garden

On the outskirts of Bloemfontein, spanning 70 hectares and home to about 400 species of plants, lies the Free State National Botanical Garden.

The garden is suitable for all members of society; active outdoors people can venture up the hilly terrain, while a meandering paved garden path is perfect for elderly visitors and people with disabilities.

The garden also houses a nursery full of indigenous trees, succulents, shrubs and bulbs.

Recommended overnight stops in Bloemfontein

It’s not about the destination but your journey to get there. And no journey’s complete without a pitstop or two. 

Bloem has several comfortable options for an overnight stop.

The Protea Hotel by Marriott offers a luxurious, modern stay with great amenities, and the City Lodge Hotel Bloemfontein is a more budget-friendly option, still providing comfort and convenience.

Try the three-star rated De Stallen Guest House, a converted stable with beautifully appointed rooms for a one-of-a-kind stay.

Bloemfontein to Gariep Dam

After some much-needed rest, you’ll soon find yourself back on the road, ready to tackle the trip's second leg.

Continuing from Bloemfontein, your next destination will be the Gariep Dam area. 

The Gariep Dam forms the largest storage reservoir in South Africa, with a total storage of approximately 5500 million m3 and a surface area of more than 370 km2 when full.

You’ll soon discover this part of the trip is flowing with natural beauty and provides an excellent opportunity to experience the great outdoors of South Africa's heartland.

Top attractions along the way

Here are some places you won’t want to miss:

Gariep Dam Nature Reserve

Situated about 200km from Bloemfontein and more or less halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town is the Gariep Dam Nature Reserve. Activities include camping, bird watching, a dam tour, boating and sailing.

Naval Hill

 A visit to the Franklin Game Reserve will bring you face-to-face with Naval Hill, named after British naval guns used there during the Anglo-Boer War. Today, the hill is home to an eight metres high statue of former president Nelson Mandela.

Oviston Nature Reserve

On the southern side of the Gariep Dam lies the Oviston Nature Reserve. The reserve stretches across an impressive 16 000 hectares and is home to a fair amount of game, such as ostriches, springbuck, zebras, oryx and hartebeest. Activities include game viewing, picnicking, hiking and camping. 

Recommended overnight stops

Any of the above places will do, but if you’re looking for traditional accommodation, rest assured that the town of Gariep Dam has no shortage.

Some places you might consider staying for the night include the River Destiny Lodge, Gariep, A Forever Resort and Stoneridge Guesthouse.

From panoramic views of the Gariep area to exquisite restaurants and lodges that make you feel one with nature, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

Gariep Dam to Cape Town

At this, you’re pretty close to reaching your destination, but the adventure is far from over.

The last part of your journey will see you venturing from the Gariep Dam, through the Karoo's semi-desert landscapes, into the lush Garden Route and finally to the busy yet beautiful Mother City, Cape Town.

Top attractions along the way

This region of the country contains some of the most beautiful, vibrant and exhilarating sights and scenes.

So it’s no wonder there’s a lot to do, but we’ll keep things short and sweet for you.

Here’s an idea of places you can add to your itinerary:

Ostrich farm

Pick a farm, any farm – it shouldn’t be too difficult, given that Oudtshoorn is also known as the ostrich capital of the world

Cango Caves

The 20 million-year-old Cango Caves system is a cultural and natural landmark, with caves and hidden chambers cutting deep into a thick limestone layer.

Cape Winelands

Before you reach Cape Town, you'll pass through South Africa's prime wine region, with towns like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek offering wonderful wine-tasting experiences in charming settings.

Recommended overnight stops

Cape Town is quickly becoming a bucket list destination for South Africans and international visitors. 

The city has taken its newfound fame in stride and offers highly-rated accommodation options for weary travellers.

From opulent hotels to beautiful guest houses, Cape Town presents diverse lodging options for every visitor's taste.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Looking for a luxurious stay? Look no further than The Silo Hotel or the Cape Grace Hotel (temporarily closed at the time of writing), which offer remarkable views of the harbour and Table Mountain.

Camps Bay

If you came to the Cape for the beach, you’d be happy to stay at either the Bay Hotel or the boutique-style POD Camps Bay.

City Bowl

It may sound like a restaurant, but the only feast will be for your eyes. The Taj Cape Town and the Cape Milner Hotel provide luxury and convenience to major attractions.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Road Trip

Make the most of your Capetonian stay by visiting its range of attractions from Table Mountain to Robben Island and vibrant neighbourhoods like Bo-Kaap and the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Essentials for the trip

Pack layers to accommodate the range of weather conditions. We’re talking swimwear and sunhats for the hot daytime temperatures and warm jackets for cooler evenings.

Ensure you include any necessary medications, a basic first-aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent in your luggage.

Lastly, keep your documents close and in order. 

Your passport, driver's license, travel insurance documents, and other necessary paperwork may come in handy at some point in the trip.

Staying safe while travelling

Unfortunately, despite all its beauty, South Africa is still far from a paradise, with crime and safety being a major concern.

To stay safe while travelling, keep your personal belongings close, especially in crowded areas. 

Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.

Regarding road safety, abide by the speed limit, avoid driving when wildlife is more active at night, and watch out for road signs.

Health-wise, ensure your well-being by staying hydrated.

Another way is to protect yourself from the sun and take precautions to avoid malaria in risk areas if your route includes them.

Budgeting for the journey

Prices will vary depending on the level of comfort you're looking for. 

Some basic research and booking in advance will help you save a lot of time, avoid stressful situations and it might result in you getting the best rates.

A budget for your meals will require you to consider your dining options. 

If you plan to eat out every meal, allocate a good portion of your budget for this. Alternatively, choose accommodation with kitchen facilities to save on meal costs.

Also, pay attention to how much you’re spending on your activities.

Your budget should account for park entrance fees, guided tours, and other activities. Doing this will keep you accountable for your spending.


The road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town is a journey of discovery and delight.

From historic places like the Voortrekker Monument and the picturesque Free State National Botanical Garden to the majesty of the Cango Caves and vibrant Cape Winelands, this classic South African journey offers an intoxicating blend of culture, nature, and adventure. 

The journey is not just one of kilometres, but a voyage into the heart of South Africa, revealing its varying landscapes, abundant heritage, and endless charm.

Does this sound like music to your ears?

Why not plan your own South African adventure and experience this iconic journey first-hand? 

With every kilometre you travel, you'll fall increasingly in love with this magnificent corner of the globe. 

And wherever the road takes you, peace of mind is something you can’t afford to leave behind. Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. 

Luckily, Pineapple’s got you covered. 

Simply download the Pineapple app on your relevant app store, set up a profile and get a quote in under 90 seconds – less if you’re faster.

Pack your bags, fasten your seatbelt, and let South Africa dazzle you!

Pineapple (FSP 48650) is underwritten by Old Mutual Insure, a licensed FSP and non-life insurer. T&Cs apply. Premium is risk profile dependent.

Team Pineapple

Team Pineapple comprises our company’s top talents, who are dedicated to creating clear, high-quality content on essential vehicle insurance topics. This diverse group, including actuaries, accountants, data scientists, and insurance professionals across South Africa, collaborates to produce enlightening and empowering articles.

Each piece is thoroughly researched, factually accurate, and rigorously reviewed to ensure quality.

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Please Note: The information provided above is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as legal or financial advice.

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