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Cape Town

Table Mountain towering over Cape Town

Practical Info about Cape Town

Time

GMT +2.

Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round, three-pin plugs are standard.

Currency

South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. All commercial banks will exchange foreign currency.

Communication

The international access code for South Africa is +27. GSM mobile phone networks providing 900 and 1800 frequencies serve the country, and there are roaming agreements with most international mobile operators. Mobile service providers offer very cheap 'pay-as-you-go' SIM cards, which are a good option for visitors staying for some time. Internet cafes are available. Card and coin operated pay phones are also widespread.

Emergency number

Emergencies: 10111 (Police); 10177 (Ambulance)

Visa and health information

Everything about visa and health information

Public holidays

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2014 2015
New Year’s Day 1 Jan 1 Jan
Human Rights Day 21 Mar 21 Mar
Good Friday 18 Apr 3 Apr
Easter Monday 21 Apr 6 Apr
Freedom Day 27 Apr 27 Apr
Worker’s Day 1 May 1 May
Election Day 7 May TBA
Youth Day 16 Jun 16 Jun
Women’s Day 9 Aug 9 Aug
Heritage Day 24 Sep 24 Sep
Day of Reconciliation 16 Dec 16 Dec
Christmas Day 25 Dec 25 Dec
Day of Goodwill 26 Dec 26 Dec

Climate

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Cape Town, on the Cape Peninsula, has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry, sunny summers and cold, wet winters. Seasons are well defined, with winter, between June and September, being influenced by a series of cold fronts that cross the peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are characterised by heavy rain, strong northwesterly winds, and low temperatures. In summer Cape Town is warm and dry, but the idyllic sunny weather is often punctuated with strong southeasterly winds. The average temperatures in Cape Town in the summer range between 61°F (16°C) and 79°F (26°C) and in winter average between 47°F (8.5°C) and 64°F (18°C). Summer temperatures can reach well above 86°F (30°C) and nighttime temperatures in winter occasionally drop below freezing, but this is rare. The most popular time to visit is summer and early autumn (December to March).

Getting around the city

Public transport is poor everywhere but the city centre, so most visitors hire a car, particularly if planning excursions from the city. Driving can be confusing, however experienced drivers should cope if they have a GPS. For trips within the city or to the Atlantic beaches minibus taxis are cheap and convenient and can be hailed by adventurous travellers anywhere along their route, but the vehicles are often in very bad condition and the driving can be appalling. Passengers should expect to pay around R7 for most journeys within the city, but are cautioned against getting into an empty minibus. The new MyCiti buses are safe and reliable; however, passengers must purchase a card from a depot before riding. Tourists are advised to avoid the trains, with the exception of the Simon's Town line, which runs past Muizenberg and along the stunning False Bay coast. Pick pocketing is rife and there have been several attacks on passengers. Taxis are expensive but are a good option at night for those without a car. Public transport should not be taken after dark and the outlying township areas should be avoided at all costs unless on an organised tour.

Cape Town International Airport

www.airports.co.za

Getting to the city

The MyCiti bus is the quickest and cheapest option for getting into the city, with an express to the city centre costing R50. Door-to-door minibus services are available for the journey to the city, taking approximately half an hour. Many hotels operate courtesy buses and a 24-hour backpacker bus is available hourly to many hostels.

Car rental

Car rental companies include Hertz, Avis, National Alamo, Budget, Europcar and Tempest.

Airport taxi's

A taxi to the centre of Cape Town takes approximately 30 minutes and the cost may vary depending on the time of day and number of passengers, generally amounting to between R150 and R250, with fares up to 50 percent more at night. Only Touch Down Taxis, the authorised airport taxi company, is allowed to operate from the airport.

Facilities

ATMs, bars, restaurants and currency exchange facilities are available throughout the airport. There are several shops, including duty-free in the International Departures section. A VAT refund service is available by the International check in desk. Hotel reservations and tourist information are available in the International Terminal.

Parking

There is short and long-term parking in a multilevel parking garage connected to the terminal. Fees range from ZAR 16 for the first hour to ZAR 275 for five days in the long-term parking area. There is also a special pick-up area that offers 30 minutes' free parking.

Internet

There are several pay-as-you-go wifi hotspots in the airport.