Driving in Capetown

Driving in the world-class city of Cape Town is indeed a journey of discovery. With a vast natural and cultural diversity, a car drive in the Mother City allows you to explore the city at your own pace while feasting your eyes with the beautiful natural scenery, the lush and luxuriant winelands or the turquoise water if you are driving across any of the coastal roads.

While the wide roads of the city centre sheds light on the progress that has been made in this modern city, a drive along the Cape Peninsula, hemmed by False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean boasts magnificent scenery, quaint towns and little rustic villages and you can always pull over to indulge in some great photography.

Hop in your car, start the engine and off you go! Navigate through the busy roads of the city centre, face the challenging hair-pin curves, feel the thrill and immerse in the spectacular God-gifted beauty of Cape Town!

Below are some facts, tips and advices for driving in Cape Town.

Driver’s License

All South African drivers are required to have a credit card format driving license. This is automatically issued when a new driver receives a license. The credit card style driving license expires five years from the date on which it was issued. The expiry date appears on the card. Before the card expires, you should apply for a new card.

For foreigners in Cape Town, as long as the driving license is in English and has the photograph of the driver on it, an international driving license is not required.

However, it is advised to confirm the same with your car rental agency.

Speed limitation

General speed limits in South Africa are as follows:

  • 60 km/h on public roads within an urban area
  • 100 km/h on public roads within an urban area which is NOT a freeway
  • 120 km/h on every freeway

Road traffic signs can also set speed limits that may be lower or higher than the general speed limits. These must be adhered to.

Drive on the left

In Cape Town, cars are driven on the left and the right lane is the priority lane meant for over-taking.

Expressways in Cape Town

The M3 is an expressway in Cape Town which connects the upper part of the City Bowl to the southern suburbs and it ends at Tokai.

The M5 expressway connects the northern suburbs (Milnerton) to Muizenberg in the south and crosses both the N1 and N2.

Road signs

The road signs in Cape Town meet the international standard and are in English and Afrikaans.

Rush Hours and Heavy traffic

One is most likely to encounter heavy traffic during the rush hours in Cape Town which are as follows:

From 7.00 am to 9.00 am

From 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm

Alcohol limitation

Driving in a drunken state is a serious offense in Cape Town. No person is allowed to drive with more than 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Drunk drivers can face up to 6 years of imprisonment, pay a fine of R 120 000 and even have their license suspended.

Use of mobile phone

Using the phone while driving is prohibited in Cape Town. Make sure to pull over if you have to attend an urgent call or send a text.

Road Tolls

A toll fee is applicable on N1 and N2 while driving to or from Cape Town.

Seat Belts

Attaching the seat belt is mandatory in Cape Town, even for children.


You can choose from Unleaded, lead Replacement (LR) and Diesel. Normally, cars on rent use unleaded. If you are not sure, it’s is normally indicated somewhere near the filler cap.

Attendants at the filling stations usually fill up your car and may even wash your window, pump your tires and top up your oil.

Parking in Cape Town

Both paid and free parking spaces are available across Cape Town. Look for the P sign. Park guards can usually be found near the parking slots.

Driving tips in Cape Town

With the soaring road rage hitting the roads in Cape Town, keep your calm when driving across the city. Do not show an aggressive behavior towards a bad driver.

Be extra-cautious approaching traffic lights, slow down even if you have green lights and right of way. Always watch out for anybody skipping a red light or pedestrians crossing the road.

Never leave valuables visible in your car. Hide everything in the boot in order not to tempt the notorious ones.

Make sure to have a spare tire in your car. Some streets, parking spaces, even the main roads are littered with broken glass, nails or broken car parts (from precious accidents when broken off car parts hardly ever get brushed aside), so you always should come prepared.

Always watch out for pedestrians along the roads or even crossing busy roads.