There are three main modes of transport in South Africa – rail, road and air. What follows below is a general description of each.
Rail transport in South Africa is well established, and has been in use for decades. Besides inter-city railway services, there are also metropolitan commuter services in Johannesburg/Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. One should keep in mind, however, that due to the relatively long distances between cities in South Africa, rail transport can take a long time. For example, it can take in excess of twenty hours to travel from Cape town to Johannesburg by rail. However, taking the train will cost you roughly half as much as the bus or aeroplane.
Road travel in South Africa is also well developed. The country’s system of roads extends to practically every region of the country, and the roads tend to be in a passable condition. Once again, the long distances between cities mean that driving can be a tiring experience, so if you are planning on making a road trip, try to factor in rest stops, or even an overnight stay along the way. Driving in the summer heat can also be taxing, so take plenty of fluids if you plan on doing so. Besides driving, you can also take the bus. Like the train, the bus will take a relatively long time to make the journey, but it will cost far more than the train. Then there are also minibus taxis. However, keep in mind that due to high demand during rush hour, minibus taxis are not always a very comfortable option.
Flying is considerably faster than either road or rail transport. A flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg typically takes about two hours, and there are airports in all the major cities. However, flying is also the most expensive mode of transport of the three, and airports tend to be far away from the centre of cities, so you will also need to arrange transport to your final destination once you have landed. Be aware that there are a number of low cost airlines operating domestically, so you have a wide range of options if you decide to fly locally.
Although South Africa does have a number of harbours, travelling by sea is extremely uncommon and is not recommended.