So, you want to book cheap flights to Cape Town (CPT) to take advantage of Tours du Cap’s unique tours of the Mother City? The good news is that Cape Town is the second most connected city in southern Africa (after Johannesburg), so there are plenty of options – from direct flights to cheaper 1-stops. In this guest blog from Rob Baker of SouthAfrica.TO we’ll spell out your options, and share our tips.
First let’s look at the direct flights:
- There are direct flights from Europe to Cape Town with British Airways (from London Heathrow), Virgin Atlantic (from London Heathrow), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (from Amsterdam), Lufthansa (from Munich), Edelweiss Air (seasonal flights from Zurich), Condor (seasonal flights from Frankfurt) and TAAG (from Luanda). Sadly, South African Airways stopped flying from London to Cape Town in 2012. Air France currently offers seasonal flights from Paris to Cape Town in South Africa’s summer (and 1-stop options to Cape Town via Johannesburg and a codeshare partner).
- There are also direct flights to Cape Town with Air Mauritius, Air Namibia (from Windhoek), Emirates (from Dubai), Qatar airways (from Doha), Air Botswana (from Gaborone or Maun) and Turkish Airlines (from Istanbul).
Direct is the fastest way to travel, but unfortunately usually not the cheapest. The cheapest flights to Cape Town are often 1-stop flights with one of the airlines in or around the middle-east; like Emirates, Qatar Airways or Turkish Airlines. Although, one must bear in mind that if you fly 1-stop there’s the risk that the first flight is delayed and you miss your onward flight to Cape Town.
Another alternative is to first fly to Johannesburg and then catch a domestic flight on a low cost carrier from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Note that there are flights in Johannesburg from OR Tambo International Airport as well as Lanseria International Airport. Domestic airlines operating flights to Cape Town from within South Africa are Airlink, British Airways Comair (a South African airline partially owned by British Airways PLC), Kulula (owned by Comair, and renowned for cracking jokes), Mango Airlines, South African Airways (the national flag carrier) and South African Express (also a government owned airline) – the low cost carriers are Mango Airlines (owned by the SA Government) and Kulula.
International flights from London to Cape Town are particularly well covered, with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flying the route. Both of them offer an economy-plus travel option as well as a business class, with British Airways also offering first class cabins.
International flights to Cape Town are especially busy during the southern hemisphere’s summer; in December, January & February. It’s generally cheaper to fly during the rest of the year. A tip is to rather visit during October, November, March or April (but avoid Easter holidays); when the weather is milder, the wind calmer, the tourist attractions are not as crowded and accommodation is cheaper. There are many days during those months when it’s wonderful to soak up the sun on Cape Town’s beautiful white-sanded beaches. If you’re combining your trip to Cape Town with one to the Kruger National Park, then it’s also advisable to avoid the summer rainy season (when the grass is longer and the watering holes are less crowded). My personal favourite is to travel to Cape Town from September to October (avoiding the September school holidays) so as to enjoy the spring flowers and the annual visit of the southern right whales to the Cape south coast.
If you can be a bit flexible with your flight dates you can secure much lower airfares – sometimes even being able to vary your date by a couple of days can mean significantly lower airfares.
Cape Town International Airport (IATA code “CPT”) is the city’s only airport with scheduled commercial flights, and is situated about 20km east of the city centre, with the N2 National Road taking you almost all the way. From Cape Town airport you can either get a shuttle service with Tours du Cap or hire a car from one of the car rental outlets – Avis and Europcar have the biggest presence, followed by Hertz, Tempest, First Car Rental, the Woodford Group or Budget. A more zany option is Best Beetle, specialising in the renting out of old Beetle vehicles. Many of the airlines have car rental partners, so you can often book a cheap car hire with your flight to Cape Town. There are also MyCiti buses from Cape Town Airport to the Civic Centre in the city (they leave the airport every 20 minutes from 04h20 to 22h00 and, depending on traffic, can take from 15 minutes to an hour to travel the route). There is no train system from Cape Town International Airport.
If you’re still not finding a cheap enough flight to Cape Town and are willing to do anything for a cheap flight then try dating a pilot – they get tons of perks!