Africa’s busiest airport is located in the east of Johannesburg, South Africa. O.R. Tambo International Airport is Africa’s aerial crossroads, where domestic flights meet departures heading across Africa and beyond. Flights depart to far-flung destinations on many continents, including New York, Perth, Sao Paulo, and dozens of destinations across Europe and Asia.
The majority of visitors to South Africa land here and the first impression is always a good one, with photos of lions and rhinos filling huge billboards. Many find the airport to be extremely spacious, especially in comparison with those in Europe. All international flights leave from Terminal A, while Terminal B is the domestic terminal. These terminals are connected by a covered walkway that takes around five minutes to walk. There’s a large food court on the first floor, featuring local eateries and South African chains like Spur and Ocean Basket. When connecting, passengers will need to clear customs at O.R. Tambo International Airport if they are continuing onto domestic flights to non-international airports.
Taxis are available immediately outside the terminal building. These are all licensed, metered taxis, distinguished by the yellow taxi sign on their roof. For many destinations, it’s quicker to travel by Gautrain, the modern railway that was installed for the 2010 World Cup. It’s 25 minutes to Park Station in central Johannesburg, and a little longer for Rosebank and Sandton. This air-conditioned train continues all the way to Pretoria. Particularly during rush hour traffic, the train saves time when visiting anywhere in the west of Johannesburg.
The airport was formerly known as Johannesburg International and Jan Smuts Airport. O. R. Tambo was one of the forefathers of the fight against apartheid and was president of the ANC for over two decades. While Nelson Mandela was famously incarcerated, Oliver Tambo was in exile, seeking to gain support for the anti-apartheid movement.