Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and also the second largest city in Africa, with more than 3 million people calling this bustling metropolis home. Joburg, or Jozi as some prefer to call it, offers visitors an experience as unique and diverse as the city itself. Whether you are on business, in search of a cultural encounter, and adrenaline rush or simply want to relax and unwind for a few days, the city of Johannesburg has everything you’re looking for and more. Here are the 10 things to do while in Johannesburg:
Observe a different side of Joburg with a visit to Soweto. This place is in the South of Johannesburg, is a city developed as a township for black people under the apartheid system. Get the opportunity to explore what life is like in South Africa beyond the city suburbs, Soweto is a site of historical importance, featuring Kliptown, where Freedom Charter was drawn up. You will get a fascinating glimpse of bustling neighborhood life as you drive by the former residences of two South African Nobel Peace Price winners, as well as visit icons of the struggle such as the Hector Peterson Memorial, the Regina Mundi Church and Freedom Square.
If you are seeking for a bird’s-eye view of Johannesburg, the 50-storey Carlton Centre is the place to go. Visiting this centre you can enjoy a panoramic view of the City of Gold from the Top of Africa, as the topmost floor of the building in known. The tallest building in Africa and once the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the Carlton Centre stands 223m high- about 40m shy of featuring on the world’s top 100 skyscrapers list. Get a view over Jo’burg from the top of the Carlton Centre, the tallest building in Africa. It costs less than a cappuccino and the view is well worth it.
For a sad insight in South Africa’s history, the Apartheid Museum is an essential destination, giving a thorough overview of the rise and fall of apartheid. The museum makes excellent use of multimedia exhibits to show the political and personal aspects of apartheid. The Apartheid Museum, close to downtown Johannesburg, focuses on the notorious system of racial discrimination that became synonymous with South Africa from 1948 until 1994, the year in which the country held its first fully democratic elections.
4. Lion Park
Nowhere can you get closer to a pride of Lions and other animals and still be completely safe. Explore the animals up close in all the activities that the Lion Park offers, whether you go on a self-drive tour, guided tour or in the new electric silent vehicle, you will get super close to the animals, not to mention special tours like the amazing cheetah walk and exclusive mesmerizing lion tour guided by world renowned animal behaviourist, Alext Larenty. Amazing photos opportunities await around every corner in the park, share your memories with friends and family by having your photos taken professionally by photographers.
Newtown is positioned in Johannesburg’s central city and forms part of the city’s cultural and creative hub. The area includes theatres, houses, art galleries, museums, restaurants, book stores, craft markets, clubs and cafes. The area has politically turbulent past and due to its multiracial diversity, it was the scene of some of the first forced removals in Gauteng implemented by the apartheid government. Today, Newtown remains resolutely colour-blind with artists of all races gathering here. Take in a show at the Market Theatre, visit the Sci-Bono Centre, drop in at Museum Africa, or catch some local and international music acts at Bassline. Make sure you see a nice view of Mandela Bridge lit up at night.
Have brunch with the hipsters at Market on Main on Sunday morning, and take a look at the quirky designer offering on sale. For a more relaxed feel, try the Rooftop Market at Rosebank Mall, a huge market with everything from souvenirs and handmade goods to old movie posters and antiques. You can also find traditional South African food- at prices locals will pay. If you’re still hungry, eat your fill every Saturday morning at the Jozi Food Market.
Spending time in a mall is a central part of the Johannesburg experience. If you’re into shopping, the place to be is Sandton City which is situated in one of the city’s commercial and business hubs. Sandton City hosts upmarket designer boutiques and, well, just about anything else you might want to find. Have lunch in Sandton Square, or just let your inner child run free in the fountains. Sandton City offers an unparalleled shopping experience that combines the world’s most desirable brands with everyday leisure and entertainment.
Montecasino, situated in Fourways, North of Johannesburg is known being Gauteng’s number one entertainment destination having being voted Best Casino, Best Entertainment Complex, Best Cinema Complex and Best place to take out-of-towners. With the diverse range range of attractions including accommodation- there is something for everyone at Montecasino to be enjoyed by young and old alike. Montecasino’s attractive Tuscan style appearance makes it an attractive filming destination as well as an ideal venue for events, having hosted several local and international performers. It is described as “Gauten’s Premier Entertainment Destination”, given that it’s home to cinemas, a casino, and the largest theatre in Africa, the Teatro. The Teatro has hosted a number of world-class musicals featuring South African casts, and the smaller theatres have a steady run of more intimate shows.
9. The Cradle of Humankind
It only takes a short trip from Jo’burg to get back to your roots. Get in touch with your ancient ancestors in the Sterkfontein Caves, where Mrs Ples and Littlefoot were discovered, and spend time exploring the award-winning Maropeng visitor centre. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is one of eight South African World Heritage Sites. It is the world’s richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils.
10. The great Outdoors
Johannesburg is also home to a number of beautiful parks, the biggest of which is the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden in Roodepoort. Take an easy hike to the top of waterfall, and keep your eyes peeled for the resident eagles. For an even more relaxed day, go for a walk or a picnic in the sunshine at Emmarentia Dam, or indulge your inner pirate and go boating on Zoo Lake.