Johannesburg or Joburg (as it is affectionaly known), the city of gold, is now a 21st century metropolis and referred to as South Africa’s economic powerhouse. Stunningly enough, Joburg sprung from a mining town of tents and dust, barely 130 years ago.
In many ways Johannesburg retains much of the pioneering spirit of the gold diggers, robbers, cut throats and super-rich rand lords who built it.
We take a look of some of the must see places if you are visiting Johannesburg for the first time.
Things to do in Johannesburg
For the visitor in search of exciting things to do, Johannesburg is a modern-day Eldorado where there is high adventure, a rich melting pot of history, culture, and the arts.
- Maboneng Precinct: Maboneng has become a place of comfort for both artists and lovers of art. It has the creativity aura about it. Wide range of social spots to mingle and meet new people. From restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, clothing boutiques and studios Maboneng has manage to restore the livelihood of Joburg returning it to its former glory as the city dreams and hope.
- Melrose Arch: The sophistication of this mall caters for the lovers of fine things. Shopping for over the range fashion or dinning on an exquisite restaurant that pride itself on friendly setting and tasty food.
- Apartheid Museum: The Apartheid Museum illustrate the struggles faced by South Africans during the apartheid era. The museums depicts the historic events of liberation through dramatic images, animations, and videos. Anyone interested in learning more about the South African history can visit the Johannesburg Museum to be equipped with all the necessary information
- Orlando Towers: Adrenaline junkie? Orlando Towers situated in Soweto, a historic township has exciting activities from bungee jumping between two cooling towers to rock climbing to paint balling.
- Gold Reef City: Intrigued by fun rides? Gold Reef city is the place to be with a variety of fun rides. Visitors are not only presented with amusement but they also get the opportunity to learn about the mining disasters and with and extra fee, visitors can take part in the underground tour of the closed down gold mine.
- Monte Casino: It offers best events when it comes to dining, gaming and hotel accommodations. Monte Casino located in Fourways Johannesburg has over the top entertainment for everyone with movie theatres, bowling, casino and many other fun things to do.
- Nelson Mandela Square: Mandela Square which is situated in Sandton City offers variety of food outlets, antique shops and boutiques. It has a largest statue of the former president and liberation icon. The statue serves as a focal point for both local and tourist attraction.
Joburg Arts and Culture
Johannesburg became rich on the back of the mining industry, but the city is also a rich melting pot of history, culture, and the arts.
- A Vibrant Theatre Scene. With more than 10 world class theatres including the National Children’s Theatre, the POPArt Theatre of the performing arts, and the renowned Nelson Mandela Theatre On The Square, if theatre and live entertainment is your thing, Johannesburg ticks all the boxes.
- Maboneng Precinct: Take a stroll through the restored and re-imagined inner city precinct of Maboneng, which means ‘place of light’ in Sotho. The precinct is an ever-expanding celebration of the colourful cultures, history and heritage of Johannesburg.
- Art Galleries: As you walk, take in the beautiful sculptures and memorials that adorn the precinct and immerse yourself in one of the many modern and contemporary galleries featuring the work of established and exciting young African artists.
- Lesedi Cultural Village. Less than a 60-minute drive north of Johannesburg and set amid rolling, pristine bushveld and hills is Lesedi Cultural Village where visitors can enjoy an up-close-and-personal encounter with the proud cultural heritage of the Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Ndebele and Basotho peoples.
- The Cradle of Humankind. Another short drive out of Johannesburg is the Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves, a World Heritage Site. A tour of this fascinating place takes you back more than 3 million years to humanity’s earliest common ancestors. Welcome home brothers and sisters!
Places to visit in Johannesburg
Occupying a proud and significant place in the history of South Africa’s anti-apartheid and liberation struggle, Johannesburg and nearby Soweto are home to must-see landmarks.
- Vilakazi Street Orlando: Soweto where Nelson Mandela’s house is a lovingly preserved memorial to the life and times of South Africa’s greatest son.
- Nelson Mandela Square: A six-metre tall statue of Mandela looks down over luxury brand stores including Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. A true shopper’s paradise.
- The Apartheid Museum.: A stone’s throw south of the city centre is The Apartheid Museum, a stark reminder of South Africa’s dark political past.
- The Hector Pieterson Museum: Also in Orlando, this museum/memorial to the students who took part in the 1976 anti-apartheid uprisings, is situated just two blocks away from where 12-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot dead by apartheid police on June 16, 1976.
Fun things to do with kids in Johannesburg
Johannesburg is also about retail therapy and shop, shop, shopping. The malls of Sandton are home to boutiques and flagship stores of every luxury brand imaginable, from Cartier to Max Mara and Gucci. Add a mouth-watering array of top class restaurants, bistros, watering holes and night spots, this is enjoyment at it’s best.
- Red Bus: Hop on a specially-modified Red Bus for a ‘topless tour’ of Joburg.
- Soweto: Cycle through Soweto with a knowledgeable tour guide.
- Lion Park: Take a drive through the Lion Park where giraffes roam while you eat lunch
- Gold Reef City: Put on your miner’s helmet and take an underground tour of what was one of the world’s deepest gold mines, or enjoy thrills on breathtaking roller coaster rides, or wine and dine like the rich prospectors of 100 years ago at Golf Reef City.
- The Pilansberg National Park: This national park offers real African safaris with guaranteed sightings of the Big 5: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino. Experience this verdant wilderness in guided morning and afternoon game drives, spot-lit night drives and, for the romantic adventurer, a flight in a hot-air balloon.
Where Is Johannesburg?
Capital city of Gauteng province South Africa, Johannesburg (-26.20 latitude and 28.04 longitude) is situated 1,767 meters above sea level, on the country’s Central Plateau or Highveld, It has a population of 2,026,469 making it the biggest city in the province. It operates on the SAST time zone.
Best Time to Visit Johannesburg
March to May and September to November are the best times of year to visit Joburg. These traditionally low season months see crowds lessen, prices drop as well as gorgeous relatively warm and dry weather.