A Local’s Guide to Johannesburg
Is Johannesburg on your holiday list yet? If you only think of Johannesburg as a business destination, you’re missing out.
Yes, its roots are entwined with South Africa’s economy ever since its start in 1886. It began as a mining town after gold was discovered. Today, it’s still an integral part of diamond and gold trade. It’s also the location of South Africa’s Constitutional Court
It’s the largest city in South Africa thanks to its business hub, but also the many residential areas. These are essential to cater for the over 4 million people who call it home. This makes it the most populous city in South Africa.
But the industrial focus doesn’t mean the locals can’t have fun. Are you ready to find out why they prefer it to any other place?
Must See Johannesburg Attractions
Where else will you find such a rich blend of attractions? Johannesburg caters for almost any type of traveller.
When you take your trip you’ll meet many locals who also enjoy these activities. Get ready to listen to the mix of local spoken languages such as Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa. But don’t worry. Most locals also speak English.
Soweto’s Orlando Towers for the Adventurous
If you travel to make epic memories, the Orlando Towers must be your first stop. This is proof that nothing in life has to go to waste. Johannesburg continually evolves. It must stay current to cater for international business.
But it also looks after its heritage. This is the perfect example.
The Orlando Towers formed part of a coal-fired power station, but it was decommissioned in 1998. What did Johannesburg do with it? They transformed the 100m high cooling towers to become a bungee and base jumping facility.
Thanks to the colourful exteriors they have today, you easily spot them on the Johannesburg skyline. Enjoy the adrenaline rush!
Truly South African Experience in Soweto
Do you want to experience something unique?
A huge part of Johannesburg’s past relates to people in informal settlements fighting against apartheid. Today, one of the large informal settlements—Soweto—is part of Johannesburg. It’s also called a township and it’s your privilege to experience the unique features of Soweto’s history and lifestyle.
Take a guided tour on a bus to see locals and bask in their friendliness, music & culture.
Tasting local cuisine is as important as travelling, don’t you think? During a Soweto Township Tour, you can taste truly South African dishes such as a bunny chow. Don’t worry. This is simply half a loaf of bread, hollowed out and filled to the brim with flavorful toppings. Or what about ‘pap’—a maize product—with spicy ‘chakalaka’ sauce?
Words won’t do it justice, so you’ll have to taste these dishes yourself. Johannesburg’s food is as unforgettable as its attractions and people.
And which South African individual won’t ever be forgotten? Nelson Mandela of course.
Yes, this is where the great statesman lived at times. Today his home in Soweto is a museum called ‘Nelson Mandela House.’ You’ll see how he lived and learn something about Johannesburg’s history that transformed the world.
Visit the Past in Newtown
Looking for more fun ways to experience history? Johannesburg knows just how to get this right.
Newtown is an old suburb in the heart of the city. But instead of dilapidated buildings, you’ll find a vibrant hub that will keep you busy for an entire day.
If you love museums you can pop into the Sci-Bono Discovery Center and learn about science in a very entertaining way. For Southern African history, you must book your ticket for Museum Africa.
Or perhaps you require entertainment, relaxation and excellent food. That’s when you head to the art galleries, flea markets or the Market Theatre.
And no visitor should leave without viewing the colours, products and fragrances of the Oriental Plaza. Once again the diversity of the country is showcased in one location. Don’t leave without tasting a local Indian samosa.
Time to Shop?
What do you hope to find while you shop in Johannesburg?
To shop for local crafts, the Rosebank Flea Market is a perfect setting. If you’re looking for a modern approach, you have many options. Visit Sandton City where you’ll find local and international brands & franchises. At Nelson Mandela Square you can take a selfie in front of the six-meter high statue of Mandela, before heading to the shops.
In Johannesburg, even an ordinary activity can turn into a memorable moment.
See a Lion in the City
Keep your visit interesting by meeting the king of the jungle. Yes, even in this metropolis you’ll find wildlife.
The Lion Park is home to 80 lions and other wild animals. This facility and the nearby De Wildt Cheetah Centre work hard to look after endangered species. If you’re lucky there will be lion cubs you can touch and even hold.
Would you rather stay safe from wild animals? The Johannesburg Zoo or the stunning Walter Sisulu National Botanical gardens are perfect places for a relaxing picnic.
Gold Reef City for Young and Old
Do you have kids? Or perhaps you’re simply young at heart? Make sure your whole family has good memories of your Johannesburg visit by going to Gold Reef City theme park.
No one has an excuse to be bored at Gold Reef City. The theme park caters for toddlers, teens and adults:
- There are fun and challenging rides such as the Anaconda & Tower of Terror.
- When it’s time to unwind you can enjoy the Lazy Boats
- Learn something about Johannesburg’s heritage. There’s a Crush Museum showcasing the miners’ lives.
- See for yourself what gold panning was all about.
Johannesburg’s tourist attractions like these, help you see something of its past while you have fun doing it.
Eating and Getting Around
What About Transport?
If you’re looking for practical travel options, Johannesburg wins once again. The O.R. Tambo International Airport is located near the city and you’ll find connecting flights to many other destinations.
What about local transport? Thanks to the Gautrain train system you can reach many prominent Johannesburg areas at 160km/h. At stations, you’ll never wait longer than 20 minutes for your next ride. The system incorporates busses too, while hotels and tourism agencies often provide transport to & from the Gautrain stations.
You can enjoy Johannesburg at your leisure.
What to Eat?
From the notes above you can see most tourist attractions incorporate the country’s unique cuisine into the experiences they offer. But where do you go for dinner after a long day of sightseeing?
Treat yourself to a five-star meal in Melrose Arch. Here you’ll find everything from Jamie’s Italian Restaurant to Mythos for some Greek cuisine.
But, for the ultimate Johannesburg experience, you must experience the skyline at night. Book your table at the Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff. With 180° views of the city’s buildings and stunning purple Jacaranda trees, your food will even taste better.
What is your favourite part about travelling? You can see Johannesburg caters for almost any type of visitor. Its sunny days all through the year means you can enjoy it no matter when your next trip is booked. Will you be one of the lucky ones that make memories in this city?
If your now interested in visiting Johannesburg, why not check out the top 10 places to visit in the city.