Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, having a population estimated at a number that exceeds 3 million inhabitants, in total, half of which live
in the adjacent suburbs and close-by Soweto. It is, perhaps, the city that stands out most in South Africa, due to the fact that it is characterized by
contradiction and irreconcilable differences that lead to somewhat awful "events", at the same time, also being the wealthiest and, without doubt, the
economic powerhouse of Africa.
Jozi, as Johannesburg is more commonly referred to, is a happening city, a buzzing and bustling African destination, whith a "travel reputation" that
exceeds any expectations when arriving. If putting together a travel brochure about Johannesburg, "boring" will certainly not be one of the words chosen to
describe it, given that there are so much fun things to do in the city that it could get overwhelming, especially for a firt-time visitor.
One of the interesting things about Johannesburg is that it is home to more than six million trees, which means that it could affectionately be described
as a beautiful, "leafy" African destination. Although, it is not exactly known for being an outdoor city, Johannesburg is home to numerous amazing green
spaces, parks, and nature rezerves, among the most popular such attractions in the city also being the Kruger National Park or the Walter Sisulu National
Aside from a vast, impressive vegetation, Johannesburg is also home to some of the tallest structures in Africa, among the ones worth to be reminded
also being the Carlton Centre or the Sentech Tower. The city's skyline is, arguably, one of the most impressive in the world, another impressive thing
about it also being the fact that some of the tall structures housing huge international rganisations such as IBM, Absa, BHP Billiton, Willis Group, or
First National Bank.
Johannesburg is a modern city, with residential areas that range from luxurious shiny marble ones to wooded ones, and buildings constructed in all
shapes and colors (a camera is a definitely must, when packing your baggage, before visiting).
Among the top things to do, before leaving Johannesburg, there are:
- petting the lion cubs at the Rhino & Lion Park and visit the Elephant Sanctuary near the Hartebeespoort Dam;
- take a tour of Soweto;
- view the city from the top of the Carlton Centre or via a Helicopter flight;
- go shopping (of course);
- see Sun City;
- visit the Johannesburg Zoo;
- Check out Gold Reef City;
- see the Cradle of Humankind, located at Maropeng in the Gauteng province;
- check out Bruma Lake Flea Market;
- go shopping at The Brightwater Commons;
- attend a production at the city's Premiere Civic Theatre;
- see the Jacaranda Trees in nearby Jacaranda City;
There are plenty of things to do for fun, within and around the city, Johannesburg offering its visitors a wealth of appealing attractions and fun
things to do, aiming to make every stay memorable.
Like the locals and most previous visitors say: "Once you visit Johannesburg, you always come back!"
What to Do and See
The economic center of South Africa, Johannesburg is the country's largest city, offering a wide range of attractions and activities
for all ages. Most of the sights are located near the hotels in the center of Jozi, so wherever you would stay during your vacation
there, you will be very close to all major tourist spots worth seeing in and around the city.
There are some activities and places that are recommended not to be missed while being in Johannesburg and you can check out some of them below.
The Carlton Panorama is a great opportunity for tourists to have a view on the entire Johannesburg from the tallest African building,
an impressive 50-floor structure, from which both the new and the old parts of the city can be admired. Apartheid Museum was
officially opened in 2001 and it represents the victory of the human spirit over immoral and racial sufferings. It is considered a must-see attraction
of Johannesburg that will show you the triumph of humanity over adversity. The Constitution Hill Museum was opened in 2004 and it is
built on an old prison closed in 1983. There are some famous prisoners who were kept captive in the former "Number Four" prison, such as Nelson Mandela
and Mahatma Ghandi.
Next, you can go to Soweto, which is an area right outside the city of Johannesburg, a large mine-waste dumping place which now houses
around 1 million people. Soweto is the place where the South African peaceful revolution was started and now it's considered quite dangerous for
visiting on your own, because of the public transport risks and the street signs absence. However, there are many historical sights to be seen here,
including the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The Gold Reef City Theme Park
was initially conceived around 1890 like downtown Johannesburg, with Victorian and Edwardian buildings, but currently it houses the largest
rollercoaster in South Africa and in the Southern Hemisphere. The theme park's impressive feature is that below it, there lies a labyrinth of tunnels,
that now can be visited by tourists at 656ft underneath.
and Botanic Gardens are also two pleasant and relaxing landmarks that worth visiting if you're in Johannesburg. The Zoo provides
safari trips and you can admire there over 2,000 animals, organized in specific areas such as the Spice Route (animals found in Asia), Heart of Africa
(gorillas, chimpanzees and other central African species), Southern Safari (local animals), Extreme Environments (camels, polar bears and penguins) and
Amazonia (animals of South America). The botanic gardens cover 365 acres and are considered one of the most quiet and peaceful spots of the entire
Johannesburg's main airport is O.R Tambo International Airport, a connecting point for trips to South Africa. In fact it is the continent's busiest
airport and the majority of international flights are from and to London. The location of the airport is at a distance of about 24 km from Johannesburg
city center, in the east side. You can travel to and from the city by taxi, rental car or hotel shuttle, but while you're in the airport you should not
change your money there, as the money changers have really high commissions. Instead, make an effort to buy some Rand, the local currency, from your
GETTING AROUND JOHANNESBURG
Unlike many other major cities in the world, Johannesburg does not provide too many transportation options to its inhabitants or tourists. That is why,
the most recommended way of getting around the city is by driving yourself a rental car, even with the risk of getting stuck in a traffic jam, which
happens a lot, because of the street signs absence.
Public transportation is made up of buses and minibus services, although they are not recommended for tourists because of the high crime rate of
Johannesburg. An alternative would be the taxi, but here is a problem too, because the operators don't have fixed prices and you will have to set an
amount you are willing to pay for your trip from the moment you make the phone call. Anyway, if you take a taxi, don't expect to see them around you,
it's better to have several taxi telephone numbers so that you can be sure a car will pick you up.