Top 8 Ways to Spend a Day (or Two) in Johannesburg

by Sandy Salle on August 15, 2013

Image to the left taken from SA-Venues.com 

To the surprise of many travelers, Johannesburg is one of the most culturally rich and vibrant cities in southern Africa (and arguably Africa as a whole). So whether you’re flying into Johannesburg for the day or staying for several days, there are a variety of exciting and enriching ways to explore this vibrant city.

Below are some of the best Johannesburg attractions and activities for the discerning traveler to visit and experience:

Apartheid Museum: We have several clients who stay a day in Johannesburg and the Apartheid Museum is always something they come home talking about. The experience through the museum is one that is both humbling and eye opening and is an absolute must for anyone visiting this bustling city.

A tour through the Apartheid Museum brings to life a haunting history that South Africa faced during the 20th century and illustrates how Apartheid has effected the South Africa we know today.

During a tour through the Apartheid Museum, you’ll witness a variety of exhibits that were put together by historians, curators, and filmmakers. You’ll see riveting artifacts, photos, film footage, and panels of text, illustrating the force and oppression of discrimination on the South African people.

Learn more about the Apartheid Museum here.

Soweto Township Tour: Located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, the Soweto Township is home to millions of people. Today, visitors on a Soweto Township tour can witness the effects of Apartheid on the South African people, outside of a museum experience. During the Apartheid, many of the black Africans were forced to move into the Soweto Township, which is where many still reside today.

Today, visitors on a trip to South Africa can take part in a guided Soweto cultural tour via car, foot, or bicycle. During these tours, guests can interact with the local people, witness the lasting effects of Apartheid, visit local shebeens for a beer, or simply observe the culturally rich life in Soweto. No matter how you decide to tour Soweto, you’re sure to leave the township with a feeling of inspiration and an open-heart.

Johannesburg Botanical Gardens: Along the outskirts of the city of Johannesburg is one of the area’s most breathtaking parks. Perfect for an afternoon walk or a picnic for two, the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens are the ideal setting for a relaxing day. Here, visitors can witness thousands of plant varietals, as well as explore a huge rose garden.

FNB Stadium: Formerly referred to as Soccer City, the FNB Stadium was the home of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Seating up to 94,000 people, the FNB Stadium plays host to concerts from internationally acclaimed musicians and artists (including Rihanna and Lady Gaga), as well as football and rugby games.

Check the stadium website for details on upcoming events.

Visitors interested in receiving a behind-the-scenes look inside the stadium can book private tours.

Johannesburg Zoo: You might be thinking “why would I go to a zoo when I can go on safari?” And the answer is because the Johannesburg has tons of animals found around the world, not just in Africa! Although safari is much more exhilarating than a trip to the zoo, the Johannesburg Zoo offers visitors a glimpse into the Amazon, Madagascar, the Nile, and so much more.

And one of our favorite parts about the Johannesburg Zoo is that they have a honey badger that can Tweet! Watch the video about BG the honey badger here.

Gold Reef City: If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping activities, you’ll definitely want to check out Gold Reef City. This historical amusement park is located a mere five miles from the Johannesburg city center, and offers a theme park, casino complex, and restaurants. The rides vary at Gold Reef City and range everywhere from exhilarating rollercoasters to kid-friendly coasters and miniature golf.

And for adults interested in trying their luck at the casino, Gold Reef City offers an entire casino complex, featuring slot machines and table games.

Wonder Cave: Explore the World Heritage Site of the Cradle of Human Kind with a tour through the Wonder Cave . . . Famous for its hominid fossil findings this World Heritage Site is located outside of the main Johannesburg city area and offers a fascinating look into ancient animal fossils. To enter the cave you must descend 90 steps, but it is well worth the sweat!

In order to enter the cave you must be in a guided tour.

Golfing: Within the greater Johannesburg area are some of South Africa’s (and arguably the world’s) finest golf courses. There are literally dozens to choose from in the area (some an hour drive), but one of the most popular is the Royal Johannesburg Golf Club, which features two 18-hole courses.

Discover more about Johannesburg golf courses here.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

World Traveller September 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’m just back from spending a week in Johannesburg. People all over South Africa call it Jo’burg like they’d refer to LA for Los Angeles but sometimes they also call it Jozi which got me confused.

I went to the Apartheid Museum and did not allow enough time. You need at least four hours (I only discovered on arrival). There are some very moving displays and the most interesting ones to me where the ones at the entrance documenting the broader history of Johannesburg as a place of multicultural migration. The museum is very reflective with a lot of reading work to be done (despite many multi-media displays), really too much as it left me loosing interest due to overwhelm. Another criticism I have is that all that reading work is exclusively in English. For a museum that stands for acceptance of that country’s multiculturalism (11 official languages) and as a memorial against prejudice, the linguistic bias took me by surprise and I found it ironic, if not outright idiotic. It left me wondering how that country is adapting to its own multi-cultural heritage.

A much more enjoyable cultural experience for me was visiting the two most prominent art galleries in the suburb of Rosebank which mark the beginning (Everard Read Gallery) and the end (Goodman Gallery) of an “art gallery walk” taking in several other galleries along the way.

Sandy Salle September 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences! The galleries sound wonderful. I will certainly have to check them out next time I am in the area!!

Best,

Sandy

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