Only have a few days to spend in Johannesburg? There’s a lot to see and do, but these are six of the most unmissable tourist attractions you simply must add to your itinerary…
If you’re visiting the city with kids, make a beeline for this brilliant theme park complex, which is built on the site of an old gold mine. The gold rush is understandably a prominent theme here, across its extreme rides and rollercoasters, historical exhibits and in the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel. You can even tour a disused mine shaft.
There are attractions for all ages at Gold Reef City, including a petting zoo for younger children and a casino for grown-up day trippers.
No trip to Johannesburg is complete without some time spent getting to grips with its history in the acclaimed Apartheid Museum. This poignant museum tells South Africa’s painful apartheid story through thought-provoking exhibits, including personal accounts, film footage and striking interactive displays. Spend at least two hours or more here to get the full experience.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
Escape the bustle of the city centre and take a picnic to the cool botanical gardens in Roodepoort, which boasts the beautiful Witpoortjie Waterfall as its centre piece. Named after famous anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu, these spacious, serene gardens span an impressive 300+ hectares. Expect to see abundant birds and diverse plant species, along with a Fern Trail, Geological Display Garden and a children’s garden specially designed for the little ones to let off some steam.
Soweto – including Hector Pieterson Museum and Mandela House
There’s lots to see in Soweto, which is an abbreviation for Southwestern Townships, around 20 kilometres away from Johannesburg city centre. This is a place of enormous historical significance for the fight for freedom against oppression in South Africa, with must-see sites including the Nelson Mandela National Museum (Mandela’s former home) and the popular Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. To get the most from your time in Soweto, go for a full-day tour with a knowledgeable guide.
Formerly a rather run-down neighbourhood, this fabulous urban renewal project is now one of the best places in the city to eat, drink, shop and meet.
Maboneng (meaning ‘place of light’) is a collection of charming old manufacturing buildings in downtown Johannesburg, reinvented into cool cafes, boutiques, restaurants, hotels, an independent cinema, art galleries and creative coworking spaces – all mixed in with residential buildings. Visit on Sunday for Market on Main, a delicious foodie experience.
Nestled in Joubert Park in the city centre, you’ll find one of the largest art galleries in Africa. Designed by renowned English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1915, the Johannesburg Art Gallery houses an enormous collection of modern and contemporary art. This includes impressive collections of 17th century Dutch paintings and 18th and 19th century British art, plus a large collection of South African and African works from across the centuries. If you’re an art lover, set aside plenty of time to stroll through the many exhibition halls and sculpture gardens.