Johannesburg first lured people to its tree lined hills with the promise of gold in the 1880’s and has since become a bustling metropolitan, filled with diverse range of cultures and activities. With so many things to do in Johannesburg it can be difficult to decide where to go on your trip. This is a list of the 10 places you can’t miss out on when you travel to Johannesburg, whether you’re staying or just passing through.
1. Gold Reef City
Gold reef city is a 19th century mining town themed park, just outside central Johannesburg, based around a still functioning gold mine. Although essentially a place for fun, Gold Reef City also aims to educate its visitors about the birth of Johannesburg due to the discovery of gold.
Once you are done with the educational part get onto the rides, tame the Anaconda or ride the Jozi express. It offers visitors a wonderful day out – not just for kids, but for adults as well.
Gold Reef City also offers a top class casino that is on open 24 hours a day as well as theater shows ranging from Broadway shows to musicals.
2. Sterkfontein Caves
The Sterkfontein caves have been declared a world heritage site due to the role they have played in giving us insight into the evolution of mankind.
The Sterkfontein caves were formed 20 million years ago and are famous for giving us some of the most important archaeological finds in history, namely the discovery of “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot”, ancient skeletal remains. Other Archaeological finds in the area have pointed to early mankind having mastered fire and tools more than a million years ago.
Tours of the caves run every half hour, seven day a week. Make sure to visit the fascinating exhibition by world-renowned paleoartist John Gurche while you are there.
Soweto is as a vibrant a place as you can find in South Africa, with its own culture, rhythm and a rich history. Soweto, an acronym for South West Township, has been around since 1885, has been, and continues to be a home to over 850 000 locals.
Today it is still an intensely active place with astounding economic contrast, with absolute poverty flanked by sheer opulence.
Tour Soweto by foot on a bicycle or in a Tuk-Tuk and visit highlights such as the Hector Pieterson Museum, the Mandela house and Orlando Stadium. Have lunch at Wandies place when the hunger starts to set in and bungee jump from the Orlando cooling towers for a shot of adrenalin (after the food has settled).
4. Hector Pieterson Museum
The Hector Pieterson museum is dedicated to young boy who was shot dead during the Soweto student riots in 1976. The riots began after the apartheid government proposed to use Afrikaans as its main language of instruction in schools.
Although dedicated to Hector Pieterson the museum’s main focus is the happenings of that day and how it instrumental it was in South Africa’s change from an oppressive regime to a democracy. This is a must see for everyone who wishes to gain insight into South Africa’s rich history.
5. Johannesburg Zoo
The Johannesburg zoo is a microcosm of the world as whole, with the zoo being divided into different climate areas. You can see everything from polar bears to chimpanzees and everything in between. You don’t have to visit the zoo during the day the Johannesburg zoo offers night tours and even the opportunity to spend the night in the Zoo (Zoo snooze). This is the perfect outing for animal lovers.
6. Sandton City Shopping Centre
Sandton city has been called Africa’s richest square mile, and it contains more luxury four by fours than anywhere on earth. You can buy anything from traditional African bead craft to Gucci handbags. With over 300 shops and a string of five star hotels, Sandton City is haven for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
7. Visit the SAB World of Beer
As South Africans we love our beer to such a point that through our consumption of the amber liquid our national brewery has grown into the second largest brewery in the world.
Visit the SAB World of Beer in the middle of Johannesburg and enjoy a well organised tour that educates the beer lover as per the history and process of brewing beer.
Once you have completed the tour enjoy one of SAB’s products while looking over downtown Johannesburg from the roof top beer garden. Plus, you’ll get a free a beer glass with some beer to fill it.
8. Lion Park
A 45-minute drive from Johannesburg, the lion park offers a safe, fun, and convenient way to view these majestic creatures. The Lion park also offers you a chance to see ostriches, giraffes and zebras and maybe even pet a lion cub.
9. Constitutional Court of South Africa
The constitutional court complex houses one of the more historical prisons in South Africa, the old Fort Prison, commonly known as (Number Four).
Number Four has housed some of South Africa’s most famous political prisoners. People such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and many others have spent time behind Number Four’s walls.
The tour of the constitutional court is an enriching experience, largely thanks to the passionate and engaging guides. At the end of the tour you will have the opportunity to express your thoughts on your tour by having them etched on cup or mug and placed along others such as Nelson Mandela’s.
Visiting a courthouse and prison might not sound exciting, but the architectural wonder that is the courthouse and the reminder of what came before in South Africa’s political timeline makes this an enlightening experience.
10. Ride the Gautrain
The Gautrain is South Africa first foray into rapid rail transport, and successful one at that. Take a trip to “The city of the Jacaranda”, Pretoria and enjoy a day in the capital city. Enjoy the 30 minute round trip in the ultra-clean, modern, and efficient Gautrain.