JOHANNESBURG SOUTH AFRICA WHERE TO GO WHAT TO DO
Johannesburg in South Africa, also called Jo’burg, Jozi or JHB, is one of Africa’s best-known cities and with more than 4 million inhabitants is also the largest city in South Africa. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most unsafe cities, with a lot of crime.
This makes Johannesburg a tricky city to visit. If you want to go here as a tourist, you would do well to find out in advance which places are most safe and to take some precautions. However, most tourists choose to use Johannesburg only as arrival or departure and only see the airport.
Sightings in Johannesburg
There is plenty to see and do in Johannesburg. Also for people who stay there a little longer. There is a nice mix to be found between culture and nature and there is something for everyone. We have listed some of the nice sights of Johannesburg.
The Apartheid museum gives an extensive and impressive look at the history of South Africa. Upon entering, you will receive a random card with ‘blank’ or ‘not blank’, and you must enter through another entrance. A visit to this museum is worth half a day to go out when you want to read all about this history. The museum is located towards Soweto, on the Cnr Northern Parkway & Gold Reef Roads. It is open daily from 09:00-17:00.
Constitution Hill is a collection of a number of buildings including a former prison and today the Constitutional Court is housed here. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi were imprisoned in the old fort. Constitution Hill was originally built as a military fort in 1893, but served as a prison after the Boer War from 1902 and during the apartheid years. Here you had a prison for white (The Old Fort) and black men (so-called Number Four and Number Five blocks). In addition, a special women’s prison was opened in 1910. These buildings can still be visited today. That does not apply to the building where the black men were locked up awaiting trial after 1928. This building has been demolished and the stones have been used to build the current building for the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court was revoked in 2004 in the completely renovated building.
It is only possible to visit Constitution Hill through a tour. You can arrange a tour on site. Various tours are offered. A tour of the highlights is given daily between 09:00-17:00 every hour. The last tour departure at 16.00. The tour lasts one hour. A full tour (two hours) can be followed daily at 10:00 or 13:00. By the way, if you’re a woman, in August you visit Constitution Hill for free. For more information about the tours and prices, please visit the Constitution Hill website.
TOP OF AFRICA
The Carlton Centre, located at 150 Commissioner Street, is a skyscraper and with 223 the tallest office building in Africa. Popularly, the building and the observation deck on the 50th floor is known as “Top of Africa”. Pay a visit for the view of the city. It only costs 15 rand. The entrance can be found via a special elevator, one floor below street level.
44 Stanley is located outside the center, in Milpark. This is actually a kind of ‘neighbourhood’ with different shops and cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. These are located in the former workshop of the Automobile Association. This is mainly a place to visit during the day. In the evening it is closed.
The Neighborgoods market is an indoor market with food stalls from all over the world (including dutch poffertjes) and a sunroof terrace. It’s great to spend an afternoon walking around and eating and drinking good things.
Arts on Main, a nice market with eateries and stalls and above all a very laid-back vibe. Art is sold upstairs. In the sun with salsa music in the background a cocktail from a coconut drunk. Really enjoy. Also open every first Thursday of the month.
Soweto is one of the most famous townships in South Africa. It is in this place where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived on the same street: in Vilakazi Street. Mandela’s house is now a museum, which you can visit. Soweto is best known for the large-scale protests against the apartheid regime. A well-known demonstration is those against obliging the African language in the schools. It was held by children in 1976. During this demonstration, several children were killed, including Hector Pieterson. In the Hector Pieterson Museum named after him you will learn more about the demonstration, the backgrounds, and this black day in Soweto.
Although Soweto is on the rise, it remains a township. There are still real slums (e.g. Kilptown) but nowadays also neater neighbourhoods. However, it is advisable to visit Soweto only under the guidance of a guide. You can use the Hop-on-hop-off city sightseeing bus, which also hosts a special tour in a minibus through Soweto and where you pass the above spots. Another recommendation is a tour on the bike. You can arrange a bike and guide through Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers.
OUTSIDE JOHANNESBURG IN SOUTH AFRICA
Cradle of Human Kind is about an hour away. This area is world heritage listed and is best known for the many fossils found here and in particular the discovery of a skeleton of an Australopithecus africanus (ape man) in 1936. Due to the large amount of finds, it is possible to give a picture of the origin of humanity. You can visit both the Maropeng visitors centre and the Sterkfontein caves, where the bones were discovered. The caves can only be visited through an organized tour. For more information, please visit the Maropeng Visitors Centre website.
About a 10 km drive from Johannesburg, is the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. This reserve is especially popular for hiking. In addition to many birds, you can also encounter zebras and game beasts. However, if you want to see more and the Big Five, Pilanesberg is a good option a two-hour drive from Johannesburg. In addition to the Big Five, this national park also includes many other animal species such as wild dogs, hyenas, hippos, cheetahs and giraffes. A good alternative to the more distant Kruger National Park.
TRANSPORT TO AND IN JOHANNESBURG SOUTH AFRICA
There are several airlines that fly to Johannesburg from Amsterdam. When you fly both there and back to Johannesburg, tickets are often a lot cheaper than if you want to fly back to the Netherlands from another place. One of the few exceptions are airlines such as Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul) or Qatar Airways (via Dohah). Most people choose Johannesburg as the starting point or end point of a longer trip through South Africa and usually drive straight after their flight to a next location or only drive to Johannesburg on the day of departure.
If you plan to stay in Johannesburg, make sure you are properly informed in advance about the safe and unsafe places. One way to explore Johannesburg is through an organized tour accompanied by a guide. For example, via the Hop On-Hop Off Sightseeing Bus.
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