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Places to Visit in Johannesburg, South Africa - Wanderlist

Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, fondly referred to as "Jozi”, is found in the heart of colourful South Africa. This multi-cultural international city, originally finding its riches through the discovery of Gold, is now also rich with history, art and culture.

Interesting information

  • With a population of approximately 8 million people, Jozi is the largest city in South Africa and among the 50 largest urban areas worldwide.
  • It is located in one of the most mineral-rich areas in the world and is the centre for gold and diamond mining in South Africa and exports across the globe.
  • Here we find the story of the struggle against Apartheid and the birth of Democracy in South Africa.
  • It is the former home of the late Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner and first black President of South Africa as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  • This is also the point of richest information for human origins in the entire world with over 40% of fossils of Human origins found in this region including the famous Mrs. Ples and Little foot.
  • South Africa has 11 official languages and Johannesburg is the city where you could possibly hear them all.

All about the locals

  • Johannesburg’s locals are of the friendliest, most open and inviting people you will ever come across.
  • Very hospitable to travelers and visitors.
  • Locals come from all walks of life and all corners of the earth, a true cosmopolitan crowd.
  • A wonderful variety of groups of people ranging from business orientated to music lovers, academics and artists. You are bound to find your crowd.

Cultural and Historical Attractions to visit

Soweto – The famous Township located in the Southern part of Johannesburg

  • Things to do
    • Bungee jump from the Orlando Towers
    • The Struggle tour which includes:
      • Walter Sisulu square in Kliptown
      • Vilikazi street, home of both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu
      • Hector Pieterson Museum
      • Avalon Cemetery
      • Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Moroka
    • Find a tavern or Shebeen to your liking, many of which are located in the famous Vilikazi street.
  • Tips
    • It is advisable to book a tour with a knowledgeable tour guide.
    • You need at least one whole day in this part of town.
    • If you have accommodation in Johannesburg proper, there is no need to book accommodation in this side of town, however if you do decide to stay the night, the highly rated Soweto Hotel on Walter Sisulu square will be the best pick.

Cradle of Humankind – A Unesco Heritage site consisting of 53 000 Hectare of Nature located at the North and Western borders of Johannesburg

  • Things to do
    • Take off near the banks of the Heritage Lake with an Air to Air Africa Hot air balloon ride that provides breathtaking views of the entire region.
    • One of the main fossil sites of the Cradle of Humankind, the Sterkfontein Caves cannot be missed.
    • Maropeng the visitors centre of the Cradle complete with Hotel, restaurants and a Market place
    • Ama Zwing zwing zip line tour for the adrenaline adventure seekers.
    • Get up close and personal with 2 of the Big 5 at the Rhino and Lion Nature reserve.
    • Join an Exclusive tour with Touch experience at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah centre, home of the biggest cheetah breeding facility.
    • Saddle Creek Adventures offer quad biking, horseback riding and archery among other exciting activities.
    • Wild cave adventures which was seen on the US Amazing Race TV show, offers abseiling and mountain adventures for the daring.
    • For a peak into cultural African history, a visit to the colourful and vibrant Lesedi Cultural village is a definite highlight.
  • Where to eat
    • If you are a meat lover, Carnivore Restaurant is a must. An African thatch roofed restaurant in the gardens of Misty Hills with vibrant African decor. Native meats and game are served and visitors are encouraged to eat as much as their hearts desire.
    • Bush Whackers Pub and Venue is great for lunches sporting sandwiches and burgers on the menu.
    • Bidon Bistro is a classy and elegant spot especially popular among passing cyclists.
  • Places to stay
    • For the fly fishing enthusiast and Spa lovers, Kloofzicht Lodge and Spa is a wonderful tranquil retreat with a multitude of hiking trails and 9 dams. The property also has game offering a uniquely African experience.
    • Misty Hills is probably the most famous accommodation in the area. Beautiful scenery and amazing service.
    • La Chaumiere Guest House 400 m from the Lesedi Cultural village

Social hotspots

Johannesburg City Centre – The heart beat of Johannesburg

Experience the Local’s Social Scene in its most authentic form.

  • Every Saturday in Braamfontein on Juta street, Jozi’s people gather for the social and culinary event of the week called the Neighbourgoods Market. Mouth watering food from across the globe, great music and even better still, the extraordinary diversity of people who gather here, make this a list topper.
  • A hidden gem in Milpark near Hilbrow is 44 Stanley Avenue. A small little “town” in its own right with beautiful shops and artistically genius décor. Cafés and restaurants which you can only find here, never fail to impress.  
  • For the vegan travelers out there Greenside is the place to try out some great vegan cafes. Among them being Greenside Café and Conscious 108.
  • In a suburban area just bordering the city centre, Parkhurst has one specific street that comes alive every night called 4th Avenue. If you are a Craft beer enthusiast, a restaurant called Craft is definitely the way to go, even though all restaurants on this stretch of road has its own amazing and unique flair.
  • For the more upper class experience, Melrose Arch, located in Houghton near Sandton, is an outdoor shopping experience with amazing dining experiences and vibes that come alive at night.
  • Sandton city, located in the heart of Sandton and the richest area in Africa, is also home of the Nelson Mandela Square. With all sorts of restaurants offering anything from Greek, Italian, French and American to true African Cuisine within the square, here you have a license to dress to impress.
  • In South Africa the game of Rugby is a very big part of culture and socializing. For an authentic South African Sporting experience, visit the Ellis Park stadium in Hilbrow for a Rugby match. It really doesn’t matter which teams are playing, it’s guaranteed to be a pumping experience.
  • For music lovers, especially Jazz lovers, The Orbit Jazz club and Bistro in Braamfontein is an unforgettable experience. Great food, people and live music.

General Tips and tricks for Jozi and surrounding areas

  • Remember that, just like all other large cities in the world, crime can be a problem. Therefore:
    • Never lose sight of your bags
    • Try to avoid walking around the streets alone at night
    • Rather use electronic means of payment as far as possible and do not carry around too much cash
  • Any time of year is good to visit the city but keep in mind that December and January are blisteringly hot and June and July can get pretty cold (even though its Africa). So pack accordingly.
  • I wouldn’t recommend that you use any form of public transport. Public taxi drivers are pretty unique in their driving style (as you will notice during your visit) and it is quite the art to get them to stop to pick you up. Your best option is using the service called Uber. It is an App and service that allows you to order a taxi in a safe and reliable manner.
  • Allow yourself at least 1 week to 10 days to visit this beautiful part of the country.
  • My most important tip is: Do not leave South Africa before trying a piece of South African Biltong. It is specially dried and spiced kind of meat which can consist of anything from beef to wild game or Ostrich. A famous delicacy!

LIST BY: Christé van der Merwe

Christé van der Merwe is a South African who formerly called Johannesburg home. She now lives in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband who is a former German National Team Rugby player. As an art, music and travel enthusiast, she likes all things unique, inspiring and beautiful and  loves meeting people from around theglobe. She has travelled through much of Germany, France and Austria including Croatia, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Shanghai.

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