THE 15 Best Things to Do in Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, Joburg, Joji, Egori. Whatever you call it, it cannot escape its reputation as South Africa’s largest city. But while the high crime rate has thankfully changed now, the city’s story isn’t over.

And with the country’s main international airport, you’re likely to arrive in Johannesburg at least in the evening. It would be a real shame to waste this time locked up in a suburban hotel. Born from the discovery of gold in 1896, Johannesburg declined 100 years later due to the “white flight” of the transition between apartheid and multi-party democracy. As families moved to the suburbs, unwanted people moved in.

But now, communities are reclaiming roads, as seen in the redevelopment of Newtown and Mabonen. As elsewhere, I caution you but don’t let headlines stop you from seeing the current hype surrounding Johannesburg’s top tourist attractions. 

1. Wits Art Museum

With its stylish architecture, the Witz Museum opened in 2012 and is one of Johannesburg’s newest attractions. His 5,000-square-meter exhibition space in the gallery houses 10,000 individual works of art, with a curated selection of both traditional and contemporary works of art such as sculpture.

A glowing white interior illuminates each piece on display, including contemporary South African photography, textiles, watercolors and sculptures. 

2. Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Johannesburg hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses are common in cities around the world and should not be ignored. Especially if you only have a few hours, given the size of the city.

Usually, they travel by two different routes. One to the attractions in the city center and one to further afield. The commentary provides a little background on what you’re looking at. On a nice day, aim for a seat on his open-top deck.

Last but not least, these buses are a great way to get to the Apartheid Museum without using your own transportation. 

3. The Wilds

The Wilds is an inner-city park and nature reserve in Johannesburg’s Houghton District. It covers 16 hectares and includes two hills or crags with attractive views toward central Johannesburg.

But The Wilds’ biggest attraction is the artwork, which consists mostly of colorful laser-cut animals created by local artist James Delaney. They set out from an owl forest with about 70 birds. Various works of art can be admired along eight kilometers of trails that are mostly covered with native plants. 

4. Braamfontein

With two major universities nearby, you’ll always find something interesting happening in Braamfontein. The fashion and music capital of Johannesburg, the best time to visit is usually on weekends when students are free from lectures.

Activities include Naver Goods His Market, which begins in Cape Town and spreads to Johannesburg. Here, visitors and locals alike can browse clothing, food, and drink across two floors. A rooftop bar that makes the most of its location. Not far away are traditional shops and rooftop farms selling the latest cool stuff. 

5. National Museum of Military History

This is a large museum with indoor and outdoor exhibits detailing the role of the South African Army in South Africa’s tumultuous history. Extensive exhibits include several tanks and aircraft, including historic aircraft such as the Spitfire and Messerschmitt 109 during World War II.

Along with smaller items, this collection chronicles the involvement of the South African military from the Boer War in the early 1900s to his 1994 free election. Also on site is the impressive Anglo-Boer War Memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.  

6. Gandhi Square

Gandhi Square in Marshalltown, lined with gleaming bank office buildings, is a large square named after an Indian activist who began his career as a lawyer in Johannesburg. Once completely abandoned, the square has been redeveloped to bring shops and cafés back to this important location.

It was here, then known as Government Square, that the Boer armies of Africa surrendered to the British in 1900, ending the siege of the city. At the edge of the region, many beautifully designed historic buildings have survived the onslaught of modern skyscrapers. 

7. Museum Africa

The African Museum occupies an entire side of Mary Fitzgerald Square and is housed in the 1913 Green Market building. Its mission is to cover the cultures of the entire continent. This is done through displays of musical instruments, masks, traditional costumes, and other items.

But the African Museum also has image-based exhibits that shed light on the changing face of Johannesburg over time. Other exhibits cover the Livonia Trail, where Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years and the history of South African photography. 

8. Maboneng

Recognized as one of the most successful recovery programs in the world, the present-day Maboneng district has a lot to see, do and taste. A prime destination for lovers of all things artistic, Art on His Main is home to a variety of studios, while street art enlivens the area’s main streets.

In addition to Main Street, Fox Street forms the heart of the district. There are many fashionable cafes and cafes here. Nightclubs tend to fill up late in the evening and especially on Saturday nights Mabonen is definitely the best place to have a good time. If you’re staying up late enough, you can also keep an eye on Art on Main’s Sunday Maine Market. 

9. Origins Center

South Africa’s history is not limited to apartheid and European colonization since the 1650s. The Origins Center allows you to travel more than two million years into the past. Dedicated to the journey of human evolution, the museum helps decipher not only biological evolution but also the development of art and culture.

The Origins Center focuses on the people of Southern Africa, preserving an impressive variety of rock art for future generations. Many belong to the San people who lived in much of South Africa before the arrival of Europeans. Other exhibits, such as stone tools, are displayed in an impressive state-of-the-art museum space.  

10. Soweto

Soweto, formerly short for Southwest Township, was established to house non-white residents outside the Johannesburg city center. It was the scene of various anti-apartheid activities, including the 1976 Soweto Uprising, and today houses several important landmarks.

The best way to see Soweto’s attractions is on an organized tour that departs from Walter Thistle Square. It has extensive lawns and serves as an open-air museum detailing the origins of the Charter of Freedom, a principle of democratic South Africa. Others include the Mandela House Museum and his 33-story Orlando Towers. Covered in colorful murals, these former power plant cooling towers are now one of the most exciting bungee jumping spots in the world. 

11. Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

The Johannesburg Botanical Garden covers 81 hectares and was only established in 1969. Since then, the lawn, which was used as a golfer’s driving range, has been transformed into a popular recreational area.

Divided into several smaller gardens, visitors can explore an arboretum planted with trees from all over the world, a succulent garden planted with 85 species of plants, and a herb planted with trees mentioned in the bard’s play. You can find Shakespeare’s gardens. There is also a rose garden and a reservoir created by Emmerencia Dam.  

12. Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct

Constitution Hill, the seat of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, is not a lawless court. Rather, it is a structure that dates back to the early days of Johannesburg. The fortress became a prison and a museum. Names such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are trapped on the walls.

Comprised of three main buildings: the Old Fort, the Women’s Prison (or Prison), and the Fourth (or Native Prison), the museum plays another important role in documenting the devastating effects of apartheid. Plays. Alongside the everlasting democratic flame lit by Mandela on the 15th anniversary of South Africa’s new constitution in 2011, there’s a café full of goodies. 

13. Newtown

Located south of Johannesburg’s main train station (the largest in all of Africa), Newtown isn’t all that new. The history of this place dates back to his founding of the city in the late 18th century when it was known as Brickfields. As such, it has several historically significant buildings, such as the Turbine Hall.

Newtown’s pleasantly quiet streets are known for their performance venues, from the Market Theater to Carfax’s live music venue. There is also a children’s science museum, the Sibono Discovery Center, and the Workers’ Museum.  

14. Johannesburg Art Gallery\

The Johannesburg Museum of Art, located in Joubert Park in the heart of Johannesburg, houses a larger collection than any other similar museum in Africa. Featuring 15 interconnected gallery spaces and a small sculpture garden, it hosts exhibitions ranging from 17th-century Dutch works to contemporary local art.

The gallery houses many famous artists such as Rodin, Picasso, and Moore, but the main purpose of your visit is to learn more about South African art. In 1940, the gallery acquired the first black artist Gerard Secoto’s “Yellow Brick” work in Japan. Other notable names include Jacobus Pianiev, Sidney Khumalo, and Walter Battis. 

15. Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum

Opened in late 2001, the Apartheid Museum is located halfway between Johannesburg’s CBD (Central Business District) and Soweto. This prison-like structure is part of the Gold Reef City amusement park and is home to some of the most important research into the country’s past segregation policies.

The haunting and moving reality of apartheid come alive through thoughtful curation. This includes having two entrances where visitors are randomly split.

The exhibits inside do not shy away from events spanning four decades, including the Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto Uprising that claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians.  

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