Things to do in Johannesburg
With the largest and busiest airport in Africa, O.R.Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg is often used as the gateway to southern Africa and other areas such as Kruger National Park, Cape Town and Durban. The city is now a tourist destination in its own right and, like South Africa as a whole, contains a number of historic and nature-themed attractions.
Recent additions include museums such as the Hector Pieterson Museum named for the student who was shot and killed during the 1976 Soweto uprising, and the Mandela Family Museum, located in his former home and also in Soweto. The townships of Soweto and Alexandria are also popular as cultural and historic organised tour destinations. Within the CBD, Africa Museum displays the history of Jo'burg, while Johannesburg Art Gallery and Johannesburg Civic Theatre are the artistic hub of the city.
There is also a plethora of shopping options available in Jozi ranging from upmarket malls to flea markets. Popular shopping centres include Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square, while Oriental Plaza is one of the few places you can bargain and Rosebank Rooftop Flea Market is a great place to source souvenirs and African art. Head to Mai Mai Market in the CBD's east for traditional herbs and healing practitioners.
For wildlife in natural surrounds, the Lion Park self-drive reserve near Lanseria is home to 80 lions as well as zebras, antelopes, giraffes and more, while the De Wildt Cheetah Centre in Magaliesberg is a breeding centre for cheetahs, wild dogs and other local endangered species. Head to popular ecotourism attraction Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, an hour's drive away, for the pristine surrounds and fauna of the Highveld Grasslands. Want more? Here's our pick of the top 5 must-see Jo'burg sights.
A must-see site, Soweto's Apartheid Museum takes the visitor on a confronting journey of the reality of life under state-sanctioned racial segregation. From the dark days of apartheid to democratic freedom, a new South Africa is realised through knowledge and acknowledgement.
Go back to where it all began with the world's richest source of human ancestor fossils at the 12 excavation sites of Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg. The fascinating Sterkfontein Caves allow visitors to venture underground to the site of archaeological digs.
Both the site of Johannesburg's Old Fort prison complex and the seat of South Africa's Constitutional Court, Constitution Hill is the embodiment of the transition from the injustices of the past and the protection of its freedom and democratic future.
For an insight into the evolution of humans, the Origins Centre in Johannesburg poses intriguing evidence and interactive displays about the origins of our species. From Stone Age tools to DNA testing, it's all about the meaning of life.
From a segregated shanty-town to a vibrant, urban, trendsetting neighbourhood with a mix of people, cultures and historic sites, Soweto is a must-visit area of Johannesburg full of atmosphere and authentic experiences.