Johannesburg, also known as Jo’burg, Jozi, and E’Goli, the “city of gold,” is South Africa’s financial and industrial capital, built on a long history of gold mining. The city is fast changing from a seedy safari stopover to a thriving arts and culture center. Along with the poignant Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, cutting-edge contemporary galleries and the new Maboneng Precinct, with its trendy eateries, cafés, and art studios, are now among the city’s main tourist attractions. There are many places to visit in Johannesburg during your stay.
The city’s dazzling towers contrast strongly with the guarded villas of rich enclaves and the slum villages of Soweto, the birthplace of the nation’s struggle for democracy.
Tourists are enticed to stay because of the quick changes. Explore or enjoy a guided tour on one of the new Gautrain trains and buses, and more activities await just outside the city’s borders. In Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital, you may commune with wildlife at a popular lion park, wander through magnificent gardens, parks, and other attractions, and visit the UNESCO-listed Cradle of Humankind, one of the world’s richest paleoanthropological sites.
Checkout some of the best places to visit in Johannesburg when you visit. Mrpocu.com has to together a guide to help you choose from the best options.
Places To Visit In Johannesburg
Constitution Hill, which overlooks Johannesburg, is a former jail that offers intriguing insight into South Africa’s past. At the site, you can visit the Number Four museum, the Women’s Gaol museum, and the Old Fort museum to see intriguing displays. The precinct was previously called as The Fort, and it was infamous for its harsh treatment of political inmates, common criminals, and passive resistors; notable former detainees include Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
The ancient Awaiting Trial building is now the Constitutional Court of South Africa, a symbol of freedom that strives to preserve all of the country’s citizens’ rights. Visitors are welcome to attend court hearings and observe the judicial process. Constitutional Hill tours are a great way to learn about the history of the place.
Gold Reef City
Eight kilometers from the city center, Gold Reef City transports you back to the days of the gold rush with a range of exhilarating theme park attractions and historical exhibitions. This family-friendly site features replicas of period houses and shops, as well as a tour of a decommissioned shaft of the Crown Mines, one of the world’s wealthiest gold mines.
The trampoline park, ten-pin bowling alley, and thrilling theme-park rides, such as the twisting and turning Anaconda roller coaster, are popular with kids. A petting zoo and dedicated rides for small children are also available in the park. The activities include putt-putt golf, sideshow games, and gold panning. You can stay the night at the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel if you can’t get enough of the fun.
The Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum uses images, artifacts, newspaper clippings, harrowing human testimonies, and film footage to dramatically depict the apartheid story. As visitors go through the thought-provoking permanent exhibitions on an emotional journey through South Africa’s history, they are bombarded by images and sounds from the apartheid era. It is one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg.
The paths trace the country’s development from oppression to democracy. To get the most out of a visit here, set aside at least two hours, ideally more. Visitors who want to learn more about South Africa’s war for independence should also pay a visit to Liliesleaf Farm Museum, which was once the headquarters of the liberation movement’s leaders.
Soweto & Mandela House
Soweto (short for Southwestern Townships) is a 20-kilometer drive southwest of Johannesburg that takes you into the heart of the liberation struggle. This was a zone of deliberate segregation, with black laborers living in shacks made of corrugated iron far from the city core. It was also the birthplace of the democratic movement. The Soweto Uprisings of 1976 aimed to remove South Africa’s apartheid regime and extend across the country.
You may observe a land of opposites today. In the midst of the shanties, mansions have sprung, and the democratic government is working to construct much-needed infrastructure and green places. Mandela House, where Nelson Mandela lived from 1946 to 1962, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which honors the courageous students who protested apartheid during the Soweto Uprisings, some of whom were shot by police, including the museum’s namesake, who was only 12 years old, are both popular places to visit.
The Maboneng Precinct
The thriving Maboneng Precinct is a great example of a mixed-use urban regeneration project gone right. Maboneng, which means “place of light,” was once a run-down neighborhood that is now bustling with activity. Restaurants, cafes, art galleries, stores, hotels, and entertainment venues coexist well with residential structures.
The weekly Market on Main, which features food from all over the continent, is a popular attraction here. Arts on Main and Revolution House are two of the first warehouse conversions into artist studios, galleries, and retail spaces. Bioscope, an independent cinema, a community center, designer hotels, and boutiques are among the other developments. This is a great place to walk around, take in the atmosphere of the city, and grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.
A spectacular vision of domes and minarets would certainly catch one’s eye as one passes on the bustling motorway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, a sight one would be far more likely to see in Istanbul, Turkey than in Midrand, Johannesburg. It’s the Nizamiye Mosque, one of South Africa’s most photographed architectural structures.
The Nizamiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey, is a miniature replica of the Selimiye Camii mosque, which was constructed in the 1570s and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Architect Mimar Sinan designed the latter during the Ottoman period. As I discovered during my journey to Istanbul, Mimar Sinan is a name that is frequently heard in Turkey. Suleiman the Magnificent’s chief Ottoman architect and civil engineer was Mimar Sinan (Sinan the Architect). He oversaw the building of over 300 significant structures as well as several smaller ones. The Selimiye Mosque, on the other hand, was his crowning achievement. The Blue Mosque in Istanbul and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India were both built by Sinan’s apprentices.
On July 11, 1963, a group of anti-apartheid campaigners met in a modest house on a smallholding in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg, for a key meeting. They had no idea that their lives were going to change drastically. When a “laundry van” arrived, armed cops with police dogs jumped out. The males in the room tried to flee when they realized they had been detected, but they didn’t go very far. They were apprehended after the property was surrounded.
During the raid and ensuing search, incriminating material was discovered, leading to the eleven Rivonia Trialists (as they were dubbed), including Nelson Mandela, being accused with conspiring against the apartheid government. Eight people were given life sentences. They had anticipated to be sentenced to death. Two were found not guilty, while the charges against the third were dismissed. Those sentenced to life in prison served between 22 and 27 years. In February 1990, Nelson Mandela became the last of the Rivonia trialists to be released.
Liliesleaf Farm was the site of this momentous event. It is an award-winning heritage site that was instrumental in the fight against apartheid. Despite the fact that it first opened to the public in 2008, my family and I only recently visited after being reminded of it via Daddy’s Deals.
Wits Art Museum
The Wits Art Museum, which opened in 2012 and has a large collection of African art, is one of the most intriguing locations to visit in Johannesburg. This location, which is part of the Wits University Cultural Precinct, also includes temporary installations that you can admire for hours before heading out for a dinner at the popular cafe nearby. There is no entry fee for visiting this place. So travelers visiting on budget can add Wits Art Museum to their bucket list. The Museun is one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg.
SAB World of Beer
This Newtown attraction, which is owned by the South African Breweries, is one of the most exciting locations in Johannesburg. There’s a lot to accomplish here, from learning about the drink’s rich history to examining its cultural relevance. During the session, you can have a tour of the entire brewery, view a 3D movie, sample the famous beer, and enjoy the bar snacks.
Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg National Park is one of South Africa’s most popular game reserves, and it’s only a 2.5-hour drive from Johannesburg. The park is known for its extraordinarily rich ecosystems and diversity of wildlife, thanks to its location in a transition zone between the lush Lowveld vegetation and the parched Kalahari desert. You can see Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino) here, and the park is known for its extraordinarily rich ecosystems and diversity of wildlife, thanks to its location in a transition zone between the lush Lowveld vegetation and the parched Kalahari desert.
Aside from the Big Five, the park is home to African wild dogs, sable antelope, zebras, and over 300 different bird species. Close-up photography is made easier with the use of strategically placed photographic conceals.
Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, is just 55 kilometers from Johannesburg and is worth seeing for its outstanding collection of historical buildings, monuments, and museums. Pretoria, which is awash in the purple colours of jacarandas in the spring, is also a city with lovely parks and gardens.
The Pretoria National Botanic Garden, the Voortrekker Monument, Freedom Park, the enormous zoo, and a slew of calm nature reserves within the city limits, all of which are home to various species and an abundance of birds, are all worth a visit.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens offer a tranquil slice of wildness on the outskirts of the city if you want to get away from the rush and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature. The garden is one of nine national botanical gardens in South Africa, and this specific location offers plenty of room and stunning views of red-rock cliffs. It is managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute. If you are looking for bed places to visit in Johannesburg, then check this garden out.
The spectacular Witpoortjie Waterfall is the garden’s focal point. A river and hiking trails swirl through the well-kept gardens, which are surrounded by sprawling fields with plenty of ideal picnic spots. The Cycad Garden, Fern Trail, Succulent Rockery Garden, Birds and Butterfly Garden, and Geological Display Garden are among the highlights.
The bird hide will appeal to birders and photographers, while the Children’s Garden will allow children to let off steam. Keep a look out for the park’s many birds and insects, especially the park’s resident black eagles.
Lindfield Victorian House Museum
This “living museum” and Provincial Heritage Site is a must-see for anybody interested in Victorian life. Katherine Love, the present owner, who has lived here since 1967, dresses up in Victorian attire, welcomes visitors, and takes them on a tour of the rooms of this wonderfully preserved middle-class Victorian home, constructed by Herbert Baker, one of South Africa’s most famous architects.
Along the journey, you’ll be able to see remarkable collections of 19th- and 20th-century furniture, art, and household objects, as well as hear fascinating anecdotes about the former residents and how Victorian culture and customs have affected Johannesburg today.
A two-hour trip here immerses you in the ambiance of the time period. After the tour, relax on the balcony with a cup of tea to cap off the experience.
South African National Museum of Military History
The South African Museum of Military History does exactly what its name implies: it chronicles all of the country’s military battles. The World War II fighter planes and bombers, as well as exhibits of tanks, ammunition, weaponry, and medals, are among the highlights.
The exhibit on medicine at war, which chronicles the Zulu’s use of traditional healing during the Anglo-Zulu conflict as well as modern-day remedies utilized on the battlefield, is very interesting. Another display depicts trench life during World War I.
If you’re seeking for romantic spots in Johannesburg, you won’t be disappointed because the city is home to the bizarre Zoo Lake. This popular spot among Joburg residents is excellent for having a stroll together, taking a boat trip, or even taking a plunge in the pool. If you don’t feel like doing anything, simply sit across the fountain and bask in the beauty of serenity. While there is no entry fee, the activities like boating and swimming are chargeable.
Mary Fitzgerald Square
Mary Fitzgerald Square, named for the country’s first female unionist, is one of the top free locations to visit in Johannesburg. According to popular opinion, everybody who travels here will have the time of their lives. This area also serves as the starting point for the Jazz Walk of Fame, which honors the country’s most illustrious jazz musicians. Mary Fitzgerald Square is one of the nice places to visit in Johannesburg.
Mr. HB Papenfus, a wealthy farmer who owned the property on which Alexandra Township was set out, founded it in 1912. At the time, it was one of the few urban areas in the country where black people could buy land. It was named after his wife.
The township is situated along the Jukskei River, which separates the township into two sections: the West Bank, where most of the shack dwellings are found, and the East Bank, where middle-class citizens live in brick houses. It has an estimated population of 750,000 people who live in an area of about 8 square kilometers. Many are African immigrants from other parts of the continent.
The Johannesburg Zoo
Even though I am opposed to captive animals, not everyone can afford to go on a safari. And, as long as the animals are appropriately cared for, zoos may be educational, especially for children. The Johannesburg Zoo is a fascinating and instructive experience for kids of all ages. It is one of the top places in South Africa to visit.
The Collectors Treasury
The Collectors Treasury is a plausible environment if you’ve ever fantasized of getting lost among thousands of volumes. This is Africa’s, and arguably the Southern Hemisphere’s, largest secondhand and rare bookshop, located on Johannesburg’s Commissioner Street, near the trendy Maboneng neighborhood. My book-loving family and I visited there. It is one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg.
You’re sure to find something to read among the over two million books spread across eight floors. You will, however, have to look for it. The books are stacked all over the place: on the floors, tables, the stairwell, and any other available surface. It’s a literary maze like no other, and a bibliophile’s dream.