Welcome to Johannesburg, the vibrant and culturally diverse heart of South Africa. Known as the “City of Gold,” this bustling metropolis is a treasure trove of captivating sights and experiences. From its rich history to its contemporary urban landscape, Johannesburg offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity that is sure to leave visitors enthralled.
Begin your sightseeing adventure by delving into the city’s past at the Apartheid Museum, where you can gain a deep understanding of South Africa’s turbulent history and the triumph of democracy. Explore the vibrant neighborhood of Newtown, home to an array of art galleries, theaters, and trendy cafes that showcase the city’s creative spirit.
For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the Johannesburg Botanical Garden is a must. This sprawling oasis is a sanctuary of lush greenery and picturesque landscapes, offering a serene escape from the bustling city streets. Additionally, the Lion Park provides an opportunity to witness majestic wildlife up close and even interact with lion cubs.
Join Mrpocu.com as we go to some of Johannesburg’s tourism hotspots and let the city’s energy and soul leave a lasting impression on your heart.
Over 20 million individuals were made second-class citizens by the white elected National Party government beginning in 1948, dooming them to a life of servitude, humiliation, and torture. The story of a nation’s resistance, bravery, and fortitude reached its climax in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela, the prisoner who became president.
Discover the real history of South Africa in just 15 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport or 20 minutes from Sandton, the country’s business district. Whoever you are, you can’t help but leave with a better appreciation and understanding of this country, its worst moments, and its greatest victories.
The Apartheid Museum, the first of its type, depicts apartheid’s birth and fall: the racially discriminatory system that hampered much of its advancement and the triumph of the reason that culminated half a century of battle. A multidisciplinary team of curators, filmmakers, historians, and designers put together and organized the Museum. And is also one of the best and top museums in Johannesburg
The seven-hectare museum’s architecture was created by an architectural collaboration made up of many top architectural firms. The museum is an outstanding example of design, space, and landscape that gives the world a special view of South Africa.
The structures on Constitution Hill in Braamfontein depict both the bleak, hopeless future of the nation as guaranteed by the current Constitutional Court and the atrocities of some of the worst decades of 20th-century South Africa. The Old Fort, the Women’s Gaol, the Number 4 jail building, and the Constitutional Court are the four sections of the enormous complex. The facility features a substantial permanent art collection in addition to hosting frequent exhibitions of photography and art as well as seminars.
The Old Fort, located in the middle of the Constitution Hill complex, was constructed in 1893 as a stronghold to guard Johannesburg against possible invasion and to keep an eye on the miners who were pouring into the expanding metropolis. After the Anglo-Boer War, the fort was converted into a prison for white inmates. Nelson Mandela is one notable exception, as he was briefly detained here after his arrest in 1962. The Mandela Cell display is now made up of his cell. You should definitely take a stroll around the fort’s ramparts to get a great view of the city’s skyscrapers and an alluring peek of Hillbrow’s turbulent neighborhood.
If you want to learn more about the world’s most well-known former prisoner, stop at Nelson Mandela’s modest home in Orlando West, Soweto, now known as the Mandela Family Museum.
Many simply refer to Mandela House as being located at 8115 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West in Soweto. Nelson Mandela resided there from 1946 to 1962. The home is a modest structure with four connecting rooms that now houses a collection of family heirlooms, artwork, and photos. Even a pair of Mandela’s old boots are on show on a shelf, providing insight into the man the nation adored and referred to as Tata (father). The house now serves as a museum.
In the walls of the red-brick “matchbox” house, which was constructed in 1945, there are still bullet holes and scorch marks from petrol bombs that were thrown at it while Mandela was imprisoned. Even though he had now constructed a new house a bit further away, he decided to come back because this was “the house of his memories.”
Another notable mansion is located just up the street from this museum. Vilakazi Street also serves as home to Desmond Tutu. The Hector Pieterson Memorial is nearby; it was here that the 1976 student rebellion started. The exact location where Pieterson fell is far closer to the Mandela residence.
Main Street Mining District
Explore the preserved covered wagons, stamp presses, and vintage headwear along this pedestrianized boulevard in central Johannesburg that runs from the Carlton Centre to Chancellor House.
The stunning façade of the huge mining headquarters and other monuments flanking the path, notably the well-known bronze leaping impalas outside the Anglo-American building, are another highlight. There is also considerable information describing how the oldest mines in Johannesburg operated.
Don’t miss the brief outdoor Chancellor House exhibition, which is located one block from the Anglo-American building at the intersection of Fox and Gerard Sekoto Streets. It provides information about the legal practice of local attorneys Mandela and Tambo in the 1950s. A well-liked photo location is the amazing statue of a young Mandela by Marco Cianfanelli, known as Shadowboxing. Office workers love the sidewalk cafés during the workweek, and the area is kept immaculately clean thanks to the mining companies’ presence.
Take a diversion while strolling down Main Street to the neighboring Standard Bank offices (5 Simmonds St), where a tiny museum displays an old mine tunnel called Ferreira’s Stope that was discovered in the 1980s and is open during business hours.
Gold Reef City
Nestled in the heart of Johannesburg, Gold Reef City stands as a captivating testament to the region’s rich mining history. This remarkable theme park and entertainment complex envelops visitors in an immersive experience, revolving around the remnants of an old gold mine. Awe-inspiring rides, engaging exhibits, and exhilarating shows transport visitors back in time, offering a glimpse into the laborious world of gold mining. The Gold Reef City is one of the best places to have fun in Johannesburg
As thrill-seekers embark on roller coasters and attractions, they can marvel at the preserved mining equipment and structures that dot the park, preserving the legacy of a bygone era. With its blend of adventure and heritage, Gold Reef City presents an enchanting fusion of entertainment and education, capturing the essence of Johannesburg’s golden past while offering a thrilling escape for visitors of all ages.
Johannesburg Botanical Gardens
A little over 30 years old, the Johannesburg Botanic Garden is also one of the nation’s youngest botanical gardens. Residents who enjoy the greens to escape the monotony of daily life chose it as the greatest passive recreation area in the city in 2004. It also participates in a seed exchange program with an additional 300 or so gardens throughout the world.
One of the city’s parks, the Johannesburg Botanic Garden is situated on the western shores of the Emmarentia Dam. It is a green space in the middle of Jo’burg’s northern suburbs, about 6 kilometres from the city centercentrecenter centre, with over 30 000 trees, a large rose garden, the site of over 4 500 varieties, and a space through which Jo’burgers can stroll, meet to relax for picnics and play with children. The Johannesburg Botanic Garden is home to one of the best plant collections in the entire world, which includes native trees and succulents. Its herb garden also features an unexpectedly large collection of traditional African medical herbs, as well as culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic herbs.
Origins Centre is a large, cutting-edge scientific and art museum that examines the beginnings of contemporary humanity from a southern African perspective. Origins Centre, which is housed at the University of the Witwatersrand in Braamfontein, is one of the best museums specializing in the ancient history of the area. It sheds light on the history, culture, and traditions of southern Africa’s first nations, the San people.
The museum describes the customs and beliefs of our most ancient ancestors and encourages visitors to consider how ancient African paleo-anthropological findings have been interpreted over time. The museum uses ancient artifacts discovered across southern Africa, including rock art paintings and engravings, ancient stone tools, as well as the testimonies of San communities. You can easily spend two to four hours here, regardless of your interests—history, art, ethnology, or archaeology.
For South Africans, the museum offers fascinating insights into frequently overlooked aspects of current history, while for foreign visitors, it is a priceless chance to learn about the region’s ancient cultures and important historical monuments.
Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage site near Johannesburg, holds a profound significance in the story of human evolution. This remarkable site has yielded some of the oldest and most remarkable human fossils ever discovered, shedding light on our ancient origins. Exploring the labyrinthine caves and underground chambers, visitors are transported back in time, marveling at the remnants of our distant ancestors.
The rich fossil record found here, including the famous Australopithecus africanus and Homo naledi, has revolutionized our understanding of human evolution. The Cradle of Humankind serves as a gateway to our past, offering a glimpse into the complex journey that has shaped our species. It is a testament to the ongoing quest for knowledge, inspiring awe and reverence for the remarkable tapestry of life that we are a part of.
The Johannesburg Zoo is one of the most well-liked destinations in the city and is located on Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkview. In the middle of the northern suburbs, at the confluence of two branches of the Braamfontein Spruit, is a massive 54 hectare green lung with surroundings that almost resemble a park. The 2070 animals and 365 distinct species that call Johannesburg’s zoo home are without a doubt the main attractions in this picturesque environment.
Elephants, polar bears, chimpanzees, gorillas, bat-eared foxes, hippos, and antelope are among the animals that may be found there, making it one of the few sites in the world where you can witness white lions. The only zoo in the nation to successfully breed Siberian Tigers, the largest cats in the world, is the Johannesburg Zoo.
The Johannesburg Zoo is a fantastic place for kids to have fun and learn about the environment. There are tours available, including day safaris, night safaris, and sleepovers, where groups of kids can stay inside the education center or even bring their own tents. Night safaris are especially exciting because they allow you to explore the zoo by moonlight and learn more about nocturnal animals like owls, bats, and cats.
Without spending the evening at this renowned theater, which became famous for being the first integrated theater and for playing a crucial role in the fight against apartheid by promoting discussion and questioning ideas, a trip to Johannesburg would be incomplete.
Three theaters, a bar, an art gallery, and the second of the renowned Moyo restaurants are all located at the Market Theatre. The Market Theatre complex is also home to the excellent jazz club Kippies International Jazz Club, which is named for the renowned saxophonist Kippie Morolong Moeketsi and is modeled after an old Victorian lavatory. With live performances by regional and worldwide artists, this cozy jazz club is sure to keep its customers swinging till the wee hours of the morning.
The facility still has a market-like atmosphere and vitality. The theater itself is rich in theatrical history, from the plays by Athol Fugard that had their world premieres there through musicals like Sarafina that won Grammy and Tony awards.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
A cultural treasure, the Johannesburg Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection that showcases the diverse range of artistic expression from South Africa and around the world. The gallery, which is in the center of Johannesburg, takes visitors on a chronological tour of various artistic movements. The gallery exhibits a wide variety of materials and styles, from stunning sculptures and breathtaking paintings to thought-provoking installations and multimedia compositions.
Its collection includes well-known South African artists as well as world-renowned artists, offering a forum for discussion, appreciation, and cultural exchange. The Johannesburg Art Gallery performs additional duties beyond that of an exhibiting venue by providing workshops, talks, and other activities that encourage artistic participation and progress. It serves as evidence of the city’s dedication to fostering creativity and safeguarding the legacy of visual arts for upcoming generations.
Museum Africa, nestled in the heart of Johannesburg, stands as a captivating institution that weaves together the diverse threads of the city’s history, culture, and heritage. This remarkable museum takes visitors on a compelling journey through time, tracing the evolution of Johannesburg from its humble beginnings to the bustling metropolis it is today.
With thoughtfully curated exhibits, it showcases the stories and experiences of the people who shaped the city, highlighting its complex socio-political landscape. From archaeological artifacts to interactive displays, Museum Africa offers a comprehensive exploration of Johannesburg’s past, encompassing its mining origins, the struggle against apartheid, and the vibrant cultural mosaic that defines the city.
The museum’s commitment to education and preservation is evident in its diverse programming, including workshops, lectures, and cultural events. Museum Africa stands as a testament to the power of museums in preserving and celebrating the collective memory of a place, fostering understanding, and connecting generations to their roots.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
These gardens, one of Gauteng’s most lovely nature reserves, are a haven for a variety of wildlife, including an estimated 240 bird species. Wide stretches of neatly kept grassy lawns from the entrance descend via cycad gardens to the spectacular Witpoortjie Falls.
If you’re searching for a place to set up your picnic blanket in the shade, there are several trees around the margins of the lawns. This is a well-liked location for birthday picnics on the weekends (alcohol is absolutely prohibited), and porters are available at the entry to assist you with carrying your picnic baskets and camp chairs for a nominal price. Eat your lunch at the Eagle’s Fare restaurant instead, which is close to the waterfall.
The gardens are filled with hiking trails, the longest of which is a 5-kilometer trek to the top of the waterfall, where birdwatchers might be fortunate enough to see one of the elusive black eagles that nest there. Make sure to pack water for the hike because the initial leg of the trail to the top of the falls consists of a series of relatively steep steps. After reaching the summit, you can take a trail that encircle the plains of the plateau, from which you can view the city’s skyscrapers in the distance on clear days.
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers is a justifiably well-known business that helped redefine what “township tourism” may entail in South Africa as one of the early forerunners in the area.
Over the years, what began as a modest backpackers hostel in a family home has grown into a thriving enterprise that employs numerous locals and offers a variety of tour experiences, traditional cooking classes, fireside storytelling evenings, morning yoga classes, and the delightful Lebo’s Open Air Restaurant.
We can barely think of a better location if you want to support a local tourism company that is focused on uplifting communities and sharing tales of South Africa’s heritage.
Nelson Mandela Square
Nelson Mandela Square stands as a vibrant testament to the indomitable spirit of an iconic leader. Located in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg, this bustling square pays homage to Nelson Mandela, the revered statesman who shaped the nation’s history. The centerpiece is a majestic bronze statue of Mandela, serving as a constant reminder of his enduring legacy. Surrounding the square, a treasure trove of upscale shopping opportunities awaits, showcasing renowned international brands and local designer boutiques.
From fashion to jewelry, art, and more, the retail offerings cater to discerning tastes and provide an exclusive shopping experience. The square also offers a delightful array of fine dining establishments, inviting visitors to savor culinary delights in a vibrant atmosphere. Nelson Mandela Square harmoniously blends tribute, style, and sophistication, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a captivating fusion of culture, shopping, and gastronomy.
The Johannesburg Planetarium is a celestial haven for those eager to explore the wonders of the universe. Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, this captivating facility offers a range of fascinating shows and educational programs centered around astronomy. Visitors are treated to immersive visual displays, where the night sky comes alive with stunning accuracy and detail.
From captivating cosmic journeys to informative presentations about the stars, planets, and galaxies, the Planetarium provides a unique and awe-inspiring experience. Expert astronomers guide audiences through the mysteries of the cosmos, unraveling the secrets of the universe in an engaging and accessible manner.
Whether it’s gazing at distant galaxies or learning about the latest astronomical discoveries, the Johannesburg Planetarium offers an enlightening and unforgettable journey into the depths of space. It is a must-visit destination for both astronomy enthusiasts and curious minds seeking to expand their knowledge of the cosmos.
Melville Koppies Nature Reserve
Nestled within the vibrant city of Johannesburg, the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve stands as a captivating testament to both nature’s beauty and the rich tapestry of human history. This pristine reserve boasts not only breathtaking natural landscapes but also significant archaeological and geological treasures. Wander along its meandering trails and discover ancient rock formations that date back millions of years, showcasing the area’s geological evolution.
Delve deeper into its historical significance, and you’ll find evidence of early human habitation, including stone tools and artifacts, offering a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors. The reserve’s ecological diversity is a haven for flora and fauna, providing sanctuary for numerous plant species and a haven for birdwatchers. Melville Koppies Nature Reserve is a captivating destination, seamlessly weaving together the beauty of nature and the intrigue of our shared human heritage.
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum stands as a poignant tribute to one of the most pivotal events in South African history—the Soweto student uprising of 1976. Located in Soweto, Johannesburg, this memorial and museum commemorates the brave students who took a stand against apartheid and paid the ultimate price for their pursuit of freedom and equality. The memorial is centered around the iconic image of Hector Pieterson, a young student whose tragic death became a symbol of the struggle against oppression.
Through compelling exhibits, archival materials, and multimedia displays, the museum offers a profound and immersive journey into the events leading up to the uprising and its aftermath. It serves as a reminder of the indomitable spirit and resilience of the youth who played a pivotal role in shaping the course of South Africa’s history. The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum is a powerful testament to the pursuit of justice and serves as a catalyst for dialogue and reflection on the enduring impact of the struggle for freedom.
James Hall Museum of Transport
The James Hall Museum of Transport in Johannesburg is a captivating haven for transportation enthusiasts and history buffs alike. This remarkable museum showcases a vast collection of vintage vehicles and transport-related artifacts, providing a fascinating journey through the evolution of transportation. From iconic cars and motorcycles to steam locomotives, trams, and even horse-drawn carriages, the museum’s exhibits offer a glimpse into the bygone eras of travel. Immerse yourself in the rich history of transportation as you explore the intricately preserved vehicles and delve into the stories behind their engineering marvels.
The museum also houses an impressive array of transport-related memorabilia, including signage, photographs, and archival materials, providing a comprehensive understanding of the cultural and technological advancements in the field of transportation. The James Hall Museum of Transport is a treasure trove of nostalgia and a testament to the ingenuity and progress of humankind’s quest for mobility.
Zoo Lake is a spacious park surrounding an artificial lake, conveniently located just 15 minutes away from Johannesburg’s city center. It is a popular destination for leisurely strolls and is considered one of the safest places in the city, especially on weekends. Walking around the lake takes approximately one to two hours, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a rowing excursion or a relaxed meal at a local restaurant. The park is also known for hosting the monthly ‘artists under the sun’ art market, which attracts a large crowd.
Notably, Zoo Lake has a rich history as it was gifted to the city by the founders of Johannesburg with the stipulation that it remain accessible to people of all races, even during a time of racial segregation. Originally part of the Sachsenwald plantation, the park has been utilized for various activities such as picnics, horse riding, hunting, and animal housing. The manmade lake, established in 1906, now serves as a breeding ground for numerous bird species, with a large island at its center.