Last Updated on April 2, 2020
If you’re wondering whether Johannesburg is the right option for you, this list will surely dissipate any doubts. Being the biggest city of South Africa, and its capital, with activities ranging from World Heritage sites tours to amusement parks, it will be hard to say no to this destination.
1. Apartheid Museum
This must-see opened in 2011 with the purpose of illustrating the apartheid, the struggle for freedom, and how it shaped the South Africa of the 20th century. The building, a sight to enjoy in its own, takes a total of seven hectares.
Besides the permanent exhibition, which is divided in 21 areas, there are temporary exhibits as well showcasing different periods of Johannesburg and South Africa history.
2. Nelson Mandela Square
Nelson Mandela Square is the place where African hospitality meets European style. This piazza in Sandton, Johannesburg, is one of the biggest open public spaces of South Africa, with an extension of 1,000sqm. Occupying the center of the square, a six-meter sculpture of Nelson Mandela towers over visitors from ever corner of the world.
Here you will find an insurmountable amount of retail shops such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Nike, Adidas, Hugo Boss, Burberry, Cartier, Christian Dior, and restaurants as Piccolo Mondo, Pappas on The Square, and The Butcher Shop & Grill,
3. Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
Representing the students that raised against the apartheid during the Soweto peaceful protests of 1976, in which many were shot and killed by the police. One of such cases was Hector Pieterson, a 12-year-old that as the rest of his classmates demanded better conditions for students in black schools.
The memorial was erected in 1990 near the place where Pieterson was shot. The museum was inaugurated in 2002, and it is open from Monday to Sunday from 10AM to 5PM.
4. Constitutional Court
Following the establishment of the first South African democratic parliament in 1994, an urge to create a court that would represent the nation equally. Although it originally had it quarters elsewhere, its current location in the Constitutional Hill serves as a symbolism of the fight against oppression and racism.
Some of the most important cases that have taken place here include outlawing the death penalty in 1995 and the Right to healthcare and access to HIV/Aids treatment in 2002. The Court is open to the public, and if you’re lucky enough, perhaps you will be able to hear a session on the court chamber itself.
5. Art Africa
If you have a thing for arts and craft, this is a location that you absolutely cannot miss. Here you will be able to find all kind of treasures ranging from recycled products, jewelry, and furniture; all brought in from every corner of the country. It is an excellent place for gift shopping with reasonable prices.
6. Maboneng Precinct
This ‘Place of Light’ in the east side of Johannesburg, was once known for its crime rate and decay. Today is nothing like that, in fact, it is the exact opposite. The area, as many others, was revamped with the purpose of bringing back life to the district with an air of modernity.
Maboneng has become preferred art hub for young artists, with countless coffee shops, art galleries, fashion boutiques, and night markets.
7. Neighbourgoods Market
The to-go destination if you want to immerse yourself in a culinary experience of no other kind. The bustling energy of the market is just as enticing as all the food options you will find here; Mediterranean, Thai, Italian, Mexican, fresh fruits and vegetables, and everything in-between.
With options going from vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, organic goods, sugar-free, etc. there really is a place to accommodate everyone. Entry is free and it opens only on Saturdays from 9:00AM to 3:00PM.
8. The Wits Planetarium
Formerly known as the Johannesburg Planetarium, this center attracts researchers, locals, tourists, young and old alike. Situated on the Wits University Campus in Braamfontein, the planetarium was born as a way to celebrate Johannesburg’s 70th anniversary. Don’t miss the opportunity to marvel at the magical displays of the universe colorful vastness.
9. Johannesburg Zoo
Comprising a total of 55 hectares and founded in 1904, the Johannesburg zoo will provide equal amounts of entertainment and relaxation for both kids and adults. The zoo is home to over 365 species, including of course Africa’s biggest representatives: Lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos.
10. Lion & Safari Park
A must-see of Africa’s wildlife splendor, the Lion Park is one of the most popular attractions, which will undoubtedly leave you astounded. You will have the chance to get up close and personal with species such as the cheetah, brown and white lions, gnus, giraffes, ostriches, leopards, and countless others.
You can either take a guided tour or take on the adventure on your own vehicle. The Park also features a list of quick meal options and a playground in a nearby area. Its gates are open yearlong, and the rates vary depending on the package you want to acquire, from R225,00 for a self-drive to R850,00 for a lion walk.
11. Northcliff Ridge Eco Park
Breathtaking sunsets, fresh air, smoothening walks, you get the picture. This is a great place to unwind, connect with mother nature, and enjoy of the city landscape in every direction through an enviable vantage point. Sit back to enjoy a picnic, read a book, or simple snap some amazing pictures.
12. Gold Reef City
A prime destination for families, this theme park is located in a late 1800’s old gold mine. Get a tour to discover the historical importance of the site, try your luck on the casino, enjoy a show at the theatre, or get yourself an adrenaline shot in one of the many rides.
The complex is open 24 hours day so you will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the many exhilarating features in full Johannesburg fashion.
This entertainment complex is located in Sandton, Johannesburg, and lures more than 9 million visitors each year.
Designed by South African architects, it is a marvelous and accurate representation of an ancient Italian villa that has been entertaining tourists for over 20 years. One of its amenities it’s the Teatro, inaugurated in 2007 and currently on the top 10 list of the largest Lyric theatres in the world.
It has a capacity for 1,870 spectators and has presented first-level international productions such as The Lion King. It features another smaller theatre as well, a cinema, a casino, a good amount of restaurants and bars, and even a hotel.
14. Cradle of Humankind
This paleoanthropological site owes its name to the astonishing fact of having produced some of the oldest hominin fossils, some of them going as back as 3.5 million years.
In 1999 it was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and its latest discovery took place in 2015, and featured a new species of humankind relatives. Visiting the Cradle of Humankind is like traveling back in time, featuring different cave tours, rare flora and fauna, and breathtaking landscapes.
It is situated less than a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg.
15. South Africa National Museum of Military History
Formerly known as the South African National War Museum, it was opened in 1947 by the then Prime Minister Jan Smuts as a means to recall and preserve the involvement of the country in the World War II.
It later changed its name to the South African National Museum of Military in 1975 with the objective to incorporate the following conflicts in which the nation had participated, such as the Anglo Boer Wars and the South African Border War.
Among its exhibitions it can be found a Cold War tank, a Centurion tank, Sherman Firefly, the Supermarine Spitfire, and varied field guns.
16. Nelson Mandela Bridge
Built with the intention to connect the neighborhoods of Newtown and Braamfontein in the center of Johannesburg, the now iconic bridge is recognized as the largest cable bridge in the south of the country, with 295 meters.
The bridge got its name in honor of former president Nelson Mandela, who fought tirelessly to unify the South African society. The structure lights up at night with a colorful display, which can be enjoyed through its pedestrian lanes.