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12 Best Things To Do In Johannesburg

Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, is a city full of life and adventure. With its bustling streets and vibrant culture, there is no shortage of things to do and experience. From world-class entertainment venues to unique cultural attractions, Johannesburg has great experiences for every type of traveler. Whether you’re looking for an exciting night out or simply want to explore the city’s rich history, this article will provide some of the best things to do in Johannesburg.

1. Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a powerful and emotional experience for anyone who visits. The permanent exhibition within the museum tells the story of how apartheid began and its devastating effects on South Africans in an engaging and interactive way. The Apartheid Museum also holds temporary exhibitions that aim to explore different aspects of the country’s history, as well as its present-day situation.

As one enters the Apartheid museum they are immediately struck by the power of this place. Moving around inside, visitors can gain insight into life under apartheid through various audio-visual displays, photographs and artifacts that illustrate the harsh realities of racial segregation during this period. It is a heartbreaking journey but one which gives an intimate understanding of what it was like to live during those years.


Address: Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Road, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 309 4700

2. Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill in Johannesburg

Constitution Hill is a heritage site and a powerful symbol of the country's history of human rights and justice. As the location of the infamous Old Fort prison complex, it serves as a reminder of past struggles for freedom and justice. Those who visit Constitution Hill will find an extraordinary collection of monuments, sites and buildings that were once part of South African courts and prisons.

Among its many attractions are the Old Fort Museum and Constitutional Court of South Africa, both renowned for their educational exhibits on South Africa’s democracy struggle. The museum features artworks depicting political prisoners, while the Constitutional Court offers visitors an insightful look into how law has been shaped by human rights initiatives over time.


Address: 11 Kotze St, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 381 3100

3. Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City is an entertainment complex situated on an old gold mine 8 kilometers from the city center and offers a variety of thrilling experiences for its visitors. From roller coasters to water slides, the City of Gold provides high-energy fun things for all ages.

The theme park boasts over 30 rides from gentle family attractions to heart-pounding thrill rides. Tourists can also explore the vibrant shops and restaurants within the city walls and enjoy the various shows that take place throughout each day. Gold Reef City also has an open-air theatre where live entertainment performances are held regularly.

The grounds themselves are fascinating, with authentic reconstructed mining buildings from the late 19th century gold rush giving a vivid insight into South Africa’s history. The park is a great way to spend time with family or friends while enjoying some of Johannesburg’s most exciting tourist attractions.


Address: Northern Pkwy & Data Cres, Johannesburg, 2159, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 248 5000

4. Mandela House

Mandela House

I had the opportunity to visit the Mandela House in Soweto, South Africa during my travels. This historical site was where former President Nelson Mandela lived from 1946 to 1962, and is definitely worth a visit. It is located in the bustling suburb of Orlando West and has been converted into a museum celebrating his legacy. The house itself is very small but packs a powerful punch when it comes to its symbolism.

You can feel the power emanating from its walls due to its connection with Nelson Mandela’s history-making journey as an anti-apartheid activist, freedom fighter and eventual leader of South Africa’s first democratically elected government. It is important to note that while at this home Nelson Mandela was arrested on August 5, 1952 for leading protests against discriminatory laws and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island which lasted 27 years until his release in 1990.


Address: 8115 Vilakazi St, Orlando West, Soweto, 1804, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 936 7754

5. Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park is a wildlife reserve found in the North West Province of South Africa, 200 kilometers from Johannesburg. It was established in 1979 and covers a vast area of 55,000 hectares. This natural wonder is home to some of the most iconic African wildlife; including large populations of rhinoceros, elephants, lions, cheetahs and buffalos. The park also protects a wide variety of flora as well as over 360 species of bird life.

The big five game animals are all present in Pilanesberg National Park which makes it ideal for game viewing and safari experiences. Visitors can choose from a range of activities such as night drives, bush walks with experienced guides or even hot air balloon rides across the majestic landscape that overlooks an ancient volcanic crater lake known as ‘Mankwe Dam’.

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6. South African National Museum of Military History

South African National Museum of Military History

The South African Museum of Military History is a museum located in downtown Johannesburg, and one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg. It houses a vast collection of artifacts related to the country’s military history, from the earliest conflicts to more recent engagements. The museum also features exhibits on the Boer War, World War I and World War II.

Guests can view both outdoor and indoor displays including aircraft, tanks, artillery pieces and other military vehicles. Additionally, there are several permanent exhibitions that explore aspects of life during South Africa’s wartime period including items of personal memorabilia from soldiers’ families such as letters and photographs.

The museum also offers educational programs for school groups and special activities for kids such as military dress-up days. Furthermore, you can take part in guided tours led by experienced guides that provide an overview of the collections while highlighting different elements in each section.


Address: 22 Erlswold Way, Johannesburg, 2132, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 646 5513

7. Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens are a mesmerizing oasis of plant life and beauty, with its lush landscapes, water features and abundant birdlife. Established in 1982 and named after the late anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu, this botanical garden in South Africa has become a popular tourist destination in the area.

The gardens contain a variety of plants from different parts of Southern Africa including woodlands, savannahs, wetlands and grasslands. The main draw of the gardens is undoubtedly its stunning rockery which contains an array of trees and shrubs including wild figs, acacias and cycads. Other things to see include a birds and butterfly garden where visitors can admire some of the park's over 170 species of birds as well as two nature trails that offer breathtaking views of the city skyline.


Address: Malcolm Rd, Poortview, Roodepoort, 1724, South Africa

8. Lindfield Victorian House Museum

Lindfield Victorian House Museum

The Lindfield Victorian House Museum is a remarkable place I have had the pleasure of visiting in South Africa. It is a beautiful reminder of the past and a wonderful source of education for all who take the time to explore its walls. The museum is located in the suburb of Yeoville, Johannesburg, and dates back to 1893 when it was originally built by Charles Bullock, an English immigrant gold miner.

Visitors are able to experience what life was like during the Victorian era through guided tours conducted by knowledgeable staff members who provide detailed information on each room and artifacts within. The house contains original pieces from the 19th-century including furniture, photos and documents that help bring history alive. There are also several interactive displays that provide an insight into how people lived at the time with their daily routines such as laundry day or taking afternoon tea.


Address: 72 Richmond Ave, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, 2006, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 726 2932

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9. Lion & Safari Park

Lion & Safari Park in Johannesburg

The Lion and Safari Park is the perfect destination and one of the best things to do for anyone looking to experience nature and wildlife up close. Situated just outside of Johannesburg’s city centre, this large game reserve is home to over 300 species of animals. You can explore the park on a safari drive or guided tour, allowing you to observe wild animals such as lions, rhinos and giraffes from a safe distance.

For those who are brave enough, there are even opportunities to interact with the animals directly. The park also offers several educational activities that allow guests to learn about conservation and animal behavior while having fun.

This unique attraction provides you with an unforgettable adventure that you won’t soon forget. If you're lucky, you might even spot some of the more elusive predators that call this part of South Africa home - like cheetahs and wild dogs.


Address: R512 Pelindaba Rd, Hartbeespoort, Broederstroom, 0240, South Africa

Phone: +27 87 150 0100

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10. Wits Art Museum

Wits Art Museum

The Wits Art Museum is an incredible space that preserves and celebrates the art, culture, and history of South Africa. Located on the campus of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, this museum is a must-see for anyone looking to get an up-close perspective on the region’s unique past.

The museum features hundreds of works from prominent South African artists as well as international pieces from other parts of the world. Not only does it showcase stunning sculptures, paintings, photographs and installations but it also provides a comprehensive interactive educational experience.

The Wits Art Museum was opened in 2012 and has since become one of the most important cultural spaces in Johannesburg. Each exhibit offers something new to explore with interesting insights into topics such as gender roles, politics and identity.


Address: Wits Art Museum Cnr Jorissen and, Bertha St, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 717 1365

11. Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial

Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial

The Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial is located in Soweto, South Africa. This memorial was created to honor the memory of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson who became an iconic symbol of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

The museum displays a permanent exhibition which includes photographs, artifacts and video footage that document the events of June 16th, 1976 when students took part in a demonstration against Afrikaans as the language of instruction at their schools. It also includes information about anti-apartheid movements throughout South Africa's history.


Address: 8287 Khumalo Rd, Orlando West, Johannesburg, 1804, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 536 0611

12. Johannesburg Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo

The Johannesburg Zoo is a world class zoological park located in Gauteng, South Africa. It is one of the foremost top attractions in the city and provides an educational experience for visitors of all ages. With over 320 species of animals and more than 9,000 individual animals, there’s plenty to see at this zoo. The zoo also has a wide range of fun activities like interactive animal displays and a variety of shows throughout the day. Travelers can even feed some of the animals if they choose.

The Zoo in Johannesburg offers a unique experience for its visitors as it houses both exotic and rare species from around the world such as zebras, cheetahs, gorillas, antelope and penguins. There are also many bird enclosures which house parrots, flamingos, pelicans and other beautiful birds from different parts of Africa.


Address: Jan Smuts Ave, Parkview, Randburg, 2122, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 646 2000

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Q: Is it worth visiting Johannesburg

A: While some may argue that it is not worth visiting due to safety concerns and a lack of tourist attractions, others believe that Johannesburg offers a unique and enriching experience that should not be missed. The Apartheid Museum stands as a poignant reminder of South Africa's struggle with racial segregation and offers visitors an opportunity to learn about this dark chapter in history.

The sprawling township of Soweto presents another chance to delve into the country's past by visiting Nelson Mandela's former residence, known as the Mandela House Museum. These sites provide invaluable insights into South Africa's journey towards democracy and offer visitors a chance to understand the resilience and spirit of its people.

Moreover, Johannesburg also offers a vibrant arts scene that appeals to art enthusiasts from all over the world. Located in Newtown, Maboneng Precinct showcases contemporary African art through numerous galleries and street art installations. Meanwhile, 44 Stanley Avenue provides an eclectic mix of boutiques, restaurants, and artisanal stores for those seeking unique shopping experiences.

Q: Is Johannesburg an expensive city?

A: Firstly, accommodation in Johannesburg can range from budget-friendly options to luxurious hotels. For those seeking a more affordable stay, there are numerous guesthouses and backpacker hostels available throughout the city. Dining out in Johannesburg can be relatively inexpensive too if you opt for local eateries or street food stalls that offer delicious meals at reasonable prices.

Secondly, transportation costs should also be considered when assessing the overall expenses of visiting Johannesburg. While public transportation such as buses and trains can be fairly affordable in comparison to private taxis or car rentals, it's important to keep in mind that the city's vastness might require additional spending on commuting between attractions or districts.

Q: Is it safe to walk around Johannesburg at night?

A: While it is true that the city does have certain areas that are considered dangerous, with proper precautions and awareness, walking around Johannesburg at night can be relatively safe.

Firstly, it is important to note that not all areas of Johannesburg pose the same level of risk. The central business district (CBD) and some neighborhoods such as Sandton are generally safer than others. It is advisable to research these areas beforehand and stick to well-lit streets with visible police presence if you choose to walk at night.

Secondly, it is recommended to travel in groups when walking around Johannesburg at night. There is safety in numbers, so consider joining organized tours or hiring a reputable guide who knows the area well.

Q: Are there beaches in Johannesburg?

A: While it may not boast the stunning coastline that some coastal cities do, Johannesburg does offer a few options for those seeking a beach experience. One such option is the popular beach-like attraction called Gold Reef City's Themed Beach. This man-made sandy area provides visitors with a taste of the beach life without having to travel to an actual shoreline.

Another alternative for beach lovers in Johannesburg is Hartbeespoort Dam, situated just outside of the city. Although not technically a beach, this large dam offers various water activities and even some sandy areas where visitors can relax and soak up the sun.

Q: How far is Johannesburg airport from the city?

A: Johannesburg Airport, also known as O.R. Tambo International Airport, is situated approximately 22 kilometers east of the city center. One of the most convenient ways to reach the city from the airport is by taking a taxi, which usually takes around 20-30 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

If you prefer public transportation, there is a Gautrain station located within the airport premises. The Gautrain is a rapid rail network that connects major cities in Gauteng province, including Johannesburg. From the airport station, you can take a direct train to Sandton, one of Johannesburg's main business districts, which usually takes about 15-20 minutes.


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Need a Rental Car In Johannesburg?

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Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Johannesburg?

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Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Johannesburg without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Travel Companies to Save Money With?

Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you visit Johannesburg. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m taking a trip. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on South Africa:

Be sure to visit our South Africa Travel Guide for even more travel tips.

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