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Things to do in Johannesburg

Things to do in  Johannesburg

Welcome to Johannesburg

South Africa's largest city, Johannesburg, is home to the country's main international airport, and often serves as the gateway for most travelers visiting this southernmost country in Africa. Guided tours offer much to learn about South Africa's often-tumultuous history: Take in a history lesson at the acclaimed Apartheid Museum (followed by a bike tour of the nearby Soweto township); visit the former cell of Nelson Mandela in the Old Fort prison on Constitution Hill; or dig into the cultural history of Johannesburg at Museum Africa. For a stunning view of the cityscape, head to the top of Africa's tallest building, the Carlton Centre; or take a trip back in time to the UNESCO-listed Cradle of Humankind, a short 16 miles (25 kilometers) from the city and easily reached with a full-day tour. For a thrilling day trip, visit the enormous Kruger National Park for a safari tour in search of some of Africa's “Big Five” wildlife. Follow it up with a stop at nearby Pretoria to see the famous Jacaranda trees in bloom, and then continue to Pilanesberg Game Reserve or Sun City resort. Johannesburg is the ideal jumping-off point for further exploration in southern Africa, with regular flights to Cape Town, Durban, and even Botswana.

Top 15 attractions in Johannesburg

#1
Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

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One of South Africa’s premier attractions, Kruger National Park is famous for the extent and diversity of its wildlife. The “Big Five” of game are all there—lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard—and a world-class conservation program means you’ll also encounter wildebeest, giraffes, zebra, big cats of all stripes, and diverse bird species.More
#2
Soweto

Soweto

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For most, Soweto (short for South West Townships) is synonymous with resistance to apartheid, South Africa’s former policy of racial segregation. The township’s complex past is visible in Soweto’s moving museums, historical monuments, and strong traditions.More
#3
Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum

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The Apartheid Museum details the injustice, cruelty, and absurdities of white minority rule in South Africa. Apartheid, meaning “separateness” in Afrikaans, was officially in effect from 1948 to 1994, though segregation had been a cornerstone of South African politics since the country’s inception. The museum is dedicated to helping South Africa overcome its oppressive past and look toward the future.More
#4
Sun City

Sun City

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Sun City is a resort and entertainment complex located north-west of Johannesburg. One of South Africa's top leisure destinations, the resort complex is conveniently located on the South African Garden Route and next to Pilanesberg National Park. Highlights of Sun City include a casino, spa, water park, and golf courses.More
#5
Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill

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Perhaps nowhere is South Africa’s transition to democracy more apparent than on Constitution Hill. For over a hundred years, buildings here functioned as a feared prison complex, holding everyone from common criminals to activists Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, and even Winston Churchill (briefly during the Boer War. Since 2004, the site has been home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court.More
#6
Mandela House

Mandela House

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The Nelson Mandela National Museum (Mandela House), is dedicated to the preservation of the history, heritage, and legacy of the Mandela family. Former South African president Nelson Mandela and his family lived in this Johannesburg house from 1946 to the 1990s before dedicating it to the Soweto Heritage Trust.More
#7
Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park

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Set on the bed of an ancient volcano, Pilanesberg National Park is prized not only for its geological and archeological value but also for its diverse abundance of big game. Tour the park on safari to photograph wildlife and learn about the park’s unique geological formation and evidence of human existence dating back to the Stone Age.More
#8
Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City

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This theme park and casino complex built on the site of a former gold mine offers 24-hour entertainment for both kids and adults. Highlights of Gold Reef City include a casino, live theater, cinema complex, bowling alley, trampoline park, 30-ride theme park, and Johannesburg’s only authentic underground mine tour.More
#9
Hartbeespoort Dam

Hartbeespoort Dam

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Built for irrigation purposes in the 1920s, Hartbeespoort Dam created a reservoir and a recreation hot spot that now draws visitors to what has become a small resort town. Nestled in the Magaliesberg, Hartbeespoort offers a mountain escape complete with scenic views and everything from cruises to paragliding.More
#10
Aha Lesedi Cultural Village

Aha Lesedi Cultural Village

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Set among the rocky hills and bushland outside Johannesburg, Aha Lesedi, an African lodge and cultural village is made up of traditional homesteads and provides an opportunity to meet people from Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Ndebele, and Basotho origins. Lesedi reflects the diversity of South Africa’s original inhabitants with elements from many tribal cultures.More
#11
Carlton Centre

Carlton Centre

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The Carlton Centre is a 50-story, four-blocks-long skyscraper in downtown Johannesburg, and at 732-feet (223-meters tall, it's one of the tallest buildings in Africa. This towering structure is also known as a shopping destination and it offers unparalleled roof-top views of the South African capital city.More
#12
Johannesburg Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo

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You don’t have to head for the big game reserves to appreciate the variety of South African wildlife—it’s all on display at the Johannesburg Zoo. The sprawling 136-acre (55-hectare site includes spacious habitats for more than 320 species, with a focus on the physical and psychological wellbeing of the animals on display.More
#13
Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve

Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve

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Just under 30 miles northwest of bustling downtown Johannesburg, this enclave of animals makes it easy to see many – giraffe, white rhino, Kruger lion, cape buffalo, hippos, flamingos, ostrich – not far from the city’s creature comforts. Six hundred individual beasts comprising more than 30 species call the 3,000-acre privately-owned slice of savanna home. The option to self-drive the reserve’s bumpy gravel roads or take an organized day or night drive in the park’s open-top vehicles makes this a popular stop with Joberg visitors without a lot of time.Still, don’t expect a Kruger-like experience where all the animals run wild and fate and chance take their toll on the circle of life. Predators are separated by fences and easily spotted during scheduled public feeding times. A reptile house contains captive versions of creatures many would just as soon not spot in the wild, and species from around the continent and beyond also have a home here: Bengal and white tigers, three varieties of leopard and two types of jaguar. There’s even a chance for photo ops with some of the results of the reserve’s onsite breeding center – baby white lions, tigers, cheetah and more –– at the Animal Créche.The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, situated within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, makes it easy to hit multiple tourist stops such as the renowned Sterkfontein Caves and the Cradle of Humankind visitor center. The nearby Wonder Cave (operated separately), discovered by miners in 1898, hascavernous ceilings reaching 50 feet is host to exploratory and abseiling tours. Overnight accommodations and entertainment facilities for young children are also available in the park.More
#14
Newtown

Newtown

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Newtown is a neighborhood in the center of Johannesburg, and it has been the focus of redevelopment efforts in recent years. Originally called “The Brickfields,” as brick-making was the primary industry, the neighborhood was burned to the ground in 1904 – on purpose. The reason given was to stop the spread of the plague. Later that year, as the area was being redeveloped, it was given the name of Newtown.Today, Newtown is home to some important Johannesburg attractions, such as MuseumAfrica, Market Theatre, and Mary Fitzgerald Square.More
#15
James Hall Museum of Transport

James Hall Museum of Transport

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This giant brick warehouse divided in to seven sections is dedicated to all things transportation. From ox carts to early bicycles and modern day cars and trains, the James Hall Museum of Transport is a showcase of the implements that have propelled the people of South Africa for more than a century.Most self-guided tours begin in the North Hall, home to motorcars from before and after the South African War. This area includes the museum’s oldest car, a green Edwardian Clement-Panhard (1900), as well as unusual artifacts like the minuscule 1957 MBW Microcar Isetta. Locomotives and retired city vehicles, like a double-decker bus, are on the open-air porch, and examples of buses and trolleys, including Johannesburg’s last electric powered Tram and a traveling library bus still filled with books, can be seen in the West Hall.The two floors of the South Hall showcase a plethora of animal drawn vehicles from ox-carts to private carriages… there’s even an old horse-drawn Zeederberg Company mail coach and a Voortrekker wagon used by Afrikanners during the Great Trek to Johannesburg from the Cape Colony. From there, it’s about motorcycles and bikes in front of the East Hall where the silly- looking penny farthing bicycle, tricycles, scooters and rickshaws are on display. The back of the East Hall is a devoted garage for a suite of red fire engines. The courtyard is home to steam-powered vehicles, some of which regain their steam (so to speak) once a year, offering rides for a museum fundraiser. A wander through for most takes between one and two hours.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Johannesburg

How to Spend 1 Day in Johannesburg

How to Spend 2 Days in Johannesburg

How to Spend 2 Days in Johannesburg

Recent reviews from experiences in Johannesburg

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From the USA
Jarvis_A, Apr 2022
Soweto and Johannesburg Guided Day Tour
We were able to see lots of historical places in Johannesburg and Soweto
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The trip was interesting...
Thomas_S, Feb 2022
Soweto and Johannesburg Guided Day Tour
It was a really good way to see parts of the city of Johannesburg which may not have been accessible as a tourist without a guide.
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Good to see more of the...
Ivo_R, Jan 2022
bicycle tour soweto
Good to see more of the locals in Johannesburg!
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A nice alternative if you don't have time to visit Kruger National Park
Valria_S, Jan 2022
Full-Day Pilanesburg Nature Reserve Tour
We didn't have time to visit Kruger National Park and Pilansburg was a nice alternative.
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Very interesting tour
Thomas_H, Dec 2020
Johannesburg Full-Day Tour(Soweto/Jo-Burg & Apartheid Museum)
The guide Pastor was very knowledgeable and friendly, Apartheid museum was fascinating as was the chance to see what life is like in one of the Johannesburg townships although it does also make you feel sad to see some of the poverty these people endure
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Very informative
SjaakLondon, Nov 2019
Half Guided Day Tour of Soweto from Apartheid Museum
It was a great way to see a little bit of Johannesburg during a stopover.
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A must do
Calvin_M, Oct 2018
City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Johannesburg
This was the best way to see Johannesburg it was very informative two thumbs up .
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This is a must if in Johannesburg...
Pamela R, Jun 2017
Cradle of Humankind Tour with a Lion Safari from Johannesburg
You get to see so much!
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Can't say enough about Anthony. He...
DONNELL C, Oct 2017
Private Johannesburg Full Day Tour Incl Soweto & Cultural Experience
I would suggest doing your homework before arriving just In case you want to see something else.
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Fantastic tour with Anthony that we...
Juan Pablo R, Nov 2017
Private Johannesburg Full Day Tour Incl Soweto & Cultural Experience
Very knowledgeable, very flexible with the tour itinerary, it was a great way to see the main parts of Johannesburg, our only regret is not having done it earlier during our visit.
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Incredible experience: got a feel for 'Joburg' and Soweto in only 5 hours
Daniel_H, Nov 2021
Soweto Half Day Tour
This tour is fantastic because you get to see some of Johannesburg and its very contrasting neighborhoods before getting to Soweto, seeing the attractions (like the Mandela house and Hector Pieterson museum), but also different hidden areas of Soweto the big companies don't show you.
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Awesome!
Ryan, Aug 2021
Half Guided Day Tour of Soweto from Apartheid Museum
although the Apartheid Museum was closed he still filled the time with plenty of info and other sites to see around Johannesburg.
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Fantastic day with Jason
Ashley F, Dec 2019
Full Day Exquisite Pilanesberg Safari from Johannesburg
I didn’t have high hopes because it had just rained and it’s the middle of the summer but we saw three of the big five, and much more.
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3 Day Classic Kruger National Park Safari
Raymond M, Dec 2019
3 Day Classic Kruger National Park Safari
The drive from Johannesburg took 8 hours including stops so we didn't arrive until 5:00 pm and the sunset drive was departing at 5:30 so there was barely enough time to put your bags in the room before activities begin.
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Could not have been better!
Lori_D, Nov 2019
Kruger National Park 2 Days 1 Night Magical Safari from Johannesburg
We only had 2 days in Johannesburg and we used it to see Kruger National Park.
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Excellent Joburg Tour - Really Insightful
Nicole T, Oct 2019
Soweto and Johannesburg & Apartheid Museum
This was a driving tour where he took us through several neighborhoods where you could see the drastic wealth-inequality which was really sad to see but necessary.
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A brilliant full day tour encompassing everything!
Rohit J, Oct 2019
Johannesburg, Soweto and Apartheid Museum
We were able to visit Constitution Hill, the constitutional court, the apartheid museum and the huge township of Soweto.
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An Amazing Experience with Balanta Imagine Safaris
Welcome48, Aug 2019
All inclusive - 3 Day Kruger Safari from Johannesburg
Given another chance to visit South Africa in future, we will certainly avail of their services again - we are sold.
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The Real Soweto
tpabayguy, Aug 2019
The 'Real' Soweto Tour
From the moment we were picked up at our Airbnb by Ishmael we knew we were going to enjoy this trip and where going to see the real way the people of this area of Johannesburg live and the real struggles they deal with everyday.
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A great option for seeing the animals on your trip to Africa!
ashley_h, Jul 2019
All inclusive - 3 Day Kruger Safari from Johannesburg
We were very unsure of where we really wanted to visit.
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