South Africa’s Megacity Johannesburg: Things to do in the “The City of Gold”
Johannesburg is located on the southern slopes of the Witwatersrand, the natural ridge occupying the far north-east of South Africa, some thirty miles to the southwest of the national capital, Pretoria. If travelling in luxury is your idea of the perfect vacation, then Johannesburg is the place for you. The South African metropolis is an urban exploration hub simply teeming with possibilities, from world-class shopping malls alongside bustling local markets through to chic bars and restaurants, the city has a thriving love of the arts and culture, and attracts an aesthetic crowd.
Johannesburg is also remembered as a place built on the wealth produced by gold, of course. The city is a popular tourist destination with a fascinating aura that invites South African tourists to book flights to the city, ready to spend a relaxing day at a luxurious golf course, chill out with colleagues after a business meeting in the sun, and much more besides. Johannesburg certainly has something to offer everyone, so if you’re looking for the best places to visit there, here are one or two of the city’s must-do experiences…
Johannesburg’s old suburb of Honeydew
Situated in a hilly area between Randburg and Krugersdorp, Honeydew is one of the most beautiful parts of Johannesburg, something which has served to make it one of the most popular places in the city to visit over the years. At Heia Safari Ranch, for example, guests can spend beautiful nights in luxurious fairies or Zulu huts. A traditional braai is put on every Sunday evening, with vast amounts of meat being roasted over an open fire and Zulu dancers performing the Mzumbe dance show. The dancers live in a restored village first opened by King Zvelethini in 1988. If you don’t plan to spend the night at Heia, you can opt to go out on safari and watch antelopes, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and buffalo.
Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum
One of Johannesburg’s many museums, the Apartheid Museum, is dedicated to showing the rise and fall of Apartheid. It shows the discriminatory nature of the system after the government declared Black South Africans second-class citizens in 1948, the subsequent relentless struggle of the country’s citizens to achieve liberty, and the efforts of Nelson Mandela to topple the system, eventually leading to free elections in 1994. The exhibition is a great example of South Africa’s unique political saga, organised by an eclectic mix of curators, historians, designers and filmmakers. The Apartheid Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Gold Reef City
Reef City is an amusement park in Johannesburg, and definitely one not to be missed, especially if you are on a singles holiday without kids. You might fancy trying your luck at the City Casino, for instance, or prefer taking a fascinating look through South African history in the theme park. You can also take part in an exciting range of different games!
The Casino – open 24 hours a day, seven days a week – is also home to restaurants featuring different cuisines, from great Italian to wider Mediterranean options and even across the pond, in the shape of the Boston Grill. (Tip: be sure to check out the gentle, magical rhythms of the Back O’ The Moon jazz bar.)
South Africa’s largest zoo is a great way of taking your kids on their very own mini-jungle safari – just without the hassle factor, but with all the enjoyment. The current zoo, which opened its gates in 1904, is home to some 3,000 different species; tours can be organised in advance, with the main wildlife attraction undoubtedly being the iconic and quite beautiful white lions.
Suikerbosrand nature reserve
If you enjoy hiking and cycling in nature, then keep reading: Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is just perfect for both. The hiking trails here can be 4, 5 or 10 km in length, with mountain bike trails anywhere between 8 and 11 km. The landscape here is typical of the Highveld, ranging from broadleaf forests and acacia savannah through to Proteus Velds. The plains that make up the reserve, meanwhile, are home to a vast array of different zebras, deer, clownfish, wildebeest – and more.
One not to miss out on, should you be lucky enough to be visiting Johannesburg – a trip to Soweto is an exciting, creative and very real experience! The Hector Peterson Museum, named after the 12-year-old boy shot by police on the first day of the 1976 Soweto uprising, is within walking distance; Hector became a symbol of the fight against Apartheid after a photojournalist photographed his mother carrying her badly wounded son in her arms. The museum tells the full story of the Soweto uprising and the brutal tactics used by government forces to suppress it, resulting in the deaths of over 550 protesters. This museum has all the exhibits one would expect, woven together by touching personal accounts of the harrowing events provided by locals.
Constitution Hill reflects South Africa’s turbulent, yet ultimately successful, path to democracy. Tourists are shown around the Old Fort prison complex, which offers a real picture of the struggle in South Africa. From Nelson Mandela to notorious assassin Daisy de Melker, Constitution Hill tells a story full of colourful, interesting and uniquely South African characters. The complex also includes the Constitutional Court.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
The City of Johannesburg is full of intellectual and incredibly vibrant attractions. Johannesburg’s renowned art gallery boasts an extensive collection of famous works – some dating back to the 15th century – by both domestic and foreign artists.
Best time of year to visit Johannesburg
Johannesburg enjoys a pleasantly mild climate, and is dry and sunny year-round; the summer months, from September to April, are generally considered the best time to visit, however.
If you’re looking for the perfect vacation, and are interested in experiencing one of the most diverse and atmospheric cities on Earth, then Johannesburg’s the place for you! If you get all your flight information displayed on travel sites, you will also get detailed information about the Cathay Pacific airlines providing services to Johannesburg. Relaxing in this beautiful, vibrant city will also allow you to spend time with your travel companions whilst visiting some of Africa’s most important tourist attractions. So book today and enjoy your holiday in one of the youngest cities in Africa!
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