Johannesburg, also known as Joburg or Jozi by locals, is South Africa’s biggest city, as well as a provincial capital. Many people will stop off here for a short wait during their South African explorations. It’s also usually the end point for most travellers, so a quick sightseeing expedition before going home is a logical option!
If you do find yourself in the City of Gold, here is a helpful guide on how to spend the best 48 hours in Johannesburg. Here’s a whole list of things to do in Johannesburg:
Visit Constitution Hill to learn more about South Africa’s history and its transition to becoming a democratic country. The different museums offer an insight into the hardship experienced by prisoners held in the cells. Today, Constitution Hill is home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court.
As the name suggests, the Apartheid Museum is a museum showcasing the rise and fall of South Africa’s Apartheid era. The museum offers guided tours for 15 or more people at a very reasonable price. You can also explore the exhibitions on your own.
A neighbourhood rich in culture and artistic ambience, the Maboneng Precinct has become a trendy spot for tourists and visitors. You can visit one of the many modern restaurants, galleries and even the Bioscope – a one-of-a-kind cinema. There are also some fantastic touring opportunities, by bike or skateboard, as well as magnificent gin tastings and other fun activities.
Cradle of Humankind
This stunning site is an important piece of humankind’s history, making it a definite must-see when in Joburg. The area is made up of caves, nature parks and spectacular scenery. You can go exploring through fossilised caves or enjoy a game drive. Or, take the chance to relax at a spa. There’s so much to see and do in the Cradle of Humankind, this may just take up an entire day.
Find a glamorous casino, trendy boutique stores and ample eateries inside this classy building. There’s even a state-of-the-art cinema where you catch all the latest movies. If none of that interests you, perhaps you’ll enjoy some bowling or hanging out in the arcade. Montecasino also has the World of Birds right next door.
A local market
Johannesburg has many markets throughout the different neighbourhoods. These can be a lovely way to spend your day. Browse at your own leisure and find delicious food and quirky crafts.
One such market is the Bryanston Organic Market. Here, you can find organic food, sustainable living products and other interesting artefacts. These markets are a great way to see Joburg living and meet some locals.
Visit the Market Theatre to get a taste of authentic South African arts and culture. You can view exhibitions, plays, dance shows and many other African artistic expressions. This is a great place to visit if you’re interested in the art and culture of the country. You’ll no doubt fall in love with the theatre once there.
Hop on Hop off Sightseeing bus
This big red bus is a tourism symbol throughout South Africa and the world. With one in each of the big cities, you know once you’re on board you’re heading for some of the country’s best sightseeing. Hop on the bus as it transports you to each new attraction – where you can then hop off to explore before making your way again.
Soweto is a township just outside of Johannesburg. It’s full of history and has many tourist attractions. These include:
Visit the house where Nelson Mandela lived in Soweto, Johannesburg. The house has now become a museum, which shows the life and times of the Mandela family and pays tribute to Nelson himself.
Orlando Towers has become a favourite spot for locals and tourists. It was created in a decommissioned power station. The towers now offer:
This landmark offers excitement and adventure!
Local food experience
Visit an authentic restaurant or food market and get a taste of South Africa. Traditional South African food is enjoyed by all, and Soweto is the best place to find it! Be sure to pop into Sakhumzi before you leave!
One thing you don’t want to do in Joburg is to rely on just your feet to get you around the city. First off, the city is big! Too big to comfortably walk to and from each attraction. You could rent a car if you know how to drive defensively! However, there is sufficient public and private transport to get you around for 2 days in Joburg.
South Africa has minibus taxis that operate throughout the country. It’s not advisable that tourists hop into these, simply because their driving can be erratic and, at times, reckless.
The most popular transport option in Joburg is the Gautrain. This train is a proud asset to the city. It links all the main suburbs as well as the airport, and even goes as far as Pretoria! There are feeder buses that run from each of the stops as well.
The best option, if you’re not taking the train, would be to order a taxi cab or Uber. These will happily take you where you need to be and are often the safest bet. The skilled drivers will navigate the busy city roads, and you will have a comfy seat to enjoy the ride.
Unfortunately, crime is rife in Johannesburg. There are certain neighbourhoods that are safer for tourists than others, but the main concept remains the same – when out and about in the city, be aware!
Avoid displaying valuables, such as cellphones and purses, and if you happen to be walking through large crowds, keep a check on your bags and pockets. While you are likely to be quite safe in a guided group, if you happen to venture out on your own, avoid the areas of Hillbrow, Berea, and Yeoville. Otherwise, staying with your group, sticking to tourist-friendly areas, and being vigilant when walking will keep you quite safe!
So, if you ever find yourself in Joburg, it can be quite a decent place to check out on your travels. Since you’re likely landing at O.R Tambo airport anyway, no trip to South Africa would really be complete until you’ve seen the shiny side of Jozi.