Top attractions in Johannesburg
Top attractions in Johannesburg
With the recovery of its post-apartheid economy, Johannesburg is shedding its "most dangerous city" reputation for that of a friendly metropolis with quirky urban attractions to substantiate its wilder and more scenic offerings. Here are a few of its best!
1. Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Combining natural vegetation and rocky hiking trails with skillfully landscaped gardens, visitors must trek up to the top of its waterfall to see Black Eagles and terrific views!
2. Pilanesberg National Park
This national park not only offers safaris galore but you can even camp here. In spite of the large meandering beasts, it's safer than it sounds!
Home to a startling number of our chimpish ancestors, it's no wonder the fossil-rich Sterkfontein caves are also known as the Cradle of Humankind!
4. The Old Fort
Discover the brutish conditions of a detention center that held Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and many other political leaders and suspected dissidents. It can prove to be a very humbling experience.
5. De Wildt Cheetah & Wildlife Centre
This research and observation center lets you get close to cheetahs, wild dogs, and other native creatures you may have missed on safari.
6. Apartheid Museum
How did Apartheid feel? Upon paying admission you'll be assigned a racial category to help you understand the gravity of the exhibits. It's hard to see it all in one visit though.
7. Johannesburg Zoo
The allure of the safari too often distracts from this brilliantly landscaped zoo. It's now a world-beater but you can still visit a few old enclosures to see how far it's come!
Planning Your Visit
When to go?
In terms of the weather there is not really a best time to visit Johannesburg. Daytime temperatures are fairly warm all year round, with the high altitude keeping summers from getting too hot. The South African winter is between May and August, and if you plan to take safari then the lack of foliage at this time makes it considerably easier to spot lions!
How safe is it?
Johannesburg is not as dangerous as you might think. Crime is nowhere near the level it once was and you'll immediately notice cars stopping at red lights all over the place without being stolen! Like any city, crime is still an issue but tends to be particularly high around certain areas. Avoid Yeoville, Berea, Hillbrow, and Alexandra if you can, and opt for taxis over public transport, which is quite chaotic.
Where to stay?
Johannesburg is a city of suburbs, so don't expect a hotel in the center to be your best bet. Consider booking a guesthouse in Melville, Sandton, or Rosebank. For contrast, Soweto is the city's largest township. Although it's still quite poor, it's one of the friendliest, liveliest parts of the city. The downside to that is it can be hard to get any sleep!
Good to know
- Afrikaans and English
- South African Rand (ZAR)
- Time Zone
- UTC (+02:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- Warm temperatures can be enjoyed all year round, but if you are visiting for safari, plan to come between May and August when foliage is at a minimum and big game sightings are easier!
Other Sightseeing Options in Johannesburg
Want to discover all there is to do in Johannesburg? Click here for a full list.
What people are saying about Johannesburg
Our full day tour with James was fantastic! He did such a great job at explaining the history and facts about all of our stops and was entertaining as well. It didn’t feel like an all day event since he made everything enjoyable. All of the places we visited were great with a good amount of time at each stop. We definitely learned a lot and tried to soak it all in. I would highly recommend this tour, especially with James!
Due to COVID we could not pet the lion cubs, we did however enjoy the park. Our 4 year old and 1 year old were very interested and enjoyed riding in the safari bus. Our driver Nick was very helpful and an excellent navigator. We would recommend this tour if you want to get up close and personal with some of the animals at the park. The Lions came right up to the bus!
Our guide Sam was prompt and very knowledgable. He was a wealth of knowledge for the entire trip. We enjoyed Constitution Hall and Mandela’s House. The Soweto was very intriguing. This tour gets REAL and in your face as soon as you enter Soweto.
Sana (our tour guide) picked us up from our hotel right on time. He was well informed and made the whole tour experience amazing.
Transport arrived on time - lovely driver who explained some of South African culture etc.