Top-Rated Attractions and Things to Do in Johannesburg

South Africa

By Wyatt Johnson

Welcome to Johannesburg, the vibrant and energetic city that never sleeps. With its rich history, cultural diversity, and stunning landscapes, there is no shortage of top-rated attractions and things to do in this bustling metropolis. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a nature lover, Johannesburg has something for everyone.

One must-visit attraction is the Apartheid Museum, a powerful and thought-provoking museum that tells the story of South Africa’s struggle for freedom and equality. Through immersive exhibits, audiovisual presentations, and interactive displays, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the country’s apartheid era and the resilience of its people. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in South Africa’s history and the fight against injustice.

If you’re looking for a taste of local culture, a visit to the vibrant neighborhood of Maboneng is a must. This trendy area is known for its artsy atmosphere, bustling markets, and thriving food scene. Explore the many art galleries, browse through unique boutiques, and indulge in delicious local cuisine at one of the trendy restaurants or rooftop bars. Maboneng is the perfect place to soak up the creative vibes and experience the true essence of Johannesburg.

Nature lovers won’t want to miss a trip to the beautiful and tranquil Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. Spanning over 125 hectares, this oasis in the city offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. Take a leisurely stroll through the various gardens, admire the wide variety of plant species, and have a picnic by the picturesque lakes. The gardens also host regular concerts and events, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.

For those seeking a thrilling adventure, a trip to the Cradle of Humankind is a must. Located just outside of Johannesburg, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the oldest hominin fossils ever discovered. Explore the ancient limestone caves, take a guided tour, and learn about the origins of humanity. It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience that shouldn’t be missed.

These are just a few of the top-rated attractions and things to do in Johannesburg. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or adventure, this vibrant city has it all. So pack your bags and get ready to explore all that Johannesburg has to offer!

Top-Rated Attractions in Johannesburg

Johannesburg, also known as the City of Gold, is a vibrant and diverse city that offers a wide range of attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or nature, Johannesburg has something to offer. Here are some of the top-rated attractions in the city:

  • The Apartheid Museum: This museum tells the story of South Africa’s turbulent history of apartheid through a series of exhibits and interactive displays. It provides a powerful and thought-provoking experience.
  • Gold Reef City: Once a working gold mine, Gold Reef City is now a popular theme park that offers a variety of rides, shows, and attractions. Visitors can also take an underground tour of the mine to learn about Johannesburg’s mining history.
  • The Cradle of Humankind: Located just outside of Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the oldest hominin fossils ever discovered. Visitors can explore the Sterkfontein Caves and learn about the evolution of humans.
  • The Johannesburg Art Gallery: The city’s premier art museum, the Johannesburg Art Gallery houses an extensive collection of African, South African, and European art. From traditional sculptures to contemporary paintings, there’s something for everyone to appreciate.
  • Soweto: A visit to Johannesburg wouldn’t be complete without exploring Soweto, the largest township in the country. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn about the township’s rich history and cultural significance.

These are just a few of the top-rated attractions in Johannesburg. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or adventure, this city has something for everyone to enjoy. Make sure to include these attractions in your itinerary when planning your trip to Johannesburg!

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum is one of the most important cultural attractions in Johannesburg and provides visitors with an in-depth look into South Africa’s history of racial segregation and the struggle for equality. Located in the south of the city, near the Gold Reef City theme park, the museum offers a powerful and emotional journey through the country’s apartheid era.

The museum features a comprehensive collection of exhibits and interactive displays that document the rise and fall of apartheid. The displays include photographs, artefacts, and personal stories that offer a glimpse into the lives of both victims and perpetrators of apartheid. Through these exhibits, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the impact that apartheid had on individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole.

One of the highlights of the Apartheid Museum is the permanent exhibition called “Apartheid and the Struggle for Freedom.” This exhibition provides a chronological account of the apartheid era, from its origins in the late 1940s to its official end in 1994. Visitors can learn about key events, such as the Sharpeville Massacre and the Rivonia Trial, as well as the role of important figures like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in the fight against apartheid.

In addition to the exhibits, the Apartheid Museum also offers educational programs, workshops, and guided tours for both individuals and school groups. These programs aim to promote dialogue, understanding, and reconciliation by providing a platform for discussion and reflection on South Africa’s complex history.

To fully experience the Apartheid Museum, visitors should plan to spend several hours exploring the exhibits. The museum is known for its thought-provoking design, which includes dark corridors, interactive installations, and powerful audio-visual presentations. The overall atmosphere allows visitors to immerse themselves in the stories and emotions of apartheid.

Address Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd, Ormonde, Johannesburg, 2132
Opening Hours 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Tuesday to Sunday)
Entrance Fee R120 for adults, R100 for students and pensioners, R80 for children (6-10 years old)

Nelson Mandela Square

Nelson Mandela Square is a popular tourist attraction and public square located in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg. The square is named after the iconic South African leader and former president, Nelson Mandela, who played a pivotal role in the country’s fight against apartheid.

The square is known for its impressive bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, which stands at six meters tall. This statue has become a symbol of South Africa’s struggle for freedom and equality, and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

In addition to the statue, Nelson Mandela Square is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The square is known for its upscale shopping experience, featuring high-end fashion brands and boutiques. Visitors can also enjoy a wide range of dining options, including local South African cuisine and international fare.

Surrounding the square, visitors will find a vibrant atmosphere with street performers, live music, and cultural events. The square is a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists, providing a vibrant and lively ambiance.

Nelson Mandela Square is also conveniently located near several other attractions in Johannesburg, including the Sandton City Mall and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Visitors can easily explore the surrounding area and enjoy a full day of shopping, dining, and sightseeing.

Overall, Nelson Mandela Square is a must-visit destination in Johannesburg, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment. Whether you’re interested in learning about South Africa’s past, indulging in world-class shopping, or simply enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, the square has something for everyone.

Address 5th Street, Sandton, Johannesburg
Opening Hours Monday-Sunday: 9am-6pm
Contact +27 11 217 6000
Website www.nelsonmandelasquare.co.za

Lion Park

The Lion Park in Johannesburg is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. This wildlife park gives visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with lions and other African wildlife in a safe and controlled environment.

One of the main highlights of the Lion Park is the opportunity to go on a guided tour and see the lions up close. Visitors can go on a safari drive through the park and observe the lions in their natural habitat, or even have a chance to interact with lion cubs in a controlled environment.

In addition to lions, the park is also home to other African wildlife, such as cheetahs, wild dogs, and giraffes. Visitors can learn about these animals through educational displays and exhibits throughout the park.

Location Opening Hours Cost
The Lion Park Monday – Sunday: 9am – 5pm Adults: $20
Children: $10

For those interested in conservation and wildlife preservation, the Lion Park offers volunteer programs and opportunities to get involved in their efforts. This is a great way to learn more about the animals and contribute to their well-being.

Overall, the Lion Park is a must-visit for animal lovers and anyone looking for a unique wildlife experience in Johannesburg. It offers a chance to see and learn about African wildlife up close, while also supporting conservation efforts.

Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is a fascinating historical site and a must-visit attraction in Johannesburg. It has a significant role in South Africa’s history and is a symbol of the country’s journey towards democracy.

The site is home to the Constitutional Court of South Africa, which is the highest court in the country and has the power to interpret the Constitution. Visitors can take guided tours of the courtrooms and learn more about the judicial system and the role of the court in upholding democracy.

But Constitution Hill is not just a legal hub, it also has a dark past. It was once a fort and a jail, where many political activists, including Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, were imprisoned. The Old Fort Jail Complex is now a museum that showcases the struggles and sacrifices of those who fought against apartheid. The exhibitions provide a sobering and thought-provoking insight into the injustices of the past.

Apart from exploring the courtrooms and museum, visitors can also wander around the beautiful grounds of Constitution Hill, which offer stunning views of Johannesburg. There are picnic areas and outdoor art installations that add to the overall experience.

Constitution Hill is a place of reflection and learning, where visitors can gain a deep understanding of South Africa’s history and its ongoing journey towards equality and justice. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s past and its aspirations for the future.

Johannesburg Botanical Garden

The Johannesburg Botanical Garden is one of the city’s most beautiful and serene attractions. Situated in the suburb of Emmarentia, this lush green oasis covers an area of over 125 hectares and offers visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

The garden is home to a wide variety of indigenous plants and trees, as well as several themed gardens such as the Shakespeare Garden and the Rose Garden. Visitors can take leisurely strolls along the garden’s well-maintained pathways, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and picturesque views.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Johannesburg Botanical Garden also offers several amenities for visitors to enjoy. There is a picnic area where visitors can relax and enjoy a meal surrounded by nature, as well as a tea garden where they can indulge in light refreshments.

For those interested in learning more about the local flora and fauna, the garden also has an educational center where guided walks and workshops are offered. Visitors can gain insight into the unique biodiversity of Johannesburg and learn about the importance of conservation.

Whether you are a nature lover looking for a peaceful retreat or simply want to explore Johannesburg’s natural beauty, a visit to the Johannesburg Botanical Garden is highly recommended. It is a wonderful place to unwind, connect with nature, and appreciate the incredible biodiversity of this vibrant city.

Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City is a popular theme park and entertainment complex in Johannesburg. Located on the site of an old gold mine, it offers visitors a unique combination of family-friendly activities, historical attractions, and thrilling rides.

One of the main highlights of Gold Reef City is its authentic representation of life during the gold rush era in the late 19th century. Visitors can explore the underground mine museum and take a guided tour to learn about the history of gold mining in Johannesburg. The museum showcases original mining equipment and provides a glimpse into the tough conditions faced by miners during that time.

In addition to the mine museum, Gold Reef City also features a variety of exhilarating rides and attractions. The park is home to the famous Tower of Terror, a high-speed roller coaster that offers breathtaking drops and twists. Other popular roller coasters include the Anaconda and the Golden Loop, which provide adrenaline-pumping experiences for thrill-seekers.

For those looking for a more leisurely experience, Gold Reef City offers a range of family-friendly attractions. The Magic Company, an arcade and entertainment center, is a hit with children and teenagers, while the 4D theater provides an immersive cinematic experience for all ages.

After a day of exploring the park, visitors can unwind and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafes in Gold Reef City. The complex offers a wide variety of dining options, from fast food to fine dining, catering to different tastes and preferences.

Gold Reef City is a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists in Johannesburg. Its unique combination of history, entertainment, and thrilling rides makes it a top-rated attraction in the city.

Opening Hours: 9:30am – 5pm (Monday – Friday) 9:30am – 6pm (Saturday – Sunday)
Admission: Adults: $25 Children (under 12): $15
Contact: Phone: +27 11 248 5000 Email: info@goldreefcity.co.za

Soweto

Soweto, short for South Western Townships, is a vibrant and historically significant township located southwest of Johannesburg. It played a crucial role in the struggle against apartheid and has since become a symbol of resilience and hope.

Visitors to Soweto can explore its rich history and cultural heritage through various attractions and landmarks. One of the iconic sites in Soweto is the Nelson Mandela National Museum, also known as Mandela House. This is the former home of the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house and learn about Mandela’s life and his fight against apartheid.

Another must-visit attraction in Soweto is the Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial. This museum commemorates the 1976 Soweto Uprising, a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history when students protested against the apartheid government’s education policies. The museum tells the story of the uprising through powerful exhibitions and documents.

Soweto is also known for its vibrant street life and bustling markets. The Vilakazi Street Market is a popular spot where visitors can find local crafts, clothing, and street food. It’s also the only street in the world that has been home to two Nobel Prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

For those interested in music and entertainment, a visit to the Soweto Theatre is highly recommended. This modern venue showcases a range of local and international performances, including music, dance, and theater.

Finally, no visit to Soweto would be complete without trying some traditional South African cuisine. Local restaurants offer a variety of dishes, including pap and chakalaka, a traditional vegetable relish, and braai (barbecue) meats.

Overall, Soweto is a vibrant and historically significant destination that offers visitors a unique insight into South Africa’s past, present, and future.

Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site located just outside of Johannesburg. It is one of the richest fossil sites in the world and is known for its significant contributions to our understanding of human evolution.

The site is home to a network of limestone caves that have produced some of the most important hominin fossils ever found, including the famous fossils of “Mrs. Ples” and “Little Foot.” These fossils have provided valuable insights into the origins and evolutionary history of humankind.

Visitors to the Cradle of Humankind can take guided tours of the caves to learn about the excavation process and see the fossils up close. The tours provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of paleoanthropology and the scientific study of human evolution.

In addition to the caves, the Cradle of Humankind also features a number of interactive museums and exhibits that explore the history of human evolution. Visitors can learn about the various hominin species that have been discovered in the area and see replicas of some of the most important fossils.

Outside of the museums, the Cradle of Humankind offers beautiful natural scenery and outdoor activities. Visitors can go hiking or enjoy a picnic in the picturesque surroundings. There are also several restaurants and cafes where visitors can relax and enjoy the views.

Overall, the Cradle of Humankind is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in human history and evolution. Its rich fossil heritage and educational opportunities make it a unique and fascinating place to explore.

Johannesburg Zoo

The Johannesburg Zoo is a popular tourist attraction and a must-visit destination for animal lovers. Spread across 55 hectares of land, this zoo is home to over 320 species of animals, making it one of the largest zoos in South Africa.

Visitors can explore the zoo’s various exhibits and see a wide range of animals from all over the world. From majestic big cats like lions and cheetahs to playful primates like chimpanzees and baboons, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the highlights of the Johannesburg Zoo is the zoo’s Elephant Sanctuary, where visitors can learn about and interact with these magnificent creatures. The sanctuary offers educational programs and opportunities for visitors to get up close and personal with the elephants.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo also features beautifully manicured gardens and picnic areas, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing day out with family and friends. There are also various food and beverage options available within the zoo, ensuring that visitors can grab a bite to eat during their visit.

The Johannesburg Zoo is committed to conserving and protecting wildlife, and they participate in various breeding programs and conservation initiatives. They also offer guided tours and educational programs to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a visit to the Johannesburg Zoo is a great way to immerse yourself in nature and learn more about the rich biodiversity of South Africa.

Key attractions:

  • Wide range of animal species
  • Elephant Sanctuary
  • Manicured gardens and picnic areas
  • Conservation initiatives
  • Guided tours and educational programs

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is advised to check the zoo’s website for any changes to opening hours or visitor guidelines before planning your visit.

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden is a stunning natural oasis located in Roodepoort, just outside of Johannesburg. It is one of South Africa’s most beautiful and popular botanical gardens, attracting visitors from near and far.

The garden is named after the late Walter Sisulu, a prominent anti-apartheid activist and former Secretary-General of the African National Congress. It covers an area of 300 hectares and is home to an incredible variety of indigenous flora and fauna.

One of the highlights of the garden is the majestic Witpoortjie Waterfall, which cascades down a rocky cliffside into a tranquil pool. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the garden’s pathways, admiring the diverse plant life and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

The garden is also a haven for birdwatchers, with over 220 bird species recorded in the area. Bird hides are strategically placed throughout the garden, allowing visitors to observe these beautiful creatures up close in their natural habitat.

For those interested in learning more about the plants and wildlife of the region, the garden offers educational guided tours and nature walks. There is also a visitor center with interactive displays and informative exhibits.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year. These include outdoor concerts, art exhibitions, and even yoga classes in the garden.

Whether you are a nature lover, a bird enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden is a must-visit attraction.

  • Admire the breathtaking Witpoortjie Waterfall
  • Explore the garden’s pathways and discover its diverse plant life
  • Spot a wide variety of bird species
  • Take a guided tour or nature walk to learn more about the garden’s flora and fauna
  • Attend one of the many events or activities hosted in the garden

Plan your visit to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden and experience the beauty of nature in the heart of Johannesburg.

Market Theatre

The Market Theatre is a renowned cultural institution in Johannesburg. Established in 1976 during the height of apartheid, the theatre played a crucial role in promoting art, culture, and social activism. It was a platform for artists to express their creative freedom and challenge the oppressive regime.

Located in the historic Newtown district, the Market Theatre has become a symbol of resistance and change. It has played host to a wide range of theatrical productions, including plays, musicals, and dance performances. The theatre showcases both local South African talent and international acts.

One of the unique features of the Market Theatre is its commitment to showcasing diverse voices and experiences. It has been a launching pad for many renowned South African playwrights, directors, and actors, who have gone on to achieve global recognition.

The Market Theatre Complex consists of several performance spaces, including the Main Theatre, the John Kani Theatre, and the Barney Simon Theatre. Each space has its own distinct atmosphere and hosts a variety of performances throughout the year.

In addition to its theatrical productions, the Market Theatre also houses the Market Gallery, which exhibits contemporary South African art. The gallery provides a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and engage with audiences.

Visiting the Market Theatre is not just an opportunity to experience exceptional performances, but also a chance to engage with South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and history. The theatre’s commitment to social justice and artistic excellence makes it a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.

Address: 56 Margaret Mcingana St, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2113

Opening Hours: Varies depending on performances, check the official website for details

Website: https://markettheatre.co.za/

FAQs

What are some top-rated attractions in Johannesburg?

Some top-rated attractions in Johannesburg are the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Lion Park, and the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden.

What can I do in Johannesburg if I’m interested in history?

If you’re interested in history, you can visit the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, and the Mandela House in Soweto. These attractions provide insight into the country’s past, particularly the apartheid era and Nelson Mandela’s life.

What are some family-friendly activities in Johannesburg?

There are several family-friendly activities in Johannesburg, such as visiting the Johannesburg Zoo, exploring the Cradle of Humankind, going on a safari at the Lion Park, and enjoying the rides and attractions at Gold Reef City.

Where can I find natural beauty near Johannesburg?

If you’re looking for natural beauty near Johannesburg, you can visit the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, which has stunning waterfall views and plenty of walking trails. The Cradle of Humankind is also a great option, as it offers beautiful landscapes and caves to explore.

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Top 10 Places to Visit in South Africa 2024 | Travel Guide

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Wyatt Johnson

Wyatt Johnson, a seasoned travel writer and Miami resident, is the driving force behind captivating pieces at TravelAsker. Unveiling the gems of his vibrant city and its serene beach resorts, his articles showcase an array of family-friendly activities. Leveraging his global insights and experiences as a family man, Wyatt becomes your ideal companion, guiding you through the enchanting delights of Miami and the wonders of Florida.

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