Johannesburg is a booming, happening city and the emphasis is on making money – whether in business or on the streets – and has been since its beginnings when the world’s richest gold fields were discovered in Johannesburg during the 1880s.
The Johannesburg inner city, abandoned by an exodus of big business that transferred to Sandston and, until recently, avoided by all except die-hard tourists, is undergoing a complete regeneration. The area close to City Hall and Newtown Cultural Precinct, which has completely transformed the Market Theatre and surrounds, now forms the heart of urban revival, and the Johannesburg inner city remains the largest employment centre in South Africa.
But it’s the sprawl of the leafy northern suburbs – there are over six million trees in Johannesburg – that draws the visitor: buzzing, trendy suburbs like Parktown and Norwood, with their restaurant-lined avenues that cater for the dining and décor set; the high street of Greenside that so easily dons the mantle of hip chic; fashionable Melville (forget venturing a little further to Yeoville – Jozi’s Greenwich Village it might have been but not any longer), and the sprawling malls of Sandton, all combine to make the city a great place to be.
Though not touted as an outdoor city, there are, nevertheless, a number of parks and nature reserves, like Emmarentia Dam and the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, that are worth a visit. The Magaliesberg is just on your doorstep, and you’re extremely well placed for adventures a little further afield, like the Kruger National Park and the game parks of the Lowveld.
Johannesburg attractions range from both cultural and historic exhibitions to fun family outings and interesting displays of local innovation and productivity. With good weather throughout most of the year, sightseeing in Johannesburg is always a rewarding adventure.
The first stop on any list of Johannesburg attractions should be the Apartheid Museum, which showcases South Africa’s history of black oppression and illustrates how far the nation has come in its move towards democracy. Visit the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which features the Sterkfontein Caves where the ancient fossil of Mrs. Ples was found in 1947.
On a lighter note, a fantastic Johannesburg attraction is Gold Reef City, a ‘gold-rush’ fashioned theme park full of exciting thrill rides. While sightseeing in Johannesburg visitors can tour the SAB World of Beer, or take a scenic hike through the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. Newtown Cultural Precinct’s Market Theatre and Museum Africa are also Johannesburg attractions worth seeing.
Newtown Cultural Precinct
This complex of buildings in the city centre has been upgraded and restored as part of the city fathers’ urban renewal policy and provides several attractions.
Photo by: Uwe Duerr via Google
SAB World of Beer
SAB World of Beer was a museum of beer, and conference venue operated by South African Breweries; it was located in Newtown, Johannesburg, South Africa. The museum hosted nearly 50,000 visitors a year.
NOTE: SAB World of Beer closed its doors on Monday, 30 September 2019.
Photo by: Unknown
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
Not known for being an especially green city, this oasis in the west side of Johannesburg covers 741 acres (300ha), offering lush gardens and scenic hiking trails. The gardens are a terrific place for bird watching (over 200 species).
Photo by: Nick Roux (NJR ZA at wts wikivoyage - CC BY-SA 1.0)
This trendy suburb is a hive of activity on any given night of the week; it is the place to go out and carouse. Anything from hip and upmarket to just plain odd coffee shops, bars and dance venues throng the streets.
Photo by: Juanita Mulder via Pixabay
The Apartheid Museum
South Africa’s history of black oppression is chronicled in this building, situated near Gold Reef City.
Photo by: Unknown
A guided tour of the National Heritage Site of Constitution Hill takes visitors on a journey through South Africa’s turbulent past, but also illustrates its incredible transition into democracy.
Photo by: ConstHill via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Hector Pieterson Memorial Site and Museum
Hector Pieterson became the iconic image of the 1976 Soweto uprising during apartheid South Africa, when a news photograph of the dying Hector being carried by a fellow student was published across the globe.
The Hector Pieterson Museum is a large museum located in Orlando West, Soweto, South Africa, two blocks away from where Hector Pieterson was shot and killed 16 June 1976
Photo by: Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0
Market Theatre is a popular Jo’burg entertainment complex offering live theatre venues (boasting the first production of Sarafina), bookshops, galleries and restaurants, as well as a flea market on Saturdays.
The Market Theatre, based in the downtown bohemian suburb of Newtown in Johannesburg, South Africa, was opened in 1976, operating as an independently, anti-racist theatre during the country’s apartheid regime. It is named after an original fruit and vegetable market which was located there.
Photo by: Bobbyshabangu via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Visit the Johannesburg Art Gallery in Joubert Park to see a vast collection of works by a host of famous artists, both local and international. Some of the exhibits date as far back as the 15th century.
The Johannesburg Art Gallery is an art gallery in Joubert Park in the city centre of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is the largest gallery on the continent with a collection that is larger than that of the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town.
Photo by: Janek Szymanowski via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0