There are two very welcome additions to the Joburg’s tourist scene:
Apart from taking any one of these walking tours (highly recommended) you could also use the Red City Bus to see some of the sites below.
- The Johannesburg Red City Tour (on an open double-decker bus) www.citysightseeing.co.za/joburg.php If bought on–line a one day ticket costs R120 and the bus stops at many of the places recommended below. Check their website for their route.
- And the second is the introduction of walking tours of Johannesburg.
- Gerald Garner of Joburg Places has written 3 books on Joburg focusing on the inner city decline and its subsequent regeneration. He’s passionate about Joburg and runs really fascinating informed tours. You can check what is up-coming on www.joburgplaces.com/tours/index.htm
- Past Experiences run a wider range of excellent tours See www.pastexperiences.co.za
- As well as general walking tours of the inner city, Main St Walks www.mainstreetwalks.co.za/tours/ offer special interest tours such as picnics in the sky, tours of Maboneng precinct and an art and justice tour.
- And finally the Joburg Heritage Foundation runs tours which might not be as critically informed as the ones above, but will give you insights into interesting parts of greater Johannesburg. www.joburgheritage.co.za/quartprog.html
Day 1 (Places of interest in and around Braamfontien)
Day 2 Soweto and the Apartheid Museum (together need a full day). You’ll need another day if you want to go Gold Reef City and/or Joburg Central as well.
- Constitution Hill (Red City Tour stop) - fascinating but tough site with Old Fort Prison complex and the uplifting new Constitutional Court; good geographic orientation to Johannesburg and excellent historical overview from Colonial times through to the democratic South Africa (Hourly tours 9-4 weekdays and 9-12 on Saturdays) Corner Kotze St and Hospital St Braamfontein 011 381-3100 www.constitutionhill.org.za.
- Then you can wander through Braamfontein (also a Red City Tour stop) and see the new urban living, commercial and cultural spaces that are being developed. Not to be missed is the Wits Art Museum at 1 Jan Smuts Ave (corner Jorissen St; north of Mandela Bridge). You’ll see a wonderful collection of African Art. www.wits.ac.za/wam/15930/wam.html On a Saturday don’t miss Neighbourgoods Market at 73 Juta St www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za
- Origins Centre in Braamfontein; really world class museum of humankind's origins - Close to De Korte St entrance of Wits University 011 717 4700 (open daily 9-6: hour tours R45 adults and R2 children). Great café and gift shop. www.origins.org.za (Another Red City Tour stop)
- Get another some what more bird's eye view of Johannesburg CBD and its surrounds from the top of the Carlton (highest building in Johannesburg -223 m). Lifts to the top of Africa from the 2nd floor of the Carlton Centre. A Red City Tour stop.
- On a summer’s evening relax on the terrace at the very luxurious Westcliff Hotel overlooking the urban forest of Johannesburg - if you are lucky you will hear the lions roaring from the Zoo below (they are restricted by moats and not by cages.)
- Soweto needs a whole morning or afternoon. Tours should be arranged in advance and range from R495/520 per person (minimum 2) and from R790 for a single person. If you feel energetic a great way to experience the day to day life of Soweto is to take a cycling tour www.sowetobicycletours.com 2 or 4 hours tours or full day tours.
- If you have more time and you are interested in the history of the struggle, fit in the Apartheid Museum. It would form a day trip with Soweto - as it needs a good 3 hours. www.apartheidmuseum.org (closed Mondays) R60 entrance adults and R45 for children and senior citizens; Excellent museum but quite 'text' heavy with few objects. The Apartheid Museum is also a stop on the Red City Tour.
- If you are interested in a theme park experience of old Johannesburg visit Gold Reef City (right next door to the Apartheid Museum)- worth it to go down an old mine shaft www.goldreefcity.co.za R165 per person; R90 extra for an underground tour and R250 for a heritage tour.
- Or pick up the Red City Tour bus at the Apartheid Museum and come back to see some of Joburg Central. You can walk the Main Street Mining district (a Red City Tour stop) to Ghandi Square (also a Red City Tour stop). You’ll see the old mining head gear and get a sense of the early days of the gold rush with fascinating story boards. Or you take the Red City Tour and stop at Newtown - the power hub of Joburg in the early 20th Century. Here you can see the adaptive re-use of the Turbine Hall by Anglo Gold Ashanti; the Sci-Bono Science Museum in the old Electric workshop; the SAB World of Beer; the Market Theatre; Bass Line (live music in the evenings); Museum Africa (in a sad state so not recommended) and more.
- Try dinner at Moyo's Melrose Arch (011 -684-1477) or in summer at Moyo's Zoo Lake 011 646-0058 www.moyo.co.za (not good at replying to email booking enquiries so I can always book for you.) Well-done Afro-fusion restaurant with great atmosphere.
- Or if you want live music you could check what’s on offer at Katzy’s in Rosebank www.katzys.co.za or Bass Line in Newtown www.bassline.co.za
Day 4 If you are going on a safari (and you’ve been to Origins Centre) then you can leave out days 4 and 5 !
- Art Africa, 62 Tyrone Ave Parkview, for excellent gifts to take home (lots of small things to take with you and larger ones they will pack and send for you) 011 486-2052 Have a light lunch just down the road at Scusi (corner Tyrone and Ennis).
- Not to be missed Kim Sacks Gallery for exquisite African art and artefacts – a real must do. www.kimsacksgallery.com Close by on Jan Smuts Ave.
- Lesedi Cultural Village - on the R512 towards Hartebeespoort dam - 012 205 1394 www.lesedi.com Booking essential. Tours from R955 per person. Very touristy but well-done: Mock villages introduce you to 5 of the rural ethnic groups of South Africa whose 'cultures' are theatrically re-enacted: amaZulu, amaPedi, amaNdebele, amaXhosa and abeSotho (no reference to urban living here!) 2 shows a day 11.30 to 2.30 and 16.30 to 19.30 ; If self-drive rates for show and including lunch/dinner R430 pp; excluding lunch/dinner R265 pp. Tours from R955 per person. Do the late afternoon show when it is not mid-winter and stay for dinner at Nyama Chomo.
- Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve (includes Wonder Cave) and in the Cradle of Humankind 011- 957-0106 www.rhinolion.co.za Open daily 8-15.45; Lion feeding 3pm Saturday and Sundays R130 adults and R90 children. To do both the Reserve and entrance to Wonder Cave R190 per adult and R130 per child. Guided tours lasting about 2 hours. Wondercave only R80 per adult and R60 per child
- Maropeng Information Centre (www.discoveryourself.co.za) in the World Heritage Site of the Cradle of Humankind; 014 577 9000 open daily 9 - 5 R135 adults and R75 children; self-guided and allow about 2 hours. Plus the Sterkfontein Caves if you did not go to Wonder Cave;
- Have supper at one of the excellent local restaurants. See www.lizatlancaster.co.za/info/eating.html for suggestions
- Pilanesberg Game Reserve - leave about 6.30; return at 6ish. Need to arrange in advance. A jewel of a game reserve about 2 hours away - malaria free and home to the 'Big Five'. From R900 per person www.pilanesberggamereserve.com (Can include Sun City as well at extra cost.)
Or if one of your days in Johannesburg is a Thursday or Saturday - the Organic Village Market in Bryanston is also fun (open 9-3). Good natural fibre clothes for women. www.bryanstonorganicmarket.co.za. There is also a moonlit market on the Tuesday closest to the full moon. Fabulous in a summer's evening to browse and have a light supper there.
- Mangwanani African Spa - Central Reservations: + 27 (0)860 55 00 55 Sheer indulgence, treat yourself - a fabulous African health spa in the bush; Can do a half day (Tues- Thurs R899 pp and Fri-Sun R1099 pp) or full day; Need to book well in advance; transport leaves from Monte Casino so you could see that too - email@example.com. Be prepared to be tired and very relaxed afterwards. www.mangwanani.co.za A very special experience.
Also open on a Saturday is the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein – great food stalls and fabulous vibe.
If one of your days in Johannesburg is a Sunday or Public Holiday don't miss the Rosebank Rooftop Market which is a fun vibey market with much unusual local 'stuff' - great atmosphere www.craft.co.za. The market at Arts on Main is open on a Sunday – lovely urban space.
And there's a lot more, depending on your interests. A day in Pretoria; time to browse through some of the books on local history, art and heritage in Liz's library; contemporary art galleries; the Botanical Gardens; a local play at the Joburg Theatre and/or the Market theatre; Major Shopping at one of the Malls like Rosebank or Sandton; and relax for a while in Mandela Square; make the most of one or more of the 8 golf course nearby; join the Zoo walk on a Sunday morning; people watch at a pavement café... guests always leave saying they wished they’d planned more time in Joburg.