What to do and see in Joburg

Visitors are always so pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do and see in Joburg. If you want a quick overview of this fast-paced city of contrasts, take the Johannesburg Red City Tour (on an open double-decker bus) 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. There are 12 stops on a circular route so you need to check the direction of the stops. The bus departs every 30 mins Sat – Mon and every 40 mins Tues- Fri. Although you can join the tour anywhere, probably the best place to join it is at Gold Reef City where the ticket office is and there is ample parking.

End your days with dinner at one of the excellent local restaurants. Visitors often comment on the excellent standard of restaurants in Johannesburg.
  • See www.lizatlancaster.co.za/info/eating.html for suggestions
  • 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.) Afro-fusion restaurant usually with live music.
  • For more live music you could check what’s on offer at Katzy’s in Rosebank or Bass Line in Newtown
Day 1
If you want to get to know the city and its sites and surrounds better, then arrange take one of the several walking tours on offer:
  • 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. He will introduce you to the new commercial and cultural spaces that are being developed in Braamfontein. Then take the Rea Vaya BRT to Newtown - the power hub of Joburg in the early 20th Century. Here you’ll see adaptive re-use of the Turbine Hall by Anglo Gold Ashanti and Chancellor House were Mandela and Tambo practiced law. And then walk to the Main Street Mining district with the old mining head gear and informative story boards. Gerald provides really excellent insider knowledge of Joburg and its history and perhaps most compelling of all, its regeneration projects. You can check what is up-coming on www.joburgplaces.com/tours/index.htm Contact him on 082 894 5216
  • Past Experiences run a wider range of excellent tours. See www.pastexperiences.co.za Contact numbers 011 678 3905 or 083 701 3046
  • Main St Walks www.mainstreetwalks.co.za/tours/ offer general walking tours of the inner city as well as special interest tours such as picnics in the sky, tours of Maboneng precinct and an art and justice tour.
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. Or if you want more flexibility and do not have your own car you can always arrange transport with Zac who works at Liz at Lancaster and is a registered transport provider.

Day 2
There are several museums several of which are in Braamfontien. These can be visited on a self-guided basis:
  • Constitution Hill (Red City Tour stop) – A good place to start as it is a good geographic orientation to Johannesburg and excellent historical overview from Colonial times through to the democratic South Africa; fascinating but tough site with Old Fort Prison complex and the uplifting new Constitutional Court; (Hourly tours 9-4 weekdays and 9-12 on Saturdays) Corner Kotze St and Hospital St Braamfontein 011 381-3100 www.constitutionhill.org.za
  • Not to be missed is the Wits Art Museum at 1 Jan Smuts Ave Braamfontein (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)
  • A little jewel of a museum is Satyagraha House in Orchards. www.satyagrahahouse.com Little known even to Joburgers, this house is where Mohandas Gandhi lived while in Johannesburg from 1908-9. It is here that the future Mahatma developed his philosophy of passive resistance known in Sanskrit as Satyagraha. And it was this pacifist method of protest that he employed in India to lead the country to independence.
  • Or visit Liliesleaf in Rivonia, Sandton. www.liliesleaf.co.za. Once the farmhouse which was used by Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, it has been turned into a state-of-the-art museum. It was at Liliesleaf that 19 members of the ANC underground were arrested in 1963. Nine of these activists, along with Mandela, were later tried at the Rivonia trial where Mandela made his world famous defence speech. Entrance fee R60
Day 3
Soweto and the Apartheid Museum You’ll need another day if you want to go to Gold Reef City.
  • Soweto needs a whole morning or afternoon. Tours should be arranged in advance and range from R520 to R590 per person (minimum 2). There is always a single supplement. 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 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.
  • 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.) Afro-fusion restaurant usually with live music.
  • For more 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
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • A 50 minute drive from Joburg is Lesedi Cultural Village - on the R512 towards Hartebeespoort dam - 082 523 4539 www.lesedi.com Here mock villages introduce you to 5 of the rural ethnic groups of South Africa whose traditional rural cultural practices are theatrically re-enacted: amaZulu, Pedi, amaNdebele, Xhosa and Sotho (no reference to urban living here!) Very touristy but well-done. 2 shows a day 11.30 to 2.30 and 16.30 to 19.30; advisable to book. If self-drive rates for show and including lunch/dinner R430 pp; excluding lunch/dinner R265 pp. Do the late afternoon show when it is not mid-winter and stay for dinner at Nyama Chomo.
Day 5
If you are going on a safari and you’ve been to Origins Centre, then you can leave out days 5 and 6!
  • 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;
Day 6
  • 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 +/- R1500 per person. www.pilanesberggamereserve.com (Can include Sun City as well at extra cost.)
Day 7
  • 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 +R900pp 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 - info@mangwanani.co.za. Be prepared to be tired and very relaxed afterwards. www.mangwanani.co.za A very special experience.
Markets have become increasingly popular in Joburg:
  • The very famous Sunday Rosebank Rooftop Market has relocated so is now known as the Norwood Rooftop Market. It’s only 8km from Liz at Lancaster.
  • The market at Arts on Main (Maboneng Precinct) is open on a Sunday – lovely urban space.
  • Also open on a Saturday is the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein – great food stalls and fabulous vibe.
  • Or on Thursdays & Saturdays - 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 on a summer's evening to browse and have a light supper there.
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.

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