3 Things to do in Johannesburg, South Africa


Here’s your must do list of things to do in Johannesburg from a born and bred Jozi girl.

Johannesburg, warmly referred to as Joburg or Jozi by its residents, isn’t a city on many traveler’s “must-visit” lists. For international travelers visiting South Africa, it rarely serves more than it’s gateway into the country. But, they’re missing out.

While it’s not as pretty and scenic as Cape Town (the Mother City of South Africa), Joburg has a special vibe and buzz about it.

Johannesburg is a true African city

One of the things that I love about Joburg is its diversity. Its diversity of people, culture, history, landscape, art, food, fashion, music, nightlife and what ever else you can imagine.  

There are so many different types of people living in and visiting Joburg. The city attracts business people, arty people, fashion folks, hipsters, entrepreneurs and a whole bunch of busy bodies. No matter what your style there will be a place in Joburg that will be your haven.

All it takes is a bit of exploring in the big city to find where your soul should be…the place where you will find people just like you. Or better yet, people completely different to your usual crowd.

Another thing that I love about Joburg is that in one city there are so many different things that you can do.

In one day you can enjoy a five star breakfast in a top class hotel, followed by a morning of adventure jumping off water towers or hiking up koppies (little hills), with a tasty lunch at a flea market vendor before shopping up a storm at the many shopping malls to look for the perfect outfit your night of partying in the city.

Yes, that is a very busy day and you have not even started seeing what Joburg has to offer. I have lived here my whole life and still have a long list of places to go and things to do.

An aerial view of Johannesburg, South Africa
The Hillbrow Tower (JG Strijdom Tower) is a tall tower located in the suburb of Hillbrow in Johannesburg, South Africa. – depositphotos.com

Get the Joburg Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour

If you have limited time in Joburg, I highly suggest joining the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour. You can either get the one or two day pass depending on how much time you have.

The routes cover 20 different Joburg attractions, including Constitution Hill, the Mining District, Carlton Centre, Apartheid Museum, New Town, Origins Centre at Wits University and others.

Get your ticket here.

3 Things to do in Johannesburg

I could easily make a list of 300 things to do in Joburg. But, travelers often only have a few days in Joburg before shooting off to see the many other beautiful places in South Africa.

So, here are three very different things to do in Joburg.

1. Visit the inner city 

Yikes! The inner city…yes Joburg CBD is not renowned for being the most pretty place in Joburg, and many tourists (and locals) fear the place. But it is actually quite an interesting place to visit. There are many city rejuvenation projects that are cleaning up the city and making it more modern and funky. These places are now the local hangouts for hipsters and the who’s who of the city.

A great place to visit is Arts on Main where you will find great shops, art galleries, music, tours and other awesome places. Victoria Yards is another incredible urban space that features artisan studios, urban farming, visual arts and skills development – watch the video below for more insights into the project. It’s open from 09h00-17h00 on weekdays, 10h00-17h00 on Saturdays and 10h00 to 16h00 on Sundays. They host markets on the first Sunday of every month.

Another great inner-city market is The Playground, a new artisan market and performance venue open every Saturday from 10am to 6pm. You can expect a range of delicious food vendors along with local craft artists – plus, DJs creating the ultimate Saturday city vibes.

2. Visit Soweto

Soweto is a township that houses a huge part of South Africa’s history. There are many different tours that will take you to historical places in the township as well as visiting a few shebeens for a taste of local food and beer. It is a definite must see for any tourist.

If you have a bit of adventure in you then you should visit Soweto Towers to bungee jump or do the power swing off the water towers. It’s pretty awesome to jump off water towers in the middle of a city…and they’re quite cool water towers as well.

Another great way to see the best of Soweto is to join a bicycle tour. You’ll visit the Hector Pietersen Museum, Mandela House and Tutu House, along with riding along the popular Vilakazi Street.

Things to do in Johannesburg, Soweto Towers
Former powerplant, cooling tower, now is tower for BASE jumping – depositphotos.com

Combine a visit to the city, Soweto and the Apartheid Museum in one day with this tour.

3. See some wildlife

I told you that there is a diverse list of thing to do in Joburg, and yes you are coming to Africa so you have to see some of its wildlife. The Lion and Rhino Nature Reserve is a great place to visit to see a whole lot of wildlife in one day. It is situated in the Cradle of Human Kind which is declared a World Heritage Site.

They have lions, crocodiles, different kinds of bucks, wilddog, rhinos, hippos and a few other animals.

Animals in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana
Spotting Lion’s in Africa

Joburg will forever remain vibrant and bustling and will not stop for anyone.

Something is always on the go, which is another thing that I love about the city.

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