- Jonathan Chum
Welcome to Johannesburg, South Africa! It's a wonderful city with lots of fun things to do. Here are my top recommendations for what to see and do in Johannesburg:
See lions and rare white rhinos at the Johannesburg Zoo.
The Johannesburg Zoo is home to lions and white rhinos, as well as many other animals like giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and more.
The zoo is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily.
Learn about South African history at Constitution Hill
Constitution Hill is a museum and memorial dedicated to the history of South Africa. It's located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, so it's easy to get to and gives you a taste of what this country has been through, as well as where it is headed. The museum itself is divided into three sections: Apartheid, Democracy, and Freedom. Each section focuses specifically on its theme but all three are connected by one thing: they tell the story of how South Africa became free from apartheid (the system that segregated blacks from whites).
If you're interested in learning more about South African history then Constitution Hill would be an excellent place for you to visit.
Go bird-watching at Emmarentia Dam
The Emmarentia Dam is a great place to go bird-watching. Johannesburg is in the middle of the country, so you can see all kinds of species, some native and some not. The climate changes with the seasons, so while it's always nice to visit during the fall or winter months (the best times for migrating birds), if you're looking for a specific type of bird then any time is good!
Learn about the history of apartheid at Liliesleaf Farm
One of the best ways to understand the history of apartheid, and its legacy in South Africa today, is to learn about Liliesleaf Farm. The farm was owned by Arthur Goldreich who was Jewish and under constant police surveillance. In 1963 it was raided by police and many anti-apartheid activists were arrested including Nelson Mandela.
The farm served as a hideaway for many anti-apartheid activists who lived there during their time underground from 1960 to 1963. Most notable among these were Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki (father of Thabo Mbeki), Raymond Mhlaba, and Andrew Mlangeni who all spent time at Liliesleaf Farm during their stay in hiding from authorities
Take a hike in Melville Koppies Nature Reserve
Hike in the reserve. You can explore the reserve on your own or with a guide, but either way, you'll get to see some unique birds and animals up close. The trails are of varying difficulty, so even the most inexperienced hikers can enjoy this activity.
Learn about South African history at Robben Island. This former prison is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers tours of where Nelson Mandela was kept during his long imprisonment for political activism.
Admire contemporary African art at the Wits Art Museum
The Wits Art Museum is a beautiful place to visit. It houses contemporary African art and is also a great place to learn about South African history. You can learn about the history of apartheid, as well as other aspects of South Africa's past.
Visit Nelson Mandela's house
Nelson Mandela's house in Houghton, Johannesburg is open to the public on certain days of the year. It is a museum and memorial that serves as a place of pilgrimage for many people. Here you will find his personal belongings, including books and clothing. As you wander through this historic home, it's easy to feel connected to the legacy of struggle and hope that he lived out during his struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
In addition to learning about Nelson Mandela's life at this site, visitors can also reflect on their own lives by visiting nearby Robben Island where he was imprisoned for 18 years under deplorable conditions before being released in 1990 after serving 27 years behind bars (including 18 years on Robben Island).
Soweto, a township in Johannesburg, is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela.
The town is a great place to learn about South Africa's culture and history. Soweto was established during apartheid when blacks were relocated to areas just outside Johannesburg to live near other blacks while whites lived in the suburbs of Johannesburg. Its name comes from SOuth WEst TOwnships (South Western Townships).
See the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
A visit to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is a great way to see fossils and learn about the history of South Africa. The site is home to many important hominid discoveries, including Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, and Drimolen caves. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 because of its importance in understanding human evolution.
The site is located in Gauteng province, which can be accessed from Johannesburg through the N1 highway that runs east-west across the country (or by taking an hour-long flight from OR Tambo International Airport). The easiest way to visit this region is by car; however, there are also buses available on weekdays if you don't want to drive yourself!
Visit Voortrekker Monument
The Voortrekker Monument is a national monument located in the city of Pretoria. It commemorates the Afrikaner people's Great Trek, a mass migration of Boers out of the British Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854, towards an area that would become known as the Transvaal region. The monument was first planned in 1907 by Paul Kruger and several other prominent former officials from the Republics of South Africa and Rhodesia. The design was approved by President Louis Botha who also laid its foundation stone on 16 December 1913.
The monument stands 92 meters high (302 feet) tall on top of Koppie Hill overlooking Pretoria and pays tribute to those who made sacrifices during this epic journey across South Africa.
When you arrive at your destination you can take advantage of local services like restaurants or taxis nearby to get around town if needed!
See Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum is one of the most important museums in town, and you should make time to see it. It's located on a hilltop just outside downtown Johannesburg and has a great view of the city below. The museum opened in 2001 and was created as a tribute to all those who were affected by apartheid. You'll learn about South Africa's history, both pre-and post-apartheid; some exhibits show what life was like under racial segregation laws, with items such as signs showing different amenities available only for whites or other races being prominently featured. You can also see original prison cells where political prisoners were held during this period, including Nelson Mandela's cell!
We hope that this list gives you a good idea of what to expect when visiting Johannesburg. It's such a vibrant city and has so much history; we could go on and on about it! So if you are planning a trip to South Africa, make sure you add some or all of these things to your itinerary.