The concrete jungle of Johannesburg is often overlooked as a tourist destination in favour of coastal Cape Town. However, those who are willing to look beyond Johannesburg's 'city life' facade will find that it has just as much to offer. From natural wonders to museums and culture, expats will find an abundance of things to see and do in Johannesburg.
Recommended attractions in Johannesburg
Take a glimpse into South Africa’s past to learn about the struggle that South Africans went through to achieve democracy. This heart-wrenching museum illustrates how far this unique and diverse country has come.
This national heritage site houses a former prison that is famous for once having held political prisoners such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Visitors can take a fascinating journey through the prison's history as they walk through the museum, learning about the terrible conditions prisoners suffered there.
As a symbol of transformation, the South African Constitutional Court was built on this site in the 1990s and is home to a collection of over 600 contemporary artworks which can be viewed by the public.
Cradle of Humankind
Some of the oldest fossils of our human ancestors have been found in the Sterkfontein Caves, a central feature of this World Heritage Site. This includes the discovery of Mrs Ples and Little Foot, estimated to be 2 million and 3 million years old respectively. The Maropeng Visitor Centre illustrates the evolution of humans, and visitors can also view the Sterkfontein Caves in person.
Gold Reef City
An entertainment complex for the whole family, expats who have relocated to Johannesburg should be sure to pay Gold Reef City a visit to view what the city would have looked like during the gold rush of the 1880s. Descend into a gold mine shaft, ride the amusement park theme rides, have fun in the casino or spend the night at the Victorian hotel.
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
The iconic image of 12-year-old Hector Pieterson being carried through the streets of Soweto during the Soweto Uprising in 1976 has been etched in the minds of many across the globe. The museum is situated just two blocks from the site of Pieterson's death. It not only pays tribute to the little boy who died that day but also fuses memorabilia, cultural history and modern technology to create a fascinating museum experience.
This is a great place to take a stroll, go on an outing with the kids or just take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the City of Gold. The Johannesburg Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals, including the famed Big Five.
Montecasino Bird Gardens
After browsing the shops at Montecasino and perhaps enjoying lunch on the piazza, visit the Bird Gardens to see over 60 species of birds and a few of their reptile and mammal friends.
Soweto is another place rich with the history of South Africa’s struggle towards democracy. While Soweto's attractions such as the Mandela House Museum or the Hector Pieterson Memorial can be visited alone, an official half-day or full-day Soweto tour will give expats an even fuller picture of Soweto’s past and present.
►See Lifestyle in Johannesburg for more on life in the city
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