Once a city of gold seekers, Johannesburg is now a city of trees with over 10 million of them inside its parameters. It is thus one of the greenest urban spaces in the world, but don’t let this fool you. The city is a hectic, multicultural maze with one of the most diverse populations in South Africa and a sensational street life. This vibrant cosmopolitan city can thus be initially overawing, but its many unique aspects mean that it’s well worth it. cheap flights to Johannesburg make it the ideal starting point for South African exploration. Here is a rundown of what do whilst you’re there.
Look: Start your visit with a trip to the Carlton Centre, where you can climb to the summit of its fifty storeys and gaze from the Top of Africa lookout point over the sprawl of the city and the shantytowns beyond.
Tour: As the city is so large and can feel a little overwhelming, a walking or bus tour is a great way to get to know it a little better before you do any solo exploration. The Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust offer excellent examples. Tours are based around different themes such as City of Gold, so you can choose what side of Jo’burg you wish to see.
Shop: Jo’burg has a massive collection of shops, with much focus on contemporary African design ranging from ceramics and household wares to high fashion. Even if you’re not looking to buy early on in your trip, the shops give you a taste of South African colour and flavour. For a different shopping experience, walk along Diagonal Street, where hawkers sell traditional medicines, blankets and charms.
Learn: There are some excellent museums and galleries in the city which are a great way to immerse yourself in the history and culture to come. Standard Bank Art Gallery houses ever changing exhibitions of the best contemporary African art. The Apartheid Museum and MuseuMAfricA are also highly recommended for those wishing to learn more of the city’s past.
Listen: Johannesburg is the heart of the South African music scene, so make sure you catch some live performances while you’re in the city. The Bassline is the most popular venue, where all the best local artists play as well as prominent African artists. Styles range from jazz and indie to hip-hop and Kwaito.
Visit the townships: Take a guided tour of one of the townships on the outskirts of the city, the most notable being the famous Soweto. The history and people are what make these townships such interesting places. Here is a chance to witness a way of life completely different to the one you are accustomed to.
Explore underground: When it all gets a bit much, escape underground to the many caves and passages which comprise the Cradle of Humankind, a short journey away northwest of the city. The area is a world heritage site where some of the most important primate fossils have been found.