Johannesburg unfortunately has a less than warranted bad stigma floating around its air. Whether its to do with everyone hearing at least one bad crime story from a friend of a friend or that there just isn’t anything to do here besides transiting on your way to Cape Town.
Growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city I felt that I had a personal mission to make Jess’s first time visiting memorable. Thankfully there is plenty to see and do as I gave her my home town tour, trying to see everything that Jozi had to offer.
1. Market on Main
Situated in converted warehouses at the Arts on Main complex in downtown Jo’burg, the market is proof of the success of ongoing inner-city rejuvenation projects – it now attracts visitors from around the city to what was once a no-go area.
Every Sunday this market comes alive, with tasty samples of cheeses, cup cakes, brownies and more than 40 stalls, curated by leading South African designers. There is also Ethiopian, Moroccan, Chinese, Italian and Indian food stalls selling delicious, fresh meals, as well as African coffee, a cocktail bar, artisanal beers, organic wines, and free Wi-Fi!
2. Bungee Jump Off the Soweto Towers
Correctly known as the Orlando Towers but everyone seems to calls it the Soweto Towers, here you can fulfill your adrenaline needs by bungee jump in a unique urban surrounding. This decommissioned coal power station not only offers bungee but also abseiling, paintball and a free fall option.
I’m still quite happy with our bungee experience in Canada, however one of these days I will do it again.
3. Visit Soweto & Nelson Mandela’s House
If there is one shining glimmer that comes from Johannesburg is the late Nelson Mandela. Everything that he has done for equality and equal rights will always be known here. Going on a Soweto tour is the thing to do in Johannesburg as its the center of where the uprisings against racial segregation began.
This township has since turned into quite the tourist attraction but if you want to see the ‘real Joburg’ this is the place to do it.
4. Sandton City
If you are like us and arrived on the Aussie dollar, the first thing you will want to do is take everyone out for dinner and do some shopping. We can’t underestimate how cheap South Africa is to travel, especially with foreign currency.
If you are up to spending some time shopping we highly recommend checking out Sandton City. The largest shopping complex in Johannesburg, and one of the biggest in Africa – there are so many stores it may take you an entire day to get through them all. There are also great restaurants here, and you are very close to the bronze Nelson Mandela Statue in Nelson Mandela Square.
5. Constitution Hill
Depending on how far you want to jump down the rabbit hill on South Africa’s history, the living museum of Constitution Hill is a must. Here is the site of the former prison and military fort that in it’s own industrial way beautifully captures the turbulent past of the country.
6. Neighbourgoods Market
If your trip falls on the weekend, then make sure you put some time aside on Saturday to head into the Neighbourgoods Market (yes they got the goods!). Here you can get some excellent food, great drink and even better music.
7. Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is one of 8 World Heritage Sites in South Africa, 50km from Johannesburg city. Here the landscape is dotted with subterranean limestone caves that have turned up a rich fossil record for human evolutionary studies. These findings have led to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, estimating that most human ancestors originated from one general spot… Africa.
At the Sterkfontein Caves alone, the remains of more than 500 Hominids have been uncovered, one being the discovery of ‘Mrs Ples’, a pre-human skull dating back more than 2-million years!
8. Visit the Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum is dedicated to illustrating apartheid and the 20th century history of South Africa. Apartheid was enforced by the South African government from 1948 to 1990 and the displays in this museum will leave you shocked at how this racially-discriminatory regime affected the lives of many South Africans.
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