The 1st time I ever visited Africa, I went to Johannesburg, locally called Jozey.
I wanted to learn about all of the things to do in Johannesburg and I wanted to have an incredible first-time experience in Africa.
I quickly and almost embarrassingly realized that Johannesburg is just another typical big city in the world.
It’s literally like visiting Detroit, Chicago, or London.
Africa has a bad PR (Public Relations) agent.
The world’s media will have you thinking that going to Africa is like taking a trip back in time to a less civilized society.
They are wrong.
As a frequent traveler trying to find things to do in Johannesburg, I’ve always found it best to go and see for yourself.
With that being said, there are plenty of Historical and Wild things to do, as well as Modern and Cool things to do in Johannesburg South Africa.
Here is the Passport Kings tour guide on what to check out after you make this mandatory 16-hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean.
Things to do in Johannesburg.
Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, is a vibrant hub of culture, history, and entertainment.
With its bustling streets, vibrant nightlife, and numerous attractions, there is always something to see and do in this lively city.
Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s rich history or enjoying its modern attractions, Johannesburg has something for everyone.
Here are the best things to do in Johannesburg.
1. Visit the Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum is a powerful reminder of the country’s history of racial segregation and oppression.
This museum tells the story of apartheid.
It’s done through a series of exhibits, displays, and multimedia presentations, including photographs, and film footage.
You will hear personal accounts from people who lived through this dark period in South Africa’s history.
2. Explore the Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is located just outside Johannesburg.
It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
The Cradle is home to the oldest known human fossils.
Visitors can explore the caves and rock formations that have yielded these important discoveries.
You will learn about the evolution of humans over millions of years.
3. Take a tour of Soweto
Soweto is a sprawling township that was once at the heart of the anti-apartheid struggle.
Today, it is a vibrant and bustling community with a rich cultural heritage.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the township to learn about its history and culture, and visit landmarks.
Learn about the Hector Pieterson Memorial, and sample traditional South African cuisine.
4. Visit the Johannesburg Zoo
The Johannesburg Zoo is home to over 320 species of animals from around the world.
This includes lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes.
It is one of the largest and most popular zoos in South Africa.
It’s a great place to spend a day with the family.
5. Take a trip to the Top of Africa
The Top of Africa is the observation deck on the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre.
The Calton Centre is the fourth tallest building in Africa.
From this vantage point, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Johannesburg and its surrounding areas.
6. Go shopping at Sandton City
Sandton City is one of the largest and most luxurious shopping malls in South Africa.
It features over 300 shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists.
The big statue of Nelson Mandela towers over the square while you shop and buy food for really great prices.
All of the stores accept credit cards and if you are smart, you will shop with a card with no international fees.
I suggest the Chase Sapphire Brand
7. Explore the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens
The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is a beautiful oasis of greenery and tranquility in the heart of the city.
This experience is 1 of the most popular things to do in Johannesburg.
They feature a variety of different gardens.
It includes a rose garden, a Shakespeare garden, and a medicinal garden, as well as a large lake and a tea garden.
8. Ask an Uber Driver to give you a Tour
There are many ways to celebrate the legacy of Mandela and other political leaders who fought to end Apartheid in South Africa.
The cab drivers are many times, well versed in the city’s history, important whereabouts, and even well versed in the explosion of Trevor Noah.
The best part about a cab tour is they will tell you about events that you would never find in history books.
Is it worth visiting Johannesburg?
Johannesburg is a city that offers a wealth of attractions and experiences for visitors.
From its rich cultural heritage to its modern amenities, there is something for everyone in this dynamic and diverse city.
Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or shopping, you will find over a week’s worth of things to do in Johannesburg.
If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, be sure to put Johannesburg on your itinerary.
What is Johannesburg best known for?
Johannesburg is best known for its rich history and cultural diversity and as the economic hub of South Africa.
It is also known as the City of Gold due to its gold mining history, which played a significant role in the development of the city.
Additionally, Johannesburg is known for its vibrant nightlife, world-class shopping, and numerous attractions.
Johannesburg is also home to several sports teams, including the popular Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs football clubs.
Overall, Johannesburg’s rich history, cultural diversity, and economic significance make it a unique and exciting destination for visitors.
How can I spend a day in Johannesburg?
You will have typical city experiences.
- Getting up and out to get breakfast.
- Taking a cab to a landmark or excursion.
- Having lunch and shopping.
- Taking a long trip back to your hotel.
- Getting Dinner at a bar or restaurant.
- Back to sleep.
It’s almost the same as spending a week in NYC but with fewer people crowding your space.
How many days do you need in Johannesburg?
Being that the flight is so long, I would suggest 5 days or more so you can find all of the things to do in Johannesburg without Jetlag being an issue.
The flight is over 15 hours and you will be exhausted when you land.
I wouldn’t stay over 2 weeks because you will honestly run out of new things to do in Johannesburg.
People are at work and finding ways to provide for their families.
After a while, they are not interested in catering to tourists who have overstayed their visit.
Johannesburg vs. Cape Town, which should I visit?
I suggest Cape Town 1st.
Cape Town is more of a vacation town whereas Johannesburg is a bustling city.
As discussed, there are plenty of things to see and things to do in Johannesburg, but it’s nothing like a beach vacation.
This is where the people of Johannesburg and neighboring areas come to live and work.
Finding things to do in Johannesburg is a great way to mark many things off of your bucket list at once.
But there are better options if you want to see the sun and beaches in Africa.
I made an entire list of the best beaches in Africa here.
Book a trip to Johannesburg like a King.