Johannesburg

Johannesburg

Welcome to Johannesburg

Let’s embark on a digital adventure through Africa’s most developed tourist city and the center of South Africa. We present you a city with a turbulent history and numerous cultural monuments, progressing and developing its tourist potential day by day. The information we have singled out about the city will help you get to know all the most essential features of this destination, explore all the steps that will help you organize your trip, easily get to the city and spend the perfect time in it. Get to know the exotic parts of our planet, step out of your comfort zone and treat yourself to unparalleled tourist moments.

The most important information about Johannesburg

Johannesburg is a spectacular city with a diverse range of activities and sophisticated and entertaining attractions. Johannesburg is an excellent choice if you wish to see a dynamic and exciting African city. Here you will find some of the most interesting facts, valuable information, and activities if you decide to visit the city
  • History of Johannesburg - Johannesburg is one of the world's youngest major cities. In 1886, the city was formed, thanks to Australian prospector George Harrison's discovery of gold in this area. As a result, the city is referred to as the Golden City. Johannesburg was previously a part of the Transvaal, a province of South Africa. Today, it is the capital of Gauteng, one of the country's nine provinces. Several people tried their luck in the area's mines and fought in many wars. The gold mines unquestionably boosted the city’s economy. It evolved into one of the fastest-growing metropolises, becoming wealthy in a short period. Johannesburg is a dynamic and exciting city where many people come to relax and enjoy the comforts of a laid-back lifestyle.
  • Geography and time zone - Johannesburg is not located on a coast, lake, or river. The main reason for this is that people came to settle here because of the gold rather than the water resources. This is South Africa's largest city and the capital of Gauteng province. It is divided into seven regions, which are named from A to G. The city is under South African Standard Time, which equals UTC+02:00.
  • Climate - Johannesburg has a subtropical climate, with sunny, pleasant, and occasionally stormy summers and mild, sunny winters with slightly colder evenings. Keep in mind that winter here lasts from June to end of the August, and that average temperature is around 18°C.  Summer is between December and February, with an average temperature of 25°C.
  • Demography - Johannesburg has a population of 5.9 million inhabitants. Around 75% of people are Black African and the rest of them are mostly White (around 12%), Colored, and Asian/Indian. Because of that, Johannesburg is considered a multicultural city that welcomes people from all around the world. 
  • Tradition and culture - What is Johannesburg unique for? - This is a well-developed and rich city with many activities for tourists. It's also a terrific place to live because it welcomes people of many ethnicities and orientations. Even if there are no ancient buildings or ancient historical sites here, you can experience the city's present life and architecture.

Johannesburg Travel Tips

If you are visiting Johannesburg, you will find some of the most vital pieces of information below. Keep them with you at all times since some of them will come in handy once you're in the city. The best solution is to snap a screenshot of the emergency numbers and write them down on a piece of paper so that you have them in case of an emergency.
  • Official Language and other languages spoken - English is the official language of Johannesburg. Many other languages are widely spoken in the city, such as Zulu, Sesotho, Setswana, Nguni, and Afrikaans.
  • Entering Johannesburg: Procedures and requirements - Before flying to South Africa, make sure you know whether you need a visa or only a passport. For more information, you should contact the South African Embassy in your country.
Important Numbers
  • The dialing code prefix of the country is +27, and of the city is 11. This means that for a call to Johannesburg, you should dial +27 11.
  • Nationwide Emergency Response - 10111 (this number you can dial from any part of South Africa and be sure to get help in an emergency)
  • ​City of Johannesburg Emergency Connect - 011 375 5911
  • Ambulance and fire headquarters - ​011 472 1599
  • Police Emergency Services (Flying Squad) - ​10111, 011 986 9000/ 9151
Money Tips
  • Currency - The official currency in Johannesburg is the South African rand (sign - R, code - ZAR). Each rand is divided into 100 cents. R100 equals around €5.6 or $6.35. Keep in mind that banks in Johannesburg are usually open from 9 am to 3.30 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 11 am over weekends.
  • Johannesburg is not considered a much expensive city. Paying can be done in most places with bots cards and cash. For a week of staying in the city, you will need around €550, and that price includes accommodation, meals, transportation, and other expenses on the side. Nevertheless, you should try to save as much money as you can, so we suggest some money tips that may help. 
  • If you are not especially interested in staying in luxurious accommodation, skip the expensive hotels. You will be able to find budget apartments in every part of the city.
  • Book tours and buy tickets for multiple museums in advance. This will save you money, as well as time - You won’t have to wait in lines to get to see exhibitions. 
  • When it comes to tipping, you should usually leave around 10% - 15% of the total amount of the bill. Let waiters know if they’ve done an excellent job. 
Useful apps, free travel map
  • VayaMoja - This is a public transport app that will ease your stay in Johannesburg. It shows all the bus stations and directions in which transport goes. You will also get information on bus fares as well as timetables.
  • Eat Out - If you are searching for a restaurant in Johannesburg, use this excellent app. It shows all the restaurants near you and allows you to go through the menu and book your table in no time. 
  • Zulzi - If there is a day you don’t feel like going out, install Zulzi and enjoy your delivery. You can order anything you want, from groceries and liquors to medications and food from a restaurant. 
  • 22Seven - Since Johannesburg is a prosperous city, many things may attract you to buy and spend some additional money. If you don’t want to have unexpected expenses, install 22Seven, and track your budget.  This will help you to spend just as much money as you intended, and nothing more.
  • Awesome South Africa - This app won’t be helpful in just Johannesburg, but many cities in South Africa. Using it, you will get the most out of Johannesburg. It will show you all places to eat, where to stay, and what positions to visit, whether you want to go out or just explore the city.
  • Airbnb - Famous app that will help you find the best private accommodation in any city. Explore all parts of Johannesburg, and find an apartment in the one you like the most.

When to visit Johannesburg

The best months to visit Johannesburg are from March to May and between September and November. The weather is pleasant, the city is less crowded, and prices are lower.

How to get to Johannesburg

Besides the traditional and regular ways of getting to Johannesburg, one of the options you can try out is riding the Blue Train. Make your trip interesting and create great memories traveling throughout the landscapes of Africa. Getting to the city by:
  • Plane - Johannesburg has two airports - Lanseria Airport (HLA) and OR Tambo Airport (JNB). Both of them are international and operate with many flying companies. They are well connected to the city center and for around €23 with Uber, or other public transportation available. 
  • Train - The railway of Johannesburg is well-developed and trains regularly operate between cities in South Africa. Trains are very comfortable and nice for traveling, and the most famous line is the one between Capetown and Johannesburg. There are first and second-class seats on every train. But if you would to experience a more luxurious train ride, we recommend you to take the famous Blue Train. This train will take you to Johannesburg from Capetown for approximately €1.000. For this price, you will have delicious meals, great cocktails, and the most elegant experience of traveling through South Africa.
  • Bus - Many bus lines operate from different cities in South Africa. If you want to travel by bus, use websites such as busbud.com or intercape.co.za to check timetables, departures, ticket prices and to book your seat.
  • Car - Make sure to have installed Google Maps or any other navigation map that will help you get to Johannesburg. Also, keep in mind that the crime level in South Africa is considered high, so carjacking is common in Johannesburg. The other important information about driving in South Africa is that people here drive on the left side.

Activities for tourists in Johannesburg

Johannesburg is a modern city with a plethora of activities for tourists. You can enjoy exploring it in many different ways. We will show you some of the ways to do that. You just have to pick one and appreciate the time spent getting to know Johannesburg.
Best tours 
  • Sightseeing bus tour - as in many other cities, Johannesburg also allows taking a ride on this tourist bus. This hop-on hop-off bus will provide you with the best sightseeing tour of the city you can find. You can take the bus whenever you want and also leave it whenever you feel like discovering the city on foot.
  • Main Street Walks - This is a great way to get to know Johannesburg on foot. Your guide will be with you and show you the main landmarks in the city and many other attractions, such as famous graffiti, restaurants, and bars to check out and much else.
  • Tour Soweto - Soweto is a significant landmark of the city, that keeps the story of apartheid. Many demonstrations and protests were held here by black people who the White oppressed. That’s why is essential to take this tour and better know the not-so-shiny part of Johannesburg’s history. You can take this tour on foot, by bike or by tuk-tuk.
  • City Skate Tour - A modern and urban way of exploring the city. If you are a skating fan, you will get a chance to gather with other fans of this fun activity. You will get through the main landmarks and explore the city from a different perspective. 
  • City Bike Tour - And if you are not much of a skate person, you can choose a bike for sightseeing. Rent bikes with your friends and let the tour take you to the most amazing places in Johannesburg. 
Best Shopping
  • Oriental Plaza - This is the biggest Asian shopping mall in Johannesburg with plenty of stuff for everyone. Here you can treat yourself to some great clothing, footwear or buy some goods for your house. 
  • Queen's Street - Queen's Street is a great area where you can find souvenirs for your friends and family. At affordable prices, you will be able to buy many great antiques and Italian-style souvenirs.
  • Rosebank Rooftop Flea Market - If you want to meet local people and enjoy strolling down aisles with traditional handcrafts and used stuff, this is a place for you. This flea market has different things to offer, from books and paintings to jewelry and ceramics. And the best part is that many books that are sold are in English, so you don’t have to worry you won’t find something for yourself.
  • Grand Avenue - This avenue is famous for its variety of great offers. Grand Avenue is a colorful place where you can buy anything from accessories to furniture. Many of those things are made in African style and have a unique design. 
  • Nelson Mandela Square - This is one of the most important landmarks in the city, as well as an excellent place to go shopping. The square is home to Sandton City shopping center where you can enjoy not just buying clothes and shoes, but you can also treat yourself to a nice meal or a drink.
Events and festivals
  • Summer Jazz at Nirox Sculpture Park - Nirox Sculpture Park hosts every year, for five days, this magnificent music festival. It takes place every November in a natural ambient. Except for music you can enjoy poetry readings and art installations surrounded by green nature. 
  • Bassline Fest - By attending this music event, you will get a chance to get to know better African music and culture. This is the place dedicated to African artists who perform their music at this one-day November festival.
  • Joburg Art Fair - This annual fair shows the best contemporary African art and design you can see. More than 20 galleries are included in this program, and many special projects take place during this event. 
  • Jozi Book Fair - For four days every September you can visit this famous fair. Here you can buy books, the old and just published ones. You can attend different activities such as book readings, discussions with authors, and art and literature exhibitions. 
  • Fire & Feast Meat Festival - South Afircan’s love meat and are great at preparing it. So take a gastro tour and explore the tastes of this country. Some of the most famous chefs in South Africa will prepare food for you and you can try it with appropriate drinks. And if you would like to explore alcoholic drinks, there are also wine and gin tasting areas.

Tourist attractions in Johannesburg

You can see great things in Johannesburg. Additional to that, you will get a chance to visit nearby parks, zoos, and national parks. Take a chance to see the other side of this city. Besides modern buildings and other city's landmarks, meet the nature of South Africa.
  • The Apartheid Museum - Apartheid is an important part of Johannesburg’s history. It represents oppression against Black and Colored people led by Whites who had domination over the city. Gold led them to racism and inequality that hurt many black inhabitants of the city. Today this museum stands as a reminder of how cruel power can get and how rebellion made justice.
  • Constitution Hill - Constitution Hill was once a jail. During the period of Apartheid, this was the place where many people were held in prison. Some of the famous personalities that were imprisoned here are Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. There are Number Four, the Women's Gaol, and the Old Fort museum within this complex. Today, Awaiting Trial building has been transformed into the Constitutional Court of South Africa, a symbol of freedom. 
  • Gold Reef City - From slavery to golden city quarters. Many theme parks and exhibitions show the power of gold that led many people to come to this place and try their luck. You can take a tour of the Crown Mines’ disused shaft or take your kids to play at theme parks within the complex. This place offers family-friendly activities and tours.
  • Soweto & the Mandela Museum - Soweto is one of the main places dedicated to the resistance of Black people. This part of the city saw many demonstrations and fights for rights. You should not miss the opportunity to visit this place and learn more about the city’s history which was not that long time ago.
  • Lion & Safari Park - For this attraction, you should set aside one whole day. Here you can pet different animals such as lions, cheetahs and feed giraffes. You can visit the place on your own, or take a tour guide who will introduce you to the wildlife of Africa.
  • The Cradle of Humankind - Not much far from Johannesburg you can visit a place dedicated to humankind’s history. Archeological excavations discovered much. Numerous caves were found as well as a skull of a humanoid creature known as Australopithecus africanus, two million years old. This shows how for how long people and other species used to live in this area.
  • Pilanesberg National Park - At 2.5 hours drive from Johannesburg, you can see Africa’s wild animals, such as rhinos, elephants, lions, zebras, and so on. With your guide, you will get a chance to see these fantastic animals enjoying their natural habitat.
  • Pretoria  - Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and a great place for tourists. It’s located around 55 kilometers from Johannesburg and it houses various historical buildings and museums. Here you can visit Pretoria National Botanic Garden, the Voortrekker Monument, Freedom Park, the zoo, and much more.
  • Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens - A great escape into nature. This botanical garden is the most known for its Witpoortjie Waterfall. The whole area is situated in a natural environment, so you can see many small animals living here as well. 
  • The Lindfield Victorian House Museum - The current owner of the museum, Katherine Love, will take you on a tour of this victorian museum filled out with furniture and art from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Accommodation in Johannesburg

There are different types of accommodation in Johannesburg. Depending on the price, you can always find something for yourself. We have chosen for you some of the best accommodation options in our opinion.

Hotels - We recommend you these hotels: Saxon Hotel - This is a 5-star boutique hotel, equipped with a spa and outdoor pool. It’s very luxurious and for real lovers of splendor. Prices vary depending on the season, but you can find a room for €300 per day; The Giglio Boutique Hotel - Another 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of the city. This is a relatively new hotel, opened in 2019. Same as the previous one, this hotel has an outdoor pool and many other facilities for tourists; The Houghton Hotel - Still a 5-star hotel, but with more affordable prices. Here you can have a room for around €150 per day.
Rooms and Apartments - The best way to explore the private room and apartment options is to check Airbnb. On this website you will find accommodation in any part of the city with affordable prices, starting from around €25.
Hostels and budget accommodation - Hostels are the cheapest and the most friendly way of staying in a city. If you are an experienced traveler, you already know that. You can find a bed in a hostel room for around €15, which is a great offer. Besides that, you will get a chance to meet other people and maybe continue your trip together.

Best restaurants and places to go out in Johannesburg

Johannesburg has a rich African cuisine you should try out. Some of the famous dishes are Umleqwa, Pap, and Samoosa. If you got intrigued by the names of the food, you should check them out. Also, there are foods from many countries of the world. And when it comes to going out, Johannesburg has numerous places for everyone’s taste. This city is very heartwarming and welcoming to anyone that visits, so be sure you will find a perfect place for yourself.
  • Where to eat - If you are searching for a luxurious and elegant place to eat, you should go to the restaurants such as Flames, The Hussar Grill, or Amuse-Bouche Food and Wine. These places will offer you diverse dishes that you can enjoy anytime. There are numerous local places, fast foods, and cheap restaurants to eat at. If you want a piece of pizza, go to ’86 Public. For Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean food check out places such as Ba-Pita. They offer shwarmas, laffas, kebabs, and many other delicious foods. Nachos, tacos, and quesadillas can be eaten at the Baha Taco.
  • Where to go out - The great thing is Johannesburg is an English-speaking city, so you can visit different events during the night. That may be The Bioscope independent cinema, where you can watch documentaries, indie, and African movies. Beefcakes is a place dedicated to ladies, and Babylon - the bar is one of the most famous gay places to go out. Great music is played at And Club, as well as at Harem. If you want to have a drink in a bar on a Friday night, we recommend places such as Alto234 Bar, Alice, and Fifth Nightclub, or Carfax.

Public transport in Johannesburg

  • Buses - Going by bus around Johannesburg may be the most efficient and safest option. The bus network is well-developed and connects all parts of the city. There are six zones, with one being in the city center.
  • Gautrain - This public transport connects the city center with the main business districts of the north. You can buy a card to ride it or use your credit card to pay for the ticket. Keep in mind that is forbidden to take food or drinks to the Gautrain stations and the Gautrain itsit elf.
  • Rea Vaya - This is the Rapid Bus Transport System, commonly used. It’s elegant and fast. The ticket is around 70 cents, but it always depends on the length of the ride. This is a very economic and one of the most used types of transportation in Johannesburg.
  • Taxi - People here use Uber or Bolt to hail a cab. Uber is a more expensive option but is more reliable than Bolt. Besides that, there are meter taxies all over the city, but they may charge you more if they don’t turn on the meter.
  • Mini-bus taxi - They are the most used public transport in the city. Private van and mini-bus owners will take you to any destination needed. You have to pay the ticket when boarding, giving the cash usually to the driver. Prices are not listed anywhere, so you will have to ask other passengers or the driver about that. Exists a complex system of signals when hailing a mini-bus taxi, so make sure to ask one of the locals to help you. Once you remember all the rules, it will be easy for you to ride alone.

Frequently asked questions about Johannesburg

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