The beating heart of South Africa, Johannesburg is a vibrant city with something for everyone. From leading art centres in Braamfontein to hip bars in Newtown, city breaks in Johannesburg offer culture, excitement and adventure.
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Johannesburg’s tumultuous history can be glimpsed at in the Apartheid Museum, a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the city. Here you can learn about both the era of apartheid and the road to democracy – essential for understanding present South Africa. Also connected to this struggle for liberation is Liliesleaf Farm, which once served as the secret headquarters of the ANC (African National Congress) and today houses a series of fascinating exhibitions detailing the history of the city in the 1960s. To learn more about the legal ramifications of the struggle, Constitution Hill is an inspiring destination where you’ll find Africa’s Constitutional Court, previously a prison where Nelson Mandela was once held.
Johannesburg, or Jo’burg, is today one of the most vibrant cultural centres on the planet. There is a plethora of galleries to visit, amongst which is the esteemed Johannesburg Art Gallery – home to the largest art collection in Africa and an excellent place to spend a few hours. Also worth seeing is the modern Wits Art Museum, which features over 10,000 different artworks and is housed in a stylish contemporary building. To get a feel for a raw energy of the art scene on Jo’burg head to Arts on Main, a multifaceted arts space where you’ll find galleries, workshops, studios and markets. In the northern suburb of the city is CIRCA on Jellicoe, an architectural landmark and one of the city’s leading galleries for contemporary art.
No trip to Africa would be complete without seeing some of the continent’s famed wildlife. Johannesburg Zoo is a treat if you’re travelling with kids in tow or simply want to spend a few hours with gorillas and Siberian tigers. There are 320 different species here and around 2,000 animals, so you could easily spend a whole day exploring the zoo. If you want to get closer to the big cats you should check out Lion Park, home to 80 lions as well as cheetahs, hyenas and antelope, as well as cute (but still pretty strong) lion cubs. Within easy reach of the city is Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, a great place for outdoor hikes with paths available for walkers or all ages and abilities. Also worth a visit is Montecasino Bird Gardens, featuring a colourful cacophony of avian species.
Malls are a popular place to shop in Jo’burg, so if you’re looking to enjoy a spot of retail therapy you’ll want to head to big shopping centres such as Northgate and Sandton City. If you’re in the market for souvenirs, the African Craft Market and the Rosebank Rooftop Flea Market are both excellent places to peruse some traditional African arts and crafts.