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Johannesburg Travel Essentials

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"Face of Modern South Africa"

Johannesburg Tourism

Johannesburg, affectionately known as 'Joburg' or 'Jozi,' is the capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa. Today, it stands as the largest city in South Africa and the second largest in Africa. Johannesburg serves as a crucial transportation hub for international flights heading to Cape Town, Durban, and Kruger National Park. Despite not being a typical tourist spot, Johannesburg offers a vibrant mix of big-city culture, shopping, dining, and nightlife, Johannesburg caters to diverse interests.

Beyond the city's urban buzz, visitors can enjoy outdoor adventures, encounter wildlife, and explore historical sites. Johannesburg boasts the best nightlife in South Africa, with live music and a thriving art scene. Its historical roots as a gold-mining town earned it the nickname 'City of Gold' or 'eGoli.' It is known for its café culture and stands as one of the world's greenest cities with the largest man-made urban forest.

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Must Know Before You Travel to Johannesburg

  • Currency Exchange: Exchange currency at Johannesburg International Airport's FOREX windows. Hotels and shops also offer exchange services, but rates may vary. Tourists often use ATMs for convenient cash withdrawals.
  • Rush Hour: Traffic can become congested during peak hours (M-F 6:30 AM - 9 AM and 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM), so travellers should plan their journeys accordingly.
  • Walking Around Safety: It is advisable to exercise caution when walking around Johannesburg, as safety concerns are present even during the day, especially in narrow streets and certain areas.
  • Local Transportation: Johannesburg offers buses, taxis, minibus taxis, and ride-hailing services like Uber and Bolt for commuting. Renting a car is advisable for those confident in driving due to limited public transport options.
  • Tour Guide: Hiring a private guide or joining a tour is a safer way to explore the city compared to walking or driving independently.
  • Nightlife: Most bars, pubs, and clubs adhere to closing times of 1 AM on weekdays and around 2-3 AM on weekends, including Fridays.
  • Drinking Water: Tap water in Johannesburg is considered safe for consumption.
  • Safari in Johannesburg: Kruger National Park and Pilanesberg National Park are recommended for safaris, with Kruger requiring a 6-hour drive and Pilanesberg just over 2 hours by car.
  • Night Flight Arrival: Travelers should be aware that airport stores close early, and surroundings may be less crowded during night flights.
  • Load Shedding: Power outages may occur for up to four hours every other day. Booking accommodations with backup generators is a precautionary measure.
  • December Holidays: Scheduling a holiday in Johannesburg during December provides an opportunity to experience the lively atmosphere when many South Africans take their yearly break.

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History of Johannesburg

The city of Johannesburg has been named after Johann Friedrich Bernhard Rissik and Christian Johannes Joubert. The city boasts four castles, one of which is as old as 105 years. Johannesburg's history began in 1886 with the discovery of gold, leading to rapid growth and the establishment of a town. In the early 1900s, forced removals resulted in the creation of the Soweto township. The city played a pivotal role in the anti-apartheid movement, with significant events in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1976 when Soweto schoolchildren rose against apartheid's oppression. In 1990, after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela settled in Johannesburg. Today, the city continues to evolve, reflecting the resilience and spirit of its people.

Nightlife in Johannesburg

Johannesburg's nightlife is diverse and lively, catering to a multicultural population. Popular areas for nightlife include Melville, Greenside, Parkhurst, Sandton, Newtown, and Braamfontein. These districts offer a mix of trendy bars, live music venues, and nightclubs. Some must-visit pubs and bars include Kitcheners, Great Dane, and The Landmark. Johannesburg's nightlife scene provides something for everyone, from artsy venues to upscale cocktail bars and vibrant dance clubs.

Shopping in Johannesburg

Johannesburg offers a diverse and vibrant shopping experience. Unique items to buy include African art and crafts, showcasing the continent's cultural heritage.
  • The Rosebank Sunday Market in Sandton is a great place to find handmade jewellery, traditional clothing, and woodcarvings.
  • For upscale shopping, visit Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square, featuring international designer boutiques and fine dining establishments.
  • The Mall of Africa is a modern shopping complex with over 300 shops, offering a wide selection of brands and products.
  • Explore vibrant markets in Maboneng and Melville for a local experience, featuring local designers, artisans, and food vendors.
  • The Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg is known for its Indian goods, spices, and fabrics, providing a taste of the city's multicultural influences.
  • Neighbourgoods Market: Located in the trendy district of Braamfontein, this market is a great place to shop for artisanal food, fresh produce, handmade crafts, and unique clothing items. It is open on Saturdays and attracts both locals and tourists.
  • Sandton City: Located in the affluent Sandton area, Sandton City is a premier shopping destination with high-end stores, luxury boutiques, and exclusive brands. It also houses Nelson Mandela Square, featuring a statue of the iconic leader.
  • African Craft Market: Situated in the heart of the city, this market offers a vast selection of African arts, crafts, and souvenirs. Visitors can find hand-carved wooden sculptures, beaded jewellery, traditional clothing, and more.
  • Newtown Junction Mall: This shopping complex in the Newtown Cultural Precinct combines modern shopping with a touch of history and culture. It offers a mix of retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment options.
  • Bryanston Organic Market: Held every Thursday and Saturday, this market is dedicated to organic and sustainable products. It is a great place to shop for fresh produce, artisanal goods, and eco-friendly products.

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How to Reach Johannesburg

How to Reach Overview

Johannesburg, a vibrant South African city, is easily reachable from nearby cities. The O.R. Tambo International Airport, about 25 km (15.5 miles) away, serves both domestic and international flights. From there, travellers can choose buses, trains, taxis, or cabs. By road, the city is well-connected via N1, N3, N12, and N17 highways. Park Station offers long-distance trains, while buses like Greyhound, Translux, and Magic Bus serve public transport needs.

How to reach Johannesburg by flight

Johannesburg is served by the O.R. Tambo International Airport, located approximately 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) east of the city centre. Travellers can find both domestic and international flights operated by various airlines. Flights can be booked through Skyscanner.
From the airport, tourists can take a bus or a train. There are plenty of taxis and cabs also available just outside the airport.

How to reach Johannesburg by road

Johannesburg is well-connected by a network of national highways, making it easily accessible by road. N1, N3, N12, and N17 are some of the major routes leading to the city from different directions.
There are several taxi and cab operators in the city which would directly pick you up from your location and drop you off at your desired stop. The major cab agencies running in the city are Rose Taxis, Taxi Coner and Taxi Club.

How to reach Johannesburg by train

Park Station is the main railway station in Johannesburg, offering safe and convenient long-distance Spoornet trains connecting to major cities like Pretoria and East London. The Metro Rail and Gautrain also provide transportation to Pretoria, Soweto, and Springs.

How to reach Johannesburg by bus

Johannesburg is well-served by long-distance buses like Greyhound, Translux, and Magic Bus for travel to and from the city.

Local transport in Johannesburg

Intra city travel in Johannesburg can be a little difficult, as it is not very systematic. The available options include: Minibus taxis - Various hand signals signify the direction or the place where the minibus taxi would take you. Knowing these signs would very much come handy. Metered taxis - Not the ones you would find around the corner of a street. They have to be called up to book a ride. Metro - Cheapest of all and beneficial for the workers. Connects central Johannesburg to the main business districts. It connects Johannesburg, Pretoria, Sandton and The OR Tambo International Airport while stopping at various suburbs. All you need is a Gold Card to travel through the city's prestigious Gautrain. As you get off the station you will find Gautrain feeder buses for which you can pay using the Gold Card too. They are at intervals of 20 to 40 minutes and run between 6:00 AM to 7:30 PM. Prices differ based on travel time. Route maps for the buses can be found at every station. Uber - Like most major cities in the world, Uber is available here for safe and quick taxi service. City Sightseeing Bus - ¾This Hop-on Hop-off red bus takes a circular route around the city and conveniently shows off the city's beauty in a span of two hours with 11 stops. The first bus leaves the park station at 9:00 AM and the last one at 3:40 PM at intervals of 40 minutes on the weekdays and 30 minutes on the weekends. Tickets for adults costs ZAR 170 offline and ZAR 130 online. For ¾children between 5 and 15 it is ZAR 80. The city provides you with two more options: 1. Soweto - from the Gold Reef City stop there is an option to take up a two hour tour of Soweto. This bus is at an interval of an hour from 10:00 AM. 2.Maboneng - This shuttle takes you to a 1.5 hours of on-foot tour toward inner street ¾full of street art, galleries, shops, lovely cafes etc. This is available from Thursday to Saturday at 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM. On Sundays can be availed every 30 minutes from 10:00 AM to 1:3

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FAQs on Johannesburg

What are the top hotels in Johannesburg?

There are 949 in Johannesburg which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Johannesburg are Hethersett Guest House, Blackheath Manor Guest House, Executive Suite in Woodmead East, Thornton Gap Guesthouse, Khathala, 58 On Hume. You can see all the hotels in Johannesburg here

What is the best time to visit Johannesburg?

The best time to visit Johannesburg is from September to April when the summers have ended. However, the other months are not bad for a vacation in the city as Joburg has a mild and dry weather all round the year. The months of autumn, fall and spring are still relatively cooler and should be preferred.
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What is the local food in Johannesburg?

As rich as it appears, the local Joburg cuisine is flavoursome and tempts one and all. Coffee is indigenous to Africa and in Johannesburg you get coffee being served with a cardamom rich sponge cake. The other important delicacies include Malwa Pudding, Piri-Piri chicken and Amanqina.
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How much does a package cost for Johannesburg?

The packages for Johannesburg start at INR 62993 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What are the things to do in Johannesburg?

The top things to do in Johannesburg are The Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Gold Reef City, Soweto and the Mandela Museum, Lion Park, South African National Museum of Military History. You can see all the places to visit in Johannesburg here

What are the places near Johannesburg?

The top places near to Johannesburg are Pretoria which is 53 km from Johannesburg, Durban which is located 500 km from Johannesburg, Cape town which is located 1261 km from Johannesburg, Knysna which is located 994 km from Johannesburg, London which is located 9072 km from Johannesburg

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