Johannesburg is the largest city and the economic hub of South Africa. It is a city has a lot of names; it is fondly called Jo’burg or Jozi and also often referred as the City of Gold or eGoli because of its beginnings as a gold mining town.
Developments in Johannesburg have been moving at a rapid pace in recent years and its cultural and arts scene is also flourishing. Inner city suburbs have started to gentrify and attract a variety of interesting shops and restaurants. It is a city undergoing an interesting transformation and is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination.
One interesting fact about the city of Johannesburg is that the city is one of the greenest in the world. Surprisingly, it feels more like a rainforest rather than a savannah. Johannesburg is the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees in the city. An urban garden that is just the perfect setting for the culture of street cafes and al fresco dining that locals love.
Those looking for a cultural experience in Johannesburg can take their pick from more than 40 art galleries and many theatres around the city. For a more traditional vibe, one can also visit the craft markets and cultural villages in Johannesburg to experience the local culture. For something more upbeat, there are also a lot of nightlife hotspots, trendy restaurants and pubs.
Johannesburg is also known as premium shopping destination, you can find international brands at the city’s shopping malls in the Sandton district. For locally crafted items and curios, they can be easily found in bazaars, such as the African market at Rosebank. Here you can haggle for beautiful beadwork, carvings and fabrics.
Johannesburg is truly a city that offers a lot more than meets the eye. When planning your holiday, make sure to take note of these must-see attractions:
On a hill overlooking the downtown Johannesburg, this place is considered as a living tribute to the country's enshrined freedoms and human rights. It is currently the venue for South Africa's architecturally provocative Constitutional Court, where you can view artworks or even attend court sessions. Constitution Hill used to be the site of a prison -- the notorious 19th-century Old Fort, where brutalities of the worst kind were perpetrated on innocents in the name of apartheid. The prison held political activists opposed to apartheid and common criminals. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were imprisoned here.
This museum showcases the rise and fall of South Africa’s era of segregation and oppression, and is a definite must-see. The Apartheid Museum features film, text, audio and live accounts that takes you back in time and provide a chilling insight into the apartheid system, as well as inspiring accounts of the struggle towards democracy.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
The Johannesburg Art Gallery is located in Joubert Park, in the central business district of Johannesburg. The building has a total of 15 exhibition halls and sculpture gardens. The gallery’s collections include 17th-century Dutch paintings, 18th and 19th-century British and European art, 19th-century South African works, a large contemporary collection of 20th-century local and international art and a print cabinet containing works from the 15th century to the present.
OR Tambo International Airport, formerly known as Johannesburg International Airport, is the largest and busiest airport in the entire African continent. More international carriers fly here than any other city in southern Africa, and there are direct flights to most major cities. Located 21 km from the city center, travel time from the airport to the Johannesburg takes around 25 minutes by rail. Gautrain, a rapid suburban rail network, has a line from the airport to Sandton, where you can change to another Gautrain service to get to Johannesburg. Hotel shuttles and taxis are also available at the terminal.
Getting around Johannesburg is not very easy as they have a very limited public transport system. You need a car to get around and most tourists use taxis to get to the different points of interests. Car rentals are available but not advisable. Buses and minicabs also ply the city streets but are may be unsafe and confusing for first-time visitors. The best option is still taxi but make sure you get a metered taxi.
Johannesburg is truly the vibrant heart of South Africa. There are a lot of places to see and interesting things to do in Johannesburg to suit different tastes and budgets. As with many developing cities, modern amenities and living conditions can vary from high-end luxuries to very basic amenities. Don’t give Johannesburg a miss though, because the city has a lot of attractions to offer.
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