Johannesburg, the vibrant, beating heart of South Africa, is a sprawling metropolis that encompasses a historic city centre, world-class commercial districts, colourful townships and upmarket residential areas. It’s the financial and industrial capital of the country and was established during one of the world’s biggest and richest gold rushes, earning it the name Egoli meaning ‘place of gold’.
The ideal starting point for holidays and tours in South Africa, this accommodating city is the gateway to the rest of the country, with most international flights touching down at Johannesburg’s International O.R. Tambo Airport. The upmarket residential and commercial centre of Sandton with its designer malls and boutiques is only 30 minutes away from the airport, as is the bustling township of Soweto, the largest in the country, composed of 26 individual townships with living accommodation ranging from shacks, or informal settlements, to mansions.
The city has a rich and varied cultural heritage, and visitors can explore South Africa’s tumultuous history by visiting fascinating sites like the Apartheid museum and Constitution Hill. Learn how South Africa’s painful past has shaped the land and its people during the remarkable transition to democracy, a remarkable tale of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Another popular city attraction is Gold Reef City, a tourist hotspot that centres on an authentic mining village recreated around an old mine shaft where visitors can experience real mining conditions underground and watch gold being poured.
More adventurous visitors will find plenty to explore in the areas surrounding Johannesburg. From the opulence of Sun City, a luxury resort with two world-class golf courses, a wave pool, fine dining and an unmatched casino, to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Known as the birthplace of humanity, this modern and informative facility was where the 2.3 million year-old fossil known as “Mrs Ples” was discovered in a complex of limestone caves in 1947.
With several world famous African safaris, including the Kruger National Park, only a few hours’ drive from the city centre, Johannesburg is undeniably an all encompassing gateway to travel in Africa. From nightlife and theatre to wining and dining, outdoor adventure, extreme sports and some serious shopping, Johannesburg is loud, bold and vibrant with something for everyone.