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Things to Do in Johannesburg

Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city and also one of the greenest cities in the world. The city is known for the sunny and dry year-round year, with mild temperatures. While the city hasn’t been a tourist destination in the past, each year more and more attractions have been developed for the tourists.

Here is a list of some of the most popular tourist attractions and things to do in Johannesburg.

Spend half a day at the Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum offers a fascinating journey trough the evolution and history of the apartheid in South Africa. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. The entrance fee is ZAR 25 (about US$3) for adults and ZAR 12 (about US$1.50) for children.

Visit the Lilliesleaf Farm

Liliesleaf Farm opened in June 2008 and is a museum and a national monument to the Liberation Struggle. For a few months the house was home to Nelson Mandela as he laid low pretending to be a gardener and a cook. The museum is open during the week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during the weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Make sure to book your tour of the museum on their official website .

Have fun at the Gold Reef City

The Gold Reef City is an amusement park which also comprises a casino. Some of the rides include: Tower of terror, Jozi Express, Raging River Rapids and Golden Loop. Jozi’s Story of Gold includes a visit to the museum and also a walk in an underground mine. The tour takes about 2 hours. The theme park is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the season. The off-season opening hours are : Wednesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the season, the adult and scholar entrance fee is ZAR 150 (about US$18.35).

Spend a day at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve

Especially if you travel with the kids, plan a day at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve . The park can be entered between 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m., regardless of the day of the week. The Lion and Predator camp can be visited between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Live snake shows are also available. The entrance fee is ZAR 100 (about US$12.20) for adults and ZAR 70 (about US$8.60) for children [only for the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve].

See the panoramic views from The Carlton Centre

The Carlton Centre is the tallest building in Africa. You can se lovely panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. Entrance is free.

Visit the Johannesburg Zoo

The zoo houses over 2000 animals and is one of the few places in the world where you can find the white lion. Day and night tours are available. The zoo is open Monday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost ZAR 55 (about US$6.80) for an adult and ZAR 35 (about US$4.30) for a child (age 3-12).

Visit Ferreira’s Mine

During the construction of the Standard Bank in the 1980s, an old, abandoned gold mine has been found. Parts of the old mine and the new museum are open to the public and can be visited during banking hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Entrance is free.

Visit the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site

The World Heritage Site is rich in fossils which cast the light on the human ancestors, as well as on the environment they lived in. There are over 200 caves on the 47,000 hectares site. There are also 13 fossil sites. The caves are open daily except Christmas and Easter. The are tours every half an hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The entrance fee is ZAR 40 (about US$4.90) for an adult and ZAR 20 (about US2.45) for a child.

A picnic at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are one of the last green areas within the city of Johannesburg. It is home to lots of birds, including the Black Eagle. The botanical garden has designated picnic areas so take your time and relax. Entrance is ZAR 25 (about US$3) for an adult.

Get to know the wildlife at the Lion Park

You can see the lion cubs – and also touch them – , feed a giraffe and watch the animals in their natural habitat. It is better to plan your visit during the week when the park is less crowded. Entrance fee is ZAR 130 (about US$16) for an adult.

See the night sky at the Planetarium

Johannesburg Planetarium is the second biggest planetarium in the southern hemisphere. Different types of shows take place here every day. The Sky Tonight show is open for everyone and it takes place only on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets cost ZAR 32 (about US$4) for an adult and ZAR 20 (about US$2.45) for a child. The Space Travel show is available only for children (age 5 to 8 ) and it takes place every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Ticket costs ZAR 20.

Learn about a new culture at the Lesedi Cultural Village

The Lesedi Cultural Village was developed in 1995 as a tourist attraction and it contains five different homesteads, each representing a culture (Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele). You can spend an entire day here or just come for lunch. There’s also the possibility to stay over night. Entrance fee is ZAR 1125 (about US$137.50) for an adult.

Photo credits: Apartheid Museum , Gold Reef City , View from The Carlton Centre , Johannesburg Zoo , Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site , Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens , Lion Park , Lesedi Cultural Village