As the gateway to South Africa for many, it’s hard to imagine a luxury holiday to South Africa without some time spent in Johannesburg. Rather than just spending one night in the city, why not spend an extra day uncovering some of the key attractions before heading off on a tailor made South Africa holiday?
Johannesburg is a city which mixes a fascinating cultural heritage with many modern attractions suitable for people of all ages, with all kinds of interests. In order to show exactly how diverse Johannesburg’s attractions are, here’s a selection of 10 varied things you can expect to do in the city before embarking on the main part of your luxury holiday in South Africa:
Spend an afternoon on the greens
Sure, golf is not for everyone, but for those who like nothing more than to spend an afternoon on the greens, Johannesburg is amongst the best cities in the world. Not only does it have the perfect warm climate for strolling across the fairways, but the fairways themselves are some of the very best in Africa – indeed, 36 of the top 100 golf courses in South Africa are right here! Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a keen amateur, golf is one of the strongest attractions in Johannesburg.
Take a flutter at the casinos
Holiday gambling is a favourite of many tourists – even those who never so much as buy a scratch card when in the UK find the relaxed atmosphere of a luxury holiday in South Africa the perfect time to take a flutter, and Johannesburg is very well suited to these types. You’ll struggle to find this density of casinos outside of Las Vegas, with two large ones in the city centre, another couple on the outskirts and a handful within 2 hours drive of the city! Between them all, you can find over 8000 slot machines and 300 tables – just make sure you know when to stop!
Gold Reef City – much more than a theme park…
One of these casinos is at Gold Reef City, but the good news is that there’s plenty for children to do as well, while you’re trying to beat the house at cards. Gold Reef City is a really rather splendid theme park with a fine selection of white knuckle rides, plentiful refreshment stands and even a brand new 4D theatre!
Learn more about the end of apartheid
The Apartheid museum has become a must see attraction in Johannesburg for its unflinching look at this distressing period of the country’s history. It’s extremely powerful, and includes such moving exhibits as blown up photos of passbooks, metal cages and screens showing replays of apartheid scenes. It pulls no punches: from the plastic entry ticket which either marks you as white or non-white to the recording studio where museum visitors have chronicled their own experiences, it’s a harrowing trip but one well worth taking. The overall feeling is one of relief that the country’s segregation is in the museum where it belongs.
Absorb the culture of Museum Africa
Culture vultures will get a lot out of Museum Africa, tucked into the Newtown Central Precinct. As the name implies, the main focus of the museum is on the continent’s fascinating history, including an honest look at some of South Africa’s problems and less proud moments. It’s surprisingly modern too, and one of its most engaging attractions is an audio/visual display showing Nelson Mandela’s trial for treason.
Tear up the track
From culture to go-karts, there are few things that can match the adrenalin of taking to the go kart course in Johannesburg. Decked out in safety clothing and helmet, visitors are encouraged to put their driving skills to the test in front of a crowd of onlookers. Not to everyone’s tastes, certainly – but the thrill seekers will love to make go karting part of their South Africa holiday experience!
Take a trip on the Vaal River
There are few better ways to take in the natural beauty of South Africa than a boat ride along the Vaal river. With the wind in your hair, good company and great food, a trip down the Vaal river is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities in Johannesburg, and a must for South Africa’s luxury holiday makers.
Lesedi Cultural Village
Lesedi Cultural Village is an attraction designed to help visitors understand the different cultures of South Africa. Holiday makers can walk around the five different homesteads (each representing a different culture from Pedi, Zulu, Zhosa, Basotho and Ndebele), take a tour to learn more about the culture – or even spend the night with one of the groups, for the true experience! Whichever option you take, visitors will learn of the cultural differences, and get to taste some delicious traditional cuisine. A must see attraction in Johannesburg.
Spend an unforgettable night clubbing
It’s widely acknowledged that one of the main attractions of Johannesburg is its reputation as the party capital of the country! Visitors can expect an eclectic mix of live music and clubs with DJs who spin a mix of techno, trance, jungle and house music. Whether your taste is for small, intimate venues or huge warehouse style hotspots, the city has you covered!
Take a tour of the Soweto Township
This is the largest township in Gauteng with some four million people living within. It started as a settlement for people coming from the rural areas to find work, but has since grown to almost be considered a city in its own right. Highlights of the visit include the former homes of Nelson Mandela and various South African Nobel Prize winners, accompanied by the overall warmth and friendliness of the Soweto people.
There’s plenty more I could list here, but this is a nice illustration of the sheer variety of attractions in Johannesburg – both famous and hidden. The city is the perfect gateway to a luxury holiday in South Africa.
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