23 BEST Things to Do in Johannesburg – According to a Local!

People sitting and standing around tables under umbrellas at an outdoor event during the daytime, with buildings and murals visible in the background.

Johannesburg (known as Joburg among us locals) is a large and sprawling city with plenty to offer — so much so that you’ll probably wonder where to start! Well, don’t fret! This comprehensive list includes the 23 top things to do in Johannesburg, plus links and prices for all activities. 

I’ve lived in Johannesburg for over 15 years and have done almost all of the things featured in this post (the rest are on my ‘to-do’ list). I’ll share my first-hand experience with you and tell you why each of these things is worth doing so you can decide which ones are the best fit for you. 

Finally, it’s a good idea to book these activities a little in advance – at least a day or two beforehand – as they are quite popular, and you don’t want to miss out on the best experiences! 

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Want to quickly book the best activities? Here are the top 3 things to do in Joburg: 

And here are the best hotels: voco Johannesburg Rosebank, Home Suite Hotels, Easy Stay – The Vantage

1. Have fun at Gold Reef City Theme Park

Amusement park with water rides, green roller coaster, and lush vegetation under a cloudy sky.

Gold Reef City is the largest theme park in South Africa, beloved by kids and adults alike. The park offers a variety of cool rides, including 16 thrill rides, 21 kids’ rides, and 7 family rides. It also has a trampoline park and an underground mine tour – the only authentic mine tour in Johannesburg, according to the park’s website. 

Besides all the fun rides, Gold Reef City boasts a dozen dining options, quite a few retail stores, and some other cool attractions. For more details on all the entertainment options, check the park’s official website

I used to go to this park a lot when I was younger, but even as an adult, it’s still plenty of fun. I highly recommend you spend a day here, especially if you’re traveling with kids. However, before you visit, please check the park’s operating hours and buy your tickets online – they are not available for sale at the park’s entrance. 

PRICE: US$14 (kids under 3 enter for free); US$18 for the mine tour package

2. Set Out on a Safari

View from a safari vehicle showing three elephants standing in a waterhole, while four people inside the vehicle observe and take photos.

A lot of people visit Johannesburg for a safari, and I understand – it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is just a 2.5-hour bus ride away from Johannesburg and is home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of other wild animals. 

Plenty of operators offer a safari experience, but I suggest you book this one, provided by MoAfrika Tours. This is a full-day tour (12 hours) that includes hotel pickup (and drop-off) from any Johannesburg hotel, lunch, and, most importantly, 2 open safari rides led by an experienced guide who will be able to answer all of your questions. 

A safari is one of the best outdoor activities available around Johannesburg, so if you have a spot on your itinerary, I highly suggest you book this unforgettable experience. 

PRICE: US$144/person

3. Join a Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour

A red double-decker tour bus with sightseeing graphics and branding, parked near a landscaped area with palm trees and flowers.

One of the go-to tourist activities in any major city is the hop-on, hop-off bus, and Johannesburg is no exception! This tour is a great way to explore the city and see all the main points of interest, especially if you’re short on time. 

During the tour, you’ll get to see landmarks like the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Mandela’s House, and more. I chose this tour by City Sightseeing South Africa because it allows you to hop on and off the bus as much as you’d like in the course of 1 or 2 days. 

Another perk of this particular tour is that it offers an optional tour of Soweto (South Western Townships), which is best experienced with a guide who can tell you more about the history of this part of the city (and a lot safer than going alone). Overall, this is a great way to explore the city, and it’s also super affordable! 

PRICE: US$16

4. Meet the animals at Johannesburg Zoo

A group of lions are sitting on the ground.

One of the most popular attractions in the city is the Johannesburg Zoo, equally beloved by both locals and tourists. Dating back to 1904, Joburg Zoo is home to over 320 animal species and a total of 2,000 animals. 

The zoo offers a variety of cool tours, including a night tour called the ‘Zoo Snooze,’ during which you can hear the lions roar. So, if you’re looking for something unusual to do at night, I highly recommend signing up for this tour. 

author of the post stands next to a large, illuminated wireframe deer sculpture at night.

Another very fun thing to do is watch the animals while they are being fed; you can check the zoo feeding times here, and you should also check the zoo calendar for any upcoming events.

One of my favorite zoo events is the Festival of Lights, which takes place around Christmastime. For the duration of the festival, the zoo is lit up with a variety of illuminated life-size animal characters, and there’s an amazing craft market where you can do some Christmas shopping. 

Tickets for Johannesburg Zoo are available for purchase at the gate. 

PRICE: US$6.50/adults; US$3.70/kids

5. Go Restaurant and Bar Hopping on 4th Avenue Parkhurst

Person handing a plate of food to another person across a wooden table in a restaurant setting.

4th Avenue Parkhurst is one of the liveliest parts of the city, lined with a variety of boutique shops, hip cafes, and amazing restaurants. There are so many incredible places to explore along 4th Avenue, so I suggest you set an afternoon aside and do some restaurant and bar hopping (and maybe a bit of shopping) along this vibrant street. 

Some of the top spots I’d recommend are Hudsons – The Burger Joint (map) – the burgers there are extremely delicious, and The Station Parkhurst (map), a very unique restaurant that’s actually been modeled after the London underground. And in addition to the cool interior, The Station serves delicious drinks – you can try more than 150 different types of gin (although I don’t recommend doing that in one go!). 

Depending on where you’re staying in Johannesburg, you can walk to and around 4th Avenue, but it can be quite tiring (and not completely safe). I also don’t recommend driving there, as parking can be tricky; you’d be lucky to find street parking or even to secure a spot in one of the smaller side roads. In this case, your best option is taking an Uber or a Bolt

NOTE: you should be careful whenever you’re using ride-sharing services in Johannesburg. This includes double-checking the car number and the driver’s ID, and it never hurts to have someone follow your trip along on the app.

6. Catch a Play at Joburg Theater

author of the post stands on a stage with a "Queen: It's a Kinda Magic" sign in the background. The stage is lit with blue lighting.

The Joburg Theater is one of the city’s premier destinations for cultural events, offering a variety of shows, including plays, musical performances, pantomimes, and more. I’d recommend seeing a play or, if you’re traveling with kids, one of the pantomime shows–you can even meet the cast after the show, and the kids love it every time! 

I’ve seen various performances at Joburg Theater over the years, but most recently, I attended a show called ‘Queen: It’s a Kinda Magic’ with the Rock Symphony, and it was a truly incredible experience (picture included above). More information about the ongoing shows, as well as tickets, are available on the theater’s official website

I really like this theater because not only does it put on some amazing shows, but it also provides ample parking (great if you want to drive there) and hosts a great restaurant on-site, where you can enjoy good food at affordable prices. 

PRICE: US$13 to US$33, depending on the performance

7. Immerse Yourself in History at Constitution Hill

Modern building with a unique facade featuring triangular cutouts, large glass tower, and outdoor sculptures. Clear blue sky in the background, and a tall telecommunications tower visible nearby.

Constitution Hill is one of the most historically significant landmarks in Johannesburg. This is a military fort and a former prison where many important people were once imprisoned, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. 

Today, the building has been converted into a museum that showcases South Africa’s journey to democracy. Visitors can explore all the different buildings within the complex, including the Constitutional Court of South Africa (the highest court in the country), the Old Fort, the Women’s Jail, and more. 

The museum also offers a ‘Highlights Tour’ that will take you through all the most important buildings within the prison complex. The tour lasts 1 hour, and it’s a great choice if you have limited time. And if you have some time to spare, you can continue exploring the museum on your own at the end of the tour. 

TIP: on some national holidays, entrance to the museum is free. Check the website to see the exact dates. 

PRICE: US$2.40 to US$5.30 

8. Sign Up for a Street Art Tour

A red stop sign with black graffiti reading "IN THE NAME OF LOVE" below the word "STOP." The sign also features a sticker of a masked face and a tag that reads "Blaz.

Johannesburg boasts some impressive street art, particularly in the Maboneng Precinct and Jewel City neighborhoods. The streets here are lined with murals by local and international artists, showcasing various techniques, inspirations, and subcultures. 

I loved going on a street art tour here and snapping pictures along the way. The best way to explore the art is by joining a guided street art tour; on this 2-hour walking tour, you’ll be accompanied by a guide who will talk you through the individual pieces of art. Plus, you might get to meet some of the artists and see them at work on a new project. 

PRICE: US$34

9. See a Movie at The Bioscope

Outdoor area of a building with large glass windows lighting up the interior, showing people inside. A circular water fountain is in the foreground, surrounded by wet ground reflecting night lights.

If you’re a movie buff, I’m sure you’ll love The Bioscope, an independent movie theater situated at 44 Stanley and showing both new and old movies. This is one of the best places to see a movie in Joburg – I particularly love the design: the movie seats are old car seats that have been reupholstered and repurposed. It’s super cool and very comfy, too! 

The movie schedule is quite varied, and I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking. You can easily purchase the tickets online through the cinema’s official website and have a great night out. Comedy fans will be glad that there’s a stand-up comedy show every Sunday, and there are also some annual screenings of older movies that are worth checking out as well. 

Before you leave, I suggest also checking out The Bioscope Cafe, an amazing spot that caters to cinema-goers. It specializes in pizza but also features a full bar and offers popcorn – I can’t recommend it enough! 

PRICE: US$5.5

10. Enjoy Dinner at Montecasino

The grand entrance of Montecasino in Johannesburg with a castle-like structure, showcasing people walking and lush greenery around

As you might have guessed, Montecasino is a casino. But, in fact, it’s much more than that. This is an entire entertainment complex modeled after a Tuscan village and has both a day and a night section. Even just walking around the place will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Italy — it’s the perfect place for couples. 

The Montecasino hosts a wide range of entertainment options besides the casino – there’s a movie theater, an arcade, a bowling alley, a lazer tag zone, and much, much more, especially when it comes to family-friendly activities. 

Theater lovers will also discover plenty of great shows at the 2 theaters at Montecasino: Teatro at Montecasino and the Pieter Toerien Theater (which is my personal favorite). I highly recommend you attend one of the performances at the theater, then head to dinner. 

At Montecasino, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of restaurants; there are fantastic spots where you can have a romantic dinner for two, as well as places that will be fun for the whole family. I would recommend these Montecasino restaurants:

  • Fireroom – THE place to enjoy sushi and fusion cuisine
  • Casa Bella – a very romantic spot serving delicious Italian cuisine and wine
  • Montexo Spur – a family-friendly steak ranch with a dedicated kids’ area and activities
  • Billy G Buffet – an upscale buffet restaurant offering a large variety of dishes

11. Admire the Cradle of Humankind

A tour guide speaks to a group of people inside a cave next to a bust statue.

Where did life start? That’s such a profound question, but the Cradle of Humankind can provide some answers. Just a 45-min drive from Johannesburg, at Maropeng, you’ll find a paleoanthropological site with the largest number of ancestral remains in the world. 

The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has fossils that are more than 3.5 million years old. During your visit, you’ll see a large complex of limestone caves, attend several cool exhibitions, and get even more information at the Visitor Center. 

I’m sure you won’t regret making the trip out to the Cradle of Humankind; this is one of the most unique experiences you can have while in South Africa! Tickets are available for purchase here

PRICE: US$6.5

Getting there: the Cradle of Humankind is situated 50 km (31 miles) Northwest of the Johannesburg city center, and the best (and fastest) way to get there is by driving. I highly recommend you rent a car if you want to visit this site. 

12. Visit the Apartheid Museum

Outdoor art installation with multiple mirrors reflecting people walking. The mirrors are placed along a pathway between two brick and wire-mesh walls.

The first-ever museum on the history of apartheid in South Africa is situated in Johannesburg and outlines the rise and fall of the apartheid policy. The Apartheid Museum hosts a permanent exhibition that traces all the events in the country’s newer history in chronological order. 

The museum also has some seasonal exhibitions, often outlining important figures from South African history, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. I advise you to visit all the exhibitions that are currently shown at the museum, as they are very informative and will help you get a clearer picture of the country. 

Plan at least 2.5-3 hours for your visit to the museum, and get your tickets beforehand – available through this link

PRICE: US$8/adults; US$5.50/children, students, pensioners

13. Catch a Motor Racing Event

Four motorcyclists race closely around a bend on a track, leaning into the turn. The lead rider is followed closely by three others. The background shows a wall and racing lines on the track.

If it so happens you’re interested in cars, bikes, and racing in general, Joburg is a great destination for you. There are a couple of great spots to catch motor races in the city, and I can tell you from experience that it’s definitely worth attending one. 

The first place I’d recommend is Zwartkops Raceway, where you can attend both car and motorbike races and sign up for racing classes. Another cool thing offered at this track is car and bike testing; you can bring your vehicle and take it for a spin on the track. 

I also really like the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, an FIA-graded circuit that’s renowned for the Kyalami 9-hour race. This was also the location of the Joburg Grand Prix, so it’s quite an attractive destination. 

PRICE: varies depending on the event

Getting there: the Zwartkops Raceway and the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit are both outside the Joburg city limits, a 30-min and a 1-hour drive away, respectively. The best way to get to either of these racetracks is to drive there, so renting a car is a good idea. 

14. Explore Keyes Art Mile

People walking up the stairs towards a modern, multi-story building with large glass windows and black exterior. Sculptures are displayed along the pathway and stairs. Trees and blue sky in the background.

Keyes Art Mile is a Joburg development that functions as an art center, hosting many art galleries, but also design stores, coffee places, and restaurants. Many of the art galleries offer free entry, and you can experience art from many local and international artists. 

Any time is a good time to visit, but if you happen to be in the city on the first Thursday of the month, you absolutely have to stop by Keyes Art Mile. The so-called ‘Keyes Thursdays’ involve exhibitions at several galleries, live music by the sidewalk, and, of course, good food and delicious drinks. 

The Everard Read Gallery is South Africa’s oldest commercial art gallery and a must-visit for all art lovers. Right alongside, you’ll find Circa Gallery, the oldest private gallery, particularly popular for its impressive architectural design.  And if you’re looking for good dinner spots in the area, I’d recommend the Marble Restaurant (map), a rooftop restaurant serving craft cocktails.

Some other galleries you should put high on your priority list include the Wits Art Museum, the Goodman Gallery, Gallery MOMO, and Kim Sacks Gallery.

PRICE: free 

15. Head to Linden for Some Delicious Food

A bread bowl filled with a meat stew, topped with diced onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, is served on a plate.

Linden is a Johannesburg suburb, one of the oldest and prettiest suburbs in the city. What once was a farming community has now transformed into a foodie haven, so if you’d like to try a variety of different (and delicious) dishes, you have to make the trip to Linden. 

There are plenty of amazing food spots in Linden, and I know how difficult it can be to choose one, so I created a list with all of my favorite places to eat in the neighborhood: 

  • The Whippet – one of my go-to breakfast spots after a morning yoga class; they serve the most amazing French toast. 
  • The Argentinian – yet another fantastic breakfast place with great croissants
  • The Fat Zebra – a hip spot where you can have everything from pizza to barbecue
  • Brian Lara Rum Eatery – a chill place with a Caribbean vibe and the best cocktails
  • Satori – a great Italian place serving staple foods like pizza and pasta
  • Choo Choo Junction – a truly incredible restaurant offering daily specials and a great variety of different cuisines

16. Attend a Creative Workshop

author of the post in a black shirt and apron is smiling while painting a small object at a table in a decorated indoor setting.

One of the best things to do when you visit a new place is learn something new – at least, that’s how I feel. And what better way to learn new things and acquire new skills than attending a creative workshop? Joburg offers many different and cool workshops, and I can assure you it will be a fun memory from your trip. 

The Creatory is my first choice when it comes to exploring new workshops and classes; the variety they offer is astounding. You can check out the full offer on their official website (and buy workshops tickets, too), but expect to find everything from watercolor painting classes and paint-and-sip workshops to drawing experiences and pottery workshops. 

I recently did a Mexican skull ainting evening with them and it was phenomenal. I had so much fun, it was super well organized and everything was of such a high quality. I honestly cannot recommend it enough.

PRICE: US$18 to US$42

17. Check Out a Weekend Market

author of the post stands in a colorful installation with hanging ribbons in various shades, including blue and pink, while sunlight filters through.

Weekend markets are a big deal in Johannesburg, and for plenty of good reasons — they sell stunning crafts, offer delicious food, and, most importantly, support small businesses and local creatives. Visiting the weekend markets is a great opportunity to get a taste of local life and also go home with some unique souvenirs. 

Without further rambling, here’s a list of my favorite Joburg weekend markets:

  • Rosebank Market – this market takes place every Sunday in the parking lot of the Rosebank Mall and offers local crafts, great food, and live entertainment
  • Linden Market – you can only visit this market 3 times a year – there are Winter, Summer, and Festive markets that take place over a weekend; for exact dates, check the market’s official website
  • Field & Study Market – a market taking place on the 2nd Saturday of every month between March and December, but check their site for exact dates
  • Kamers Market – if you’re in town when this market is on (check the website), it’s an absolute must-see – the very best market in South Africa, IMO. It provides some great photo ops, and it’s got clothes, gifts, art, food, South African gin, and even furniture

PRICE: free; US$2.50 at Linden Market

18. Catch a Rugby Match at Ellis Park

Aerial view of a cityscape featuring multiple sports stadiums, surrounding buildings, and a clear sky.

Rugby is like a religion in South Africa – it’s definitely one of the most popular sports in the country, and I highly recommend going to see a rugby game during your visit to Joburg. 

Lions Rugby is Johannesburg’s professional rugby team, and you can catch one of their home games at Ellis Park Stadium (map). All the upcoming games and tickets are available on this webpage, so you can see what’s coming up, buy your ticket, and see what’s the deal with rugby and South Africans. 

FUN FACT: Ellis Park hosted the final game of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, in which South Africa triumphed over New Zealand and became the world champion. 

PRICE: US$2-US$145

19. Go on a Shopping Spree

author of the post sits at a marble table in a café, with a coffee and small pastries in front of her. The café has a pink decor and other patrons can be seen in the background.

I love shopping in Joburg! There are plenty of great shopping centers offering everything from designer brands to fast food joints, so exploring a mall is a good way to spend the day. Below, I’ve listed my top 3 choices for shopping here:

  • Rosebank Mall (map) – my go-to mall, with many fashion outlets and an artisan market
  • Mall of Africa (map) – a large shopping center where you can get designer brands
  • Sandton City (map) – a posh mall offering designer goods and gourmet restaurants

TIP: while at Sandton City, you can check out Nelson Mandela Square and snap a photo with the Nelson Mandela Statue (map) – it’s right in front of the mall! 

If you’re looking for a great place to grab a bite, you have to check out E&LN London at Mall of Africa. It’s a super Instagrammable spot with incredible food and delicious drinks.

20. Spend a Night Dancing in Babylon

A crowded nightclub with people dancing and raising their hands, colorful lights and a screen in the background displaying an image.
photo credit: @babylonthejoburgbar

Most of the things I’ve recommended so far are best experienced during the day, and I know some of you are looking for something to do at night. So, if you want a fun night out, it’s always a good idea to go dancing

One of the best spots to go dancing is Babylon The Joburg Bar (map), a gay club with a vibrant atmosphere. Right next door to it, you’ll find Beefcakes (map), a restaurant that puts on drag shows – this is also a fun way to spend your night. 

Other cool nightlife spots are Sognage (map), a live music venue that puts on many cool shows, and And Club (map), a great nightclub. Finally, if you want to find some other events in the city, you can see what’s coming up on this website

PRICE: entry fee depends on the club

21. Treat Yourself to Some Destruction Therapy in a Rage Room

A metal container wall with the text “DESTRUCTION THERAPY: ENGAGE THE RAGE” and graphics depicting a bearded skull, comic-style "RAGE!" and "WRECK IT!" slogans.

If you’re looking for something more unusual to do during your trip to Johannesburg, I’d recommend visiting a rage room and trying out destruction therapy. Basically, you get to smash things and let all the bad feelings out of your system– in a controlled environment! 

I’ve tried this with some of my friends, and it was a lot of fun! Although it took me a while to start smashing things, once you get into it, it’s really, really satisfying. We went to this place, so I can recommend it from personal experience. 

However, if you don’t want to smash things – I totally get it! The rage room also offers other forms of destruction therapy, such as axe throwing, a splatter room (you get to throw paint on a wall), and even kid-friendly rage rooms. 

PRICE: US$10/person

22. Plan Some Fun for the Whole Family

Three children equipped with harnesses navigate a treetop adventure course amid tall trees. One climbs a rope net, one is on a platform, and another crosses a bridge.
photo credit: @acrobranchza

Are you Visiting Johannesburg with kids and looking for some fun family activities? Well, I’ve got you covered — and I’ll recommend some of the best things to do in the city as a family. 

  • Acrobranch – this zipline and obstacle course is situated in the Melrose Arch area and is great for kids and adults alike. Lots of fun if you’re looking for outdoor activities! 
  • Total Ninja – the largest inflatable and obstacle course in Africa and the best place if you want to squeeze in a workout activity during your vacation. 
  • Jozi X – an adventure center offering fun activities like parkour, nerf wars, bubble soccer, and more! 
  • Happy Island – the largest water park in Joburg and a great sport for water adventures

PRICE: US$20-US$40/person; the price varies depending on the activity you choose

23. Have the Ultimate Photo Experience at Dreambox

A person in red shorts and a black jacket poses in front of a wall with the word "DREAMBOX" and colorful fringed decorations. The caption reads: "Take your photoshoot to the next level #dreamboxza".
photo credit: @dreambox_za

My final recommendation goes out to Dreambox, an interactive photo experience that’s extremely fun! Situated at Prison Break Market, this photo studio features some very unique (and fun) installations where you can take the best photos. Although I haven’t been yet, Dreambox is very high on my to-do list! 

If photos and social media are something you’re interested in, you should also check out InstaNation, a so-called ‘social media playground’ that also offers interactive installations so you can snap the best pics to boost up your Insta feed. 

PRICE: Dreambox: US$9/hour per person; InstaNation: US$78/hour for up to 7 people

🏛️ Best museum:Apartheid Museum
🎢 Top paid attraction:Gold Reef City Theme Park 
🚶🏽‍♂️ Best free activity:Keyes Art Mile
👧 Best attraction for kids:Acrobranch
🕺 Nightlife:Parkhurst or Linden
🥟 Must try food:Umleqwa

Where to stay in Johannesburg

If you need a place to stay during your trip to Johannesburg, these are the best hotels for you in each price category, all in a central location and with stellar reviews. But in case you want to have more options, take a look at my detailed guide on the best places to stay in Johannesburg

A collage of hotels in Johannesburg: a restaurant with wooden ceiling decor and greenery, a living area with a gray sofa and balcony, and a bedroom with large windows and a cozy bed.

Luxury (US$220 and up)

  • voco Johannesburg Rosebank – this 5-star hotel offers many luxury amenities, such as room service, airport transfers, concierge services, and more. Guests will also enjoy a full English/Irish breakfast and make use of the fitness center. 
  • Sandton Sun and Towers – an upscale hotel with spacious rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant serving food prepared from local, seasonal ingredients, and a state-of-the-art business suite. 

Mid-range (US$150 – US$220)

  • Home Suite Hotels – located in the Rosebank neighborhood, this hotel provides free Wi-Fi, parking, and access to a meeting room for business travelers. It also has a pool available to all guests — free of charge! 
  • Davinci Hotel – this amazing hotel features an infinity pool, a full-service spa, a gym, and a gourmet restaurant serving sushi and European dishes. The hotel rooms are spacious and air-conditioned, with contemporary black-and-white decor. 

Budget (up to US$150)

  • Easy Stay – The Vantage – within walking distance of the Rosebank Mall, this budget-friendly aparthotel hotel offers accommodation in units featuring a seating area, a bedroom, and a full kitchen. 
  • Mint Hotel 84 – offering luxury services at a very affordable price, the hotel boasts 2 swimming pools, 2 restaurants, a bar, and a hot tub, and also offers its guests a choice of wellness packages. 

Practical Information about Visiting Johannesburg

A panoramic aerial view of Johannesburg with a focus on Hillbrow Tower amidst the urban skyline under a sunlit sky

In this section, I’ll quickly go through some practical tips for your trip to Johannesburg so you can have the most pleasant time in this amazing city I call home. 

  • Join a guided tour whenever you can: Johannesburg is a large city, and it can be confusing to newcomers, so whenever you see an opportunity to join a tour with an experienced guide, go for it. It’s also a lot safer this way.
  • Know the currency: South Africa’s official currency is the South African Rand (ZAR), and R1 is worth approximately US$0.05, so don’t be surprised when you see prices expressed in hundreds or even thousands – it’s not that expensive. 
  • Dress accordingly: summers in South Africa (from December to March) can get very hot, so make sure to pack some lighter clothes. 
  • Practice vigilance: Safety is a concern in Johannesburg (especially at night). So please be vigilant. Rather avoid carrying valuables on you and be conscious of the environment around you. All of the activities I’ve recommended are completely safe.

How to Get Around Johannesburg

A street scene in Soweto with vehicles and pedestrians. In the background, two decorated cooling towers are visible, surrounded by residential buildings and trees.

Now, a very important aspect of staying in Joburg – getting around! The following sections cover all the different ways you can get around the city. Once you know your options, you can decide how to get around. 

By far the best way to get around is by renting a car. But other options include:

Public Transport

The public transport in Johannesburg is not (yet) as developed as in some other major cities around the world. However, there are a couple of good options available:

  • Gautrain – this is a high-speed rail that operates along several stops in the city. It’s fast and convenient, and cheaper than taxis or ride shares. More information about timetables and the Gautrain card are available on their official website
  • Buses – the only buses I’d recommend are Gautrain buses that provide transportation services around Johannesburg, but I haven’t tried them myself. 

Uber/ Bolt

Ride-sharing apps, like Bolt or Uber, are the best options for getting around in Joburg since they are widely available throughout the city and allow someone to follow along your journey. And the price estimates change depending on the destinations, so you’ll know you’re not being overcharged for your trip. 

All about SIM Cards

A Vodacom store in a shopping mall with a glass entrance, promotional displays, and signs stating "Pay Here" and "Here to Help." Customers are seen interacting with staff inside.

Whenever you’re in a new place, you want a functional phone that allows you to make phone calls and use the Internet. Well, you can get that by purchasing a SIM card as soon as you arrive in South Africa, and here are some of the options:

  • travSIM – this operator offers prepaid travel SIM cards that will provide you with a local number as well as Internet access for 14 days. Different packages are available, and the price varies depending on which one you choose; for example, 100 minutes of calls and 14GB of Internet will cost you US$28 – valid for 2 weeks! 
  • Vodacom – offering travel SIM bundles, the operator offers packages that are valid for 30 days, plus free international calls! The cheapest bundle costs US$15, while the most expensive one is priced at US$36. 
  • Airalo – this is an eSIM provider and my personal favorite; it provides coverage throughout the country and offers packages with different validity periods and Internet coverage, with prices ranging from US$4.50 to US$26. 

Both of these are great options, but if you’re looking for something more affordable and don’t want to use a lot of mobile data, Vodacom is the better choice. However, if having internet access is more of a priority, then travSIM and Airalo are by far better. 

FAQs about things to do in Johannesburg

Two large cooling towers adorned with vibrant murals depicting various cultural and historical scenes. The towers stand in a grassy field with some industrial structures visible in the background.

🪙 What is Johannesburg best known for?

Johannesburg is best known as the ‘City of Gold’ because the city was founded after gold was discovered here in 1886. Joburg has a long history in gold mining and production, and the city is surrounded by the biggest gold mines in the world. 

💯 Is it worth visiting Johannesburg?

Yes, Johannesburg is definitely worth visiting. The city has so much to offer, from important historical landmarks and museums, such as the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, to various fun activities, including Gold Reef City Theme Park and safari day trips. 

👟 What should I wear in Johannesburg?

There is no particular dress code in Joburg. If you’re visiting in summer, bring some light and comfortable clothes and be sure to bring your walking shoes with you since there’s so much to explore. 

🙅 Is it safe to walk the streets of Johannesburg?

Unfortunately, walking in Johannesburg is not very safe. I would advise you not to walk alone, especially at night, and steer clear of poorly lit areas. Don’t wander away from the central city areas, and don’t keep your valuables in sight. 

🚶🏽 Is Johannesburg a walkable city?

Johannesburg is a very large city and it’s not at all walkable, you’ll definitely need a set of wheels to get around. 

📅 How many days do you need in Johannesburg?

For your Joburg trip, I’d recommend 4 to 5 days, which should be enough time to see the top attractions and try a good portion of the activities recommended in this post. 

🆓 What are some free things to do in Johannesburg?

One of the best things to do in Joburg, free of charge, is explore Keyes Art Mile; this district abounds with art galleries, and many of them offer free entry, so you can spend an entire night being entertained without spending a single buck. 

Final thoughts on things to do in Johannesburg

The skyline of a city at dusk.

We’re at the very end of my guide on the top things to do in Johannesburg! There’s so much to see and do here I could barely limit myself to recommend these 23 activities. I wanted to include something for each type of traveler, and I’m confident you’ll find something to your liking on this list. 

If you’re already sure about what you want to do on your trip to Johannesburg, you can start buying tickets and booking experiences in advance so you can have a worry-free stay in the city. 

Hopefully, this was helpful, but if you have any other questions about things to do in my hometown, leave them in the comment section below, and I’ll be happy to get back to you with the answers! 

Enjoy your time in Joburg, 

Kathryn


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people walking on a pavement towards the entrance of a exhibition centre

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collage of 2 images with: Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel and the SOWETO TOWERS

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