9 min read

Top 20 Things to Do in Johannesburg | A Local’s Guide

Havana Dauncey
· February 2, 2024
Top 20 Things to Do in Johannesburg | A Local’s Guide

A big question for both tourists and South Africans — what is there to do in Johannesburg?

Compared to Cape Town’s mountains, beaches and endless list of outdoor activities, most people don’t think there’s much to do in Johannesburg. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Hiding under Johannesburg’s buzzing city life and thriving economic market, the City of Gold has a wealth of things to see and do so that you’ll never get bored.

Here’s the ultimate guide to the top 20 things to do in Johannesburg for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

1. Visit the Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum activities in JohannesburgBegin your journey through Johannesburg's history with a visit to the Apartheid Museum. This powerful museum provides an immersive experience, chronicling South Africa's struggle for freedom and equality with the rise and fall of apartheid. The exhibits are thoughtfully curated, offering a poignant reflection on the nation's past.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 9 am - 5 pm

  • Admission fee: R150 for adults, R100 for students, pensioners and children

2. Picnic in the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

Johannesburg Botanical Garden activitiesEscape the urban hustle and bustle by spending a chilled day at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. Pack a picnic and enjoy the serenity of this lush oasis. With over 2 000 plant species, walking paths and a picturesque dam, it's the perfect spot to unwind and connect with nature.

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They have a variety of gardens for you to peruse and enjoy:

  • The Chapel Garden

  • The Shakespeare Garden

  • The Rose Garden

  • The Herb Garden

  • Hedge Garden

And with free entrance, you don’t have to worry about breaking your budget!

3. Take a Soweto Bicycle Tour

Soweto bicycle tour activities in JohannesburgExplore the iconic Soweto township on two wheels with a guided bicycle tour. Pedal through Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world that was home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners — Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of this historic area.

Some of the popular tour companies include:

4. Explore the Cradle of Humankind

Cradle of Humankind activities in JohannesburgEmbark on a journey through time at the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sterkfontein Caves, located here, have yielded some of the most significant hominid fossils in the world. Take a guided tour to unravel the mysteries of our human ancestry.

Admission ranges between R100 - R150 to the Maropeng Centre. Additionally, you can book a tour of the area.

5. Take a Wild Ride at Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City activities in JohannesburgFor a thrilling day out, head to Gold Reef City, an amusement park built on the grounds of a former gold mine. From heart-stopping roller coasters and live performances to various dining options and interactive exhibits of the gold mines, this family-friendly attraction offers a perfect blend of history and entertainment.

Admission into the park is R250 per person for the day.

6. Hike Melville Koppies Nature Reserve

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Escape the city buzz and immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve. This ancient geological site provides hiking trails, indigenous flora and panoramic views of Johannesburg. It's an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

Entrance is R90 for adults and R50 for children. You can even go on a small guided tour on Sunday for R100 for adults and R50 for children.

7. Visit Constitutional Hill

Constitutional Hill activities in JohannesburgDelve into South Africa's constitutional history with a visit to Constitutional Hill. Once a notorious prison, it now houses the Constitutional Court. Explore the various exhibits and gain insights into the country's journey towards democracy and justice.

Admissions range from R50 - R350 but are free on the following public holidays :

  • Human Rights Day: 21 March

  • Freedom Day: 27 April

  • Youth Day: 16 June

  • Women's Day: 9 August

  • Heritage Day: 24 September

  • International Human Rights Day: 10 December

  • Day of Reconciliation: 16 December

8. Hop-On and Hop-Off Bus Tour

Hop On and Off Bus JohannesburgFor a convenient and comprehensive city tour, hop on a Hop-On and Hop-Off bus. This mode of transportation allows you to explore Johannesburg’s neighbourhoods at your own pace, hopping off at attractions that catch your eye and rejoining the tour when you're ready to move on.

All it costs is R295 per adult and R165 per child and you have the whole day to hop on and hop off.

9. Attend a Performance at the Market Theatre or Joburg Theatre

Joburg Theatre and Market Theatre activites in JohannesburgImmerse yourself in the city's vibrant arts scene by catching a live performance at the Joburg Theatre. From world-class plays to musical extravaganzas, the theatre offers a diverse range of shows to suit every taste.

Renowned for its groundbreaking productions, the Market Theatre has been a cultural hub since the days of apartheid. Check the schedule for plays, musicals and thought-provoking performances.

10. Take a Trip to Sun City

Sun City activities in JohannesburgFor those seeking luxury and entertainment, a day trip to Sun City is a must. This resort complex boasts a range of activities, including a casino, golf courses, water parks and live performances. It's a true oasis of leisure and excitement. Better yet, spend a few nights at their world-famous accommodation and enjoy everything Sun City has to offer.

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Here are some of the top things to do in Sun City

  • Swim in the Valley of a Thousand Waves

  • Try your luck at the Sun City Casino

  • Dip in the Royal Baths

  • Take a segway tour

  • View wildlife at Predator World

  • Celebrate South African culture at Motseng Cultural Village

  • Play golf at the Lost CityGolf Course and mini-golf

  • Play games around the arcade with the Magic Company

  • Get lost in The Maze

  • Dine at one of their many restaurants and bars

11. Paddle Around Zoo Lake

Zoo Lake activities in Johannesburg

Indulge in a relaxing day at Zoo Lake, where you can rent a paddleboat and meander across the serene waters. Surrounded by lush greenery, it's a perfect escape within the city limits.

Afterwards, take a bite at Moyo, a unique dining experience located at Zoo Lake. This African-themed restaurant offers not only delicious cuisine but also live music and entertainment. Try local dishes and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.

12. Explore the 44 Stanley Avenue Precinct

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Uncover hidden gems in the 44 Stanley Avenue Precinct, an industrial-chic complex filled with boutiques, cafes and art studios. It's a fantastic place to shop for unique fashion, enjoy a tasty meal or simply soak up the bohemian ambience.

13. Enjoy the Neighbourgoods Market

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Join the locals at the Neighbourgoods Market in the trendy Braamfontein district. Every Saturday, this market comes alive with food stalls, artisanal crafts and live music. It's a culinary and cultural experience rolled into one.

Here’s some important information you should know:

  • Halaal, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-free, Lactose-Intolerant, Raw and Organic food preferences are all represented.

  • Dogs are welcome, provided they are on a leash.

  • There are multiple ATMs on site, and the traders make use of contactless and card transaction platforms.

14. Visit the Mandela House

Mandela's House activities in JohannesburgPay homage to Nelson Mandela by visiting his former residence, now known as the Mandela House. The house is a humble abode of four inter-leading rooms that today contain a collection of memorabilia, paintings and photographs of the Mandela family. Even a pair of Mandela's old boots lie on a shelf for display

Gain insight into the life of the iconic leader and the role he played in shaping South Africa's history.

15. Hit the Greens with a Game of Golf

Golf courses activities in JohannesburgGolf enthusiasts will appreciate Johannesburg's world-class golf courses. Whether you're a seasoned player or a novice, tee off at one of the city's prestigious golf clubs for a day of leisure and sport.

To find some of the best golf courses in town, check out:

  • The Country Club Johannesburg

  • Eye of Africa Gold and Residential Estate

  • Glendower Golf Club

  • Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club

  • The River Club

  • Kyalami

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16. Wander Around the Maboneng Precinct

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Kick off your Johannesburg adventure in Maboneng, a thriving urban neighbourhood that encapsulates the city's artistic and entrepreneurial spirit. Graffiti-covered walls, trendy boutiques and hip cafes make Maboneng a must-visit destination. Enjoy a stroll down Fox Street, exploring local art galleries and studios, soaking in the eclectic atmosphere.

17. Bungee Jump off the Famous Soweto Towers

Bungee of Soweto Towers activities in JohannesburgFor the ultimate adrenaline rush for adrenaline junkies, head to the Soweto Towers and take the plunge of 100m with a bungee jump. This iconic experience offers not only a thrilling adventure but also unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape.

Working on a first come first served basis, taking no bookings, it only costs R580 per person.

18. Go to the Johannesburg Zoo

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For a family-friendly day out, head to the Johannesburg Zoo. Home to a diverse array of wildlife, including endangered species, the zoo offers educational programs and fun activities for visitors of all ages. The Joburg Zoo houses over 320 species of animals, totalling about 2 000 animals. The Joburg Zoo is open to the public 364 days a year, including Christmas, New Year's and Easter holidays.

Entrance fees are R120 for adults and R70 for students, children and pensioners.

19. Marvel at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Johannesburg Art Gallery activities in JohannesburgArt lovers shouldn't miss the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Home to an extensive collection of African and international art, the gallery showcases a diverse range of artistic expressions from various periods.

20. Take a trip to Pilanesburg National Park

Pilanesburg National Park activities in Johannesburg

Explore the captivating Pilanesburg National Park on exhilarating guided game drives, unveiling the wonders of the Big Five amid diverse landscapes. Journey across grasslands and woodlands, capturing iconic wildlife and vibrant birdlife.

Stay at lodges for an immersive experience, enveloped in the enchanting sounds of the African bush. This wildlife haven guarantees a truly authentic safari adventure, creating lasting memories in the heart of South Africa's untamed beauty.

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Johannesburg, with its rich history, cultural diversity and unique activities, truly has something for everyone. Whether you're a history buff, an adventure seeker or someone who simply enjoys a leisurely day out, the city's top 20 attractions provide a well-rounded experience. So, grab your itinerary, pack your sense of adventure and immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of this remarkable city.

And if you fall in love with the city so much you can’t help but move to Johannesburg, you know where to find the best movers in town — Wise Move. With Wise Move’s moving company platform, you can easily connect with South Africa’s top-rated moving services.

Get your quote from Wise Move and start your Jozi journey!

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