The City Sightseeing Johannesburg bus –See Joburg with fresh eyes

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Whenever I travel to a foreign country, something I always enjoy doing is taking a hop-on hop-off bus. I’ve taken the bus in New York, Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong amongst others. It’s a convenient way to see the city’s main attractions at your own pace while listening to the insightful commentary on your surroundings. I decided that it was about time I experienced it with my family, in my city, Johannesburg. So we hopped onto the City Sightseeing Bus in Johannesburg  .

We parked our car at Gold Reef City, taking advantage of the free parking for City Sightseeing Bus users and hopped on to the bus from there. Another popular boarding spot is the Gautrain Park Station from where many tourists arriving by Gautrain, board the bus.

City Sightseeing Johannesburg

Trains at Park Station

We were given bright red earphones to match the bus as we embarked. We plugged them in after finding the best seats – in the uncovered section at the top of the double-decker bus. The ear phones give you access to a whopping 15 different languages, including Russian, Mandarin, Arabic and Zulu as well as a fun kids channel. When I saw the amused looks on my children’s faces as they munched on their snacks, I knew that the kids channel was keeping them entertained. They later regaled me with stories about Nick the mynah who stole gold and Shongololo, the glow worm.

South African Holidays with kids

Gold Reef City

The Johannesburg City Sightseeing bus was launched in 2013, joining an impressive group of more than 100 major cities across six continents, including Cape Town. Even more impressive was that the Joburg bus won an award for Best New City Sightseeing Operator of the Year, in 2014, beating other contenders like Miami in USA and Cordoba in Spain.

City Sightseeing Johannesburg

Inner City Streets

We set off to explore the inner city and I learnt a few things that I didn’t know before despite having lived here most of my life. Did you know that Johannesburg is one of very few large metropolitan areas in the world not built near a sea or a major river? And that it is an incredibly high city, sitting 6 000 feet above sea level?  It is also, by international city standards, quite young, starting life in 1886 as a temporary gold-rush shanty town, not expected to last more than a decade.

City Sightseeing Johannesburg

Johannesburg view from the bus

There are 12 stops on the Joburg route. Tourists can get off the bus at any of the designated stops, explore the region at their leisure, and then catch a later bus to move to the next stop. We didn’t get off at every stop, having visited some of them before yet it was interesting to gain a better perspective on them from the bus. We wove through the streets of Braamfontein, Johannesburg CBD and Newtown and passed the stops at the Mining District Walk, Gandhi Square and the Origins Centre at Wits.

City Sightseeing Johannesburg

The Grove Braamfontein

The streets were quiet on a Sunday morning. It was a great way to see Jozi from high up, fanned by a cool breeze, and the photographic opportunities were ideal for a trigger-happy camera-hugger like myself.

City Sightseeing Johannesburg

Sculptures at Constitution Hill

Some of the popular stops were the Newtown Precinct, where the Sci-bono Museum is located, Constitution Hill, where both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were imprisoned and the Gold Reef City complex, where the theme park and the renowned Apartheid Museum are located.

James Hall Museum of Transport

James Hall Museum of Transport

We hopped off at the James Hall Museum of Transport, which we’d never been to before. Here we marvelled at the quaint vintage transport as the kids ran between the old trams from yesteryear. We also visited the Top of Africa, the 50th floor of Carlton Centre, the tallest building in Africa, where we enjoyed the best panoramic views of Johannesburg.

Joburg from the Top of Africa

Joburg from the Top of Africa

The bus has a number of value-added offerings making it a very affordable outing. There are extension tours (at an additional price) leaving for Soweto and the Maboneng district. The former leaves from Gold Reef City and the latter leaves from Carlton Centre.

City Sightseeing Johannesburg

Zebra street art in the CBD

Combo deals are available. Discounts are also offered for entrance tickets to several of the stops including Gold Reef City. There are also pensioner discounts and kids can join the online kids club which gifts them with free tickets for themselves and their friends on their birthday. Your ticket also entitles you to a 10% discount off your next City Sightseeing Bus tour anywhere in the world. Buy your ticket online. Oh, and the bus also has free wi-fi, should you need to use it while stuck in traffic.

City Sightseeing Joburg Bus

City Sightseeing Joburg Bus

Visit City Sightseeing Johannesburg for more information and to book tickets for the opportunity to see Jozi with fresh eyes.

Read about the Soweto Extension tour here.

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34 comments
Phyliss Mitch

Great, thank you very much for your articles. I’ve read your blog for a long time.

Reply
Yolandi North

Thanx for the post. We’ve been wanting to do the Joburg Bus Tour, so after reading this I’m excited to do it soon. xx

Reply
    Sara

    That’s great Yolandi. The City Sightseeing tour is a must- do in Johannesburg. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    Reply
Jennifer

Tour buses are a great way to see a city when your feet are tired.

Reply
    Sara

    I agree, Jennifer. I love to use them while travelling whenever they are available.

    Reply
Brighton17347

Outstanding post, you have pointed out some fantastic details, I also think this is a very wonderful website.

Reply
Suhaila

Wow this looks like so much fun! I really want to explore Joburg now! Thank you for sharing!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Suhaila – do come and visit Johannesburg!

    Reply
Hafsa Waseela

Thank you for this beneficial article <3 Amazing. I love travelling <3

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Hafsa Waseela. Travelling is awesome!

    Reply
Umme Hafsa

Sightseeing is soo much fun!! Never actually considered using a bus before – that would be really intriguing!

Reply
    Sara

    Umme Hafsa, the best thing about sightseeing from a double -decker open-air bus is that you have a great view of the sights without any dirty windows blocking your view 🙂

    Reply
Britdeshimummy

Such a great way to explore! I live in London and enjoyed exploring on our double decker buses whilst at uni! See and feel the real London! I love your pictures!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Britdeshimummy. I’d love to do this in London!

    Reply
umm asiya

Oh wow, looks like a great way to explore. South Africa is now on my list of must see places

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Gemma Elizabeth

I love travelling and it’s fascinating to see unstaged real-life photos of a place. I’d love to visit Joburg one day!

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Amina Edota

Masha Allah. Powerful images from your adventure… felt like I was right there with you on the trip. I’v tried it and the experience is always awesome.

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Amina. I always enjoy these trips too.

    Reply
Foz

Love the fact that they had kids entertainment. We are off to Dubai soon and planning to get on the hop on and hop off bus

Reply
    Sara

    I did it in Dubai a few years ago Fozia. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

    Reply
Karima

My youngest is always asking to go on an opentop bus!

Reply
    Sara

    You should take your kids Karima -I am sure that they will thoroughly enjoy it!

    Reply
Haya

Wow! I felt a kid explorring Johannesburg with you. I think I should also check my city out. I know very little about it.

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Haya. It’s funny how we want to travel far and wide but neglect our own backyard. I am guilty of that.

    Reply
saima faisal

Beautiful post with beautiful images as usual… I love the way the colors pop out of your pics making them look like out of fairy tale books.. so enchanted and magical looks the environment MashaAllah, Allah is Great!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Saima. I love taking photos!

    Reply
Jameela

That’s a great idea! I should hop onto my local sightseeing bus and see where it takes me.

Reply
    Sara

    I think that’s a great idea Jameela! I would love to hear about your experience.

    Reply
Aaliyah

You’re right CitySightseeing Buses are such a great way to explore a city. 🙂

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    Sara

    Thanks Aaliyah. Have you used any of them?

    Reply
PJ

Great review of the “hop-on hop-off” service in Johannesburg. Having used the big red bus in so many cities, I often wondered how ours stacked up in comparision. Thanks for reviewing

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    Sara

    Thank you PJ. I asked myself the same question and I am happy to say that in my opinion, ours is world-class too.

    Reply
cat@jugglingact

Looks like incredible fun! I remember those Outspan cars ! How nostalgic

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks Rina! It was the first time I’d seen the Outspan cars – I thought that they were adorable! And I still have my mum’s old Outspan juicer!

    Reply
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