Johannesburg – South Africa’s biggest city and commercial epicentre. Also known as Jozi, Joburg, or Egoli (City of Gold in Zulu), it began as a gold-mining settlement in the 19th century.
There is more to this cosmopolitan city than shopping. If you are visiting Johannesburg, or on a staycation in the city, here is a list of family-friendly things to do in greater Johannesburg and the surrounding area. However even if you don’t have kids with you, you will still enjoy them. I have written about several of these places before – individually - but as lists are more concise and easier to access, I have compiled them below.
This is a great way to see the highlights of Johannesburg if you are visiting the city for the first time. However, even if you have stayed here all your life, you can see the city from a different perspective and learn things about the city you never knew. Many of the attractions listed here are stops on the tour. The bus also has a Soweto extension, which I would highly recommend.
Read more here.
Book tickets here.
This is South Africa’s only theme park. Located on an old gold mine, it has over 30 rides catering for different age groups. You can also watch a 4D show, visit an underground mine, witness a gold pouring demonstration and much more.
Read more about Gold Reef City.
Book tickets here.
Sci-Bono is an interactive science centre where scientific concepts are explained with colourful and interactive gadgets, devices and experiments. Kids are encouraged to experiment to their heart’s content. Special exhibitions are often hosted at the museum.
Read more about Sci-Bono.
Although I am not a fan of animals in captivity, not everyone can afford to go on a safari. And zoos have some educational value, especially for children, as long as the animals are taken care of well. The Johannesburg Zoo is a fun and educational outing, especially with younger children.
Read more about the Johannesburg Zoo..
Fun Fact: 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?
One of South Africa’s ten National Botanical Gardens, the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are the best place to get back to nature in Johannesburg. It boasts a waterfall and a breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles.
Read more about the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens..
This is a popular picnic and recreation area surrounding a lake. You can row boats and feed the ducks. There are on-site restaurants and kids' playgrounds too.
Hiking may not be something one would expect in a busy city but Johannesburg does have one of the biggest man-made forests in the world. There are several reserves where one can hike in and around Johannesburg like Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve and Modderfontein Nature Reserve, which have natural springs, dams, grassland and hills. Most of these reserves also have wildlife so you can do some game-viewing while you hike.
These sprawling gardens border the Emmarentia Dam. Among its features are a rose garden, a Shakespeare-inspired garden and a Huguenot memorial. You can rent canoes, watch the ducks and have a picnic.
The Nizamiye Mosque is a smaller replica of the Selimiye Camii mosque in Turkey. It is the largest mosque in the Southern hemisphere. The mosque complex also contains a Turkish restaurant, museum and bakery. Entrance is free and guided tours are available.
Read more about Nizamiye Mosque..
The Apartheid Museum illustrates what life was like for South Africans under apartheid. Every South African, and visitor to South Africa, should visit this museum at least once to understand what our nation has been through and why our current achievements mean so much more.
Read more about the Apartheid Museum..
Book tours here.
Liliesleaf Farm is a heritage site which played a vital role in the fight against apartheid. This is where incriminating evidence was found, which led to the Rivonia trialists, including Nelson Mandela being arrested and convicted.
Read more about Liliesleaf Farm..
No 8115 Vilakazi Street in Soweto is one of the most important Mandela sites in South Africa. It was the house of Nelson and Winnie Mandela from 1946 until the 1990’s. The house is now a museum containing memorabilia belonging to the Mandela family.
Constitution Hill is a former prison and military fort where world-renowned heroes including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were imprisoned.
Read more about Constitution Hill.
This is South Africa's largest land transport museum. It has a large collection of vintage transport dating back to 400 years ago! There are some quirky vehicles too, like this orange-inspired one.
Johannesburg might be the last place you would expect to find a Victorian house but there is one and it is fascinating. The owner Katharine Love, who still lives there will give you a tour and you can enjoy a high tea once you’re done.
Read more about Lindfield House..
Get lost in a literary labyrinth at the largest used and rare bookshop in Africa, and possibly in the Southern Hemisphere. With over two million books spread over eight floors, it is a sight to behold.
Read more about The Collectors' Treasury.
Visit the Top of Africa, on the 50th floor of Carlton Centre - the tallest building in Africa - for the best panoramic views of Johannesburg.
This is one of the richest fossil sites in Africa. You can explore ancient caves and marvel at the interesting discoveries. The well-designed visitors’ centre is an attraction on its own.
Read more about Maropeng and the Cradle of Humankind..
Book a day trip here.
1. ABSA Money Museum
Learn about the history of South African money at the Absa Money Museum. They have a collection of different forms of money used in South Africa dating back to 4500 Years ago..
2. Johannesburg Planetarium
This was the first full-sized planetarium in Africa. They have regular shows on space.
3. Origins Centre
The Origins Centre is home to an extensive collection of palaeo-anthropological and archaeological materials, including rock art and fossils.
4. The Adler Museum of Medicine
Learn about the history of medicine at The Adler Museum of Medicine, home to over 40 000 objects that illustrate the history of medicine and dentistry through the ages.
5. Orlando Towers
Originally the cooling towers of a decommissioned coal-fired power station, the Orlando Towers are now an extreme sports adventure site. Attractions include the world’s first bungee jump between two cooling towers and the world’s highest Suspended Catch Air Device (SCAD) Freefall.
6. Satyagraha House
Visit the former home of Mahatma Gandhi. He stayed there from 1908 to 1909.
7. Kromdraai Gold Mine
Tour one of the oldest gold mines in Johannesburg and get a feel of what it was like to be a gold miner in the 19th century.
8. Happy Island Waterworld
This is one of Johannesburg's newest attractions. This aqua adventure park is home to the two largest wave pools in Africa.
9. The Joburg Theatre Complex
Local and international productions are held here for children and adults.
10. FNB stadium
11. Hashtag Escape
This is one of Johannesburg's most popular escape rooms. It offers players three distinct experiences - the widest selection available in Johannesburg. Players have to work in teams to uncover clues and solve puzzles within a limited period of time.
Stroll through Maboneng and explore its markets and other attractions..
13. Weekend Markets
Visit the weekend markets.
14. Explore Hartbeestpoort
15. Bill Harrops Balloon Safaris
Floating in a hot air balloon over a scenic valley as the sun rises is a magical bucket-list experience.
16. Pretoria / Tshwane
Visit Pretoria / Tshwane, South Africa's administrative capital and explore Pretoria's attractions.
17. Wild Waters Waterpark (1 Margaret Avenue, Bardene, Boksburg)
18. Pines Resort Waterpark (2 Ivan Smuts Avenue, Silverfields, Krugersdorp)
19. Indoor Trampoline Parkz (Fourways, Waterfall, Bedford Gardens and Clearwater)
20. GOG Lifestyle Park (Plot 126, Nietgedacht 535-Jq, Krugersdorp)
21. PWC Bike Park (1A Libertas Street off Sloane Street, Bryanston, Sandton)
22. Jozi-X Adventure Sports centre (Sloane Street, Bryanston, Sandton)
23. Hyto Tyto Playground (Black Korhaan Drive, Olifantsfontein 410-JR, Olifantsfontein)
24. A-maze-ing Mazes (82 Boland Road, Zandspruit 191-Iq, Johannesburg)
25. Monte Casino Bird Park Montecasino (1 Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways, Johannesburg)
26. The War Museum (22 Erlswold Way, Saxonwold, Johannesburg)
27. Ice Skating (Northgate Shopping Centre, Northumberland Avenue, North Riding, Johannesburg)
28. Tenpin Bowling (The Zone, Rosebank and Montecasino)
29. Adventure Golf (Hillfox, Fourways, Stoneridge and Randburg)
30. Acrobranch (Melrose and Huddle Park)
31. Go Ape -Aerial Forest Park (Corner Valley Road & Johannesburg Road, Modderfontein)
32. City Rock -Climbing Gym (46 Fourth Ave S, Fontainebleau, Johannesburg)
33. World of Golf (Maxwell Drive, Waterval 5-Ir, Midrand
34. Crazy Kids Farmyard (9 Daniel Street, Daniel Brinkpark, Randburg)
35. Black Ops Laser Tag (28 Samantha Street, Strydompark, Randburg)
36. Art Jamming - Fun with art ( Melrose Arch Shopping Centre and Bedford Centre)
37. RollEgoli -Roller skating rink (296 Main Rd, Bryanston, Sandton)
38. Monkey Sanctuary (R104 Old Rustenburg Road, Zandfontein, Hartbeespoort)
39. Elephant Sanctuary (R104 Hartebeespoort)
40. Lion and Safari Park (R512 Pelindaba Road, Hartbeespoort, Broederstroom)
What are your favourite things to do in Johannesburg ? Let me know below.
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Things you must do in South Africa