50 best things to do in Johannesburg in 2024 - A local's guide

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50 Best Things to do in Johannesburg

Looking for things to do in Johannesburg by a local ? Read on...

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 just looking for things to do 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 most of 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.

50 Best Things to do in Johannesburg

1.Ride the City Sightseeing Johannesburg Bus

Johannesburg Red City Sightseeing Bus

City Sightseeing Bus

The hop-on hop-off bus 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 Joburg from a different perspective and learn things about the city you never knew. The bus will take you to the main attractions in Johannesburg included many of those listed here. It also has a Soweto extension, which I would highly recommend.

Read more about The City Sightseeing Bus Johannesburg.

2. Liberate your inner child at Gold Reef City

The Anaconda ride at Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City

A visit to Gold Reef City is one of the most fun things to do in Johannesburg. South Africa’s only theme park, it is located on an old gold mine and 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.

3. Experiment with science at Sci-Bono

Play area at Sci-Bono Museum

Sci-Bono

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.

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?

4. Revel in nature at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

Witpoorttjie Waterfall at Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden

Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden

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.

5. Go on a spiritual journey at Nizamiye Mosque

Nizamiye Mosque in Johannesburg at sunset

Nizamiye Mosque

The Nizamiye Mosque is a smaller replica of the Selimiye Camii mosque in Turkey, and 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..

6. Step back in time at the Apartheid Museum

Entrance to Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

Apartheid Museum

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.

7. Visit a historical site at Liliesleaf Farm

House and steps at Liliesleaf Farm

Liliesleaf Farm

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..

8. See Nelson Mandela's old house in Vilakazi Street, Soweto

Mandela House in Soweto - Mandela's old house

Mandela House

Soweto is the biggest township in Johannesburg and Vilakazi Street is the only street in the world to have produced two Nobel Prize winners—Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. It is also where 13-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot dead, sparking the riots on 16 June 1976.

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. There are several other interesting places to visit in Soweto too, like the Hector Pietersen Museum.

9. Get your adrenalin pumping at Soweto Towers

Brightly painted cooling towers in Soweto, Johannesburg

Originally the cooling towers of a decommissioned coal-fired power station, the Soweto 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.

10. Experience the township vibe at the historic Alexandra Township

Alexandra Township is the oldest, and one of the most historic, townships in Johannesburg. It is also where Nelson Mandela first lived when he came to Johannesburg. Read more about Alexandra Township.

Wall art in Alexandra Township - Maboneng Township Arts Experience

Houses participating in the Maboneng Township Arts Experience, Alexandra

11. Visit a former prison at Constitution Hill

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.

Sculpture of people at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg

Constitution Hill

12. Spot wildlife at The Johannesburg Zoo

Antelopes at Johannesburg Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo

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.

13. Go hiking in Joburg's green spaces

Waterfall at Cradle Moon Game Lodge in Johannesburg

Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge

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, Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge 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.

14. Go on a boat ride at Zoo Lake

Brightly painted rowing boats in Zoo Lake, Johannesburg

Zoo Lake

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.

15. Have a picnic at  Johannesburg Botanical Gardens and Emmarentia Dam

Ducks swimming in Emmarentia Dam

Emmarentia Dam

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.

16. Discover quirky vehicles at the James Hall Museum of Transport

Outspan round orange vehicle at James Hall Museum of Transport

James Hall Museum of Transport

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.

17. Visit a Victorian house at Lindfield House

Victorian-style living room at Lindfield House in Johannesburg

Lindfield House

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.

18. Release the bookworm within you at The Collectors Treasury

Stacks of books piled up at Collectors Treasury

Collectors Treasury

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.

19. See Joburg from the Top of Africa

View of Johannesburg buildings from the Top of Africa in Carlton Centre

View from the Top of Africa

Visit the Top of Africa, on the 50th floor of Carlton Centre - the tallest building in Africa - for the best panoramic views of Johannesburg. (2024 Update - this is not currently possible.)

20. Discover ancient fossils at Maropeng and the Cradle of Humankind

Green dome of Tumulus Building at Maropeng with DNA model in front of it

Tumulus Building at Maropeng

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..

21. Unleash your inner Tarzan at Acrobranch Melrose

Acrobranch is a must for adrenalin junkies. Set in the James and Ethel Gray Park in Melrose, it is an aerial adventure consisting of zip lines, tightropes, ladders, swing bridges and other obstacles which take you from tree to tree. Your balance, strength and endurance will be seriously tested. They also have other branches around the country.

22. See the stars at Johannesburg Planetarium

The only planetarium in Johannesburg, this planetarium at Wits University was the first full-sized planetarium in Africa. They have regular shows on space.

23. Celebrate history at the Origins Centre

The Origins Centre is home to an extensive collection of palaeo-anthropological and archaeological materials, including rock art and fossils.

24. Visit Gandhi's former home at Satyagraha House

Visit Satyagraha House, the former home of Mahatma Gandhi. He stayed there from 1908 to 1909. It has now been converted into a guesthouse and museum.

25. Remember Madiba at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton is home to Madiba's post-presidential office which has been preserved as he left it when he was last in the building. It also houses a state-of-the-art archive and exhibition spaces, where you can see replicas of important items in Madiba's life and other memorabilia.

26. Get lost at Honeydew Mazes

Honeydew Mazes is a great place for a family, friends, or teambuilding outing.  They have a giant elemental maze made out of reeds and smaller mazes for young kids. In summer, they also have a maize maze. Teams are given a clipboard with riddles, which they have to answer by going through the maze and finding the randomly placed clues, as well as completing the tasks in the pretty secret gardens.

27. Enjoy live entertainment at The Joburg Theatre Complex

Local and international productions are held here for children and adults.

28. Learn about the history of medicine at The Adler Museum of Medicine

Learn about the history of medicine at The Adler Museum of Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand's Medical School Campus in Parktown. It is home to over 40 000 objects that illustrate the history of medicine and dentistry through the ages.

29. Learn about the history of South African money at the 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.

30. Tour the FNB stadium

Tour the FNB stadium where the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening and closing ceremonies were held. Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was also held here.

31. Exercise your brain at 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.

32. Stroll through the Maboneng precinct

Stroll through the Maboneng Precinct which is renowned for its artistic flair, trendy boutiques, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a hub for creativity and innovation.

33. Shop at the weekend markets

Visit the weekend markets. Some of the most popular ones are the Neighbourgoods Market at The Playground in Braamfontein, the Rosebank Sunday Market and Prison Break Market in Midrand.

34. Spot exotic birds at Monte Casino Bird Park

Monte Casino Bird Park is a vibrant avian sanctuary featuring a diverse collection of exotic bird species amidst lush gardens.

35. Learn about South Africa's military history at The War Museum

The War Museum takes you on a journey through South Africa's military history, showcasing artifacts, exhibits, and memorials dedicated to the country's involvement in various conflicts.

36. Admire the art at Johannesburg's art galleries

Johannesburg's art galleries showcase a vibrant tapestry of contemporary and traditional African art, providing a dynamic platform for both local and international artists to express their creativity.

37. Reflect on the sculptures at NIROX Sculpture Park

Situated in the Cradle of Humankind area, this park offers an outdoor art experience, featuring a diverse collection of contemporary sculptures set against the backdrop of scenic landscapes.

38. Cool down at a water park

Formerly known as Happy Island Waterworld, Mzansi Theme Park is a waterpark with a variety of pools and water slides, and an artificial beach. Pines Resort  is another popular waterpark resort.

39. Visit the largest flower market in the southern hemisphere

Multiflora is a 50,000-square-metre large flower auction and market in Johannesburg, known for being the largest flower market in Africa. Although it is a wholesaler, private shoppers are welcome to browse.

40. Go berry-picking 

Although this is a seasonal activity, there are several fruit-picking farms in and around Johannesburg where one can pick strawberries, mulberries and raspberries. It is best to call before you go to ensure that they are open.

41. Take the kids to see farm animals

Little kids love to visit farmyards where they can pet and feed animals like sheep, donkeys, bunnies and tortoises. Take them to one of these popular farmyards.

42. Tee off with friends and/or family

Johannesburg's world-class golf courses offer enthusiasts a picturesque blend of challenging fairways and stunning landscapes, making it a premier destination for golf aficionados. Practice your game at World of Golf If you prefer family-friendly golf fun, then visit Adventure Golf which has several branches.

43. Experience ice-skating

The Ice Rink at Northgate Shopping Centre in Johannesburg provides a popular indoor, recreational skating experience for families and ice-sport enthusiasts .

44. Test your skills at go-kart racing

Get your adrenaline pumping at one of several indoor cart racing venues, like Indy Kart or Randburg Raceway.

45. Go roller-skating

Roller skating enthusiasts can enjoy various rinks like Roller Skate Arenas and RollEgoli, indoor roller skating venues in a family-friendly atmosphere.

46. Explore Fordsburg's street-food scene

Fordsburg is a multi-cultural neighbourhood with a rich history, and delectable culinary offerings. Take a walk though its streets, which are lined with eateries offering a wide range of cuisines, from traditional Indian dishes such as biryanis and samoosas, to Middle Eastern delicacies like shawarmas and falafels.

47. Visit Pretoria / Tshwane for the day

Visit Pretoria / Tshwane, South Africa's administrative capital for the day and explore Pretoria's attractions.

48. Go on a day trip to Hartbeespoort 

Ride the Harties Cableway or explore the other attractions in Hartbeestpoort. Although it is in the North West province, it is close enough to Joburg to visit for the day.

49. Enjoy a weekend getaway

Go on a weekend getaway or visit one of these Big 5 game reserves near Johannesburg.

50. More fun things to do in and around Johannesburg

Visit lifestyle and activity parks like GOG Lifestyle Park, Indoor Trampoline Parkz and Jozi-X Adventure Sports Centre.

Once you've exhausted this list of things to do in Johannesburg, you can always go shopping at one of the city's world-class shopping malls like Sandton City and Fourways Mall. What are your favourite things to do in Johannesburg ? Let me know below.

See my recommended places to stay in Johannesburg.

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6 comments on “50 best things to do in Johannesburg in 2024 - A local's guide”

  1. Lovely article. I could really recommend exploring SOWETO with a local to learn about the challenges and difficulties people in the township still face today, very well to combine with the Mandela House... Also exploring the downtown is and eye-opener. We wrote about it in our posts about Jozi as we love the city. Thanks for this share! Marcella

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