Highlights and main attractions of Johannesburg & Soweto

Many would consider Johannesburg – the largest city in the world not to be located within close distance of a large navigable body of water – to be South Africa’s pounding heart, with a constantly effervescent flow of life that gives it a sense of energy that other cities cannot match.

Combining a rich history with lively attractions and cultural venues, there is no shortage of things to do on this essential stop on your itinerary.

Where is Johannesburg?

Location and Activities

With seven official languages spoken, of which English is the most widely used – Johannesburg (or ‘Jo-Burg’ as it is often shortened to) is a truly multi-cultural city. With a population of 3.2 million people, of which the majority are formed of the country’s black residents and a large percentage in the Soweto townships. It is a loud, fast-paced and constantly evolving city punctuated with glitzy malls and soaring office towers. Whilst embracing growth and modernity, it also does not forget its apartheid past: Museum Africa, Constitution Hill, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum are all places where you can learn about the fascinating historical context of the well-documented path to political freedom.

During the apartheid Soweto was a key area as it was the centre of many political campaigns, and came to symbolise the struggle for freedom. Today it contains sites of historical importance such as Vilakazi Street, where Mandela House museum, where the great Mandela himself stayed before he was imprisoned in 1961.

Also worthy of a visit is Pretoria, which is located approximately one hour from the centre of Jo-Burg, but is a much more refined city, with grand leafy suburbs and elegant buildings. Of particular note are the Union Buildings where Mandela gave his inaugural speech when he became the President of the Rainbow Nation.

A cluster of bustling suburbs, Soweto is actually an acronym for ‘South Western Townships’ and this cultural melting pot is undoubtedly South Africa’s most vibrant and ubiquitous township.


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