Welcome to Johannesburg – South Africa’s second largest city, and arguably, its beating heart. Friendly, welcoming and always changing, it’s home to exciting business developments and vibrant cultural districts in equal measure. Urban renewal has taken on a whole new meaning here – in fact, Mabonengon in the east of the inner city is considered one of the most successful urban renewal projects in the world.
You’ll find it easy to become immersed in history when you visit Johannesburg. The Apartheid Museum unravels Africa’s complex history in fascinating detail – not just through politics, but through music and the arts, too. Be sure to set aside a good few hours to take it all in. Then, there’s the Hector Pieterson Museum, which commemorates the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid. It’s located in Orlando West, Soweto, two blocks away from where Hector Pieterson was shot and killed in 1976.
You can also head to the South Western Townships. Tours often include stops at Nelson Mandela House – a must-see. Its official name is the Nelson Mandela National Museum, and it was Nelson Mandela’s home from 1946 to 1962. The museum was declared a National Heritage Site in 1999, and is just a short walk from Tutu House, the home of Desmond Tutu. Don’t miss the world-class Origins Centre, either. This museum will teach you all about the African origins of humankind. You’ll also discover a truly captivating collection of rock art, which reveals some of the earliest images created by humans.
There seems to be an endless supply of culture and history here, but there are also plenty of things to do in Johannesburg for fans of more modern attractions. For a great night out with a unique twist, head away from the other tourists to the suburb of Melville. Unlike the surrounding areas, it boasts restaurants, bars and shops on the streets, rather than inside shopping centres – ideal if you’re keen to take in local life and soak up some sun at the same time.
If art is your thing, pay a visit to the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), located in the heart of the city’s business district. Peruse art by everyone from Picasso to Monet, in over 15 exhibition halls. The art collection here is so extensive that you’ll only find 10% of the works on display at any one time.
As a city of vast, glittering shopping centres, Johannesburg is also a great place for a spot of retail therapy. Start with Killarney Mall – it was the first shopping centre opened in the city, back in 1961. The reason it beats the rest? It’s understated, eclectic and sophisticatedly modern. You won’t just find big chains here, but independent boutiques and specialist stores – perfect if you like something a little different.
Ready to discover even more of Jo’burg’s hidden charms? Book a hotel in Johannesburg with Marriott and today and get ready for a unique travel experience.