Johannesburg Travel Guide
Johannesburg Travel Guide
Johannesburg is Africa's most modern city. It is the thriving commercial, financial, industrial, mining, retail and business hub of South Africa. Generating 16% of South Africa's GDP, Johannesburg is one of the world's leading financial centres. Welcome to eGoli, the City of Gold!
- Gateway to southern Africa via OR Tambo International Airport
- Most modern, prosperous city in Africa
- One of the world's largest metropolitan areas
- Incorporates Randburg, Sandton, Soweto, Germiston and Midrand
- Shopping capital of Africa
- Wide choice of entertainment complexes and casinos
- Buzzing nightlife with live music venues
- Excellent sporting, golf and outdoor activities
Known by locals as Jozi, Joburg, eGoli (City of Gold) or Joeys, Johannesburg is the largest, wealthiest, most cosmopolitan and vibrant city south of the Sahara. It's where you'll most often start or end your African Safari as the gateway to Southern Africa with the continent's busiest airport, OR Tambo International.
Founded in 1888 following a gold rush, Johannesburg is the world's largest city not situated on a river, lake or ocean. It also has one of the largest metropolitan areas on the globe, incorporating Sandton, Randburg, Soweto, Germiston and Midrand. Located on South Africa's eastern plateau or Highveld, Johannesburg is 1,753 m (5,751 ft) above sea level. While not the capital city, it is the seat of South Africa's Constitutional Court.
The easiest way to get from OR Tambo International to the major nodes of Johannesburg is via the new rapid rail system, the Gautrain, which links to Rhodesfield, Modderfontein, Sandton, Rosebank and Park Station (CBD) in Johannesburg as well as Midrand, Pretoria, Centurion and Hatfield to the north. There's also an excellent network of highways and a good road system.
Johannesburg has an excellent climate. Summers are hot and long (average 27°C/79°F), with regular afternoon thundershowers. Winters are short with clear sunny days (16°C/61°F) and very chilly evenings (4.1°C/39.4°F) or below. While it does get cold in winter, snow is rare.
Top things to do and see
If you have time to spare before or after your African safari, there are loads of tours and activities to suit all tastes and all ages. Please talk to us about what you'd like to see and do, and we'll gladly advise and book your day tours.
Here are some of our favourites:
- Tour to Soweto – a glimpse into South Africa's incredibly diverse cultures
- Johannesburg Tour – overview of some of the city's landmarks and complex history
- Apartheid Museum – a testament to South Africa's turbulent past, and the indomitable spirit of its people
- Gold Reef City – theme and amusement park of Johannesburg's Gold Rush heydays with an authentic, working goldmine
- Open City Sightseeing Bus - hop-on, hop-off tourist bus visiting some of the city's main attractions
- Hot-air Ballooning – romantic wicker-basket ride over the Magaliesberg
- Maboneng Arts & Culture Precinct - a melting pot of restaurants, shops, galleries, work and play spaces, recently voted one of the Top 10 "Coolest Neighbourhoods" in the world by Forbes
- Shopping Safari – visit some of the continent's best markets and malls
- Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind – a place of origins, where mankind comes from
- Lesedi Village – experience traditional African tribal homesteads and age-old hospitality
- The Carnivore Restaurant – sample an array of game meat from wildebeest, warthog and crocodile to kudu
- Sun City and The Lost City – a kingdom of pleasure created in an extinct volcano crater, a two-hour drive away
- Pilanesberg Game Reserve – malaria-free, Big 5 game reserve near Sun City, a 2h30m drive from Johannesburg
- Magaliesberg Canopy Tour – highwire ziplining from platform to platform for breathtaking views
Johannesburg is known for its nightlife, theatres, live jazz locales and excellent cuisine. Ask your hosts or concierge for details. You'll also receive our 'Best of Johannesburg' guide when you book your safari with us.
Our take on Johannesburg
Although it has received its fair share of bad publicity over the years, Johannesburg is once again gaining media favour as a vibrant, friendly city with a rich history and diverse, fascinating culture. Johannesburg has a lot to offer and is well worth a visit.
Peermont Mondior Hotel
The elegant 4-star Peermont Mondior hotel at Emperors Palace offers you world-class business, conference and leisure accommodation. There are 150 spacious rooms and suites with a contemporary African theme, giving you a great combination of old-fashioned comfort and modern technology.
AfricaSky Guest House, OR Tambo International
Set in a quiet, leafy garden, AfricaSky is a 4-star guest house located 10 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg. It's also 10 minutes to nearby Rhodesfield Station, from where it's a further 11-minute ride on the Gautrain to the heart of Sandton. It's an ideal stopover before or after your safari or onward travel plans.
Peermont Metcourt Hotel
Contemporary convenience at its best, the 3-star Peermont Metcourt Hotel at Emperors Palace offers comfortable rooms, with quick-and-easy access from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, just minutes away. A courtesy airport shuttle runs every 15-20 minutes.
Peermont Metcourt Suites
The modern 3-star Peermont Metcourt Suites (previously the Metcourt Laurel Hotel) is situated within the exciting Emperors Palace casino and entertainment complex, only 5 minutes away from OR Tambo International Airport. A convenient, free airport shuttle service runs every 15-20 minutes.
Premier Hotel, OR Tambo International
Situated in Gladiator Street, Rhodesfield, Premier Hotel O.R. Tambo is 1.2 km from the airport and only 800 metres from the Rhodesfield Gautrain (rapid rail) station, with connections to Sandton City taking a mere 12 minutes. The hotel also offers a complimentary airport shuttle.
Radisson Blu, Gautrain Hotel, Sandton
Perfectly located opposite the Sandton Gautrain Station and the buzzing Nelson Mandela Square, Radisson Blu is an excellent stopover to enjoy the commercial hub of Sandton. About 20 minutes door-to-door (the actual train ride takes about 12 minutes, including stops) from OR Tambo International Airport, it couldn’t be easier to get to.
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4 Day Kruger Park and Panorama Route Safari
Our 4-day Kruger Park and Panorama Route Safari combines two of South Africa's most popular destinations in one affordable fully-guided tour. Go on small-group open safari vehicle game drives in the Kruger National Park and explore scenic Panorama Route highlights in an air-conditioned minibus while overnighting in comfortable, air-conditioned bungalows. Speak to us about group discounts.
5 Day Best of Kruger Safari
The popular 5-Day Best of Kruger Safari is a 4-night/5-day safari in the Kruger National Park offering open vehicle game drives with an experienced safari guide. Includes a night drive and guided bush walk. Spend two nights each at two different camps, in different areas of Kruger Park, giving you the best game-viewing opportunities. Book early to avoid disappointment!
15 Day Southern Africa Signature Safari
Our 15-Day Southern Africa Signature Safari is what we consider to be an ideal safari itinerary on a mid-range budget to see the best of Southern Africa within a limited time frame. Take in some of Southern Africa's top destinations – the spectacular Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe; Chobe National Park in Botswana; picturesque Cape Town and the Garden Route; the Kruger National Park and the famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa.