Visiting Joburg? Don’t miss these top things to do in Johannesburg.
1. Constitution Hill
Do not leave Joburg without visiting Constitution Hill. One of South Africa’s most important historical sites, providing essential context to any visit to SA, the deeply moving exhibitions here are split across four locations: the Old Fort, which dates from 1892 and was once a notorious prison for white males; the Number Four Jail, reserved for nonwhite males; the Women’s Jail; and the Awaiting Trial Block – now mostly demolished and replaced by the Constitutional Court. Tours depart on the hour.
2. Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum illustrates the rise and fall of South Africa’s era of segregation and oppression. It uses a broad variety of media to provide a chilling insight into the horrific apartheid system, as well as inspiring stories of the struggle towards democracy. It’s invaluable in understanding the South African context, as well as the inequalities and tensions that still exist today.
3. Constitutional Court
Inaugurated in 2004, with its design based on the African concept of ‘justice under a tree’, the Constitutional Court is a very real symbol of modern South Africa. Incorporating some 150,000 bricks and the former stairwells of the Awaiting Trial Block, that was demolished after the end of apartheid, the court houses an impressive contemporary art collection. The court is open to the public.
One of Joburg’s hottest restaurants, this is luxe braai (barbecue) cuisine. Chef David Higgs and his team in the open kitchen allow the quality of meat and fish (and occasional vegetable – take a bow, cauliflower) to shine as it hits the flames. Portions are generous and service effusive.
5. Coalition Pizza
The decor of this little hole-in-the-wall eatery belie the excellence of the food on offer. Specialising in Neapolitan pizzas, the menu offers only a handful of options. The crispy pizzas are freshly made in a wood-fired oven with traditional ingredients, and will leave you wanting more!
A treasure trove of pan-African arts, crafts and interior design pieces, Amatuli is the place to head if you’re looking for anything from a Zulu headdress to kinti cloth from Nigeria, or carved masks from Madagascar. Get lost for hours on the multiple floors of this Aladdin’s Cave.
7. Collectors Treasury
The southern hemisphere’s largest bookshop is a curious affair. Some two million volumes and around half a million LP records and other collectables are piled high and scattered over nearly every crevice and corner of this multi-floor store.
8. Victoria Yards
These old brick buildings of what used to be a steam-powered laundry have been transformed recently into studios for artists and artisans. The site is being redeveloped with plenty of gardens, 95% of which includes food gardens.
9. Neighbourgoods Market
It’s mainly about eating and people watching at this two-storey brick warehouse, which fills with foodie fans every Saturday. Upstairs you can grab a bench, enjoy the DJ, watch the sun shine off city buildings and also do some souvenir shopping at a small range of fashion and gift stalls.
10. Vilakazi Street
Vibrant Vilakazi Street is the most visited street in Soweto. Home to the late former present, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who still resides there with his wife Leah. The street also has a a few museums – the Mandela House Museum and the Hector Peterson Museum.
The street itself is named after Dr. BW Vilakazi who was a poet, novelist, intellectual and the first black man to teach at the University of Witwatersrand. He had a PhD in literature which helped him compile an isiZulu dictionary. He also wrote in several indigenous languages.