Guest posted by TrekBible
Johannesburg, South Africa, affectionately called Jo’burg, is a vibrant city with much to offer its visitors from history to arts and culture and outdoor fun. One of the world’s greenest cities, Jo’burg has a huge man-made urban forest with around six million trees. Tourists can board a Gautrain train or bus and take fascinating guided tours, enjoy scenic vistas, and find wildlife adventures not far from the city’s borders. Following are some of Johannesburg’s top tourist sites you don’t want to miss.
Gold Reef City
Jo’burg was built on the gold mining industry, and that history is celebrated at the Gold Reef City theme park with attractions like the heart-pounding Tower of Terror. This thrilling ride is an old gold mine head turned into a free fall ride. See spectacular views of the city aboard the Jozi Express roller coaster. There’s a special section for the kids, and multiple water rides. Everyone will enjoy gold panning and mine tours. Gold Reef City is open Wednesday through Sunday all year and on a Monday or Tuesday if it’s a public holiday (except Christmas).
Get another perspective on history at the nearby Apartheid Museum. Experience the Apartheid through informative exhibits that include newspaper clippings, film footage, and chilling personal accounts. Hanging nooses represent government opponents. The nation’s former segregation is demonstrated with separate museum entrances for blacks and whites. The interactive exhibits are sobering and heart- breaking but necessary to truly understand South Africa’s struggles throughout history. The museum is open everyday except on Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Located in the Orlando West section of Soweto, the Mandela House was Nelson Mandala and his first wife’s home in 1946. The house was built in 1945. Mandela lived there after his marriage ended, and his second wife joined him in 1948. Because of Mandela’s involvement in the anti-apartheid movement, he was forced to leave his home to evade government authorities. It would be 1990 before he returned. However, he left after 11 days to move to a more secure home. The quaint brick structure was converted into a museum. Visitors can see nostalgic family belongings, awards, certificates, and photos. You can even see bullet holes and fire damage from police raids back in the time of turbulence. The Mandela House is open Monday-Friday except on Christmas and Good Friday.
Montecasino Bird Gardens
Travel 19 miles from the city for this popular family attraction. The lush gardens of the Montecasino Bird Gardens are home to 60 species of brightly colored birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Stroll the lovely grounds, feed the birds, and view an informative bird show in the amphitheater. Past visitors rave about the friendly staff, bird show, and reasonable entrance fee. You can have lunch at the Flamingo Cafe, and there is a playground for kids. This attraction is open daily.
South African National Museum of Military History
History buffs and military enthusiasts will enjoy this museum of military exhibits. You’ll see everything from military vehicles to Anglo-Boer War paraphernalia. The one that will impress you the most is the military aircraft collection with planes like a Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk 50 carrier-borne strike airplane and a Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter jet. This museum also has kid-appropriate displays and is conveniently close to the city zoo. Visit the museum any day except Good Friday, Christmas Day, and the first Sunday in September.
For more insight into South Africa’s history, be sure to visit Constitution Hill, a former prison for political prisoners and common criminals. Past prisoners include Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Visitors can explore exhibits like the Women’s Gaol museum, the Number Four museum, and the Old Fort museum. Visitors can even attend hearings at the Constitutional Court of South Africa held in the old Awaiting Trial building.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Located in Joubert Park, more than 9,000 works makes this art collection one of Africa’s largest. Exhibits include paintings, drawings, and textiles by South African and European artists from the 17th century to the present. Some of the artists featured include Monet, Picasso, Roden, Henry Moore, and South African artist William Kentridge. Sculptures are displayed in the gallery’s courtyard.
Cuddle a lion cub, walk with cheetahs, and interact with giraffes and ostriches at Lion Park less than an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Self-guided tours are allowed, or you can join a guided drive in one of the park’s vehicles. It’s a great way to have a close-up experience with African animals. You’ll see lions, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and antelopes. There are rides, jungle gyms, and jumping castles for the kids.