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Region of Gauteng - City/Town of Johannesburg


City/Town of Johannesburg

City/Town : Johannesburg
Region : Gauteng
Country : South Africa
Continent : Africa
Population : 957,441
Area : 334.81 sq km
Latitude : 26°12′16″S
Longitude : 28°2′44″E
Visiting Johannesburg

from WikiTravel

Johannesburg (in spoken language also referred to as Joburg, Egoli or Jozi ) is South Africa's largest city.

Johannesburg has a population of 3.2 million people (South African 2001 census), half of which live in  Soweto and adjacent suburbs. The majority of the population is formed by South Africa's black residents who mostly live in  Soweto, while white residents amount to 500,000 (although the number is likely to be higher). There are also around 300,000 residents of other descent. Unlike other South African cities, no language group dominates, although English is the established lingua franca.

The city is the economic hub of South Africa, and increasingly for the rest of Africa. Although estimates vary, about 10% of sub-Saharan Africa's GDP is generated in Johannesburg. Yet the city's wealth is unequally distributed among its inhabitants causing the city to have, within its own borders, living conditions varying from first world standards to third world conditions. The contrast between rich and poor has led to one of the highest crime rates in the world. The more affluent tend to live in houses with a high level of security by western standards, whilst the less affluent live in less desirable housing conditions. Don't avoid Johannesburg because of its crime however, since it is perfectly possible to have a safe and enjoyable stay if precautions are taken. Many South Africans choose to live here over other, safer parts of the country.

There are many things that are unique to Johannesburg. It features a distinct street entrepreneurship, and motorists can buy things from vendors selling goods at traffic lights, as in many other developing-world cities. This includes food, umbrellas, soccer balls, cellular phone accessories and many other goods. Barber shops consisting of nothing but a chair and an enthusiastic barber can be found on the sides of roads, although they tend to specialize in African rather than Caucasian hair. Mine dumps can also be seen throughout the city and are a reminder of the city's legacy of gold mining. These dumps are fast disappearing as new gold extraction techniques have made it profitable for mining companies to reprocess these dumps.

With around 6 million trees, Johannesburg is most likely the world's largest man-made urban forest. The city is certainly one of the greenest in the world, considering that the natural landscape is savannah.

The weather is generally regarded as excellent; temperatures reach the mid-30s Celsius (95°F) in the summer months (Dec-Feb) with little to no wind and with occasional, spectacular afternoon thunderstorms. Temperatures in winter can drop into single digits but snow is extremely rare.


Much of Johannesburg, as in the rest of South Africa, shuts up shop at lunch times on Saturday, and doesn't reopen until Monday. This means that weekend sightseeing can be frustrating - and hence it is worth planning your weekend in advance making sure you use Saturday morning wisely. Shopping malls all stay open until at least 5pm, but art galleries, museums, independent shops will all close around 1-2pm.


  • Central Business District / CBD

The regeneration Central Business Direct accelerated in the run up to the 2010 World Cup and there are many areas of the inner city which are visitable, and the central area's poor reputation is no longer deserved. The city planners are using art as the cornerstone of the CBDs redevelopment and there are numerous galleries and art spaces popping up across the CBD. The downtown city centre is the most-visited part of Johannesburg for African tourists, particularly the traders who come to shop at Johannesburg's wholesale outlets.

Newtown and the Market Theatre area (the city's cultural precinct) is now easily accessible from the highway and Mandela Bridge and very fun; here you will find live music venues and bars too. Braamfontein - the university area - has a great Saturday market, lively night life, is very artsy. By day there's nothing here.

On the east side of the city, Main Street Life, Maboneng Precinct and Arts on Main (especially the Sunday market and The Bioscope independent cinema). Troyeville has a fantastic restaurant at The Troyeville Hotel, an art centre and all the main sport stadiums (soccer, tennis, athletics, rugby). Try also the Ethiopian restaurant "Little Addis", right next to the Bioscope Cinema (Fox str). Simple furniture, but authentic and good food, reasonable priced.

On the west side, Fordsburg is the formerly-Indian part of central Joburg and has some Indian and Pakistani restaurants, shops and markets. Good food is to be found in this neighborhood, which, by Johannesburg's standards, shows signs of street life in the evenings, and moreso on Friday and Saturday. Most places are halaal so no liquor served. The Oriental Plaza shopping mall is here and has good bargains.

In the centre of town, between Jeppe St and Bree Street at Delvers Street, look up and see the Amharic script which denotes that you are in the Ethiopian/Somali part of town - there are Ethiopian restaurants and coffee shops located in the Africa Mall and Johannesburg Mall. Best to arrive before 2 pm.

To the north east, Yeoville is known as Le Petit Kinshasa and is home to many of the Francophone african diaspora in Johannesburg. Lots of Camerounian restaurants and Congolese bars.

  • Hillbrow (Little Lagos) used to have a bad reputation but it is much improved - if you visit Constitution Hill, or Johannesburg Art Gallery, Hillbrow is right across the street, not that scary! Go for a walk to the base of the Hillbrow Tower on a Sunday morning, it's an interesting experience. Worth watching Louis Theroux's 'Law and Disorder in Johannesburg' before your visit.

- Top of Africa, Carlton Centre, 150 Commissioner St (Take the elevator from the second floor to the fiftieth), ☎ +27 (0)11 308-1331. 8AM to 7PM daily. Get a panoramic view of the city from the top of Africa's tallest building. Definitely worth a trip. Upstairs there are toilets and also a little kiosk/cafe (cold drinks etc, nothing exciting though). Rand 15,00.
- Johannesburg Art Gallery, Corner of Klein and King George streets, Joubert Park, ☎ +27 (0)11 725 3130. The biggest gallery on the African continent with a good collection of local and international work on display. And its free.  edit
- Standard Bank Gallery, Corner Simmonds and Frederick Streets, Johannesburg, ☎ +27 (0)11 631-1889, [25]. Open 8AM to 4:30PM Monday to Friday and 9AM to 1PM on Saturdays. Entrance is free. 
- Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Electric Workshop building, cnr Miriam Makeba and President street, Newtown, ☎ +27 (0)11 639-8400 (, fax: +27 (0)11 832-3360), [26]. 9AM to 5PM Mon to Fri and 9AM to 4:30PM weekends and public holidays. Adults: R20, children: R10. 
- Origins Centre - The South African Museum of Rock Art: A Museum in Africa for the people of the world. Yale Road, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein, Ph: +27 (0)11 717-4700, Daily 10AM to 5PM. Adults R75, Children R35. An excellent multimedia display of rock art and the origins of humankind. Good curio shop, book shop and coffee shop. Note: This fascinating museum is on the campus of University of the Witwatersrand ("Wits") and there is no direct access from the street: you need to enter through the campus' Yale Road entrance.

  • Northern suburbs

The Northern Suburbs are largely white and middle class to very affluent, with suburbs like Greenside, Houghton, Parktown North to Parkhurst to Killarney to Rosebank to Illovo to Melrose North, Atholl, Sandown, to Sandton to Morningside, Fourways, and Randburg being green, leafy and pleasant - and safe and comforting to first-world visitors, most have a shopping mall of some description, and some have a main street with cafes, boutiques and grocery shops.

- Johannesburg Planetarium, Yale Road, Entrance 10, University of the Witwatersrand, Milner Park, ☎ +27 (0)11 717-1392 (, fax: +27 (0)11 339-2926), [27]. See their website for upcoming shows. From Rand 16 to Rand 25, depending on show.
- South African National Museum of Military History, Erlswold Way, Saxonwold (Next to the Johannesburg), ☎ +27 (0)11 646-5513 (, [28]. Open daily 9AM to 4:30PM. A good collection of military hardware, including one of very few ME 262 jet fighters from WW2 still in existence. There is also a huge South African built G6 self propelled, 155mm howitzer on show. A snack shop as well as a shop selling genuine and reproduced vintage military equipment is located within the museum. R20 entrance fee
- James Hall museum of Transport, Pioneers' Park, Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, ☎ +27 (0)11 435-9718 (, fax: +27 (0)11 435-9821), [29]. Open Tue to Sun 9AM to 5PM. Largest museum dedicated to transport in South Africa. Free entrance.
Chérie De Villiers Gallery, Lower Level, Rosebank Mall, Rosebank, ☎ +27 (0)11 788-9949 (, [30]. Art by South African artists.

  • Soweto

Soweto is an increasingly ppular destination for travellers from around the world. Take a tour or just drive in yourself using GPS set to Vilakazi Street... the road infrastructure and signage are excellent. You can stop off at Maponya Mall and join the Sowetan middle classes as they entertain themselves with retail and movies!

- Mandela Family Museum, Orlando West, Soweto, ☎ +27 (0)11 936-7754 (, [31]. Mandela's first house, now museum.
- The Apartheid Museum, ☎ +27 (0)11 309-4700, [32]. A very moving and informative trip through South Africa's turbulent past and present. It takes at least a half day to go through and includes video, pictures and many artifacts that you can easily spend a day looking through. It is located alongside Gold Reef City and is simply a must see.
- Absa Money Museum, 187 Fox Street, ☎ +27 (0) 11 350 3003, [33]. 08.30 - 4.00 Monday - Friday. The only banking museum in the country, the Absa Museum houses a collection of various forms of money used through South African history, including cowrie shells, Venetian glass beads and gold coins recovered from sunken ships. free.