Johannesburg is a rich cultural South African city that, given the right precautions taken by visitors, can offer a lot to visitors who look past the sensational tabloid stories to discover the hidden beauty in the city.
This museum/historical site located in Soweto was the home of famed humanitarian icon Nelson Mandela for about two decades in the mid-20th century. It celebrates South Africa’s first black president, and its display pieces give the cultural context that led to this momentous event.
Most strikingly, perhaps, the house still features real bullet holes and damage from Molotov cocktails, highlighting the violence that Mandela faced for his activism.
Another important political landmark, Constitution Hill featured a former prison for political dissidents as well as, in modern times, the Constitutional Court, the highest judicial office in the land. Nelson Mandela, among many other freedom fighters in South Africa, was held in the notorious prison during the struggle for civil rights in the fledgling nation.
Maboneng an ultra-trendy hotspot for art enthusiasts, hipsters, collectors, and casual tourists looking for interesting nightlife. Carlton Centre is arguably the best destination for arts and crafts where sellers offer pieces unique to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tours are available, but the district is also a great place to simply wander around on a lazy afternoon and take in the sights.
This is another trendy area northwest of Johannesburg, perhaps not as opulent or heavily trafficked as Maboneng Precinct. Melville has been described as “Bohemian” because of its low-key character and the famous unpretentiousness of the locals. Tourists are often surprised at how hospitable and welcoming the residents of this quaint town are, and how relaxing the entire vibe is.
For upscale shopping, slick architecture, and great eateries, this converted mixed-use industrial space is a great place to take the family. The Salvation Café seems to receive tons of raving reviews from satisfied visitors, so after some window shopping head there for dinner.
Travel Tips for Johannesburg
The city’s reputation for crime, although greatly exaggerated, still has some merit. There are many poor people in the enormous population of 10 million, and offenses such as theft and robbery still remain possibilities, no matter how remote.
The best ways to avoid any issues are mostly common sense, such as to always have a clear plan, to know where you’re going, and to stay aware of your environment.