Johannesburg is one of Africa’s biggest and most vibrant cities. It is the economic capital of Africa and the gateway to Southern Africa. Although not as famous as other South African destinations, there is plenty to do in Jo'burg and nearby Pretoria when on holiday in South Africa. The shopping is Southern Africa’s best and the many restaurants cater for all tastes. The nearby township of Soweto is Johannesburg’s most popular tourist attraction.
With so much to see and do, the experts at Bench have compiled a list of our Top Johannesburg sightseeing tours to help you make the most of your stay!
Johannesburg City Tour
Johannesburg is a booming, happening city and the area close to City Hall and Newtown Cultural Precinct, which has completely transformed the Market Theatre and surrounds, now forms the heart of urban revival. Visit Museum Africa, which records the continent’s fascinating history, harking back to when the first civilizations thrived. Visit the “top of Africa” at the Carlton Centre from where you would have endless views over Johannesburg and beyond, truly magnificent! Drive through some of the most picturesque and avant-garde suburbs in the country, through Johannesburgs inner city and the Newtown Precinct.
Soweto is a cluster of townships, on the south-western flank of Johannesburg and was created in the 1930s. It is the biggest black urban settlement in Africa with a rich political history. From the footbridge of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the largest on the continent, one can get a panoramic view of Soweto. Visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando West, built in memory of the people who died 16 June 1976.
The Mandela House Museum is an interesting stopover for those keen to imbibe a slice of authentic history. You can also have a glimpse of the mansion belonging to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu's house and the Sisulu residences which are all in the same neighbourhood.
Return to your hotel in the afternoon and spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
Soweto & Apartheid Museum Tour
For anyone wanting to understand and experience what apartheid South Africa was really like, a visit to the Apartheid museum is fundamental. The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own. Visit the famous Apartheid Museum and learn all about South Africa during apartheid. Beginning in 1948, the white elected National Party government implemented the policy of apartheid which turned 20 million people into second class citizens, damning them to a life of servitude, humiliation and abuse. Their liberation in 1994, with the election of Nelson Mandela, the prisoner who became president, is a climax in the saga of a nation’s resistance, courage and fortitude. The Apartheid museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of the apartheid. The exhibits have been assembled and organized by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, filmmakers, historians and designers. They include provocative film footage, photographs, text panels and artefacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga, known as apartheid. A series of 22 individual exhibition areas takes the visitor through a dramatic emotional journey that tells a sad story of a state-sanctioned system based on racial discrimination and the struggle of the majority to overthrow this tyranny.
Shrouded in myth and controversy, vibrant Soweto is a city of surprise and contrast, of emerging enterprises and of vigorous cultural interaction. This morning takes in the biggest city in Southern Africa - steeped in apartheid history. Visit the former home of Nelson Mandela as well as the houses of Winnie Mandela, Bishop Tutu. See the millionaire mansions cheek by jowl with the tin shacks of the poor.
Pretoria City Tour
The City of Tshwane is home to the Union Buildings – residence of the Presidency and his government and home to Parliament during the winter months. Pretoria is also a place of culture with a series of theatres, museums and monuments. Known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees which line its thoroughfares during certain times of year, Pretoria, or Tshwane as it is also now known, is a charming, quiet colonial-style city, with a long, often involved and always fascinating history which has molded it into its present elegant form.
The City of Tshwane is home to the Union Buildings – residence of the Presidency and his government and home to Parliament during the winter months. Pretoria is also a place of culture with a series of theaters, museums and monuments.
Visit the Paul Kruger House Museum the Voortrekker Monument, stop at the Union Buildings and drive past Church Square which was the scene of arguably the most famous political trial in South Africa's history, the Rivonia Treason Trial.
Maronpeng, Cradle of Humankind & Sterkfontein Caves
Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana, the main indigenous language in this area of South Africa.
The Cradle of Humankind is an easy drive of less than an hour from Johannesburg or Pretoria. Our ancestors have lived in this area for more than 3-million years. Visit the Maropeng Museum and witness how we evolved, learn about the species of animals that have sadly gone extinct in the last century.
Here, the Sterkfontein Caves are world famous for their fossil finds and have become a very well-known visitor destination. The Sterkfontein Caves site is home to a top restaurant, conferencing facilities, easy access to the caves themselves, modern walkways and a boardwalk past the excavation site where world-acclaimed fossils have been discovered.
A visit to Maropeng should be coupled with the Sterkfontein Caves, one of the richest and most productive Palaeo-anthropological sites in the world that forms part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.