Great Experiences in Johannesburg & Pretoria
The economic powerhouse of Africa and the racing heart of South Africa, Johannesburg, is called Egoli (the City of Gold), in Sotho, one of South Africa's eleven official languages.
To get a feel for the heartbeat of this extraordinary country and to understand its past, you may want to spend some time getting to know Johannesburg.
Its close neighbour, Pretoria, the more restrained and stately administrative capital of South Africa, is worth a visit, especially in the South African spring (September to November) when the jacarandas are blooming, and to see the Union Buildings.
The main international airport for South Africa, the O.R. Tambo International Airport, is located just outside Johannesburg. Because the small province of Gauteng, in which both Johannesburg and Pretoria are situated, is the main transport hub for the region, this is a good starting or finishing point for a South African holiday.
We have close family members and friends living in Johannesburg, and we have visited the area a great deal over many years. We know the ins and outs of it well. We can make sure that you see what you want to see and have a great experience in comfort and safety. With our ABTA and ATOL protection and our access to the best accommodation and tour operators, at great prices, let us plan a wonderful visit for you.
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Opportunities for Great Experiences in Johannesburg & Pretoria
Both in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria there are scores of great experiences to be had. Here are just a few ideas:
Culture and History
As you would expect, this is where to be if you want to immerse yourself in the history of this region. There are very many museums in the area. These are a few of them ...
- Cradle of Human Kind. If you are at all interested in Archeology or Anthropology, this is an absolute must see. Situated about an hour outside Johannesburg, the World Heritage Site, which includes the Sterkfontein Caves, is one of the most important and fascinating archeological sites in the world.
- Closely linked to the Cradle of Human Kind is the Origins Centre in Johannesburg. With outstanding exhibitions and loads of information, this is a good substitute if you don't have the time to see both.
- The Apartheid Museum is a good way to understand the notorious apartheid system and its consequences for the people of South Africa.
- Constitution Hill is the other side of the coin. Situated at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg this is a celebration of the the constitution of post-apartheid South Africa, hailed by many as the world's most progressive and sophisticated constitution.
- The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory celebrates the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela.
- Also dedicated to Nelson Mandela is the Mandela Family Museum at Nelson Mandela's house in Soweto.
- The Hector Pietersen Museum and Memorial, named after the first child to be shot by apartheid police at the start of the 1976 popular uprising is also in Soweto. It is dedicated to the children who were involved in the struggle against apartheid.
- Gold Reef City Gold Mine Tour. This tour down the shaft of a disused gold mine gives an extraordinary insight into the conditions experienced by the miners who constructed South Africa's economy.
- The Johannesburg Art gallery, the Wits (University of the Witwatersrand) Art Museum and the Bensusan Museum of Photography are all world class museums.
- The Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre is a really interesting institution commemorating both the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide.
- The Voortrekker Monument outside Pretoria gives the historic perspective of the Afrikaner community in South Africa.
- Freedom Park, on a hill above Pretoria, celebrates South Africa's diversity.
Johannesburg and Pretoria offer every type of urban entertainment, including live music, theater and cuisine of every style and type imaginable. Two entertainment centres are of particular note:
- Gold Reef City, in Johannesburg, the location of the Apartheid Museum and the Gold Mine Tour also has a major casino complex and a spectacular theme park.
- Sun City, which is two and a half hours from Johannesburg and two hours from Pretoria, is a major golf, casino and entertainment complex of international renown.
Nature and Wildlife
Johannesburg is particularly known for its extraordinarily high number and variety of birds for a major metropolitan area. There are several wonderful open spaces in which to see them, including Zoo Lake, Emmerentia, the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve and many more.
For more serious game viewing, day trips can be organised from Johannesburg or Pretoria which are within easy reach of many great national and provincial parks and private game reserves for overnight trips.
As with any modern city, there are many and diverse opportunities for shopping. A few of the more unusual ones are...
- 44 Stanley, a really unusual and exciting mall, unlike almost any other.
- 27 Boxes: galleries, shops and restaurants in shipping containers.
- Market on Main, a busy, vibey market in the middle of the city.
- Art Africa, which showcases art and crafts from all of Africa - a great place to buy your mementos or gifts for those at home.
Best For Families
- The Delta Cafe in the Delta Park is an excellent place to eat out with children and the Delta Park Environmental Centre offers a great outdoor experience for the whole family.
- Bambanani Restaurant caters specially for families and makes great food.
- The Johannesburg Zoo is a really great institution of its type. Not the same as a wildlife experience, but an opportunity to whet little people's appetites for appreciating animals.
- The Cradle of Humankind is great for families.
Best For Couples
- Why not explore the craft distilleries in downtown Johannesburg, go on a craft pub crawl or visit a craft brewery?
- For romantic dining try La Petite Maison in Mellville.
- Take in some jazz at the Marabi Club
The Wagtail Wow!
- We love the Walter Sizulu National Botanical Gardens for casual bird watching and picnics.
- The Goodman Gallery, which shows the works of William Kentridge and a number of other superb South African Artists is in a league of its own.
- For an absolute WOW, try dining in the sky in a 22 seater pod hanging 30 metres above the ground from a crane in the grounds of St Stithians School in Johannesburg.
To start planning your great experience in or around Johannesburg or Pretoria, contact us now!
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Direct Flights From London: 11 hrs
With One Stop From Major Airports: From 13 hrs
At 12 o'clock in the UK it's 2 o'clock in Johannesburg or 1 o'clock during daylight saving.
Have a look at the weather graph to see how the average temperature and average rainfall in Johannesburg compare with the averages in London each month.