Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is also the capital of the country.
I was in Joburg (thats what I call the city with love - it still holds a part of my heart!), for around 6 months - yes! I was on a project there and was based there for few months.
6 months is actually a long time to know a city, to imbibe its culture, to understand its people and start loving the place.
So, first let me tell you few important things you need to take care off if you are travelling to Johannesburg:
It is largely safe (I never faced any isssues), but then when you hear it from local people - they will present you a different story. As a tourist, there are certain areas that you shouldnt wander to. The local transport is not that great and the best mode of transport is cab, which can prove to be really expensive. So, plan accordingly. If you are going there for few days - I will suggest to hire a cab in one shot for all those days or just get a car on rent (and do not forget to take International Driving License - you can apply it from here) Or just download Uber: its safer and cheaper than the local taxies Try to travel between December to the end of January or from July to September because the weather is really pleasant in these months. Rest of the year, the place is damn too cold! Roaming around (apart from main areas that I will list down) on foot is not recommended because the city is almost deserted at all times! You won't see many people walking around. But having said that one of Johannesburg's most interesting areas to explore on foot is the historic downtown area that is just so energetic and is filled with colourful street life that reflects the city's cosmopolitan amalgamation of so many cultures: South African, European and pan-African influences.
Now lets dive into the places that you are must-see in Johannesburg. Few of them are:
Gold Reef City
Montecasino: You cannot miss this place. It is a leisure complex designed like an Italian village, housing a casino, 2 theaters, cinemas and a mall.
Nelson Mandela Square: It is one of the busiest shopping hubs of South Africa. But it doesn't end with shopping here. Its location being in the very center of the city makes it quite convenient and easy reachable spot for all. Try out some food in the local restaurants there.
Soweto township: The town lies 20 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg and offers a journey into the soul of the fight for freedom. It was also the birthplace of the struggle for democracy. But please go with a local guide there. I will not suggest to fo there alone
The Apartheid Museum
Pilanesberg National Park
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
These are few places that you should aim for while travelling to Johannesburg. Have a local guide - that would be helpful.
The city is beautiful! Its just that it is too empty! Its so vacant that you can feel the void sometimes. The culture is nevertheless, amazing and colorful. I love the people there - literally!
The city is for sure worth travelling and exploring once in a lifetime!
Do leave a comment if you plan a trip to Johannesburg - I would love to help!