How to Spend 3 Days in Johannesburg
South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg overflows with history and culture. With three days, you can soak up the scene in its hip neighborhoods, dive into the past at Constitution Hill, spot the “big five” in Pilanesberg, and more. Here are some ways to spend three days in Jo’burg.
Day 1: Explore the City
Kick off your visit to Johannesburg and get your bearings with a sightseeing tour. Group and private tours by bus or by bike typically take visitors to such attractions such as Constitution Hill and the Zoology Museum and also provide important historical and cultural context. If you prefer a measure of independence while sightseeing, you can book a ticket on a hop-on hop-off bus and explore at your own pace.
In the evening, get a taste of local culture with a visit to the trendy Maboneng neighborhood to soak up street art and enjoy lively bars. If you don’t want to go it alone, you can opt for a guided tour of one of the city’s other neighborhoods: Small group tours of vibrant Braamfontein introduce visitors to local restaurants and bars where you can sample regional food and sip craft beer and cocktails.
Day 2: Immerse Yourself in Local History
Start off your second day with a tour of Soweto, the township created to serve apartheid, the policy of white minority rule in South Africa that lasted from 1948 to 1994, and the scene of notable uprisings against this policy. Tours of Soweto, by vehicle or by bike, typically take visitors to the mural-covered Orlando Towers and the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Some tours also visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, named for the 13-year old boy shot and killed by police on the first day of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.
In the afternoon, learn more about this brutal period of South African history with a visit the Apartheid Museum, which presents visitors with a thorough history of South Africa's path to apartheid and its people's eventually victory over the forces of segregation.
Day 2: Take a Walk on the Wild Side
On your final day, get up early and head to the Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve to seek out Africa's 'big five'—lions, rhinos, leopards, buffalo, and elephants. Full-day tours from Johannesburg typically include both a morning and afternoon safari in either open-top or closed vehicles as well as lunch. Some tours combine a morning visit to Pilanesberg with an afternoon visit to the nearby Sun City resort, where you can relax and enjoy swimming pools, casinos, and a cultural village.
Back in town, finish up your visit with a night out in the suburb of Melville, a bohemian enclave that is also a university town. The center of Melville's nightlife revolves around 7th Avenue, a strip of clubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes where you'll rub elbows with University of Johannesburg students and other revelers.