Things to do in Johannesburg

Itineraries for Your Trip to Johannesburg

Johannesburg locals share their perfect days.
Find your Johannesburg

1 Day in Johannesburg for First Timers

Curated by Karen GardinerKaren is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

Johannesburg, Jo’burg, Jozi—the dynamic, sprawling heart of South Africa has many names and many faces. This vibrant city is emerging from the horrors of its 20th-century history to become one of this century’s most exciting metropolises, home to booming arts, culinary, and fashion scenes. Here’s how to make the most of a 24-hour visit.


Get your bearings in this colorful metropolis—and absorb some history—with a sightseeing tour. A group or private tour, by bus or by foot, can take you to see some of Jo’burg’s most important sights, such as Constitution Hill and the Nelson Mandela Bridge. Some tours also include a visit to the Carlton Centre, where you can take an elevator up to the 50th floor for panoramic views. Alternatively, a hop-on-hop-off-bus tour offers the flexibility of creating your own itinerary and exploring the city at your own pace—simply disembark to explore any stop of interest, then get back on and travel to the next stop.


Crucial to understanding the complexities of modern-day Johannesburg is learning about the injustice and cruelty of its recent history. The Apartheid Museum tells the story of white-minority rule in South Africa from 1948 to 1994 through photos, film, documents, and interactive displays spread throughout 22 exhibition areas. Some tours include tickets and round-trip transportation to the museum, and most hop-on hop-off buses stop here. It is worth giving yourself a couple of hours to explore thoroughly.


Get a taste of local culture with an evening tour of some of the city’s hippest areas. Exploring the nightlife with a small group eliminates any worries about safety you may have. Guided tours cover vibrant neighborhoods, such as Braamfontein, said to be the city’s cultural hub, where you can taste local food, see colorful street art, and sip craft beer and cocktails. Another option for a memorable evening is an excursion to the Yeoville Dinner Club, where you can dine on pan-African dishes family-style while your chef/host recounts fascinating stories of local life.

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