Famous for its big-money lifestyles, Johannesburg is an exhilarating destination for any first-time visitor. Big, bold and brash, its central location and well-served international airport have made the city the gateway to Southern Africa and it provides a convenient base from which to explore the many game reserves that lie beyond its borders.
A sprawling city at the centre of Gauteng - South Africa’s smallest, richest and most densely populated province - the 'City of Gold' is Africa's economic powerhouse and attracts hopefuls from all over the continent seeking their fortune. Indeed, Johannesburg’s position as the wealthiest city in Africa was literally founded on gold and you can still tour working gold mines which were once the richest in the world. You can also go far further back in South Africa’s history by paying a visit to the Cradle of Humankind for an insight into the region's earliest inhabitants; for a taste of more recent history, the Apartheid Museum will shed some light on what it was like to live under one of the world’s most oppressive segregation systems.
When it comes to Johannesburg holiday accommodation, there is a wide range of upmarket hotels and guest houses available. Getting to the city has never been easier since the introduction of the high-speed Gautrain, connecting O R Tambo International Airport to destinations within the city. During your stay in Johannesburg, be sure to explore the city’s café culture and buzzing nightlife and don’t forget to leave some space in your suitcase – from the luxury brands at Sandton’s shopping centres to the humming Oriental Plaza and Rosebank’s flea markets, Johannesburg is home to some of the best shopping in South Africa.
However, most travellers use Johannesburg as a stopover en route to the attractions of its neighbouring provinces and countries. Of these, the Kruger National Park and its surrounding private reserves are the best known, and are easily accessible with a direct flight between Johannesburg’s O R Tambo and the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
In addition, there are several lesser-known Big 5 reserves closer to Johannesburg, such as Madikwe Private Game Reserve and the reserves of the Waterberg region, which lie within easy driving distance and have the added benefit of being malaria-free, making them the ideal Johannesburg safari add-on. Even closer to Johannesburg is Pilanesberg National Park, a Big 5 wildlife reserve lying next door to dazzling Sun City, one of the glitziest holiday resorts in the world and perfect for family holidays.
At a Glance
The 'City of Gold' is Southern Africa's travel hub and many visitors to the region spend a night here - head for Jo'burg's glitzy northern suburbs for the best accommodation.