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Overview to Johannesburg: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

The Johannesburg Skyline

Johannesburg (or Jo’burg, as it’s known) is South Africa’s largest and most prosperous city. With its fantastic climate, and the slick, modern air that pervades much of what goes on, it’s an increasingly attractive first stop for backpackers traveling in Africa.

Until quite recently, travelers in Johannesburg would find themselves spending much of their time in the suburbs as the city center, rundown and crime-ridden, was effectively off-limits. These days, though (and not without a fair bit of investment), things are very different.

The wealthy district of Houghton is home to Munro Drive, which boasts some of the best views across the city. Parkhurst, meanwhile, its streets lined with grand old mining houses, is one of the more attractive of the city’s suburbs.

Across town, the Market Theater Complex has a number of theaters as well as an engaging market on Saturdays. The Rosebank, too, with its wonderful Rooftop Flea Market and Johannesburg Zoo, is a bustling, vibrant part of the city.

The city has a number of major sights, such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery (the largest in Africa) and two important museums. Museum Africa, and the genuinely inspiring Apartheid Museum in Soweto, are both fascinating monuments to South Africa’s uneasy recent past.

Just outside the city, the wonders of the Gauteng Region stretch away: the UNESCO-protected Sterkfontein Caves offer an astounding insight into the lives of our more distant ancestors. And naturally there are also a number of amazing wildlife parks to visit.

Johannesburg has also got something of a reputation as a music venue and nightlife hub. The bars of the northern suburb of Norwood are particularly good, while Melville’s Seventh Avenue has a lively, studenty vibe, and the Waterfront is a bustling area of bars and restaurants.

But in addition to all this prosperity, Johannesburg has a sobering flipside – the townships. These are stark evidence that Johannesburg, like South Africa generally – both as a travel destination and a city – still has some way to go. But while it may not be perfect yet, it’s really getting there.

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