It is the City of Gold, the beating heart of African commerce, and for many, the first port of call when visiting South Africa. But Johannesburg is often overlooked as a destination in its own right, in favor of more touristy South African cities (we see you, Cape Town). The truth is, Joburg is a secret gem. Hidden between its towering skyscrapers and sprawling suburbs is a myriad cultural, historical and adventure-filled Johannesburg travel experiences.
Whether you’re on a fly-in business trip or in transit between destinations, there’s plenty of things to do in two days in Johannesburg.
1. Take A Johannesburg City Tour
Johannesburg tours with City Sightseeing (on a big, red, open-top bus) will give you a chance to explore the city and its suburbs in an informative, safe, convenient and fun way. Hop on and off at any of the scheduled stops that pique your interest: Zoo Lake, Johannesburg Zoo, Constitution Hill, Ditsong National Museum of Military History, the Carlton Centre, the Apartheid Museum or the SAB World of Beer. For deeper insights into the city’s gritty-yet-irresistible reality, consider booking inner city Johannesburg tours with Past Experiences and explore the CBD on foot.
Live it like a local: If a snapshot view of the city doesn’t tickle your Gauteng travel fancy, use a portion of your 48 hours in Johannesburg to discover an authentic taste of local life and head to the city’s favourite hot spots and hangouts. The Maboneng Precinct is a creative hub of eateries, shops and entertainment venues, while the pub-and-restaurant-lined neighbourhood of Melville — a classic haunt for artists and students — remains Johannesburg’s Bohemian base camp.
2. Discover Africa’s Richest Square Mile
If you’re staying at The Maslow hotel in Sandton, you have the perfect home base from which to explore Johannesburg in 48 hours. Known as ‘Africa’s richest square mile’, Sandton is to Johannesburg what Las Vegas is to the Mojave Desert: a city that sprang up with whiplash speed. Sandton is a shiny business hub and shopping heaven with trendy malls, fine dining destinations and glass-facade buildings. But more than this fleeting glance of bling, Sandton has an irresistible spirit of place wrapped up in its invigorating pace.
With only two days in Johannesburg to get the measure of the City of Gold, bookend your travels with a whirlwind Sandton tour. Shop till you drop at Sandton City Shopping Centre (conveniently within walking distance from The Maslow), pause for a bite to eat in the adjoining Nelson Mandela Square (presided over by a six-metre bronze statue of Madiba), and browse take-home souvenirs at the Village Walk African Cultural Market.
For an interactive experience of South Africa’s political history, visit the Liliesleaf Museum in Rivonia, which was once the nerve centre of the struggle against apartheid. The permanent exhibition uses the power of audio-visual technology and information design to bring to life the importance of this farm in the fight for political freedom.
Live it like a local: With only 48 hours in Johannesburg, the concierge desk at The Maslow hotel can assist you 24/7 with further information about local activities, restaurants and bars and what to do in Sandton.
3. Have A Capital Time In Our Nation’s Capital
With only 48 hours in Johannesburg, why not stop the clock and head to Time Square in Pretoria? As part of the Menlyn Maine precinct, South Africa’s first mixed-use ‘green city’, Time Square invites you to savour every moment when you discover world-class dining experiences, a host of activities and entertainment.
If this is your first visit to Pretoria East, grab the chance to explore South Africa’s unique history and visit the Union Buildings, the Voortrekker Monument, Freedom Park, or President Paul Kruger’s house. Take
a walk on the wild side and explore Groenkloof Nature Reserve, Irene Dairy Farm, Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve or Rietvlei Nature Reserve.
Live it like a local: Order a glass of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac at The Globe Bar in Time Square and savour your time.
From the Cradle of Humankind and the Maropeng Museum to the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, there’s always more to explore in Jozi. To make the most of your two days in Johannesburg, draw up a list of the must-see highlights and attractions you don’t want to miss. Of course, Joburg is always worth another visit, so if you find yourself with time to spare in the City of Gold, live it like a local.
4. Be Entertained
Give us two days in Johannesburg and we will give you round-the-clock entertainment. Carnival City Casino and Entertainment World is conveniently situated near to OR Tambo airport and serves a non-stop carnival of fun, from thrilling slots and table games at the casino, to regular live comedy shows, concerts and events. Plus, if you are looking for ways to entertain your kids for 48 hours in Johannesburg, Carnival City has the biggest selection of family-friendly entertainment places on the East Rand, and all under one roof. Choose from ten-pin bowling and go-karting to lazer tag, or head to Ster-Kinekor to catch a blockbuster movie. Race around the Grand Prix Go-Kart Circuit or play games at the Magic Company Arcade.
Live it like a local: If you want your two days in Johannesburg to be fuss-free and kid-friendly, family time is fun time at Carnival City.
5. Explore Soweto
Even with only two days in Johannesburg, you can’t miss an opportunity to explore Soweto. The township, which played a significant role in the struggle against apartheid, is today a vibrant and energetic cultural hub. Johannesburg tours into Soweto will take you to landmark historical sights and give you a true slice-of-life adventure. Explore the milestones of South Africa’s turbulent political history, from the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown and the Hector Pieterson Memorial to the famous Vilakazi Street — the one-time home of Nelson Mandela (and a bucket list Johannesburg experience). If adrenaline is what you crave, Soweto is also home to the Orlando Towers where you can climb, abseil or bungee jump your way to more thrills.
Live it like a local: Be sure you’re on one of the Johannesburg tours to Soweto that include a stop at
a local tavern or shebeen, where you can savour township cuisine such as ting (fermented sorghum) and umleqwa (chicken stew).