Population: 4.4 million
The biggest city in South Africa, Johannesburg has attracted fortune seekers since its early days in the 19th century. Known as the City of Gold, Joburg grew from a small mining settlement into a metropolis of more than 4 million. It is known as a place to do business and popular for its bustling nightlife.
Gold attracted its early settlers and until today, the promise of a better life lures many young professionals and hopeful villagers to its neighbourhoods, making it a melting pot of many diverse cultures.
Johannesburg is not only the hub of mining, but home to the JSE stock exchange and headquarters of international companies. The city has an energetic vibe and lively character. While the inner city is still battling with its rough reputation, areas like Maboneng are being hyped as “up and coming”, attracting hipsters, digital nomads and artists to its many coffee shops, galleries and rooftop bars. The affluent who made it in the City of Gold settle in and around Sandton with its shopping malls, fancy hotels and high-end restaurants.
The sprawling metropolis is dotted with skyscrapers and highways but is also the world’s largest man-made forest with over 6 million trees in parks, on pavements and in private gardens.
OR Tambo is the country’s largest airport, linked to the inner-city and Pretoria via the Gautrain and bus services. More of a transport and economical hub than a holiday destination, Johannesburg does offer a multitude of entertainment options ranging from top-class hotels and restaurants, nightclubs, theatres and casinos.
To explore the city worry-free, hop on the red hop-on-hop-off city tour bus, which will take you around town. Don’t worry about looking like a tourist – everyone does it. You can join a bicycle tour or taste the local fare in a shebeen in Soweto. In the many museums such as the Apartheid museum, Constitution Hill and Origins Centre, you can learn about the country’s complex and troubled history. In galleries, jazz clubs, boutique shops and on farmers’ markets, you can connect with locals as Joburgers have the reputation of being very open-minded and approachable.