10 Top Things to See and Do in Soweto

Orlando towers, Soweto | © South African Tourism/Flickr
Orlando towers, Soweto | © South African Tourism/Flickr
Soweto, short for South Western Townships, is saturated with history and offers visitors everything from adrenaline-fuelled activities to traditional cuisine and, of course, museums filled with potent history. Here’s our list of the top ten things to see and do when visiting Soweto in Johannesburg.

Explore Kliptown

Kliptown is a Johannesburg must-visit, as it is the site where 3000 people came together in 1955 to write The Freedom Charter, a statement of core values that served as the foundation for South Africa’s liberal constitution. The Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication is also found here, which is filled with shops, galleries and traders of all sorts.

Spot the street art and graffiti in Kliptown © Ryan McFarland/Flickr

Visit the Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial

Memorial, Museum
The Hector Pieterson Memorial was erected on Khumalo Road in Soweto, not far from where Pieterson was shot
The Hector Pieterson Memorial was erected on Khumalo Road in Soweto, not far from where Pieterson was shot | © South African Tourism/Flickr
The Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial officially opened in 2002, near the spot where Hector Pieterson, a young Soweto boy, was shot on June 16, 1976 during the Soweto Uprising. Over 500 youths were killed on this day, now known as Youth Day in South Africa, and the iconic image of Hector Pieterson’s body being carried by a fellow student has been recognised the world over.
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Taste traditional cuisine

Soweto is filled with the best spots to get a taste of true South African cuisine. The uBuntu Kraal and Soweto Brewing Company breweries are best for tasting local beers, while Vuyos is a lively restaurant set in the heart of Soweto. Try the slow-cooked and crispy Mogodu (tripe) and finish the meal with a traditional malva pudding.

Wander down Vilakazi Street

Vilakazi Street is the most renowned street in the township. Former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived here, making it the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners. Wander the street and spot public art, memorials and, of course, visit Nelson Mandela House.

Mandela House, 8115 Vilakazi St, Orlando West, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 11 936 7754

Places in Johannesburg You Need To See Before They Get Too Expensive_Mandela House

A tour of Soweto should include a visit to Nelson Mandela House | © Richard Matthews/WikiCommons

Take a peek inside the Rosa Parks Library

Rosa Parks is known as ‘the first lady of civil rights’. In 1955, in Alabama, USA, she was expected to give up her seat to a white person, which she refused to do. Her arrest resulted in the Bus Boycott, which lasted for 13 months. Given the racial turmoil in South Africa, her actions were celebrated by the oppressed. Today, a library stands in her honour.
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Be entertained at the Soweto Theatre

The Soweto Theatre hosts a wide range of productions, from Soweto Fashion Week to musical performances and works by famous playwrights like Athol Fugard. Boasting three performance venues and striking architecture, the theatre is recognised as an iconic South African building.

Soweto Theatre, c/o Bolani Link and Bolani Rd, Jabulani, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 11 930 7461

The Soweto Theatre exterior

The Soweto Theatre is a must-visit Johannesburg attraction | Courtesy of The Soweto Theatre

Go on a bicycle tour

See Soweto on two wheels by booking a bicycle tour with Soweto Backpackers. A local guide shares knowledge of important sites for either a half or full day. During the tour you’ll get a glimpse into life in Soweto, meet some of the locals, have a drink at a shebeen and stop for a bite to eat at some of the less-visited spots in town.

Soweto Backpackers, 10823A Pooe St, Orlando West, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 11 936 3444

Bungee-jump from Orlando Towers

Orlando Towers consists of two massive cooling towers, known for their brightly drawn exteriors that are seen from miles away. Adrenaline junkies visiting Soweto can take the opportunity to bungee-jump or free-fall from the silos.

Orlando Power Station, Chris Hani Rd, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 71 674 4343

The famous graffitied cooling towers of Soweto, Johannesburg | © Gil.K/Shutterstock

The famous, graffitied cooling towers of Soweto, Johannesburg | © Gil.K/Shutterstock

Check out the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village

Credo Mutwa was a traditional healer and Zulu artist, and the museum-slash-exhibition space displays his sculptures created between 1974 and 1986. Mutwa’s artworks comment on African traditions and how they are juxtaposed with Western civilisation.

Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, 991 Bochabela St, Jabavu, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa

Credo Mutwa Cultural Village Soweto

The garden is filled with large sculptures | © Johan Wessels/Flickr