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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.