11 Things Tourists Should Never Do in Johannesburg

The city comes alive at night
The city comes alive at night | Courtesy of South African Tourism | South African Tourism

Apart from the general safety tips, there are a few things visitors to The City of Gold should never do. Follow our guidelines to ensure a glitch-free trip.

Don’t be shocked when seeing how green it is

Johannesburg is one of the biggest man-made forests on the planet and really is an urban jungle. When on higher ground, the city is coloured in a carpet of green and purple, as Jacaranda trees are scattered throughout. Visit the iconic Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff for indescribable views.

Purple jacaranda tree flowers in bloom

Don’t skip the inner city

The inner city is undergoing major refurbishments and gentrification, and should definitely not to be skipped. Some of the hippest eateries and retail stores are found in the most unexpected places, plus it’s a great way to see how locals spend their free time.

Don’t stick to malls

There’s more nature in and around Johannesburg than you can image. Grab your trainers and get outside to explore the beautiful Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Emmarentia Dam or Melville Koppies.

Male white-bellied sunbird at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

Don’t rent a car

Johannesburg has notoriously congested traffic, so avoiding it at all costs is your best bet. Uber is a popular mode of transport and will easily get you from A to B, without the stress of navigating an unknown city’s chaotic roads.

Don’t miss out on all the markets

There’s pretty much a market for every day of the week in Johannesburg. From farmer’s and organic markets to trendy industrial spaces stocking everything from food to clothing and artisanal crafts, you’ll find it in Jozi. Check out 1Fox at The Sheds, Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings (get there early) and the Fourways Farmer’s Market for fresh produce.

Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to markets in Johannesburg

Don’t walk alone at night

Joburgers are friendly people, but the city is still rife with poverty. Don’t wander alone when you feel it’s unsafe to do so, especially at night. Rather stay in a group or order an Uber to take you to your next destination.

Don’t try to see it all in one day

If you’d really like to experience all that this amazing city has to offer, stay for more than one day. There’s the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, tons of art galleries and museums, inner city street art tours, Soweto, and so much more to see.

Take a guided tour of Constitution Hill

Don’t forget a swimsuit

Johannesburg gets warm in summer, so warm that you’d be grateful to take a dip in a cool swimming pool. If you’re staying in a hotel or B&B the venue is sure to have one but there are also a few public pools to cool off in, including the Linden Public Pool and the Olympic-size Ellis Park pool.

Don’t go to bed early

Johannesburg is a completely different beast at nighttime as the city comes alive with music of all genres. You’d want to enjoy at least one evening out on the town, whether you prefer conventional clubbing or the underground dance scene, just keep an eye on gig guides and chat to locals about the best places to go.

Johannesburg boasts a wide range of night-time activities, from jazz bars to live shows

Don’t flash expensive things

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take as many photos as possible when visiting a new city. Feel free to do so, but pack electronics away when not in use and rather opt for simple jewellery as opposed to that flashy diamond. Pickpockets are alive and well in the city so keep your belongings close to your body and passports and other documents locked away in your accommodation’s safe.

Don’t miss out on Johannesburg’s surroundings

Just outside of the city there’s a whole different world to explore. The Lion & Rhino Nature Reserve is great if you can’t get to the Kruger National Park but would love to get that bushveld feeling. Then there’s The Cradle of Humankind, a spot where many groundbreaking archaeological discoveries have been made.

Spot wildlife at the Lion & Rhino Nature Reserve
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