The Best Day Trips to Take From Johannesburg

Lesedi Cultural Village, North West | © South African Tourism / Flickr
Lesedi Cultural Village, North West | © South African Tourism / Flickr
Photo of Carina Claassens
8 June 2017

If you’re looking to get out of the city there’s no need to travel far. An overabundance of exciting game reserves, small towns, and parks—perfect for day outings—surround Johannesburg.

Soweto, Gauteng

A guided tour will lead visitors to the most interesting spots in Soweto, from the Hector Pietersen Memorial and Museum and Freedom Square, to an informal settlement and the home of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

*Approximate travel time 35 minutes

Orlando towers, Soweto | © South African Tourism/Flickr

Lesedi Cultural Village, Cradle of Humankind

Located within the Cradle of Humankind, visitors discover African traditions and cultures by visiting five homesteads inhabited by Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho, and Ndebele tribes.

*Approximate travel time 50 minutes

Discover the fascinating cultures and traditions of the people of Africa at Lesedi Cultural Village | Jit Hoong Ng/Flickr

Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Krugersdorp

This self-drive park refers to itself as “the nearest faraway place,” as it’s so close to Johannesburg. The reserve is home to the Big 5 and also caters to large groups of vulture, endemic to the nearby Magaliesberg Mountains.

*Approximate travel time 50 minutes

Enquire about lion feeding times when entering the camp, as it's quite a sight | ©Michael Siebert/Pixabay

Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park, Krugersdorp

Situated within the Khatlhampi Private Reserve, the park has been transformed into a platform for the display of outdoor sculptures and installations. Visitors can enjoy picnics on the lawns or stroll through the lush gardens and trails.

*Approximate travel time 50 minutes

Nirox Sculpture Park often host exciting events | Courtesy of Nirox Sculpture Park

Magalies Meander, Magaliesburg

Visiting Magaliesburg is perfect for those wanting to escape into nature. From mountain biking, fly-fishing, hiking, horse riding, and even adventurous canopy tours to quaint restaurants, there’s something for the whole family.

*Approximate travel time one hour

Magaliesburg is the perfect family outing | ©Storm Signal/Flickr

Hartbeespoort Dam, North West

Hartbeespoort Dam boasts a variety of fine restaurants and cafés, boat cruises, hot air balloon safaris, and other activities for the adventurous traveler. The aerial cableway should top this list, as it offers visitors panoramic views of the surrounding area.

*Approximate travel time one hour

Bill Harrop’s Balloon Safaris | South African Tourism/Flickr

Sterkfontein Caves, Cradle of Humankind

The discovery of a fossil that’s over 2 million years old in the Sterkfontein Caves, nicknamed Mrs. Ples, sparked the notion that South Africa is the birthplace of humankind. Explore the caves (dress comfortably) and visit the educational exhibition center.

*Approximate travel time one hour and ten minutes

Partial face and jaw of Australopithecus Africanus | ©Mike Peel/Wikimedia

Cullinan, Gauteng

This old mining town is a living museum and popular day trip destination—it’s also home to the largest diamond ever found. The main street is lined with restaurants and there are many tours, including that of the diamond mine, on offer.

*Approximate travel time one hour and 15 minutes

Pilanesberg Game Reserve, North West

If you’re craving a visit to the bush, Pilansberg Game Reserve is the perfect place for a one-day safari. The reserve is set within an extinct volcanic crater, the only one of its kind in the world, and is home to the Big 5.

*Approximate travel time two hours and 30 minutes

In the Pilanesberg, traces of Tswana habitation are found that date back to 1750 AD | ©Klaus Klingenberg/Flickr

Adventures with Elephants, Bela Bela

Adventures with Elephants, a responsible tourism operation, offer visitors personal experiences with elephants. Learn about these gentle giants through basic interactions, safaris, and even joining them for a swim.

*Approximate travel time two hours and 50 minutes

Chishuru, an 18 year old male elephant at Adventures with Elephants | Courtesy of Adventures with Elephants

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