The Most Unique Experiences You Can Have in Johannesburg

The Soweto Theatre is a must-visit Johannesburg attraction | Courtesy of The Soweto Theatre
The Soweto Theatre is a must-visit Johannesburg attraction | Courtesy of The Soweto Theatre
Photo of Carina Claassens
20 May 2017

There’s much more to do in Johannesburg than what you’ll find when doing a quick web search. The massive city’s attractions are spread far and wide and every corner offers a unique experience, whether you’re after daytime activities, an adrenaline rush or an unforgettable night out.

Learn about the stars at the WITS planetarium in Braamfontein

The WITS Planetarium opened in 1960 and was the first complete planetarium in Africa. Situated on the university’s grounds, the planetarium hosts many shows for both adults and children and each is an interesting educational experience, leaving you craving more knowledge of the universe. One of the most exciting parts of the show is when visitors are shown the stars above them in all clarity, something that seems unimaginable when viewing the sky from outside the planetarium.

Wits Planetarium, University of the Witwatersrand, Yale road, Braamfontein


Apart from experiencing the beauty of the night sky, visitors learn about the planets, their moons and much more | ©Jake Hills/Unsplash

Take a relaxing boat ride on Zoo Lake in Parkview

The beautiful Zoo Lake Park in the heart of Johannesburg is a popular picnic and dog walking spot, and also hosts fantastic music events, annual Christmas carols and more. The row boats, however, really are the main attraction. The quaint boats are rented from the Lions Boating Club (situated opposite Moyo restaurant) for a very small fee. Pack a picnic basket, a blanket and some books and make sure to book your row boat for a couple of hours; once you’re on the lake you’re likely to want to stay there for as long as possible.

Cnr Jan Smuts Avenue and West World Street, Parkview

row boat

Have a picnic in a row boat and spend hours lazing around on the lake | ©Robert Crawford/Unsplash

Bounce around at the trampoline park in Fourways

Map View
Bounce Trampoline Park is an indoor activity park that will bring out the child in you as you spend hours bouncing off pretty much every surface. This is possibly the most fun you’ll have while getting a work-out at the same time, and, if your competitive side kicks in you can book a dodge ball or slam dunk tournament and really let loose.

Explore Johannesburg on an open-top bus

The Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour is the perfect way to see the city, without getting lost or losing track of time. The bus stops at the city’s main attractions like the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, and travels through interesting districts like Newtown – where visitors will see the vibrancy of Johannesburg’s local communities. There’s also an extension tour to Soweto, the country’s largest township.

The bus tour is perfect for those who want to see as much of the city as possible | ©Flowcomm/Flickr

Visit Mandela’s Shadow Boxer statue

Former president Nelson Mandela was an avid boxer and the photograph of him practicing the sport, taken by Bob Gosani, has become an iconic image. Opposite Chancellor House in Fox Street stands a steel statue modeled from the photograph and as the building housed the former offices of Mandela & Tambo Attorneys, the first black law firm in the country, it’s become a symbol of the freedom struggle.

25 Fox Street, Ferreirasdorp

shadow boxer statue

The shadow boxer image can also be found in Maboneng as a massive street art mural | ©Saaleha Bamjee/Flickr

Get an adrenaline rush at Gold Reef City

Amusement Park, Casino
Map View
Gold Reef City, situated on an old gold mine, is a combination of the best entertainment available in Johannesburg. From world-class restaurants to a casino, and of course the theme-park, it’s an exciting day out for all ages. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or want to spend the day wining and dining, Gold Reef City offers it all, with a unique South African twist.

Visit the aviary at Montecasino, Midrand

The Bird Park at Montecasino is home to more than 60 species of birds, as well as small mammals and reptiles. In the walk-through aviary guests will see beautiful birds as well as small animals such as meerkats, blue duikers and bats. The bird park is an unexpected paradise hidden away in the city, and includes a frog room and a parrot gallery. The Bird Gardens are also associated with the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Conservation Project and all donations from the Bird Show goes toward the fund.

Montecasino Boulevard (Cnr William Nicol and Witkoppen), Fourways

Catch a show at The Soweto theatre

Building, Theatre
Map View
The Soweto Theatre aims to offer new talents a platform to make their work visible
The Soweto Theatre aims to offer new talents a platform to make their work visible | Courtesy of 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. The theatre has three performance venues and the striking architecture feels at home in the area, almost as if it has always been there. The theatre was, however, only established in 2012, but chances are that it will one day be recognised as an iconic South African building.

Eat at Pata Pata in Maboneng

Pata Pata in Maboneng is where all the cool kids hang out. The atmosphere is buzzing, the food is amazing and the locals are trendy. Then there’s the live jazz that dominates the cosmopolitan street and attracts people from all over the area. Maboneng is a gentrified area in the Johannesburg city centre and a great spot for having afternoon cocktails and mingling with the locals.

286 Fox Street, Maboneng Precinct

Take an inner-city walking tour with Past Experiences

Past Experiences offer walking and public transport tours to those wishing to see Johannesburg from a different and exciting angle. They have a range of tours available; from historic tours where guests will see some of the oldest buildings in the city, to a shopping tour where African fabric, Nollywood (Nigerian) films and more can be purchased. The public art tour shows guests what the Johannesburg street art scene is all about and then there are neighbourhood specific tours, like the I Love Newtown and I Love Braamies tours. Exploring Johannesburg on foot is an amazing way to see the city.

Elephant mural by Falko | Courtesy of Past Experiences

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