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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.