What to do in Johannesburg on a weekend

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Johannesburg, or just simply, Joburg, is a great place to spend a weekend. With a never-ending list of awesome things to do in Johannesburg, plus some seriously cool neighbourhoods to hang out in, you could easily spend a lifetime in this vibrant city and never get bored.

From cool walking tours to cultured art galleries, to exciting wildlife-spotting opportunities: this city has it all. If you’re hanging out in Johannesburg, South Africa on the weekend and looking for some epic things to do, we’ve got you covered.

1. Take an inner-city walking tour

Walk through Johannesburg's shopping District.
Johannesburg Shopping district

One of the best ways to get out and explore Johannesburg is to take an inner-city walking tour. This city seriously excels in creating funky and fun tours to join.

In the company of locals, you can explore fascinating neighborhoods, all with a story to tell. From the historical Marshalltown, where you can get a glimpse of Nelson Mandela’s former law office, to the Little Addis Ethiopian district, joining a walking tour allows you to see the many sides of Johannesburg in a safe and accessible way.

And hey, if you don’t feel like walking, you can always join a skateboarding tour.

2. Visit Soweto

Soweto township towers.
Soweto

No weekend in Johannesburg would be complete without a visit to Soweto, South Africa’s infamous township that was once home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners.

While you can easily visit all of the main sights independently, a guided tour by a Soweto local allows you to dig deeper and get a lot more out of the experience.

Be sure to visit busy Vilakezi Street, where both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu once lived. For a sobering experience, stop by Hector Pieterson Square. And if you’re after an adrenalin rush, you can even bungee jump from the Orlando Towers.

3. Apartheid Museum

Entrance of Apartheid Museum.
Entrance to Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum is Johannesburg’s most-visited attraction and for good reason: there’s simply no better place in South Africa to get an understanding of the country’s troubled past.

The museum is brilliantly put together, with a range of media to educate the visitor on the horrors of apartheid. When visiting, take your time but don’t try to read everything – there’s simply too much to process.

4. Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is a former military fort and prison complex which has now been turned into a dedicated human rights space. It also houses the country’s most important symbol of democracy: the Constitutional Court.

The site is much larger than you’d expect, so be sure to budget at least a couple of hours to really make the most out of it.

5. Day trip to Pilansberg

Pilanesberg National Park is an excellent weekend day trip from Johannesburg. It’s around a 2.5-hour drive from town and is located in an extinct volcano crater.

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Because the park lies in a transition zone between the Kalahari Desert and the Loweveld, the wildlife is extremely varied: you can find the Big Five, zebras, giraffes, and antelopes.

6. Joburg art galleries

Johannesburg has some fantastic art galleries and getting some culture in by gallery-hopping is a fantastic thing to do in Johannesburg on the weekend.

With over 9000 works of art, the Johannesburg Art Galley is Sub-Saharan Africa’s most extensive art gallery. You also don’t want to miss the Everard Read Gallery, the Wits Art Museum and the Melrose Gallery.

7. Victoria Yards

Wall Graffiti in Johannesburg.
Wall Graffiti

Victoria Yards is an extremely cool re-purposed inner-city space in Johannesburg. The old brick buildings which house Victoria Yards used to be a steam-powered laundry and are now home to a vibrant community of artists and artisans. No weekend in Johannesburg would be complete without a visit!

On the first Sunday of the month, there is a great market at Victoria Yards and all the resident artists open their doors to the public.

The food is amazing, there’s music happening and you’ll end up buying so many more things than you thought you needed. You’ve been warned.

8. Enjoy the nightlife and delicious food!

Johannesburg skyline with the view of Hillbrow Tower.
Johannesburg skyline

Johannesburg has some incredible nightlife, so be sure to pencil in some time during your weekend to visit one of its cool restaurants and bars.

The Marabi Club is a speakeasy-style restaurant and jazz club and should definitely be at the top of your list. Also recommended are A Streetbar Named Desire in Rosebank, The Artivist in Braamfontein, The Living Room in Maboneng and Mad Giant Brewery in Craighall.

Bio: Dotti from Travel Oasis

Dotti from Travel Oasis.
Dotti from Travel Oasis

Dotti Mazga is one-half of Travel Oasis, a worldwide travel blog focused on outdoor adventures and cultural travels in both common and uncommon destinations. When we’re not hanging out in fun cities like Johannesburg, you can often find us camping in our little orange tent and embarking on adventurous multi-day hikes in places as diverse as Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Follow Dotti from Travel Oasis on Facebook and Instagram.

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Pinterest images of Johannesburg Shopping District and Graffiti on the wall.
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