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Gauteng travel guide
Gauteng is famous for Johannesburg, Pretoria (Tshwane), Soweto and Alexandra as places where history happened and deals are made. Johannesburg (Joburg or Jozi) is the coolest city in the country – it has been undergoing a major rejuvenation, especially in areas downtown, which are changing from seedy to edgy with a definite hip factor. You’ll discover plenty of theatre, nightclubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, shopping malls and African street markets, all at better prices than abroad. The advent of the Gautrain has made transport around the city easy, fast and safe. From OR Tambo airport it’s only twelve minutes on the Gautrain to Sandton so there’s no reason not to explore even if you’re just on a quick business trip!
The rest of Gauteng also has plenty on offer. Pretoria and Soweto are excellent to visit. They are both different from Joburg due to history and population, showing the diversity of South African culture. Throughout the year, golfers can enjoy a selection of golf courses, and for the more adventurous, the mighty Vaal River and the Magaliesberg mountain range on the outskirts of the province offer waterskiing, hiking, abseiling and hot air ballooning.
Our faves in Gauteng:
- Joburg – Centre of big business, Jozi has long attracted a cosmopolitan mix of people. The areas of Parkhurst, Parkview and Parktown North are great for décor stores, trendy cafes and live music. Emmerentia Park is great for strolling, canoeing on the dam and weekend concerts. Downtown, Braamfontein and Newtown are the places to go for awesome food markets, artisan coffee, museums, and walking tours that bring history to life. Maboneng is where the art and retail scene is happening. You’ll find the Museum of African Design here, along with restaurants and pop-up shops where you can pounce on your one-offs. Hyde Park, Rosebank and Sandton uphold a long tradition of the elegant life, with upmarket shopping malls, restaurants and galleries, while welcoming a cooler trend towards design stores and stylish cafes. Melville is the student hangout and 44 Stanley is where shoppers head for hours of fun.
- Soweto – the biggest and most famous township in South Africa, this was the hub of the anti-apartheid struggle. Now it’s the best place to discover South Africa’s urban black social life, culture, music and fashion. Head for Vilikazi Street and don’t forget to have a drink at a shebeen.
- Apartheid Museum – this
is one of the stops on the Joburg City Sightseeing bus route but it is also
easily accessible by car. The museum tells the dark story of the years when
South Africa lived under an official system of racial discrimination, and how
brave people fought to overcome it. A highlight is the Nelson Mandela exhibit,
taking visitors into the life of this great leader and humanitarian, who set an
example of reconciliation to the entire world.
- Many people choose to commute to Joburg and
live among Pretoria’s elegant streets overhung with jacaranda trees and filled
with rose gardens. Pretoria has an excellent State Theatre, art galleries,
restaurants and Botanical Gardens, and is close to quite a few nature reserves.
- Cradle of Humankind – ·
one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites, containing
the Sterkfontein Caves with fossils millions of years old that rocked the world
when they were discovered. The area also protects a number of endangered animal
species and is very beautiful to explore.
- Cullinan - 30 km east of Pretoria, Cullinan is an old mining village famous for the discovery of the
Cullinan Diamond - the biggest rough gem-quality diamond ever found. It’s very
quaint, with restored Edwardian mine workers’ houses, storybook picket fences
and cosy coffee shops. You can even go down one of the old mines. Around
Cullinan there plenty of sports and outdoor activities to do.