Johannesburg: An African Diamond of a City

You might consider escaping the European crowds this summer and heading to Johannesburg in South Africa for their sparkling winter. Johannesburg is a sprawling metropolis, the largest city in South Africa, and one of the largest in the continent with over 8 million living in close vicinity. The locals affectionately call it “Joburg” or “Jozi,” as they are proud of its modern developments. Johannesburg offers diverse experiences, whether for business, culture, art, sport, or adventure.

Johannesburg is a major hub for flights in Africa, with more than 19 million passengers passing through O.R. Tambo Airport. It is also one of the most interesting airports for shopping and relaxing when in transit. The airport has flights from all over the world converging from Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America, so it has a truly international hub. Check out cheap flights to Johannesburg now to give you some inspiration.

Joburg is in the northeast of South Africa in the Gauteng province next to the mineral rich deposits of the Witwatersrand Hills. A rich gold reef was discovered there in the late 1800s, and since then gold and diamond mines have been a focus for income and employment in South Africa.

The city has a relatively high elevation, at 1,753 meters, on a geographical area known as the Highveld which has a relatively warm subtropical climate.  Winter (May to September) is the sunniest time of the year, when the climate is dry, with sunny days and cold nights. The ground has many natural springs known as “fontein” that feed into two of Africa’s greatest rivers, the Limpopo and the Orange.

Johannesburg for Business, Culture, and Art

The high central city buildings give a truly urban skyline, with many international businesses represented including IBM, Willis Group, and most banks. The architecture is a mix of Beaux Arts structures reflecting British heritage and others inspired by American influences.

Johannesburg encourages artistic influence and has a vibrant art scene supported by galleries and public projects. The city developers believe public art improves life for all, local urbanites and visitors alike. You will find many pieces easily accessible from the street, including works by internationally recognized artists like Gerhard Max and William Kentridge. Others manifest as functional furniture like in Hillbrow and City Centre. In acknowledgement of the not-so-distant past, the Market Theatre complex is proud of its notoriety for staging anti-apartheid plays and continues to be a focus for performing arts in South Africa.

Visitors also often visit the Apartheid Museum and the Mandela Museum in Soweto.

Just outside the city is the UNESCO World Heritage site at Sterkfontein for The Cradle of Mankind, which is the site of the world’s richest hominid fossil area. It is famous for a near-complete Australopithecus Africanus skeleton.  

You are never far from Wild Animals!

A large number of African wild animals are also easily accessed from Johannesburg, with the Johannesburg Zoo being the largest in South Africa. There are big cat sanctuaries for lions, cheetah, and even tigers! Krugersdorp Nature Reserve is a 1500 hectare game reserve that is within a 40-minute drive of the city center. Eleven kilometers to the south is the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve for hiking.

Whether it is to explore African culture, enjoy some clear weather, or take a safari, you will find Johannesburg has more than enough to interest you for a holiday. Check out this story for more advice on exploring life in southern African countries. It is so easy to get to South Africa from most parts of the world, so start planning your South African experience now.