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How to Spend 24 Hours in Johannesburg

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A GUIDE TO AFRICA

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HOW TO SPEND 24 HOURS IN JOHANNESBURG

Johannesburg, known by the locals as Jozi or Joburg, is often overlooked as a South African destination in its own right. The turbulent past of the city saw years of division and hardship. However, much has changed and today Johannesburg is a vibrant, trendy melting pot of urban culture, art galleries, museums, start-ups, historic sites and restaurants.  

It is highly likely you will find yourself spending one night in the city due to its proximity to the Kruger National Park and its quick flight to Victoria Falls. We recommend spending 24 hours in the city to get a taste of everything it has to offer 

Here is how to make the most of 24 hours in Johannesburg. 

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The Day Begins…

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is almost impossible to get through an action-packed day of exploring without a caffeine kick. Luckily, there are a number of delicious food markets where you can eat your fill and get your day off on the right foot! If your 24 hours in Johannesburg falls on a Saturday, we recommend heading to the Neighbourgoods Market. This market is favourite among locals, knowns for its specialty street food and bespoke design goods.  If you find yourself in Jozi on a Sunday, the Market on Main in the Maboneng Precint is the place to be.  If you’re there in the week, visit 27 Boxes in Melville, a permanent market that is open all week. Either way, you’ll be met with delicious local food, freshly-brewed coffee and insight into Johannesburg’s thriving creative community. 

They say the best way to experience a city is by walking it, so we recommend working off your breakfast with a walking tour. Johannesburg has a number of walking tours led by passionate local guides who will show you the city’s diverse neighbourhoods and offer insight into unique rhythm and heartbeat of the city.  There are tours for everyone – foodies, history-lovers, artists, to name a few. Get your walking shoes on and get ready to dive headfirst into the City of Gold.  

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A Soweto Walking Tour 

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Afternoon Adventure Ensues…

The Apartheid Museum is a fundamental stop on your 24 hours in Johannesburg itinerary. The museum illustrates the turbulent past of South Africa under the rise and fall of the Apartheid regime.  The admission into the museum sets the tone for the emotional experience – you will be assigned a white or non-white ticket at random and enter accordingly through the gates as pictured below.  Once inside, you will be faced with a variety of carefully curated multi-disciplinary exhibitions covering the course of Apartheid, from Life under Apartheid and the Rise of Black Consciousness to Mandela’s Release and South Africa’s Journey to Healing. Many spend hours here and find themselves coming back the next day for more. It is a significant and emotional experience and we do not recommend rushing it.  

If you have time after your visit at the Apartheid Museum, then grab an Uber and continue your exploration of South Africa’s history. Head to Constitution Hill in Braamfontein. It is a former prison where Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi all served time. Today, it is home to the Constitutional Court of South Africa and several exhibition spaces and museums. We recommend booking a tour, as they are extremely educational and help you make the most of your visit.  

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The Entrance of the Apartheid Museum

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Wrapping Up the Day…

How you spend your last 24 hours in Johannesburg depends on how tired you after your day of exploring! You might want to wrap up your 24 hours in Johannesburg with a show at the Theatre at Montecasino. You can sit back and enjoy anything from a world-famous Broadway production to a ballet or music performance. Just check the calendar and book in advance!  

Alternatively, you might feel like winding down with a cocktail and some live music. In which case, Johannesburg has several music joints offering up music across the genres – such as Katsy’s Live, a jazz club, or Hell’s Kitchen, a trendy Rock ‘n Roll / speakeasy spot. 

Otherwise, just treat yourself to a delicious meal in Nelson Mandela Square. This square in Sandton is known for its large statue of South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela Square houses about ten restaurants, ranging from casual eateries to Italian to sushi.  

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Statue of Nelson Mandela, Mandela Square

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In search of more inspiration?

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