Johannesburg, often lovingly called Jo’burg or Jozi, is a rapidly changing city and the vibrant heart of South Africa. The city is also referred to as ‘Egoli’, the city of gold. In just over 120 years a lawless mining camp has flourished and become Africa’s most prosperous and developed metropolis, full of colour and contrasts. The golden mine dumps that once stood out as landmarks are no longer as prominent and in their place is an immense treed city with areas of urban sprawl juxtaposed with Sandton’s gleaming high-rises.
After almost 20 years of decline and decay, the city is now looking optimistically towards the future. The old CBD is smartening up and new loft apartments and office developments are being constructed at a rapid pace. The hipster-friendly urban neighbourhood of Maboneng is considered one of the most successful urban-renewal projects in the world. Other interesting new developments take place in Newtown. Affluent suburbs like Sandton, Rosebank and Melrose offer large shopping-malls, small designer shops and office complexes.
Johannesburg is a very friendly city and there is a lot to see and to experience, from the sobering reminders of the country’s recent past at the Apartheid Museum to the progressive streets of Melville.
Usually Cape Town comes to mind first when you think of a city destination in South Africa. But if you are looking for an authentic African city experience, you have to include at least a full day in Johannesburg too. Let a local guide take you on a walking tour in Maboneng or Newtown, meeting the locals, admiring the colourful street art, sampling the local food and listening to the music. Visit Soweto by mountain bike, go shopping in Sandton, Rosebank or Melrose Arch. Discover the origins of mankind at the Sterkfontein Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frankly, one full day is probably not even enough to explore all that Johannesburg has to offer.
Johannesburg has one of the very best climates in the world. Seriously! The sun shines well over 3100 hours every year, that is an average of 8,5 hours of sunshine daily. Thanks to the high elevation of 1750 meters (6000 feet) above sea level the temperatures are moderate throughout the year and the city can be visited year round. The summer months (November – March) are characterized by warm days and afternoon thunderstorms, with impressive clouds and lightning displays sometimes. April and May usually see milder temperatures. The winter months (June-August) are very sunny and dry, with mild temperatures during the day and cool nights. Spring in September and October is brief, and you’ll know it by the distinctive purple haze that the blooming jacaranda trees cast across the northern suburbs of the city.