10 Best Things to Do in Johannesburg for Apartheid History and Urban Renewal

clodagh da paixao xvJVDUoGpoU unsplash scaled

As participants in Amazon Associates and other programs, we earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you. For more details, see our Affiliate Disclosure.

Johannesburg, a city deeply intertwined with the complex threads of apartheid history and vibrant urban renewal, offers a profound journey through its past and present. This guide presents the top 10 things to do in Johannesburg for those looking to understand the city’s apartheid legacy and witness its dynamic transformation into a hub of culture, art, and innovation. From poignant museums that document the struggles for freedom to creative districts that showcase the city’s resurgence, these curated experiences will give you a comprehensive view of Johannesburg’s spirit and resilience.

Visit the Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum stands as a powerful symbol of South Africa’s turbulent past and its journey towards democracy. This museum offers a deeply moving experience, showcasing detailed exhibits that tell the story of apartheid through photographs, artifacts, and film footage. Visitors are given a clear, often stark insight into the segregation and oppression that once dominated the country, making it an essential visit for anyone seeking to understand South Africa’s history.

Explore Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is not just a former prison complex; it’s a critical symbol of South Africa’s fight for freedom. It has housed many famous political activists, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Today, it is home to the Constitutional Court, which upholds the rights of all the nation’s people. Tours of the site provide a profound insight into the injustices of the past and the role of the judiciary in shaping a new democratic South Africa.

Take a Tour of Soweto

A tour of Soweto (South Western Townships) offers a vivid glimpse into the soul of Johannesburg’s history and culture. This sprawling township is famous for its pivotal role in the struggle against apartheid and is home to the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Peace Prize winners—Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Visiting Soweto provides a deeper understanding of the city’s social and political dynamics.


Top 50 Essential Travel Items You Need

Discover the Maboneng Precinct

The Maboneng Precinct is a testament to Johannesburg’s urban renewal and creativity. Once a no-go zone, this area has transformed into a thriving arts and culture hub. With its mix of galleries, studios, boutiques, and restaurants, Maboneng attracts both locals and tourists alike, who come to experience its vibrant street life, innovative architecture, and the dynamic spirit of its community.

Walk Through the Johannesburg Art Gallery

The Johannesburg Art Gallery, located in Joubert Park, houses an impressive collection of international and South African art spanning several centuries. Its extensive array of paintings, sculptures, and photographic works provides a reflective journey through various artistic movements, offering insights into the cultural and historical narratives that have shaped the region.

Experience the Orlando Towers

The Orlando Towers in Soweto have become one of Johannesburg’s most iconic landmarks. Originally part of a coal-fired power station, these brightly painted towers are now a center for adventure sports. Thrill-seekers can bungee jump between the towers, zip-line across them, or enjoy panoramic views of Soweto from the top, providing a unique blend of historical significance and modern excitement.

Stroll Along Vilakazi Street

Vilakazi Street is one of the most famous streets in Soweto, known for its vibrant atmosphere and historical importance. The street offers a mix of history, culture, and cuisine. Visitors can explore the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu and enjoy local dishes at various eateries, experiencing the lively spirit and resilience of the Soweto community.

See the Transformation at 44 Stanley

44 Stanley is a converted industrial complex that now serves as a boutique shopping, dining, and lifestyle area. Its blend of historical architecture and contemporary design creates a unique urban oasis. This area is perfect for those looking to escape the typical retail environment and enjoy a more relaxed, stylish atmosphere filled with artisanal shops and gourmet food options.

Enjoy Arts on Main

Arts on Main is a creative hub in the Maboneng Precinct that brings together artists, photographers, and designers. This complex is a vibrant space where creativity flows freely, featuring art studios, galleries, shops, and restaurants. It’s also the venue for the popular Market on Main, a weekly event where locals and tourists gather to enjoy a variety of food, crafts, and live music.

Learn at the Hector Pieterson Museum

The Hector Pieterson Museum, located in Orlando West, Soweto, is named after one of the first casualties of the 1976 youth uprising against the apartheid regime. The museum offers a poignant look at the events of June 16, 1976, and the broader anti-apartheid struggle, through captivating photographs and narratives that highlight the profound bravery of South Africa’s youth.


Similar Posts