Must see attractions in Gauteng

  • Top ChoiceSights in Johannesburg

    Constitution Hill

    Do not leave Jo'burg without visiting Constitution Hill. One of South Africa's most important historical sites, the deeply moving and inspirational exhibitions here are split across four locations: the Old Fort, which dates from 1892 and was once a notorious prison for white males; the horrific Number Four Jail, reserved for nonwhite males; the Women's Jail; and the Awaiting Trial Block – now mostly demolished and replaced by the Constitutional Court. Tours depart on the hour and provide essential context. What you will hear and see will be shocking – the brutal facts of prisoners' incarceration here speak volumes. You will come away with an integral understanding of the legal and historical ramifications of the struggle. Many of the country’s high-profile political activists, including Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, were once held here. Most tours last one hour and cover the Number Four Jail and Constitutional Court; tours at 10am and 1pm last two hours and cover all sections of the hill. After the tour you are free to wander around. If visiting with children ask directions to Play Africa, an interactive children's play facility in a previously unused section of the Old Fort. Also keep an eye out for regular concerts and cultural events hosted at Constitution Hill. There's a good cafe, called the Hill, inside the Old Fort.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Johannesburg

    Apartheid Museum

    The Apartheid Museum illustrates the rise and fall of South Africa’s era of segregation and oppression, and is an absolute must-see. It uses a broad variety of media to provide a chilling insight into the architecture and implementation of the apartheid system, as well as inspiring stories of the struggle towards democracy. It’s invaluable in understanding the inequalities and tensions that still exist today. Located 8km south of the city centre, just off the M1 freeway. To do the museum justice schedule 1½ to two hours here. The sheer volume of information can make it an overwhelming experience; particularly distressing is a small chamber in which hang 131 nooses, representative of the 131 government opponents who were executed under antiterrorism laws.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Johannesburg

    Liliesleaf Farm

    A highlight of Jo'burg's northern suburbs is Liliesleaf Farm. This was the secret headquarters of the ANC (African National Congress) from 1961 until a dramatic raid in 1963 that saw the capture of several of the organisation's leaders including Nelson Mandela. Free tours provide all the background, but you can also explore at your own pace, learning the story of South Africa’s liberation struggle through a series of high-tech, interactive exhibits. There's also the very pleasant Cedric's Cafe at the museum should you plan to make a longer visit here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Johannesburg

    Constitutional Court

    Inaugurated in 2004, with its design based on the African concept of 'justice under a tree', the Constitutional Court is a very real symbol of modern South Africa. Incorporating some 150,000 bricks and the former stairwells of the Awaiting Trial Block that was demolished after the end of apartheid, the court houses a highly impressive contemporary art collection showcasing both local and international art. The court is open to the public: Lucky visitors may even hear a case being argued. Make sure you take a tour (a visit to the building is included as part of the tour of Constitution Hill) to fully appreciate the history and nuances of this remarkable building. Also, climb the stairs to the former Awaiting Trial Block, which still contains an old holding cell and provides an interesting view of the Court's public atrium below.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Pretoria

    Freedom Park

    This stunning park and museum honours fallen South Africans in all major conflicts and adopts an integrated approach to African history. It is a place of architectural imagination and collective healing. Start at //hapo, the museum covering Southern African history at the bottom of the hill; then proceed up the hill to the main park, which provides wonderful views of the city. Elements of the park incude Isivivane, a garden of Remembrance; S'khimbuto, the main memorial with an ampitheatre and a Wall of Names inscribed with the 75,000 names of those of who played a significant part in all of the conflicts within South Africa's history; and Mveledzo, a spiral path that cuts into the natural landscape.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Pretoria

    Voortrekker Monument

    The imposing, art-deco-style Voortrekker Monument was constructed between 1938 and 1949 to honour the journey of the Voortrekkers, who journeyed north over the coastal mountains of the Cape into the heart of the African veld. Surrounded by a 3.4-sq-km nature reserve, it's 3km south of the city and clearly signposted from the N1 freeway. The edifice is ringed by a stone wall carved with 64 wagons in a traditional defensive laager (circle). The building itself is a huge stone cube and each corner bears the face of an Afrikaner hero. A staircase and elevator lead to the roof and a great panoramic view of Pretoria.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Pretoria

    Rietvlei Nature Reserve

    This 38-sq-km reserve, 27km south of Pretoria, off Rte 21, is popular with locals who come for fishing in the dam, but is also great for wildlife viewing. Sightings of rhinos are common, often from the grounds of the small tearoom. You'll also spot zebras, various antelopes and perhaps buffaloes. Activities on offer include guided hikes, night drives and horse riding.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Ponte City

    Nothing sums up the changing fortunes of inner-city Jo'burg better than Ponte City, which can be visited on tours with Dlala Nje. This 54-storey cylindrical skyscraper was hijacked in the late 1980s by squatters and rapidly declined into a vertical urban slum. Flash forward a couple of decades – the building's owner, Kempston, has taken back control and refurbished the structure, which is now safe and home to an ethnically mixed community of working- and middle-class South Africans.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Nizamiye Mosque

    Built as a replica of the Ottoman Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey, the Nizamiye Mosque is a real find in the far-northern Jo'burg suburb of Midrand. Looming beside the M1 Hwy, it was built by hundreds of Turkish artisans – with 100% Turkish materials – transported to South Africa by Turkish businessman Ali Katırcıoğlu. Inside the mosque, the hand-woven carpets and massive tiled dome are awe inspiring. Non-Muslims are welcome inside the mosque during non-prayer times, as long as they dress modestly, remove their shoes, and women cover their heads. It's best to check in at the reception office before entering the mosque. Come hungry: There is a very good Turkish restaurant on site.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Spaza Art Gallery

    The home, sculpture garden and small 'matchbox' gallery of artist Andrew Lindsay is extraordinary. The garden is dominated by a mobile phone signal tower covered with thousands of plastic bottles. Mosaics and wooden sculptures are found amid the lush foliage and in one corner is the tiny gallery where you can buy affordable art drawn and painted on matchboxes (including Lindsay's illustrated guide to Jozi in a matchbox) or printed on tea towels and aprons. The gallery is part of the event that runs on the first Sunday of the month at art spots in the Maboneng/Troyeville area. It's also possible to stay here via booking on Airbnb.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Anglo American Head Office

    This handsome building, taking up an entire block, has been the mining company's HQ in Africa since 1939. It has an impressive main entrance with delicate metalwork, soaring etched glass panels, and stone steps flanked by carved friezes of African flora and fauna. In front of the building is a dynamic bronze sculpture by Herman Wald of an impala stampede. Commissioned in 1960 by Harry Oppenheimer, head of De Beers and the Anglo American Corporation, it formerly stood in Ernest Oppenheimer Park in downtown Jo'burg but was removed and eventually relocated here after being vandalised in the 1990s.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Goodman Gallery

    One of Jo'burg's most prestigious private art galleries, Goodman shows the work of William Kentridge, Sam Nhlengethwa, and many more of South Africa's leading visual artists. Located in Rosebank's "Art Mile" on Jan Smuts Avenue, where most of Jo'burg's top galleries are clustered, Goodman is always guaranteed to have an exhibition worth seeing. There are several excellent restaurants across the road from Goodman, at the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Bolton Road.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Lam Rim Buddhist Centre

    Located on the site of an old Afrikaans Dutch Reformed church in a hard hit neighborhood in Jo'burg's western suburbs, the Lam Rim Buddhist Centre is an unexpected surprise. The former church tower is painted in jaunty shades of yellow and red, and inside is a stunning, kaleidoscope-coloured Tibetan Buddhist shrine. The Centre, founded in 1993 by the Venerable Geshe Damcho Yonten and visited by the Dalai Lama in 2004, offers free meditation classes on Thursdays at 7pm.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Wits Art Museum

    Completed in May 2012, this is one of the leading museums of African art on the continent. Although it has an extraordinary collection of 10,000 works – which it shares with the Johannesburg Art Gallery – you'll only see a tiny fraction here, as there is a dynamic program of events and exhibitions including ones of international artists. With its clean, modern lines, the space will also appeal to architecture buffs.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Newtown Pillars

    The massive concrete pillars holding up the M1 Highway in Newtown have become an outdoor art gallery, featuring ever-changing graffiti murals by some of South Africa's top street artists. Over the years, the graffiti has also spilled over onto the surrounding streets. The pillars are a popular spot for photoshoots, but do keep a close watch on your valuables in this area. The neighbouring Newtown Junction shopping centre offers convenient and secure parking.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Yukon House

    A Victorian mansion built between1906 and 1911, Yukon House was home to two Johannesburg mayors during the early 20th century. Today, owners Loretta and Henry Chamberlain have lovingly restored this heritage building to its former glory and host regular tours and events. Loretta's afternoon tea is among the best in town. Call ahead for an events schedule and booking details.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Gandhi Square

    in 2002 Van der Bijl Sq was revamped and renamed Gandhi Sq in honour of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi. Look out for the bronze statue representing him as a young lawyer, gown flowing in the wind like a superhero. Gandhi Sq is home to several historic buildings including the recently renovated Somerset House, now a bar and events venue. Gandhi first came to South Africa in 1893 to work as a lawyer. He lived on and off in Johannesburg from 1903 to 1914, including at what is now Satyagraha House. Parking at Gandhi Square can be tricky, especially during the week. The best way to visit the square is via the Red Bus.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Rand Club

    Founded in 1887, this version of the illustrious (and once whites- and men-only) club dates from 1904. It's now open to all, and so long as you're not dressed too shabbily you can enter and order a drink at the ground-floor bar, which has a fine antique wooden bar (at 31m, reputed to be the longest in Africa!). As of 2018 the Rand Club boasts a fascinating antique map store, and also hosts sumptuous high teas (book in advance). Take the opportunity to go up the splendid staircase to view the stately portrait of Nelson Mandela, who shares wall space with Queen Elizabeth II and other historic South African grandees.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Chancellor House

    It was in this three-storey building that, in the 1950s, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo set up South Africa's first black-owned law firm. After a 2012 renovation, it features a public 'outside museum' that can be visited any time of the day or night. Photos and panels displayed in the windows give a vivid insight into Mandela's and Tambo's lives. Opposite is the 5m-tall painted steel sculpture Shadow Boxing by Marco Cianfanelli, based on Bob Gasini's famous photo of Mandela sparring in 1952.

  • Sights in Johannesburg

    Mary Fitzgerald Square

    Named after South Africa’s first female trade unionist, this square is partly decorated with an array of heads, carved from old railway sleepers by Newtown artists. It's also the start for a Jazz Walk of Fame, a walkway that pays tribute to South Africa’s most influential jazz musicians. In front of nearby Bassline there's a bronze sculpture honouring Brenda Fassie, one of the country’s most popular musicians, who died in 2004.