Johannesburg Airport Guide
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Johannesburg Tourist Activities

O.R Tambo International Airport was formerly known as Jan Smuts Airport, and later as Johannesburg International Airport, when apartheid was finally ended in South Africa. In 2006, the airport officially received its new name, in honour of a former South African National Congress President, Oliver Reginald Tambo, but Johannesburg’s airport still falls under the code of JNB. O.R Tambo Airport is a major gateway to the city of Johannesburg, South Africa’s capital city, and also the largest inland city in the world, and is the airport that serves the highest number of passengers on the African continent. Johannesburg has a lot to offer its visitors, with a number of worthwhile attractions, including the Johannesburg Planetarium, Gold Reef City and the historical Johannesburg Zoo.

Johannesburg is also well known as the ‘City of Gold’ due to its rich gold-mining heritage, or by the locals, as ‘eGoli’ or simply ‘Jo’burg’. The city of Johannesburg is spreading at an incredible pace, and is expected to soon be on the list of the largest ten cities in the world. It is also the financial capital of South Africa, and home to the famous Witwatersrand University, consisting of around 25,000 students. Johannesburg has a large number of residential suburbs, and a very modern city centre, with its skyscrapers often compared to those in Manhattan. New high-rise projects are being built in the upper class areas of Sandton and Midrand, and there are a number of huge shopping complexes to be explored. Not all parts of Johannesburg are considered safe, and tourists are recommended to only enter the township areas, such as Soweto, with a tour guide.

Gold Reef City is without a doubt one of the oldest and most famous attractions in Johannesburg. It has been renovated numerous times over the years, but remains the place where one can re-live the Gold Rush of the 19th century. Reconstructed houses, shops and pubs show visitors what it was like to work and live in the city during this time. There is also a theatre, a hotel, a Chinese laundry and a newspaper office, but one of Gold Reef City’s main attractions is the old mine shaft, which is now not used anymore. The mine shaft is owned by Crown Mines, one of the wealthiest mining companies in the world. Gold Reef City is open from Tuesday to Sunday, between the hours of 09:30 and 23:00. There is a charge to enter the area.

Children and adults alike enjoy the historical Johannesburg Zoo, which was established over a hundred years ago. The Zoo can be found in Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkview, and is home to over 2,000 animals. The Zoo features around 350 different animal species, of which the rare and unusual white lions are particularly popular, and visitors can enjoy watching the animals being fed. There are also many conservation talks held at the Johannesburg Zoo and seasonal events, as well as special children’s attractions and guided tours. The Zoo is open every day from 08:30 to 17:30, but visitors may only enter up until 16:00.

Other major attractions in Johannesburg include the Planetarium at the Witwatersrand University located in Milner Park and the Carlton Centre, which is one of the tallest buildings in South Africa. The Johannesburg Planetarium offers a wide selection of interesting displays and different shows, which are thoroughly enjoyed by children and adults, while at the Carlton Centre, families can enjoy a meal at the rooftop restaurant. From the fiftieth floor of the stunning building, on a clear day, one can see across the city centre of Johannesburg, as well as the areas of Soweto, Sandton and even Pretoria, which is as far as 40 km from the city. The Carlton Center also offers a number of shops and cinemas. Another interesting attraction in Johannesburg is the Kwazulu Multi Shop, found on Diagonal Street and President Street. It is also known as the Museum of Man and Science, and is actually a traditional medicine shop. Within the shop, over 1,900 dried herbs are sold, as well as a wide collection of interesting souvenirs, such as Zulu pots and walking sticks.

Johannesburg’s museums are very popular amongst locals and tourists, and they offer a glimpse into the city’s rich and also tremulous history, which includes the country’s famous apartheid era, the discovery of gold, politics and even the brewing of beer. The Apartheid Museum is one of Johannesburg’s most famous and intriguing museums, where visitors can gain true insight into the happenings during the apartheid era of South Africa. A number of exhibitions and artifacts are on display, and the story is told using a mixture of film, photographs and oral guides. Tourists can learn more about the city of Johannesburg, and Africa in general, at the MuseuMAfrica, and gather some interesting facts about how the SAB World of Beer came about. Other notable museums in Johannesburg include the South African National Museum of Military History and the Life Sciences Museum.

There are many landmarks and monuments in the city, including Constitution Hill and the Fort Complex, Gandhi Square, the Nelson Mandela Bridge, which stands at an impressive 284 meters tall and was built from 1,000 tons of steel, Nelson Mandela Square and the South-West Township of Soweto. A guided tour of Soweto is a favorite attraction in Johannesburg, and visitors to the area can learn more about the important role the township played in the SA struggle to freedom, and see homes of famous South African role models, such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu.

From Johannesburg, many people travel to the nearby Sun City Casino resort, as well as to the famous Kruger National Park, where the ‘Big Five’ can be seen. Tourists arriving at O.R Tambo International Airport will definitely not be disappointed in all Johannesburg has to offer.