12 Most Beautiful Places in Johannesburg You Should Add to Your Bucket List

by Lynnel Backup
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Are you thinking about visiting Johannesburg this year? Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Johannesburg. These beautiful spots and places are guaranteed to leave you speechless.

Ready to see the beauty of Johannesburg? Imagine standing atop Northcliff Hill, the city’s second-highest point, as the sun dips below the horizon. The sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg unfolds before you, a tapestry of twinkling lights and towering skyscrapers. Welcome to Jozi, a city that sparkles like a diamond, multifaceted and infinitely precious.

Forget what you’ve heard about Johannesburg being just a layover city; this is a destination that demands to be explored. Here, history and modernity coexist in a vibrant dance. Wander through the poignant Apartheid Museum one moment and find yourself amidst the bustling, creative energy of Maboneng Precinct the next. Every street, every corner, every face tells a story—a complex narrative of a city that’s constantly evolving.

But let’s cut to the chase: you’re here for the most beautiful places in Johannesburg, the spots that will make your Instagram feed the stuff of legends. From the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the lush landscapes of Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Johannesburg is a treasure trove of awe-inspiring locales.

The top places to visit in Johannesburg right now

The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Johannesburg  

Excited to delve into Johannesburg’s most captivating locations? Situated in South Africa, the city is a treasure trove of diverse experiences for all types of travelers. Keep reading to discover the awe-inspiring sights and activities that Johannesburg proudly presents.

From the bustling urban atmosphere and cultural highlights to serene natural getaways, Johannesburg caters to a wide array of interests. Here’s your guide to the can’t-miss spots in Johannesburg:

1. Lindfield Victorian House Museum

Step back in time at the Lindfield Victorian House Museum, a well-preserved gem that offers a glimpse into Johannesburg’s colonial past. This museum is a beautiful place in Johannesburg, showcasing the elegance and intricacies of Victorian-era design and architecture.

The house itself is a marvel, filled with antique furniture, ornate decorations, and period-appropriate artifacts. Each room tells a story, from the grand drawing-room to the intimate bedrooms. It’s a Johannesburg beauty that transports you to a different era, making it a unique cultural experience.

Explore the period rooms, antique furnishings, and lush gardens, offering a glimpse into the bygone era of Victorian Johannesburg.
Explore the period rooms, antique furnishings, and lush gardens, offering a glimpse into the bygone era of Victorian Johannesburg.

Guided tours are available, led by the house’s owner, Katharine Love, who lives on the premises. She provides fascinating insights into the history and significance of the various rooms and artifacts. This is a place to go in Johannesburg for history buffs and anyone interested in architecture or interior design.

The Lindfield Victorian House Museum is a journey into the past. It provides a stark contrast to Johannesburg’s modern skyline, serving as a tangible link to the city’s colonial history.

2. Carlton Centre

Elevate your Johannesburg experience—literally! The Carlton Centre offers an unparalleled view of the city from its 50th-floor observation deck. Known as the “Top of Africa,” this skyscraper is the tallest building on the continent. It’s a must-see in Johannesburg, especially for first-time visitors.

The observation deck provides a 360-degree panorama that stretches as far as the eye can see. From this vantage point, the city’s landmarks, like the Hillbrow Tower and Ponte City Apartments, are easily identifiable. You’ll also spot several green spaces breaking up the urban sprawl. It’s one of the most scenic places in Johannesburg, offering a bird’s-eye view of the city’s unique blend of architecture and nature.

Carlton Centre: A towering landmark in Johannesburg, South Africa, that stands as the tallest building on the continent.
Carlton Centre is a towering landmark in Johannesburg that stands as the tallest building on the continent.

While the Carlton Centre is primarily a shopping center and office building, the observation deck is its crowning glory. The deck is accessible to the public for a small fee, and it’s worth every penny. You’ll want to bring your camera; the photo opportunities are endless.

In a city as dynamic as Johannesburg, the Carlton Centre serves as a quiet respite where you can rise above the hustle and bustle. It’s one of those Johannesburg destinations that offers a fresh perspective, quite literally, on what the city has to offer.

3. Cradle of Humankind

Unlock the secrets of human evolution at the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a treasure trove of ancient fossils. Located just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, this archaeological wonder is among the most beautiful places to visit in Johannesburg.

Start your exploration at Maropeng Visitor Centre, where interactive exhibits guide you through our evolutionary journey. The boat ride through an artificial cave sets the stage for the discoveries that await. It’s a must-see in Johannesburg for anyone with a curiosity about the origins of humanity.

Maropeng Visitor Centre is captivating journey into human evolution and the story of our origins, located in the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg, South Africa.
Explore interactive exhibits, archaeological wonders, and the underground boat ride at Maropeng, offering a unique and educational experience in the exploration of humanity’s history.

Then, venture to the Sterkfontein Caves, where some of the world’s most important hominid fossils have been found. Don a hard hat and descend into the depths to see the excavation sites. It’s a surreal experience, knowing you’re standing where some of the earliest humans once lived.

The Cradle of Humankind offers more than just a history lesson; it’s a connection to our shared past. Amidst the rolling hills and lush landscapes, you’ll find yourself contemplating the bigger picture. This is one of those Johannesburg destinations that transcends the typical tourist experience, offering a profound look into who we are and where we come from.

4. Gold Reef City

Step back in time and experience the gold rush era at Gold Reef City, a theme park and living museum rolled into one. Located just eight kilometers from the city center, this is one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg for families and thrill-seekers alike.

First up, the theme park. With over 30 rides, including the Tower of Terror and the Anaconda, adrenaline junkies will feel right at home. The rides are designed to cater to all ages, making it a perfect day out for the whole family. It’s a must-see in Johannesburg if you’re looking to add a little excitement to your trip.

From adrenaline-pumping rides to historical exhibits, Gold Reef City offers a dynamic experience for visitors of all ages.
From adrenaline-pumping rides to historical exhibits, Gold Reef City offers a dynamic experience for visitors of all ages.

Switch gears and head to the living museum section, where you can explore a replica of a gold-mining town. Here, you’ll learn about the gold rush that shaped Johannesburg and even get to descend into a real gold mine. The experience is both educational and entertaining, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history.

Gold Reef City isn’t just a theme park; it’s a celebration of Johannesburg’s heritage. With its unique blend of thrills and history, it’s one of those Johannesburg destinations that offers something for everyone, from the young to the young at heart.

5. Holy Hill

Elevate your spirit and your viewpoint at Holy Hill. This serene location offers panoramic views of Johannesburg’s skyline, making it one of Johannesburg’s beautiful places. It’s a spot where cityscapes and spirituality converge, providing a tranquil escape from urban life.

Begin your visit with a leisurely walk up the hill. The path is lined with indigenous trees and the occasional sculpture, adding an artistic touch to your ascent. Once you reach the top, you’ll find a chapel and a labyrinth, both designed for quiet reflection. It’s a must-see in Johannesburg for travelers seeking a moment of peace.

Discover the hidden gem of Johannesburg at Holy Hill, a lesser-known but awe-inspiring vantage point offering breathtaking views of the entire city.
Discover the hidden gem of Johannesburg at Holy Hill, a lesser-known but awe-inspiring vantage point offering breathtaking views of the entire city.

The view from the top is nothing short of breathtaking. As you gaze out over the city, you’ll notice landmarks like the Hillbrow Tower and the Ponte City Apartments. The contrast between the bustling city below and the peaceful hilltop is striking, offering a unique perspective on Johannesburg’s dual nature.

Holy Hill isn’t just a viewpoint; it’s a spiritual sanctuary. Whether you’re drawn by the views or the opportunity for reflection, it’s one of those Johannesburg destinations that nourishes both the eyes and the soul.

6. Mary Fitzgerald Square

Welcome to Mary Fitzgerald Square, the beating heart of Johannesburg’s Newtown district. Known for its lively atmosphere and cultural significance, it’s one of the best places to visit in Johannesburg for anyone keen on soaking up local vibes.

The square is named after Mary Fitzgerald, a political and union activist, adding a layer of historical depth to your visit. Surrounded by art galleries, theaters, and museums, the square is a hub for Johannesburg’s creative community. It’s a must-see in Johannesburg if you’re an art aficionado or a culture vulture.

Mary Fitzgerald Square: A vibrant public space in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa, where cultural events, concerts, and gatherings come to life.
Named after a labor activist, the square is a hub of creativity and expression, hosting diverse events that reflect the dynamic spirit of the city.

Events are the lifeblood of Mary Fitzgerald Square. From music festivals to art exhibitions, there’s always something happening here. The square transforms into a pulsating venue where locals and tourists alike come to celebrate the city’s diverse cultural offerings.

In a city that’s a melting pot of cultures, Mary Fitzgerald Square stands out as a celebration of Johannesburg’s artistic and social diversity. It’s one of those Johannesburg destinations that lets you experience the city’s vibrant community spirit up close.

7. Melville

Ah, Melville! This bohemian suburb is a haven for artists, writers, and anyone with a creative soul. With its quirky shops, eclectic cafés, and vibrant street art, Melville is one of the prettiest places in Johannesburg.

Start your day with a visit to 27 Boxes, a shopping center made entirely of shipping containers. It’s a must-see in Johannesburg for its innovative design and unique boutiques. From handcrafted jewelry to artisanal food, you’ll find treasures that are as unique as the neighborhood itself.

Melville is a vibrant and eclectic suburb known for its bohemian atmosphere, trendy boutiques, and diverse culinary scene.
Melville is a vibrant and eclectic suburb known for its bohemian atmosphere, trendy boutiques, and diverse culinary scene.

As the sun sets, Melville comes alive in a different way. The streets are filled with the sounds of live music, laughter, and clinking glasses. Head to 7th Street, the suburb’s main artery, where you’ll find a plethora of bars, restaurants, and live music venues. It’s the perfect place to experience Johannesburg’s nightlife.

Melville isn’t just a suburb; it’s a lifestyle. It captures the essence of Johannesburg’s creative spirit and wraps it up in a package of tree-lined streets and colorful buildings. It’s one of those Johannesburg destinations that you’ll want to return to, time and time again.

8. Northcliff Hill

Elevate your senses at Northcliff Hill, one of Johannesburg’s highest points. This natural wonder offers panoramic views that stretch across the city and beyond. It’s one of the most beautiful places of Johannesburg, perfect for sunset chasers and photography enthusiasts.

Upon arrival, you’ll notice the Northcliff Water Tower, an iconic structure that’s become synonymous with the hill itself. While the tower is not open to the public, it serves as a unique backdrop for photos. This is a must-see in Johannesburg for anyone looking to capture the city’s skyline in a single frame.

Northcliff Water Tower is a symbol of Johannesburg's skyline, the tower is a popular spot for visitors seeking breathtaking vistas and a unique perspective on the city below.
Northcliff Water Tower is a symbol of Johannesburg’s skyline.

The hill is more than just a viewpoint; it’s a recreational space. Locals often come here for morning jogs, afternoon picnics, and even yoga sessions. The atmosphere is peaceful, making it an ideal spot for some quiet contemplation or a romantic date.

In a bustling city like Johannesburg, Northcliff Hill serves as a serene escape. It’s one of those Johannesburg destinations where you can pause, breathe, and take it all in. The hill offers a rare blend of natural beauty and urban charm, making it a must-visit spot on any Johannesburg itinerary.

9. Pilanesberg National Park

Discover the wild side of South Africa at Pilanesberg National Park. Located just two hours from Johannesburg, this sprawling reserve is a sanctuary for the Big Five—lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. It’s one of the places to visit in Johannesburg that offers an authentic safari experience.

The park is set in the crater of an extinct volcano, adding a unique geological element to your adventure. The landscape is diverse, featuring grasslands, wooded valleys, and rocky outcrops. It’s one of the stunning locations in Johannesburg for nature photography and bird-watching, with over 360 bird species calling the park home.

Pilanesberg National Park: A stunning wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, nestled within an extinct volcanic crater.
Pilanesberg National Park is a stunning wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, nestled within an extinct volcanic crater.

Game drives are the main attraction here, and they come in various forms—self-drive, guided, and even hot air balloon safaris. Each offers a different perspective on the park’s diverse ecosystems and inhabitants. Visiting Johannesburg is essential, especially for wildlife enthusiasts.

Pilanesberg National Park isn’t just a day trip; it’s an immersion into South Africa’s incredible biodiversity. Whether you’re a seasoned safari-goer or a first-timer, this is a destination that promises awe and wonder in every glance.

10. The Lion Park

Get up close and personal with the King of the Jungle at The Lion Park, a conservation enclosure located just outside Johannesburg. This is a Johannesburg beauty in its own right, offering a unique opportunity to interact with one of Africa’s most iconic species.

The park is divided into different sections, each housing various animals like lions, cheetahs, and numerous antelope species. The highlight, of course, is the lion enclosure. Here, you can opt for a guided tour in a protected vehicle, allowing you to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. It’s one of those places to see in Johannesburg that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

The Lion Park is an exhilarating wildlife experience in Johannesburg where visitors can get up close to lions, cheetahs, and other magnificent animals.
The Lion Park is an exhilarating wildlife experience in Johannesburg where visitors can get up close to lions, cheetahs, and other magnificent animals.

Feeding times are especially thrilling. Watch as the lions devour their meals, a spectacle that showcases their raw power and natural instincts. It’s the best part of Johannesburg for those interested in wildlife and conservation.

The Lion Park is more than an animal encounter; it’s an educational experience. The park aims to raise awareness about the importance of lion conservation, offering visitors a deeper understanding of these incredible animals.

11. Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

Step into a world of botanical beauty at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. This lush oasis is a beautiful place in Johannesburg, offering a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. With its diverse flora and fauna, the gardens are a paradise for nature lovers and botany enthusiasts alike.

The gardens are home to the Witpoortjie Waterfall, a stunning natural feature that serves as a backdrop to a variety of plant species. The sound of cascading water adds a soothing soundtrack to your visit. This is a Johannesburg scenery that captures the essence of South Africa’s natural beauty.

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens is a scenic retreat in Roodepoort, Johannesburg where nature enthusiasts can explore a diverse array of indigenous plants and enjoy tranquil surroundings.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens is a scenic retreat where nature enthusiasts can explore a diverse array of indigenous plants and enjoy tranquil surroundings.

One of the garden’s unique features is its birdlife, particularly the Verreaux’s Eagles that nest near the waterfall. These majestic birds are a sight to behold, especially when they take to the skies. It’s among the most beautiful places in Johannesburg for bird-watching and offers a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic.

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens is not just a green space; it’s a living, breathing ecosystem. It offers educational programs and seasonal events, making it a dynamic destination that appeals to all ages.

12. Zoo Lake

Zoo Lake is the epitome of urban tranquility. With its sprawling lawns, tree-lined paths, and a large, central lake, it’s a where to go in Johannesburg for relaxation and leisure activities. Whether you’re into paddle boating, picnicking, or simply people-watching, Zoo Lake offers a slice of serenity in the heart of the city.

The lake itself is the main attraction, offering paddle boat rentals for those who wish to take to the water. As you paddle along, you’ll be treated to views of the Johannesburg skyline, creating a picturesque setting that’s perfect for photos.

Zoo Lake offers a peaceful escape within the city, making it a popular destination for relaxation and outdoor activities.
Zoo Lake offers a peaceful escape within the city, making it a popular destination for relaxation and outdoor activities.

But Zoo Lake is not just about the lake; it’s a community hub. The park hosts various events throughout the year, from concerts to art fairs. These events bring a vibrant energy to the park, making visiting Johannesburg essential for experiencing local culture.

Zoo Lake is a versatile destination that caters to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful escape or a dose of local culture, this park has something for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Visiting the Beautiful Places in Johannesburg  

Looking to expand your knowledge about the most scenic spots in Johannesburg? Here are some common questions I get a lot about the best Johannesburg attractions.

For which thing is Johannesburg famous?

Johannesburg is famous for its rich history, particularly its role in the gold rush that led to its founding in 1886. It’s a city that has undergone significant transformation over the years from a small mining town to a bustling metropolis. Today, it serves as South Africa’s financial hub and offers a variety of cultural experiences, from museums like the Apartheid Museum to vibrant neighborhoods like Maboneng. It’s also a gateway to other stunning locations in South Africa, making it a key part of any travel itinerary. Overall, Johannesburg is a city of contrasts where history, nature, and modernity coexist.

Johannesburg: The bustling economic and cultural heart of South Africa, where modern skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and diverse neighborhoods coexist.
Johannesburg: The bustling economic and cultural heart of South Africa, where modern skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and diverse neighborhoods coexist.

Why is Johannesburg a tourist attraction?

Johannesburg, often referred to as South Africa’s “City of Gold,” is a major tourist attraction for several compelling reasons:

  • Johannesburg is a melting pot of cultures, offering a rich tapestry of experiences that include museums like the Apartheid Museum, art galleries, and vibrant neighborhoods like Maboneng.
  • The city plays a crucial role in South Africa’s history, particularly in the struggle against apartheid. Sites like Constitution Hill and the Apartheid Museum offer deep insights into this past.
  • While not as famous for wildlife as other South African locations, Johannesburg is close to several game reserves and natural parks. The Lion & Safari Park is a popular day trip.
  • From high-end malls like Sandton City to local markets like Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein, Johannesburg offers a variety of shopping experiences. The culinary scene is equally diverse, offering everything from traditional African dishes to international cuisine.
  • For the more adventurous, the city offers a range of activities like hot air ballooning, bungee jumping, and Gold Reef City theme park rides.

What are some must-see places in Johannesburg?

Johannesburg offers a variety of must-see places that cater to different interests. The Apartheid Museum provides a deep dive into the country’s history, while neighborhoods like Melville offer a bohemian vibe with cafes and art galleries. For nature lovers, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens and Pilanesberg National Park are pretty places in Johannesburg that offer a respite from city life. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, Johannesburg has something for everyone.

How safe is it to travel in Johannesburg?

Safety in Johannesburg is a common concern for travelers. While the city has areas that are considered safe, it’s always important to take standard precautions, such as avoiding certain neighborhoods at night and being aware of your surroundings. Many tourists opt for guided tours when visiting places like Soweto or use reputable taxi services when getting around. Overall, Johannesburg is a city that can be enjoyed safely with proper planning and awareness.

What is the best time to visit Johannesburg?

The best time to visit Johannesburg depends on what you’re looking to do. The city experiences a mild climate year-round, but the most popular time to visit is during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months from December to March. This is when you can enjoy outdoor activities and explore the best parts of Johannesburg without worrying about the weather. However, if you prefer a quieter experience, the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-November offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds.

How do I get around Johannesburg?

Getting around Johannesburg is relatively easy, with a range of options available. The Gautrain is a modern, fast rail service that connects key areas like Sandton, Rosebank, and the airport. For more localized travel, metered taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are widely used. If you’re looking to explore places off the beaten path, renting a car is a good option, but be aware of the driving conditions and rules.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in Johannesburg  

Johannesburg is a city that defies easy categorization, a place where history, culture, and modernity intersect in fascinating ways. It’s a melting pot of cultures, a financial powerhouse, and a gateway to some of South Africa’s most breathtaking natural wonders. From the historical depths of the Apartheid Museum to the soaring heights of Carlton Centre, Johannesburg offers a range of experiences that are as diverse as its population.

But beyond its skyscrapers and bustling markets, Johannesburg is also a city of natural beauty. Places like the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens and Pilanesberg National Park offer a tranquil escape from the urban jungle, showcasing the diverse flora and fauna of this unique region. Whether you’re an urban explorer, a history buff, or a nature lover, this city has something to offer.

And let’s not forget the vibrant arts and culture scene. Neighborhoods like Melville and Maboneng are teeming with galleries, boutiques, and street art, making them a haven for creatives and those looking to experience the city’s artistic side. Events, concerts, and festivals are a regular occurrence, adding a dynamic layer to an already energetic city.

So, whether you’re here for a quick visit or planning an extended stay, Johannesburg is a city that invites exploration. It’s not just a stopover on your way to other stunning locations in South Africa; it’s a destination worth exploring in its own right. Pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and come see for yourself why Johannesburg is a city that captures hearts and minds, offering a multitude of experiences that promise to leave you enriched and inspired.

The most beautiful places to visit in Johannesburg for all types of travelers
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