Often referred to as the 'City of Gold' due to its rich gold-mining heritage, or simply 'Jo'burg', Johannesburg is a striking city of contrast and considerable wealth, despite its relative youth, being founded just over 120 years ago, in 1886. The Johannesburg of today is South Africa's financial capital and a truly vast city.

Arriving in Johannesburg

Arriving in Johannesburg
OR Tambo International Airport is the gateway to Johannesburg and the biggest air transport hub in southern Africa.
Handling more than 17 million passengers each year, the airport was renamed in 2006 to honour former president of the African National Congress Oliver Tambo.
Tambo, who died in 1993, was a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner who spent much of his time travelling abroad to raise awareness of the situation in South Africa.
The airport is a hub for the country's largest international carrier, South African Airways. A number of other airlines also operate from OR Tambo, including British Airways, Emirates, Iberia, KLM and Qantas.
OR Tambo is about 30 minutes away from most parts of the city by car. Some hotels will offer a shuttle bus service to transport guests from the airport, while rental cars and metered taxis are readily available - although this is a more expensive option.
New arrivals could also choose to take the high-speed Gautrain, which links the airport with the metropolitan area of Sandton.

Getting to know the city

Known locally as 'Jo'burg' or 'Jozi', Johannesburg has a population of 3.8 million and is the largest city in the world not situated on a river, lake or coastline.
The country's turbulent history and ongoing social inequalities are unavoidable when spending time in the city, but visitors to the city are increasingly discovering a cosmopolitan destination characterised by optimism and the buzz of urban renewal.
Johannesburg was formerly established in 1886 in the midst of a mass gold rush, with people from around the world flocking to the area in search of a fortune. What was formerly a dusty settlement quickly became the largest city in South Africa. 
Having grown rapidly with little planning, the modern city covers an extremely large area - 1,645 sq km to be exact. 
The inner city districts are extremely diverse, with suburbs such as Newtown and Braamfontein recently being developed into thriving cultural and commercial centres.

Johannesburg's top five attractions

Johannesburg's top five attractions
Located in downtown Johannesburg, the Carlton Centre is Africa's tallest building at 223 metres. It houses office and retail space, but there is also an observatory floor that offers stunning views across the city.

The Apartheid Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone with an interest in the recent social and political history of South Africa. Designed to illustrate the rise and fall of the country's racial segregation system in the 20th century, it combines film footage, photographs, text and other artefacts to tell this incredible story.

On a similar theme, the Mandela Family Museum in Soweto offers an insight into the life of the most famous anti-apartheid figure. The museum is located in a single-storey matchbox house in the township where Mandela lived between 1946 and 1962.

The Johannesburg Art Gallery is the largest institution of its kind in Africa and admission is free. The gallery contains more than 9,000 artworks, including traditional southern African pieces and work by modern masters such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Moyo, which can be found in the Melrose Arch shopping precinct, is arguably the city's most famous restaurant. Famed for its vibrant atmosphere and contemporary African cuisine, the eatery also offers live entertainment such as face-painting and mime artists.

Direct Flights travel tip

If using a minibus taxi to travel into central Johannesburg, get off before it reaches the end of the route and avoid the taxi rank, as muggings are known to take place here.

When to go to Johannesburg

 Due to its high altitude, Johannesburg enjoys a fairly warm and sunny climate all-year round. However, thunder storms and showers are frequent during the summer months of October to March.