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Johannesburg
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Is this really Africa? The many film crews that recreate perfect American cities around the skyscraper canyons? The countless exhibitions of contemporary art? The «in» quarters, populated by musicians, students, writers and hedonists? Cafés, bars, theatres?

No; the first impression is not quite right. Johannesburg really is typically African. It provides an urban, contemporary view of the continent that dispels many of the clichés that surround it. Johannesburg is an economic and cultural metropolis not only of South Africa, but of the entire continent. Of course, Johannesburg is not a classic tourist destination. It is a hub for connecting flights to Cape Town, Durban, the Kruger National Park, the Pilanesberg National Park, and the neighbouring countries.

As a city of millions, it has to deal with crime; careful travellers will leave their valuables in their hotel before they set off to explore the city. However, it’s definitely worth making a stop in Johannesburg. Every open-minded culture-lover can and should explore the city that was built on gold in the 19th century. Today, a more appropriate nickname would be «Green city» rather than «Gold city». With 10 million trees and 2000 parks, Johannesburg is one of the greenest cities in the world.

Of course, there are plenty of complaints about the level of crime, and in fact it does put many people off visiting the city. But do your homework and don’t take any chances, and you will be able to explore the metropolis in good faith.

City Facts

  • Location

    South Africa’s largest city, in the northeast of the country.

  • Population

    About 1 million

  • Size

    Approx. 508 km²

  • Public transport

    It has a railway system and buses. Above all, though, Johannesburg is a city of cars. Hire cars are preferred over public transport.

  • Climate

    Subtropical highland climate. Expect severe storms between October and April.

  • Best time to visit

    Between June and August, when it’s cooler and drier.

  • Good to know

    The best way to get around Johannesburg is by car. For your own safety, try not to stop if you’re out at night. This also applies at red traffic lights.

  • Nice to know

    With over 10 million planted trees, Johannesburg has the world’s biggest planted forest.

  • Airport

    O R Tambo International Airport; approx. 20 km from the city centre.

  • Railway

    The Gautrain has linked the airport and Sandton station in the city since 2010. The travel time is about 15 minutes. This option is recommended for tourists, since it is the safest and the most reliable.

  • Taxi

    Depending on the amount of traffic, the journey to the centre takes between 30 and 45 minutes.