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Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

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Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg


A well planned 23 day Safari and Cape Town trip has come unglued due to a hurricane fast approaching the USA.

We had to get out earlier than we planned, Friday actually, and we find we have an extended 3 day stay in Johannesburg.

I have a 1 night stay at the Premier OR Tambo Hotel on 12 Sept., but now I have to add 3 more nights as I will be arriving in Johannesburg on 9 Sept.

Do I say at that hotel, or is there a more central one I can use for about the same amount Rand?

If I stay at that hotel, what is the best way to get around? What is the Gautrain, and how and where would I get it?

Any suggestions for how to fill my 3 days in Johannesburg before I head to Kruger and the Sabi Sands?

I will keep looking for things on TA, but aside from Township Tours and the Apartheid Museum there does not seem like much.

I am sure I am mistaken...Can you please help?

Thank you.

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8 replies to this topic
Singapore, Singapore
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1. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

If you are happy with it, then look at airbnb options in the Sandton and Rosebank areas.

3 days is good for a first time visitor to Jo'burg and there are lots of things to keep you occupied.

Would surely recommend a red bus city tour alongwith soweto.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

The Gautrain is a rail system that includes connections, among others for the airport, downtown Jo-burg, the Jo-Burg suburbs of Sandton & Rosebank, and also Pretoria. It was built, I believe, for the World Cup; it is clean, efficient, and the easiest way to get between the locations where it runs.

With 3 days in Johannesburg, I'd stay out in Rosebank, where you have a choice of the well-known chains, as well as boutique, hotels, all with easy access to the Gautrain and restaurants. Go over to the Trip Advisor review pages to help choose a hotel. From Rosebank, you can take the Hop On/ Hop Off bus to the Apartheid Museum; to central Johannesburg -- especially Constitution Square, which has a number of attractions of political and historical significance; and (for a supplemental fee) a van tour of Soweto. Those sites alone can easily occupy 2 days. For your 3rd day, you might take a bus tour down to the Cradle of Mankind archeological site. SA locals will join in shortly, I am sure, with a list of many more things that you could do in and around Jo-Burg that would occupy more than 3 days.

Long Island, New...
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3. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

There's plenty to do. For starters, check out the HopOn HopOff bus with Soweto for some of the highlights. The Cradle of Humankind and caves is great too. You'll need a car with no way to get between the museum and caves - we stayed at the Maropeng Hotel next door. Good food, good rooms. Gavin should pop in with his Johannesburg list of more than you could ever visit in a lifetime!! It's a city I have come to like a lot.

You could head to the Waterberg north of Johannesburg or KwaZulu Natal with your bonus time. For KZN fly to Richards Bay - St Lucia is nice for three nights. Or Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, the beaches, golf, private reserves. My favorite area of S Africa.

I'm glad you got out early instead of waiting!! I hope everything will be ok in Florida.

Berkhamsted, United...
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4. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

Definitely recommend the Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves. And there's one day used, just like that!

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5. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

Thank you all for your quick assistance. I have been looking over TA, and think I am going to book something in Sandton.

As far as the HO-HO Bus, should I have any concerns about getting off at a stop and simply walking around? We love to walk and explore.

Paris has the Metro and London the Underground. I know Cape Town has the MyCiti Bus, but what is the situation in Johannesburg?

Will I need to buy a card and then load it up with zar? If so, I guess I will need 2 cards, one for me and one for my wife. Any idea as to how much to put on the card if we stay in Sandton, and plan to basically get about what I will call, the inner city?

For anything outside, we may book a tour. If I use the Soweto option on the red bus route, is it recommended to walk around in Soweto, or is it best to hire an organized tour...or does the Soweto option come with the organized tour?

Again, you folks at TA are a lifesaver!!!!!

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6. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

"As far as the HO-HO Bus, should I have any concerns about getting off at a stop and simply walking around? We love to walk and explore."

Not at all, there is no reason to be concerned. Just exercise caution, exactly the same as you would, visiting any unfamiliar place/ city/area, anywhere in the world (including your own country).

Here's a list (not complete), of a few things that Johannesburg, and surrounding area has to offer.

Google those you are interested in, for more information.


Johannesburg has over 100 “Blue Plaques”.. sites of historical or cultural importance.


“The Top of Africa”

The 52nd floor of the Carlton Centre, in down town, which is the tallest building in Africa.

A “Birds EYE” view over the whole of Johannesburg, giving a good idea of the extent of the down town area, and beyond.

Munro Drive

Stunning views over the northern suburbs, the largest urban forest in the world.

Breathtaking in October / November when the Jacarandas are in bloom.

Kallenbach Drive

Superb views from the top of Linksfield ridge, all the way to the Magaliesberg 60Km away, the oldest mountains in Africa (2600 million years old)


Several excellent golf courses

Soccer, rugby, cricket, athletics, at one of our superb stadiums


Bungee jumping at the Soweto Towers

Cycle tour of Soweto


Soweto tour

While in Soweto, see the following:

See where the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955

See Arch. Desmond Tutu’s house, visit Nelson Mandela’s house

Both in Vilakazi street, the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Laureates lived

Visit the hector Pieterson museum..

Hector became the symbol for all the youth who fought the Apartheid system, shot and killed by police on June 16 1976

Regina Mundi Church, where the meetings were held when public gatherings were banned by the Apartheid Govt.

City Tour Ho Ho Bus available a good way to get a “feel” for Johannesburg.

Lesedi Cultural Village, where one can see, compare and contrast the customs and culture of 5 of our indigenous tribal peoples. Lunch and tribal dancing as well.

Performing arts

Ballet, plays, at one of our superb theatres, either

in down town, or in Soweto, or in some of the “entertainment complexes”, like Monte Casino, etc

Fine art

Outdoor sculptures

Von Brandis Statue, Miners Monument, George Harrison Statue, Scottish soldier, Oppenheimer Fountain, Brenda Fassie, Kippie Moeketsi, The Firewalker etc.


Johannesburg Art Gallery, SADLY CLOSED, due to current administration’s lack of funding/interest in repairing the roof, from which vandals have stolen the copper sheeting (for sale to scrap metal merchants, no doubt)

Larger than the National gallery in Cape Town.

Contains works by Dutch masters, Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, Picasso, and many local artists

Sadly the area around the gallery is a little “seedy”, now

Wits (University) Art Gallery

a treasure trove of African art displayed in a bright, airy, climate controlled environment.

The Origins Centre ( Rock Art)

Constitutional Court and its Art Collection

Numerous Private galleries,

For example:

Goodman Gallery and Everard Read Gallery and Gallery MoMo

Artists under the sunhttp://www.artistsunderthesun.co.za/

First weekend of every month

Various pieces of art around the city, and in Soweto.


Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (usually perform at Linder Auditorium)

Standard Bank International Jazz Festival August

Jazz on the Lake, free, at zoo lake in September

The Bassline Jazz club, in Newtown

The Coca Cola Dome

Other outdoor concerts at various venues, like the Zoo, or Botanical Gardens


27 Boxes, in Melville made entirely from shipping containers, first of its kind in South Africa

World class malls:

Sandton Rosebank, East, North, South Westgate, Cresta, Maponya in Soweto,

African Craft Market Rosebank 7 days

Market on Main, Sundays

Neighbourgoods market Braamfontein, Saturdays

The Sheds @ 1 FOX

Rooftop Market, Norwood, Sundays

Bryanston Organic Market

Design Centre: Arts on Main in Maboneng precinct

Cambanos for African Curios, tanzanite, diamonds ( in Midrand)

Irene Market, in the grounds of Jan Smuts House, second and last Saturday every month

Largest second hand book store in the southern Hemisphere:

Collector's Treasury


Small but excellent Johannesburg Zoo

Melville Koppies (when open)

Emmarentia (Johannesburg) Botanical Gardens and dam

National Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort, AND Pretoria

Crocodile farm

Krugersdorp Game Reserve


AECI Dynamite Factory Museum.

Museum Africa, ( SADLY in a terrible state, with bad lighting, missing exhibits, etc ; currently a waste of time) which incorporates:

Bensusan Museum of photography, and the Africana Museum.

World of Beer Brewing Museum

Sci Bono Discovery Centre (Science Museum)

Workers museum

Apartheid Museum

Lilliesleaf farm , in Rivonia, where the arrests of Umkhonto we Sizwe leaders took place: a world class interactive museum

Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum Soweto

Gold Reef City Gold Mining Museum (and theme park)

Constitutional Court precinct, incorporating the old fort prison museum, where both Mandela and Gandhi were imprisoned ( at different times), as well as the infamous Women’s prison

Satyagraha House, where MK Ghandi lived, and formulated his philosophy of non violent protest.

James Hall museum of Transport

It is largest transport museum in Africa

National Museum of Military history

Amongst others, contains aircraft found nowhere else in the world

Origins Centre, covering Human evolution and bushman art: a world class interactive museum

Adler Museum of Medicine. At Wits University, only by appointment

History of the health sciences in Southern Africa, with special reference to Gauteng.

Lindfield Victorian House Museum in Auckland Park (Private need to book ahead of time)

Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre. ( Opening March/April 2017)


Lipizzaner shows at Kyalami on Sundays…The only other school of these superb performing Lipizzaner stallions in the world , outside of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Gambling and shows

Monte Casino and theatre

Gold Reef City Casino and theatre

Emperor's Palace Casino and theatre

Emperor's Palace used to be the "World Trade Centre," Where CODESA took place... Congress for a Democratic south Africa… the negotiations that lked to our new constitution.

One can see the CODESA walk, in the conference centre., which has many photos from that time.


Cradle of Humankind (Sterkfontein & Maropeng: world class museums)

Has yielded more hominid fossils than anywhere else on earth

And still yielding very exciting finds, more than 3 million years old.

The first evidence of the use of fire found near here, 1 million years ago

South African Airways Museum Germiston

Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort

Monkey Sanctuary Hartbeespoort

Mountain Cableway, Hartbeespoort

Ann van Dyk Cheetah research centre Hartbeespoort

First place, world wide here cheetah were successfully bred for re introduction to the wild.

Also African Wild dog

Petra Diamond Mine

The only place in the world where you can tour a working/producing diamond mine

You can do an underground, or surface tour

Only place worldwide where you can buy a diamond at the actual mine

Only place you can buy a “Cullinan Star Cut” diamond,

World wide patent held by the mine, for this new “cut”


South African Air Force Museum

Jan Smuts House He was prime minister twice, led S.A. during 2 world wars,

He wrote the preamble of the United Nations declaration of human rights

Only person to sign treaties concluding both WW I and WW II

Lawyer, soldier, politician, philosopher, botanist

Melrose House

beautifully restored Victorian mansion

Used as Headquarters of British army during Anglo Boer War 1899-1902.

Peace treaty was signed here 31 May 1902

Paul Kruger House

Home of President Paul Kruger, who led the Transvaal Republic prior to and during the Anglo Boer War

Sammy Marks House.. built on land purchased from my great grandfather.

40+ roomed mansion of South Africa’s first entrepreneur, who had interest in:

Gold, diamonds, coal, steel, farming, distilling, glass making, etc etc,

Church Square Pretoria with its historic buildings

Heroes Acre Cemetery

For the Australians…….. Breaker Morant’s Grave in the old Church Street Cemetery

Transvaal Museum of Natural History

National Cultural Museum

Union Buildings and gardens

South African Mint Midrand

Police Museum

Voortrekker ( Pioneer) Monument The story of the Great Trek.

Has the world’s longest pur e white Carrara Marble frieze, 92 metres long.

Boer War forts, Schanskop and Klapperkop ( restored, Boer war museums)

Tswaaing Meteorite Crater

Youngest Meteorite crater on earth, only about 220000 years old

Vredefort Dome

World’s oldest and largest meteorite crater, 300 Km across About 2000 million years old, SADLY, the ZAR15 million interpretation centre/museum has never been opened, and is derelict, I believe

Pilanesberg ……

Malaria Free, big 5 Game reserve, in an extinct volcano, only 2 hours by road from Johannesburg

Largest Buddhist temple in Africa, Bronkhorstspruit

Largest Mosque in Southern Hemisphere Midrand

Etc etc etc……….

Edited: 07 September 2017, 02:20
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7. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

WOWEEEE, Gavin!! I guess I will need to stay more than 3 nights.

OK. I am really really confused. I come from a big city, NYC to be exact. If I was going to vacation in NYC, I would stay in Manhattan, the center of town.

Now, what happens in Johannesburg. I look at the center of the city, but from what I read on TA, Rosebank, Sandton, or Melville seem to be the places to find a hotel. Not the downtown.

From the maps, it seems that I will need to take a train or an uber every time I wish to go from Sandton or Rosebank into the city...whether it is to attend the Sunday Market on Main, Constitution Hill, or some of the Art Museums.

Why would I pick a hotel in Rosebank, Standton or Melville over a "downtown" hotel? I would not find a hotel in Brooklyn or Queens if I wish to stay and visit NYC.

Can someone please clear this up for me?

Thank you.

Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Help.....totally unplanned 3 days in Johannesburg

You can take the Gautrain to downtown during the day (I believe it stops running after rush hour). And, from Rosebank, you can take the HoHo bus downtown too during the hours that it runs. Unless you were doing something downtown during the post-evening rushhour, no need for a taxi or Uber. You really don't want to stay downtown. Jo-Burg is different than Manhattan/ NYC; most visitors stay in the residential suburbs, not the urban center.

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