Getting Oriented

DESTINATIONS south africa johannesburg getting-oriented-25


Getting Oriented

South Africa's biggest city is in the middle of Gauteng, South Africa's smallest but wealthiest province. The greater metropolitan area is a massive 1,645 square km (635 square miles), most of which is made up of suburban sprawl. The M1, a major highway, runs centrally through the city and its suburbs. Two adjoining highways circle the city: the N3 to the east and the N1 to the west; the M1 bisects this circle.

Johannesburg City Center. Jo'burg was born as a mining camp, and its downtown area—the oldest part—is a jumbled grid of one-way streets heading in opposite directions, reflecting its hasty start to life. A number of important attractions, such as Constitution Hill, are found here.

Soweto and the South. About 20 km (12 miles) south of downtown Johannesburg, the vast township of Soweto is where the 1976 anti-apartheid student uprisings began; Soweto is now officially part of greater Johannesburg, though during apartheid, they were regarded as poles apart. Take a full- or half-day township tour and visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum and former homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. City Sightseeing also offers a Soweto add-on.

Northern Suburbs. Most of the city's good hotels and major malls are in the northern suburbs: notably Sandton, the new financial center of South Africa, and Rosebank, a chic commercial center. Greenside and Parkhurst, close to Rosebank, are popular for eating out.


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