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Johannesburg has a big-city feel, and with that comes an endless amount of ways to spend your time. With more to keep your senses heightened than a normal vacation will allow, here’s a taste of what our Forbes Travel Guide editors consider the five best things to see and do in Joburg:
1. Apartheid Museum. It’s a time still fresh in the minds of many South Africans and others, and it won’t ever be forgotten. The Apartheid Museum opened in 2001, less than 10 years after the old-world system fell apart. Learn about the trials and tribulations of those who suffered under apartheid in a tour of film footage, photographs and first-person accounts.
2. Safari by hot air balloon. If it’s too difficult to travel the 260 miles to Kruger National Park, venture just about 30 minutes to the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as The Cradle of Humankind. From there you will lift off in time to watch the breathtaking South African sunrise while viewing animals like lions and jackals from a safe distance. It’s a memorable experience for everyone.
3. Tour Soweto. Yes, it sounds like a tourist trap, but visiting South Africa’s most famous township is a necessity while visiting Joburg. Safety is key — hire a knowledgeable tour guide who can explain the ins and out of the community that houses more than two million people. While in the township, make it a point to see the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum.
4. Hang out on Constitution Hill. Composed of the Constitution Court and prison complex Number Four, whose walls seep with stories, spend a few hours meandering among some of the most significant cells in South African history, including the women’s jail and Nelson Mandela’s temporary home.
5. Get cultured at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Not just for a rainy day, the gallery, known to locals as JAG, contains more than 9,000 pieces of art that include photography, paintings, sculptures and ceramics from Rembrandt, Picasso and Goya, to name a few. The best part about the collection is its price: free.