Still riding the high from the World Cup, Johannesburg is thriving more than ever. The city is the heart of South Africa, with everything that happens within the country both beginning and ending in the capital. While it has had its fair share of ups and downs politically, economically and emotionally, the country has rallied this decade to become one of the hottest destinations in Africa. Representing a multitude of people, Joburg proudly boasts itself as the second largest city on the continent, and with that comes a great deal of activities for visitors.
History and Culture
Originating as a country over 100 years ago thanks to the discovery of gold, Johannesburg quickly became known as a city of commerce and opportunity. This reputation has stuck to this day, as people continually come to settle in the city to pursue their ultimate dreams and goals. It didn’t become official until 1886 when an Aussie pioneer by the name of George Harrison settled and determined the true worth of the area for its gold potential. Since then, the country has undergone drastic socioeconomic, political and racial changes, coming out victorious with the first democratic elections in 1994, marking the beginning of a peaceful era. Joburg was also declared a sister city of New York, which the locals embraced. Diversity is the name of the game in both cities and any visitor will relish in the array of activities this diversity fosters.
Being at the bottom of Africa, it is easy to assume that South Africa is a crossroads for cultures. And that assumption would be correct – the local food may be sampled in a number of the restaurants, as can Asian, American, Mediterranean, steak and seafood. There are even kid-friendly restaurants. Fine dining is always an option as well, for those who prefer a more romantic, albeit pricier, menu and ambiance.
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Once more, the twin city reference can be reinforced, in this case calling Joburg “The City That Never Sleeps.” Nightclubs, music venues, bars and pubs all open their doors the moment the sun hits the horizon, offering the best in drink specials and opportunities to meet the locals and fellow travelers. There are plenty of themed bars, too, catering to every taste and income imaginable.
For serious partying, be sure to check out Newtown, where the most dedicated of dancers can be spotted. If gambling is up your alley, there is a nice selection of casinos and the like to spend some money. If a more relaxed, calm night is in order, a simple dinner and a movie is always an option.
Shopping and Getting Around
From teenage hot spots to baby supply stores, local gifts and the traditional, expected mall, Joburg has it all. Taking home some artwork is highly recommended, because it is as unique as it is beautiful. There are an amazing array of shops and centers for visitors to explore, including one set of shops that has existed for over a century – The Shunting Yard – which offers not only gifts but also history within their walls.
With the majority of airlines flying into Joburg more than any other South African country, getting to the city is easier than ever. Only 11 hours from London, direct flights are available from just about every other major city in Asia and Europe, even from its twin city New York.
Once on the ground, getting around is simple, as it can be done via plane, car, boat, train and by foot. Visitors will find public transportation to be well thought out and easy to access no matter where they happen to find themselves.
Given its rough history since its development, South Africa has a lot to offer, and since the mid-90s, has blossomed into one of the biggest capitals in the continent. As diverse as it is plentiful, Joburg has something for everyone, making the perfect transition from work during the day to relaxation at night and on the weekends.
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