Skip to: site menu | section menu | main content

Gauteng

© SA Tourism© SA TourismGauteng is South Africa's smallest, richest, most urbanised and most frenetic province. It's a city built on gold, and the dreams of great wealth that this metal always seems to inspire. It's all go, go, go! People rush from office to mall to coffee shop; fast cars stream past in a blur on the multi-lane highways, and business is brisk.

For many people, Johannesburg and Gauteng are synonymous. Once the bastion of mining wealth and entrenched white elitism, Johannesburg is still the powerhouse of Africa - but now with an altogether different face. The once proud, squeaky clean, lily-white streets of Central Johannesburg have been transformed into more colourful African thoroughfares, and the tall façades of the brash and bold commercial buildings of the central city now look down on an altogether different form of entrepreneurism. But the inner city is being revived - cultural centres are opening, long-neglected buildings are being renovated, and many new tourism development projects are underway.

Part of the city but separate, Soweto is a household name all over the world after the pivotal role its community played in South Africa's freedom struggle. It's a huge, bustling, dynamic settlement with well over a million residents. There is much to see here but you will probably get lost if you try to find your way around, so it's best to do an escorted tour - at least the first few times until you get your bearings.

For those who enjoy the urban experience, Johannesburg (or Joburg, Egoli or Jozi – take your pick) is a fascinating mix of Western and African lifestyles. You can visit art galleries, shop till you drop at any one of several state-of-the-art shopping malls, dance till the wee hours of the morning at the latest Afro-chic nightclubs, dine at great restaurants or explore the city's rich cultural heritage. South African music is as diverse as the variety of cultures in this country. There are several live music venues in and around Joburg featuring everything from jazz and R&B to hard rock and traditional African music which itself has many sub cultures.

Some of the better cultural attractions include Museum Africa at the Newtown Complex in Central Johannesburg, Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum at Gold Reef City and, of course, Soweto.


At the other end of the scale, Pretoria (now called Tshwane) has retained an air of genteel elegance, lounging under its cloak of purple jacaranda trees. It's a much quieter city than Johannesburg, and somehow things do seem a little less frenetic. Although it's no longer the capital of the province, this is the seat of national government, and the location of most of the foreign embassies and consulates.

Although Gauteng is very urbanised, there is much you can do to get away from the hustle and bustle. On a Sunday morning, you could watch a performance by dancing Lipizzaner horses - the only show of its kind outside Austria – or visit the Cradle of Humankind, where there is a range of attractions including small game farms, caves and – most notably – some fascinating palaeontological sites where numerous fossils of our distant ancestors have been unearthed and are on display.

Other options include visiting the Magaliesberg - a pretty area with some lovely country destinations and mountain walks. You could also do a hot air balloon ride, paddle on the Crocodile River, go horseback riding among some rhinos and antelope, visit a diamond mine, or try a tandem parachute jump. See, it’s not all urban hustle and bustle.


Back to top