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© SA Tourism© SA TourismJohannesburg is the major international gateway into South Africa so you are quite likely to spend, at the very least, a few hours here. It's a vibrant and dynamic place with a throbbing pulse and an awesome sense of rhythm. Everyone is on the move - doing business, making money, jogging, going to gym, cycling, partying till late, eating out and attending shows, movies and exhibitions. It’s the place to go for a real urban buzz.

The older part of the city is developing an interesting character - in parts somewhat neglected, and in parts humming with a new kind of vibrancy. It is the de facto capital of Africa, and people from all over the continent have made this their home. There are interesting nightlife venues in the centre of Johannesburg, but not for the faint of heart. Also in the city centre, but a bit more inviting to the average tourist, is the Civic Theatre, and the Newtown Cultural Project. Part of an ambitious plan to revitalise the city centre, these venues offer restaurants, theatres, museums and much more.

But the head offices of major corporations, and the majority of businesses, have moved out to the northern suburbs and to Midrand – the burgeoning industrial, commercial, semi-agricultural and residential area halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The northern suburbs radiate a sense of opulence and prosperity. The many shopping malls carry a vast range of high quality consumer goods, including many luxuries, and the hundreds of restaurants and coffee shops offer a wide range of fashionable cuisines.

There really is a lot to do in Johannesburg. One of the most obvious is an escorted tour of Soweto, which is a mind-expanding experience, showing how this resilient community contributed to South Africa's liberation struggle. A visit to Gold Reef City is a fun day out with amusement rides and a reconstructed mining village, but it is a lot more authentic than most theme parks. The trip down a gold mine is a real eye-opener, but that's nothing compared to the paradigm shift many people experience when visiting the Apartheid Museum, also at Gold Reef City. And the newly built Constitution Hill complex offers another glimpse into the apartheid past – with a sprinkling of light at the end. For sheer poetry in motion, a performance by the dancing white Lipizzaner stallions on a Sunday morning is hard to beat. This is the only show of its kind outside of Vienna. There are golf courses aplenty, and always something interesting happening.

Johannesburg has two international airports. OR Tambo Airport, which was previously known as Johannesburg International, is the main one, while the much smaller Lanseria is mainly for charter flights and scheduled flights to other destinations in southern Africa.

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