If you don't have the time to go on a full-blown safari trip, drive to the elephant sanctuary at Hartbeespoort Dam (about an hour away from Johannesburg) and spend a few hours with orphan elephants who are brought to the halfway house before being returned to the wild.
Whether you visit the B&B markets at the Rooftop, Hillfox, or Hatfield, you're sure to find something that is just the ticket for last-minute presents or a keepsake of your trip to Africa. This co-operative initiative brings individual artisans together and has formalized local hawker stalls into fun market areas which include live entertainment and lots of cheap food.
Business travellers as well as those here on holiday appreciate the Falstaff's location in Sandton, which is an easy commute from the airport on the Gautrain. Restaurants, shops, and bars are located close by, making this boutique hotel an excellent base for exploring Johannesburg's many attractions.
Founded by a local from the Soweto neighbourhood in suburban Johannesburg, this restaurant is a hotspot of activity for locals and as well visitors. The major draw is the traditional fare of Mogodu (tripe) and a discount lunch buffet, but it is the casual atmosphere and sense of community that brings in most of the crowds.
Johannesburg Urban Adventures
Let the local experts take you around as you cycle through Soweto or tour the best of Jo'burg on foot. The company runs small group tours only, ensuring you're not trailing behind a large crowd or missing out on most of what the guide is talking about.
From the African Fashion Week to the Arts Alive International Festival, from neighbourhoods chronicling South Africa's apartheid history to the Absa Museum dedicated to banking and money —Johannesburg offers you plenty of reasons to book flights to South Africa. The country's largest city is a mix of old and new, culture and finance, and not one boring minute to be found through it all.
Johannesburg has also been on a major 'greening' drive, so with over 10 million trees and 2,000 parks, you're never far away from a quiet, shady spot to rest your sightseeing-weary feet. Whether your poison is whiskey, wine, or beer, you'll find a festival or two celebrating it at some point through the year, giving you access to loads of cheap drinks. And from the Apartheid Museum to the Johannesburg Art Gallery, you will be spoilt for choice for historic and cultural spots to visit. Before getting on your flight home, visit Johannesburg's Soweto neighbourhood where history comes alive as you walk down the streets of legends like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Some areas of Johannesburg can be unsafe for tourists so keep your money and valuables out of sight when you're touring the city. But don't let this deter you from booking flights to Johannesburg. As long as you take basic precautions, you're sure to enjoy the city's buzzing energy and never-say-die spirit.
Johannesburg flights heading to O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), Johannesburg International, or Jan Smuts Airport, are all taking you to the same place. The airport is still referred to by its former names, making it a bit confusing for first-time visitors, so just remember that the city has only one international airport.
Airlines which serve JNB include several African carriers like South African, Afriqiyah Airways, Air Malawi, and Air Zimbabwe, as well as other international carriers such as Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, Virgin, and British Airways.
Lanseria Airport (HLA) is also located near Johannesburg but is much smaller than JIA and caters primarily to regional charter traffic, as well as scheduled flights on Kulula, Mango, and British Airways, to destinations like Cape Town, Durban, Gaborone (in Botswana), and Maputo (in Mozambique).
The best time to visit South Africa depends largely on what activities you have in mind, or where your onward journey will take you from Johannesburg. Also remember you're in the southern hemisphere so the seasons are in reverse of what you're probably used to. Summer temperatures from October to April are pleasant at 23-25°C and winter temperatures aren't too severe either, dipping to about 16°C in June. Snow is rare but there is occasional frost and the nights can get very cold, so book your flights to Johannesburg and come prepared to dress in layers. Although airline tickets are cheaper from December to February, some visitors may find that the 30-35°C temperatures make the summer months too hot to enjoy the city's outdoor sights. But if you're heading off on a safari and can't change your travel dates, just remember to pack lots of sunscreen and a large hat.
Arriving at O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)
The airport has three terminals — International, Central, and Domestic. Ground transportation options are easily accessible from all three terminals so you won't have far to walk after your flight lands. Details on all the options listed below are available on the airport website.
Public Transit: The express Gautrain from the Airport on the Sandton route is a quick and cheap way to travel from the airport to the city. A one-way fare costs about $12 CAD and from Sandton, you can connect to the local bus network or take a cab to your final destination.
When the Gautrain is not in service, buses are available from the airport's bus terminal located behind the Airport Sun International hotel.
Airport Shuttle: Companies like Magic Bus and Airport Shuttle run shared-ride and private vehicle shuttle services from the airport. Rates vary depending on your destination, type of car, and the company you book with and you could pay as little as $40 CAD or as much as $120 CAD for a trip to the city.
Hotel Shuttle: If you've booked a room at a hotel which provides courtesy shuttle services from the airport, make your way to the shuttle pick-up areas at the airport's bus terminal.
Taxi: Taxi stands are located outside both airport terminals and only registered cab companies are allowed to transport passengers arriving on Johannesburg flights to destinations in and around the city. However, you may still be approached by drivers and guides who will offer you a "much cheaper" travel deal, but steer clear of them as you will most likely be taken for a longer ride than necessary. A trip from the airport to most destinations in downtown Johannesburg would cost between $45-$65 CAD.
Car Rental: Car rental companies like Avis, Budget, National, and Thrifty are located opposite the domestic terminal in a multi-level parkade. Given Johannesburg's limited public transit system, hiring a car is the most convenient way to travel around the city, as well as explore the rest of the country.
Other: You can also find intercity coach operators at the airport for trips to Durban and Capetown and several other regional destinations.
Arriving at Lanseria Airport (HLA)
As Lanseria Airport caters to only three scheduled carriers and a few charter airlines, international flights to Johannesburg prefer to use JNB as a landing point as it has more extensive infrastructure and services to deal with international travellers. Transport options from HLA are limited to taking a cab (which will cost you about $70 CAD) or hiring a car from Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, or Tempest, all of which have booking counters at the airport.