What are the Top 10 Johannesburg Sights by Gautrain?
Nomadic You lists gambling at Monte Casino, wild rides at Gold Reef, shopping at Sandton City and more.
If you love shopping, casinos, cultural diversity, trees and outdoor living then Johannesburg is the place for you. Jo’burg is a sprawling city, not hemmed in by mountains or oceans. But the 100 mile per hour Gautrain means that the sprawl is easy to explore all the way north to Pretoria. Jo’burg is the financial hub of Africa and plays host to more business travelers than leisure travelers. But, it is certainly worth a visit on your way to Kruger National Park or Cape Town.
1. Nightlife Monte Casino
The hard-working folk of Jo’burg like to flock to one of the many casinos in town to enjoy some nightlife. None of the casinos are more popular than Monte Casino in Fourways. If you are a fan of faux Tuscan, then you can join the close on 10 million visitors per year to party up a storm. Try your luck in the casino. Catch a show at South Africa’s largest theater: The Teatro. Get the giggles at a comedy club. Or try one of the dozens of restaurants. Monte Casino does not (yet) have a stop on the Gautrain line, but you can catch a bus from the Sandton Gautrain station to Monte Casino 7 days a week.
2. Explore Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City south of Jo’burg has entertainment for one and all; A casino complex, museums, a theme park and a re-creation of a gold-rush village. The adventurous can try an underground gold mine tour or, if you prefer seeing the earth from above, try a helicopter flip. Also, part of the Gold Reef City grounds is the Apartheid Museum dedicated to illustrating the 20th Century history of South Africa. The Apartheid museum shows the rise and fall of apartheid; a state sanctioned system based on racial discrimination. Gold Reef is one of the stops on the open-top red city sightseeing bus; grab the bus from Johannesburg Park station.
3. Selfie Church Square
Pretoria was founded in 1855, a couple of decades before gold mining saw the founding of its southern neighbor Jo’burg. One of the best places to take in the history of Pretoria is from Church Square at the heart of the city. Take a selfie with Paul Kruger’s statue with The Palace of Justice making for a picture-perfect background. Church Square can be reached by one of the A Re Yeng rapid-transit buses from Hatfield. Culture vultures may also like to explore a bit further afield to Pretoria’s Freedom Park, the Union Buildings and Voortrekker monument.
4. Shopping Sandton City
Set in the richest square mile in Africa, the pyramid roofed Sandton City is the original South African mega-mall and still the grandest of them all. Sure, Gateway in Durban and Canal Walk in Cape Town are bigger, but neither can match this grand dame for exclusive shopping. From Prada to Jimmy Choo, if your credit card needs a good workout, Sandton City’s Diamond Walk is the place to be. If your feet need a break from your shopping spree, head to nearby Nelson Mandela Square to take a selfie with Madiba’s statue and some drinks at the Hard Rock Café.
5. Dining Rosebank
There are few better places in Jo’burg to sit at a pavement café and watch the local fashionistas go by while sipping suavely on your gin and tonic. Rosebank Mall and The Zone shopping centers are both at the doorstep of the Rosebank Gautrain station. The Zone caters to a somewhat younger crowd with cinemas, a bowling alley and an arcade. Whilst Rosebank Mall is one of the poshest places to shop in the city. After some lunch, join the arty folk of Rosebank for some independent films at the Cinema Nouveau.
6. LGBT Illovo
South Africa is the most liberal country on the African continent and the friendliest to visit for the LGBT community. It is tough to pinpoint a “gay village” as such in Jo’burg. Although Illovo, a suburb set between the Sandton CBD and Rosebank, is probably the closest to a gay village in the city. Beefcakes offers some live entertainment to enjoy with your dinner. Then head to Babylon the Club, also in Thrupps centre, for drinks and to party away the night. If your travels have you based in Pretoria, then try Centurion for some LGBT nightlife.
7. Relaxing Pretoria Botanical Gardens
Arguably the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden in Jo’burg is more popular than the Pretoria National Botanical Garden. However, Pretoria’s garden is worth a visit and is conveniently situated a short Uber or bus ride away from the Hatfield Gautrain station. The garden is split in two by a 35m quartzite outcrop with the warmer northern slope having distinctly different flora from the southern part of the garden. Catch a snooze under a tree or have some lunch at the African Pride Café overlooking the wetland.
8. Exercise Groenkloof
The Groenkloof Nature Reserve situated just south of Pretoria claims to be the first game sanctuary in Africa. The reserve is stocked with a variety of game species including zebra, impala, giraffe and ostrich. No lions then to interfere with a hike through the reserve or taking to the mountain biking paths. Guided horse rides are also available. The reserve is open daily until 19:00 in summer and 18:00 in winter.
9. Hotel Hatfield
10. Traveling Gautrain
Gautrain is a high-speed rail service connecting Jo’burg to Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport. If you choose to explore Jo’burg by transit, then staying near one of the stations on the North-South line is ideal. The North-South line starts at Johannesburg Park station and the travel time to the end of the line at Hatfield Gautrain station is 49 minutes. Gautrain buses run from each of the stations although bus services are limited over weekends. Buses use the same card payment system as the trains. For more information on schedules, fees and a map for exploring Gauteng visit the Gautrain website.