South African capital popular due to for Mandela history 


Johannesburg is mainly visited by LGBTQ tourists on route to Cape Town

City Overview

The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on a farm. Due to large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand, within ten years, the population had grown to 100,000 inhabitants.

Johannesburg is colloquially known as Joburg, Jozi or "The City of Gold". It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng. With a population of 8 million, Johannesburg is by far the largest city in South Africa.

Johannesburg is the seat of the Constitutional Court and majority of major South African companies and banks have their head offices in Johannesburg. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.

The separate city of Soweto built in the late 1970 became part of Johannesburg in 1994. Originally an acronym for "South-Western Townships", Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, populated mostly by native African workers from the gold mining industry and separated as a residential area for blacks only (no whites allowed), who were not permitted to live in other White designated suburbs of Johannesburg.

South Africa's post-apartheid Constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and South Africa was the fifth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. South Africa is to date the only country in Africa to have legalised same-sex marriage.

Getting Around

Johannesburg is a young and sprawling city with a public transportation system still to be developed and generally lacks a convenient public transportation system. A significant number of the city's residents are dependent on the city's informal minibus taxis. These are local minibuses that follow different routes which are hailed in the street picking up and dropping of passenger on route. This can make getting around the city appear very difficult for tourists.

Airport Transfer

Johannesburg international airport is called OR Tambo located fourteen miles east of the Johannesburg city centre with 6 different small terminals.

Travelling by public transport from the airport by city buses or the informal minibuses. The Rea Vaya is a rapid transit bus that has dedicated bus lanes. If you decided to take the bus into the centre of Johannesburg it would be advisable when you get of the bus to then take a taxi to your final destination.

Metered taxis recognized by their yellow “taxi” lights on the roof and take between 30 to 40 minutes.

The is a relatively new rail link from the airport to the suburbs in Sandton and Pretoria.

Places to stay

The safest areas to stay are Sandton and Melrose each with a different vibe.

Sandton is the most developed part of Johannesburg. Due to the high level of protection, it is usually safe to walk around, especially inside the shopping malls. 

Melville is a bohemian district, where a lot of students and ex-pats live. It is generally safe to walk around during the day, but night time can be dodgy due to the vibrant nightlife.


Johannesburg has not traditionally been known as a tourist destination and man of the travellers are in transit to Cape Town, Durban or Kruger National Park.

A visit to Mandela’s House as Nelson was the countries hero and seeing the museum of his old residence is worth visiting.  Around the neighbourhood of streets outside Mandela’s House there are many local restaurants serving typical local cuisine and typical souvenirs.

Soweto is another area of the city worth visiting to see the township and huge chimneys which are famous focal point due to the vibrant coloured decoration.

Bars, Clubs & Parties

Unfortunately, the gay club scene in Johannesburg is always changing, and it seems like most places open just as quickly if they close.

Be sure to check websites and Facebook pages before heading out and take care. While Johannesburg might be one of the most gay-friendly cities in Africa beware that displays of affection outside of gay bars can still lead to trouble. Beware to watch out for hustlers and do not take any valuables with you if you can help it.

Johannesburg has a relatively small gay scene and bars & clubs are not all clustered in one area of the city. A few of them are in Illovo and Rosebank while a couple of others are a 15-minute drive away, near Strydompark. 

Cafes & Restaurants

Beefcakes is a famous LGBTQ restaurant with a branch is Cape Town. Make a reservation in advance choosing from set menus and they have some unique and hysterically funny drag queens.

Saunas & Cruise Bars

Even though Johannesburg is an increasingly popular gay vacation destination, there is still only one gay sauna\cruise bar.

The Rec Room is one of the larger gay bars in the city. The Rec Room is popular for being one of the only Johannesburg gay cruising spots They have a separate towel-optional steam room and Jacuzzi.

Main LGBT Events

Johannesburg hosts the annual LGBTQ Pride festival each year. Johannesburg’s Pride is typically held near the Illovo neighbourhood.


Currency – South African Rand (ZAR)

Languages - Afrikaans, English, Southern Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Venda, Tsonga

Visas - Not needed for travellers from the US, Canada and Europe

Best Time To Visit – October - May

Timezone – South Africa Standard Time (GMT+2)

Homosexual Activity – Legal

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