Jo'burg & Pretoria Holidays

While Gauteng may geographically be South Africa's smallest province it is an urban playground of note with the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Johannesburg is South Africa's largest city as well as the financial and commercial heart of the country, while Pretoria is the administrative capital which is both a showpiece of South Africa's sad and controversial past, and of its vibrant new life.

Built on the discovery of gold in 1886, Jo'burg, as it is commonly known, has worked hard over recent years to reinvent itself and is rapidly changing. Visitors are now discovering a beautiful city centre dominated by Victorian and Edwardian colonial architecture, modern skyscrapers, exclusive boutiques, opulent shopping centres, vibrant pavement cafes and entertainment complexes. Art galleries and museums can be found in the cultural districts of Newtown and Braamfontein, while the inner city is becoming a tourist gem.

Change has yet to reach all areas though and some contrasts still exist, most notably between the upmarket neighbourhoods, such as Rosebank, Melrose Arch, Hyde Park and Sandton, and the townships. Soweto, the most renowned of the townships, was brought to prominence during the anti-apartheid uprisings of the 1970s and eye-opening tours give visitors a view of everyday life.

To gain a perspective on the history of South Africa, visit the Apartheid Museum for a fascinating if not disturbing record of South Africa's recent turbulent past. There's also the impressive Constitutional Court, the protector of basic human rights and freedom. While both recapture the darker aspects of South African history, they also conclude with a positive affirmation of new beginnings.

Just an hour outside Johannesburg and well worth a visit, is the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site known for its unique wealth of fossil-bearing caves which contain a superbly preserved record of the stages in the evolution of humankind over the past four million years.

Pretoria is just a short drive north of Johannesburg and while the country's administrative capital is decidedly less urbane, it is somewhat grander with numerous stately buildings, attractive museums, leafy suburbs and jacaranda-lined streets. Statues, monuments and landmarks commemorate the country's history and the most famous is the crescent-shaped Union Buildings. It was here, in 1994, where Nelson Mandela took office as President. Just outside the central business district is the Transvaal Museum, the country's leading natural history museum.

However, Pretoria is not all about the past. It is a modern and growing city with first-rate shopping, beautiful parks and gardens, top restaurants and a lively arts community.

    Why visit Jo'burg & Pretoria?
  • Fascinating museums
  • History and heritage
  • Great shopping
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites nearby


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Wide choice of tours and hotels in South Africa. Also includes Namibia, Botswana, Victoria Falls, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Mozambique and Madagascar.

Where to stay in Jo'burg & Pretoria

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Essential facts about Jo'burg & Pretoria
Local Time

GMT +2 hours

Currency

South African Rand

Travel information

Johannesburg is approximately 11 hours (non-stop flights) from the UK. Pretoria is an hour’s drive from Johannesburg.

Best time to go

Johannesburg enjoys a mild climate with approximately six weeks of chilly weather in mid-winter (July-August) and summers with warm sunshine (October-March). The rainy season occurs in summer rather than winter and tends to be short sharp storms rather than prolonged rain. Pretoria’s climate is similar to Johannesburg, but as it lies at a somewhat lower altitude temperatures can be very slightly higher.

Travelling with children

Parents travelling with children into or out of South Africa may be asked to show the child’s unabridged full birth certificate, and where only one parent is accompanying, parental or legal consent for the child to travel (eg an affidavit from the other parent, a court order or – if applicable – a death certificate). You should travel with these documents in case you’re asked to provide them. There are other requirements for children travelling unaccompanied or with adults who are not their parents. For more information, contact the South African High Commission www.southafricahouseuk.com or the South African Department of Home Affairs www.dha.gov.za.

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