The contrasts are everywhere: of shiny shopping malls and roadside craft; designer-label junkies and fast-talking car guards; old money and the flashy, minted-yesterday kind; hipsters and hustlers. One minute it’s all shiny elegance and, the next, rough grittiness.
Joburg can give you the warmest smile or flip you the bird. The sunsets and summer thundershowers will take your breath away as quickly as the recklessness of its minibus taxi-drivers. From a twisty, segregated history has emerged an African cosmopolitan centre, a young city obsessed with the new, offering surprises for locals and out-of-towners alike.
There's so much more to Joburg than shopping and the airport and most visitors who scrape even just a little off the surface usually find themselves wishing they had planned a longer stay.
For exploring South Africa's recent history, particularly the complex brutalities of the apartheid regime and the brave struggle against it, check out the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and the Liliesleaf farm museum. If you enjoy art there's plenty to explore with some of the best contemporary art galleries in the country, as well as tons of bold street art and graffiti that bring a unique vibrance to Joburg's sometimes gritty streets.
Johannesburg also has some of the liveliest nightlife in South Africa. Whether your taste is for fine dining and sundowners in an exclusive five-star restaurant or partying to hip hop, Afrobeat and African house DJ sets on a downtown rooftop, you can find it here.
While there may not be a beach or a mountain to enjoy, Johannesburg is one of the greenest cities in the world and is often said to be 'the world's largest manmade forest'. On a sunny Joburg day (which is most days of the year) we also recommend taking time out to kick back and relax in one of Joburg's many beautiful parks, or in the summer season take a dip in one of the city's many open-air public pools.
For a comprehensive guide to what to see and do, where to eat, drink and stay and the coolest events to put on your calendar, find our full guide to everything Johannesburg at johannesburg.inyourpocket.com.
Cnr Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Rd, Ormonde (Gold Reef City)
An extraordinary museum that brings to life the horrors of apartheid: from the petty cruelties inflicted on the everyday lives of black South Africans then to state repression and violence. The story of South Africa’s struggle for democracy is compelling
Cnr Yale Rd and Enoch Sontonga Ave, Wits University campus, Braamfontein, Johannesburg