Located to the south-west of Johannesburg city centre, South Africa's most famous township is also by far its largest with estimates putting the population at anywhere between two and four million residents. Although many areas are still desperately poor, like any large city there are also wealthier neighbourhoods and a sizeable growing middle-class.

Whatever you choose to see in Soweto you will find that it is the people who will make your Soweto visit most memorable. The township was always at the forefront of the struggle against Apartheid, and also once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, both Nobel peace prize winners who both lived on Vilakazi Street. Lined with restaurants, bars, gift shops and street markets, Vilakazi Street has now become a tourist attraction in itself.

There are several worthwhile historical sights and museums to visit including the Hector Pietersen Museum and Memorial, the Nelson Mandela House Museum and the Kliptown Museum. Other major landmarks that are worth adding to your sightseeing itinerary are the colourful Soweto cooling towers where you can take a bungee jump and enjoy a shisa nyama lunch at the famous Chaf Pozi beer garden and the Regina Mundi Church, a place which played a critical role during the struggle against apartheid.

Soweto also has a cultural, music and social scene that is all its own with its own theatre and more weekend party spots than you can't shake a stick at. Soccer in particular is also a huge obsession for the many exuberant fans of Soweto's two mega-clubs – the (Kaizer) Chiefs and the (Orlando) Pirates.

The seemingly endless identical streets of small houses can be bewildering but if you do plan to drive yourself here you will find the main tourist destinations such as Vilakazi street, Hector Pieterson Memorial museum and the football stadiums well sign-posted from main roads coming out of Johannesburg.

However, by far the best way to really get to know Soweto on a first visit is by taking a tour with a local guide. 

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