The best times to book flights to Johannesburg depends on the activity you have in mind. Southern Hemisphere rules apply when it comes to seasons. South Africa’s summer lasts from November to February and is warm with heavy rains in the afternoons.
The best time to watch game is spring (August to October). Whale watchers should visit between mid-June and the end of October for Southern Right Whales and between August and December for Humpback Whales.
For diving and surfing, April to September is best and for those who enjoy hiking, spring and autumn is a better time to book flights as summer temperatures can be very high.
November to January tends to be a high season, along with Easter which is when schools are out and families take their holidays. Many Jo’burgers take their holidays in December.
If you are a car fanatic you may want to books flights to Johannesburg for October when the globally recognised Johannesburg International Motor Show takes place. This event features automobile displays, interactive activities and demonstrations spread over an impressive 45,000m floor space inside and out. The show is unique to Johannesburg as it is the single largest international motor show in Southern Africa. Running alongside the 12-day event are two additional shows ‘Auto Shop’ and the ‘Johannesburg Truck Show’.
Travellers taking cheap flights to Johannesburg may not know that an Australian prospector called George Harrison struck gold here in the 1880s. Harrison may not have appreciated the significance of his find as he sold his stake for paltry sum.
A flight to Johannesburg will take you to South Africa’s largest city and economic hub with an exciting, pioneer-type vibe. Its more recent past is laid out for all to digest. The landmarks of Apartheid Tourism in Johannesburg are sobering, but also uplifting, as they demonstrate that South Africa is facing up to its past and working towards a future for all.
Synonymous with apartheid is Soweto, the resilient and colourful township to the south-west of Johannesburg. It was at the centre of political campaigns aimed at the overthrow of the apartheid state. Today, Soweto is being redeveloped and township tours are popular with tourists, stopping off at Vilakazi Street, where Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, two Nobel Peace Prize winners, both lived, the memorial to Hector Peterson, the 12-year-old boy shot dead during the riots in 1976 and Soccer City, the 94,000-seat stadium where several of the games were played during the 2010 Football World Cup.
Africa’s greatest draw, perhaps, is its wildlife, and there are several reserves within easy reach of Johannesburg, including the Krugersdorp, Magaliesberg, Plumari and Rhenostersprutt. The Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site consisting of more than 200 caves containing the fossilised remains of human ancestors and animals, is a 45-minute drive away. Of these, the best known is Sterkfontein Caves, open year-round which makes it easier to choose the date for the cheap flight to Johannesburg.
For fans of contemporary African art, the Standard Bank Art Gallery is also located in the district. Also not to be missed are the Apartheid Museum and the Museum of Man and Science.
And regardless of which part of the city you’ve explored, there’s also much shopping to be done. Sandton City is probably Johanesburg’s best-known mall. For something with a bit more local flavour, head for the Mall of Rosebank, which features a giant crafts market on Sundays that is held on the roof.
Johannesburg is lucky enough to have the sun shine year-round. If you book flights in winter, average temperatures are about 26 degrees in January, is summer it is 16 degrees in June – and humidity is not a factor. The winters, April through September, are mild and short and snow is very rare.
Johannesburg’s layout lends itself best to driving. There are several car rental companies with desks at the airport. There are city buses and informal minibus services. The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System offers cheap, reliable transport. Buses run in dedicated lanes and smaller, feeder buses bring people from the outer areas to the stations on the trunk routes. There’s also Metrobus, which offers scheduled bus services around the city. Minibuses are probably best avoided unless you are with a local. Routes can be confusing. There are plenty of taxis, but try to settle on a fare before you set off to avoid arguments with the driver when you arrive at your destination.
The major car-rental companies have desks at OR Tambo International (JNB). Metered taxis and minibus shuttles – to a number of destinations in and around Johannesburg – can be booked in the Baggage Claim area.