While South Africa is dotted with a number of urban centers, there can be little doubt that the top three SA cities are Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. Each of these cities has a unique character that draws different types of people - see which one appeals the most to you!
Johannesburg / Jo’burg / Jozi
For young, vibey, fast-paced living.
Jozi city center from the sky
The pulsing city with a heart of pure gold, Johannesburg is known as Egoli (place of gold), Jo’burg, and today also carries the trendy name of Jozi.
A relatively young city, Jo’burg traces its modern history back to 1886 when it sprang up as a gold-rush shanty town.
Today this thriving bustling city is the most densely populated South African city, home to 3,225,800 people and growing.
Jo’burg has a pleasant balmy climate for most of the year and is renowned for dramatic afternoon thunderstorms in summer. The nights can get pretty cool, especially in winter.
The city of Johannesburg has no mountains or coastline to shape it, and it is an enormous, sprawling urban jungle.
Some of the top attractions in and around Jo’burg include the Sterkfontein caves, the township of Soweto, The Apartheid Museum, the Mai Mai Herbalist market and Rosebank craft market.
Jo’burg is a shopper’s paradise - there are numerous malls – and the Sandton area is particularly popular with shopaholics.
Durban – Durbs-by-the-Sea
Steaming hot, yet so damn cool!
The settlement of Port Natal only really started in 1823, although Vasco da Gama has ‘discovered’ it back in 1497.
Most people equate Durban with a laid back, ‘chilled’ atmosphere, and also with extremely humid heat, almost all year round. For many Durban is the place to live if you love to surf, but there is more to this city than awesome waves, golden beaches, sugar cane plantations and palm trees.
Durban lies in the heart of the Zulu kingdom, land of King Shaka, which gives the entire region a rich cultural history that can be felt just by walking through the hot streets. A large ‘Indian’ community also calls Durban home, and these people add their own flavor to the city’s effervescent, colorful population.
Durban offers great shopping at malls and markets, historical and cultural attractions and plenty for families to do. Perhaps the most well-known tourist spot is uShaka Marine World which boasts an aquarium, dolphinarium and snorkel reef, a world of water slides and marine-theme shopping.
Interview:Gregory O'Brien author of See What I Can See: New Zealand Photography for the Young and Curious
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