Johannesburg

Johannesburg has a population of around 10 million people, half of which are the residents of the township cold Soweto. Generally, Johannesburg is supposed to be the economic hub of the city, approximately 10% of the South Africa’s GDP generates there. Because of the unequal wealth distribution, the city has its own borders, thus the living conditions are very different. They can vary from the world 1st standards to the world 3rd standards. However, there are plenty of things to discover in Johannesburg and there is no need to avoid it, because of the high crime rate, since following general safety precautions it’s undoubtedly possible to have a safe and enjoyable voyage. In order to make your trip so, SafeAround compiled useful information about all potential risks and dangerous neighborhoods of Johannesburg. So, we will allow you to see on a map the city’s safest and potentially dangerous areas, details on scams and other possible risks, as well as some useful travel advice in order not to let anything spoil such a wonderful journey to the picturesque South African treasures.

SAFETY INDEX

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Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : HIGH

Johannesburg is ranked 128th out of 162 of most dangerous cities. However, the safety level depends on the district. So, if you exercise a high degree of caution and avoid the troubled areas, your vacation in Johannesburg might only be spoiled by petty theft on a Central station or Saturday market. However, at dark, crime rates are significantly higher, thus we advise refraining from visiting any areas at night or prefer taxi option for traveling.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Pickpocketing at shopping centers is common. It is worth to be vigilant of your surroundings, do not leave your valuable unattended. The city center might be overcrowded and numerous pickpockets operate in this area.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

Muggings and robbery are often and involving weapons. The risks of being mugged in the public transport are low, however, there is worth to stay alert. Some criminals pose as ‘Tourist Police’ to extort and rob tourists, including by stopping tourist buses to check proof of identity and search luggage. There have been reported situations when tourists have been assaulted and robbed after their food or drinks were spiked. Try to avoid being in clubs or bars alone at night, and do not leave your food or beverages unattended.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

Scams with credit cards are very common, SafeAround recommends to keep your credit card at sight, whenever used. Scam incidents can be reported by the following telephone number: +27 11 9705300.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

There are known situations when criminals place debris on roads in order to stop the vehicle. We advise you do not stop and get out of the car to clear the barrier. The best solution is to wait for another car or try to bypass using the roadside. Luggage theft does occur at Johannesburg airport. SafeAround advises you do not place any valuables in your luggage. Waiting for a taxi, be aware of strangers that might offer their help with your suitcases. Be vigilant, and do not leave your belongings unattended. Due to safety and concerns, the use of minibus taxis is not recommended. These vehicles are in poor condition, drivers drive erratically. The best solution for security reasons is taking a taxi wherever you go, luckily it’s significantly cheaper, than in any European capital.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean might be a threat. You can find more info on Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There is a moderate risk of terrorism in South Africa. However, the terrorism is a worldwide threat.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH

South Africa 15 years ago was a place where a woman was raped every 30 seconds. However, nowadays the situation significantly improved, the risks for woman travelers are still very high. Do not venture alone in shady neighborhoods of large cities, or isolated villages, be aware of your surroundings and try don’t travel on your own if possible remain in groups.

Carte

WHAT TO DO?

Orientation tip: In order to not being lost in the multi million city it’s worth to find the two main towers of Johannesburg: “Hillbrow Tower” and “Brixton Tower”. Since they are both very tall and visible almost from any spot of the city, take them as a reference point. Withal, from the top of the both a stunning view opens up for everyone who aren’t afraid of heights.

Central Business district  

This is the most visited part of the city by the tourists. It has had a poor reputation for years which is no longer deserved. Numerous shops, including outlets, art galleries and business centers are absolutely safe during day and night. Minor crimes do occur on a regular basis, however, following basic precautions and constant vigilance will let you spend a trouble-free time in this area.

Newtown and the Market Theatre area

City’s cultural heart. Rich with plenty vibrant venues the area will guarantee you a fun and enjoyable stay. The main disturbance is pickpockets,  in constant search of distracted newcomers. Pay attention to your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.  

Braamfontein

Known as the university area, and home to the biggest Saturday’s market in the city, where plenty of authentic local things can be found. However, be cautious as this part is not generally nice or safe. Avoid being there at night hours alone and be aware of pickpockets even during the day.  Definitely not the place to stay, although accommodation is seductively inexpensive.

Fordsburg

Former Indian district still has some Indian and Pakistani shops, markets and restaurants. Generally, the population of this area is Muslim, thus there is no alcohol served in the local places. Locals are friendly, the area is nice and without hidden dangers.

Hillbrow

One of the worst Johannesburg suburbs. Undoubtedly it is not a nice place to take a stroll. Nowadays this neighborhood is a den for prostitution, drug deals and broken glass. No-go area.

Northern Suburbs

Such suburbs like: “Greenside”, “Atholl”, “Sandown”, “Fourways” and others are the nicest places to live in. This is where middle and upper-class Johannesburg families live. Johannesburg Planetarium, South African National Museum, Museum of Transport are among the most visited attractions there.

Alexandra Township

An interesting destination for having a guided tour in a van hearing the stories of the struggles and crimes, which had been earned between 1980-1990s, when the area was really like more a war zone than a living district. Nowadays it is still vulnerable, especially London road should be avoided while your drive to and from Sandton.

 Other areas of concern or to be avoided in Johannesburg:

  • HIV levels are very high, so take the necessary precautions.
  • It is prudent to plan night-time journeys in advance and to use a reputable taxi, avoid unlit remote areas.
  • If you are lost, don’t make it too obvious that you are, ask directions only in shops.
  • Joubert Park, Hillbrow, and Berea are considered as no-go zones

Useful Information

If you’re visiting South Africa for tourism purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa. In other circumstances, you’ll need a visa.
South African Rand is an official currency of the country. The easiest way to obtain the local currency is to withdrawals from the ATM machine. The best exchange rate is guaranteed.
Weather conditions in Johannesburg are excellent; during the summer months (December – February) the temperature reaches 30°C. Winter might be cold, however, snow is very rare.
The main international airports are in Johannesburg and Cape Town. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page