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Beautiful sunset in Johannesburg

With the sprawling holiday resort of Sun City nearby and the chance to spot wildlife on safari just hours away, visitors often book Johannesburg hotels to use them as a springboard to the myriad attractions of the north east of picture-perfect South Africa.

Take the time to delve deeper into Johannesburg though, and you'll be rewarded with a treasure chest of cultural attractions, from ancient wonders to modern pleasures. The skyline of Jo'Burg, as it's fondly known, is jagged with skyscrapers that cast long shadows over places like gritty, urban Soweto, while charming colonial buildings stand shoulder to shoulder with newly-built mansions and gigantic shopping malls.

Being a city of contrasts and variety, hotels in Johannesburg also reflect this mix and you can check in to budget hotels, or blow the budgeFountain outside Johannesburg hotelt and book high-end luxury hotels with five stars to their names. Mid-range accommodation is also prevalent, and offers good value for money. Johannesburg is a very popular business and trade city, and international chain hotels compete for visitors with attractive room rates.

For well-known brands, look out for offerings from the likes of Intercontinental, Mercure, Southern Sun, Protea, Radisson Blu, Park Hyatt, Holiday Inn and Hilton.

There are hundreds of suburbs in the vast urban sprawl of Johannesburg, so it pays to know where you want to stay when booking your hotel. The CBD is the Central Business District and, as you can imagine, skyscrapers and business-style hotels are on every corner. Soweto to the west and Cyrildene to the east (home to a new Chinatown) are vibrant and home to a clutch of budget places to stay. North of the central area are leafier, affluent areas, such as Sandton, Melville and Rosebank, car hire is available for you to get aound, and Pretoria is just 56 km away.

It's also worth bearing in mind, when booking Johannesburg hotels, that in the height of the southern hemisphere's summer, between November and February, rainfall is highest. If you're willing to tote an umbrella, you can usually find cheaper room rates, especially in January.

Top five attractions

The Apartheid Museum

Opened in 2001, the museum traces a path through the apartheid in South Africa, with photographs, film footage and exhibits telling the evocative stories of enforced racial segregation.

Johannesburg Zoo

Thousands of animal species can be seen across 81 hectares of city parkland. It's a family favourite.

Botanic Garden

A wonderfully peaceful enclave of trees and flowers, the gardens are a short distance from the central area.

Lesedi Cultural Village

Members of African tribes helped to shape this attraction, which aims to highlight the cultures of tribes that live in South Africa. It's a captivating glimpse into a traditional way of life.

Gold Reef City

A huge amusement park built on a former gold mine, the theme is the gold rush and you can easily spend a day having fun at this family attraction.

Events

Joy of Jazz Festival; August: Newtown plays host to this lively musical event, which attracts local, national and international artists and visitors.

Joburg Art Fair; September: This popular modern art event is held at Sandton Convention Centre.

Arts Alive; September: 10 days of arts and cultural performances are dished up during this annual event. There's music, dance, poetry, puppetry and a variety of other cultural morsels on offer at a range of venues - including on the streets.