South African Hotels

Soweto Tourism Information

Quick Facts: Soweto

  • Soweto is regarded as one of South Africa's most densely populated urban residential areas
  • Soweto is an energetic, metropolitan township that continues to grow and upgrade itself year on year
  • Soweto has recently been the site of numerous upgrades
  • This suburb is now home of several important tourist attractions, including Water Sisulu Square and the newly renovated Mandela House in Kliptown
  • Soweto is in close proximity to Gold Reef City and the adjacent Apartheid Museum
  • Apartheid Museum
  • Credo Mutwa Cultural Village
  • Gold Reef City
  • Hector Pieterson Museum
  • Kliptown Open Air Museum
  • Mandela House
  • Oppenheimer Tower
  • Orlando Towers
  • Regina Mundi Church
  • Walter Sisulu Square (also Freedom Square)

Distance to Airport: 55 km

Distance to City: 34 km

Introducing Soweto

Regarded as one of South Africa's most densely populated urban residential areas, Soweto is an energetic, metropolitan township that continues to grow and upgrade itself year on year.

Supported and loved by a rising black Johannesburg middle class, Soweto has recently been the site of numerous upgrades, now boasting several important tourist attractions, including Water Sisulu Square and the newly renovated Mandela House in Kliptown. Roads have been tarred, trees planted and larger homes have mushroomed in the more affluent suburbs. Soweto is in close proximity to Gold Reef City and the adjacent Apartheid Museum.

Soweto began as a blacks-only settlement established for black mine labourers in 1903. By 1963, segregation policies were firmly entrenched in Johannesburg's urban spatial planning and the name Soweto was coined for the urban mass of informal settlements south of Johannesburg.

This name was an acronym for South Western Townships.Over the years, Soweto has been plagued by lack of infrastructure, overcrowding, unstable housing and high unemployment. It was a political hothouse during the Apartheid years, nurturing several prominent political figures including Nelson Mandela, Lilian Ngoyi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The 1976 student uprising took place in Soweto and its first casualty, 12-year-old Hector Pieterson, has become an icon of this devastating protest.

Best Kept Secret

Soweto Wine Festival

Held annually at the beginning of September, the Soweto Wine Festival draws thousands of wine lovers from across the country.  Around 800 wines on exhibit to taste and purchase. The Arena, Main Hall, University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus, Chris Hani Road, Soweto. Phone 076-136-2694. http://www.sowetowinefestival.co.za.

Getting there

To reach Soweto from the airport, follow the R24 to Johannesburg. At Gillooly's Interchange, take the N3 northbound to Pretoria. At the Sandton Buccleuch Interchange follow the M1 south through the Crown Interchange. Shortly after the Booysens Drive/Gold Reef City exit, turn onto the M68 towards Kliptown, Soweto.

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