Known the world over for its role in the struggle for democracy, Soweto hums day and night, and its vibe is electrifying. It’s Gucci and ghetto, Hummers and hip-hop, Loxion Kulcha (a sought-after local fashion brand that originated in the townships) and livestock, glamour and gogos (grannies).

Did you know?

Vilakazi Street in Soweto is the only street in the world which has been home to two Nobel Peace Laureates. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both once lived on this street.

Trend-setting Soweto loves to have a good time, and its suburbs abound with local eateries, shebeens (taverns) music venues and pumping nightclubs. Grab a bite to eat at a roadside shisanyama (outlet selling flame-cooked meat), and if you’re up for it, try a smiley (boiled sheep’s head), a local delicacy.

Visit Wandie’s Place, a Soweto restaurant institution where celebs from across the globe dine on its local specialities. Booking is essential. Meet the city’s élite at Nambitha or indulge in delicious quantities of food, beer and loads of atmosphere at Sakhumzi’s on Vilakazi Street, across from the Mandela House Museum.

Follow the bling and the beat – marabi and kwaito (forms of popular South African music that originated in the townships), funk and blues all jostle for ear-space on the jam-packed ultra-stylish dance floors of this mega-party town. Jazz has been at the heart of Soweto since the 1960s, and performances happen all the time at local community halls, shebeens or in someone’s backyard, so pull up a chair.

Attend a local football match – the passion with which the beautiful game is worshipped here is infectious, and if you’ve backed the winning team expect things to remain raucous until sunrise. Complete your experience with a night or two in a local B&B, where you’ll instantly become one of the family, and truly ‘see’ this amazing township.

You can also get very active and take bicycle and quad bike tours of Soweto, or even bungee jump from one of the colourful cooling towers.

Come for the history too, and visit some of South Africa's most iconic struggle sites – the Hector Pieterson Memorial; Orlando High School, whose students were among the catalysts in the June 16th 1976 Soweto uprisings; and the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Moroka which served as a spiritual haven for thousands of Sowetans and played a crucial role in the township's history of resistance against apartheid – to name only a few.

In Soweto’s oldest suburb, Orlando, on Vilakazi Street, is the Mandela House, now a museum, and nearby, the former residence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, making it the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners once lived.

A top tourist attraction not to be missed is the Hector Pietersen Museum, which commemorates the 1976 youth uprisings against apartheid.

Soweto really is a must on any visitor's itinerary.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Soweto Outdoor Adventures
Tel: +27 (0)72 692 8159

Soweto Festival
Tel: +27 (0)11 217 0600

Best time to visit

Any time of year is good – a warm welcome will always await you

Tours to do

Tours by bike, quad bike, or on foot

Length of stay

Spend at least a day, and overnight if possible

Where to stay

The swish Soweto Hotel is central, and there are also lots of home stay and B&B options

What to eat

Try any or all of the local specialities at the different eateries

What's happening

The Soweto Festival takes place annually in September at the NASREC Expo Centre, Johannesburg

Best buys

Local arts and crafts