Did you know?The logo of Transnet, present owners of the Carlton Centre, sits outside on top.
If you’ve a head for heights and want the best view in Johannesburg, then be sure to visit the Top of Africa on the 50th floor of the 223m-high Carlton Centre, a building that just fails to make the list of the world’s top 100 skyscrapers by a mere 40m.
The Top of Africa is a wrap-around viewing deck with stupendous 360° degrees views over Johannesburg. On a clear day you can see as far as the capital city of Pretoria, and at any time of year you’ll be amazed at the number of trees you’ll see – more than a million of them, making it the biggest urban forest in the world.
Take the lift up the 50-storey building – the highest in Africa and once the highest in the Southern Hemisphere – and prepare to be amazed at just how much you can see of the city and its lovely suburbs.
You can’t fail to notice the old mine dumps that appropriately look like gold nuggets clustered around the south of the city. Remember that Johannesburg – also known as Egoli, or City of Gold – owes its history to the gold reefs that were discovered here in the late 1880s.
You won’t, however, see any water anywhere. Johannesburg is the only major city in the world that is not built near a river or on the sea, thanks to those gold deposits that were the richest in the world.
There are helpful information boards posted around the deck and a particularly interesting exhibition of photographs about Gandhi and his connection with the city and South Africa’s turbulent past.
Although the Carlton Centre, home of the Top of Africa, has lost some of its former glamour and glitz since it was first opened in 1973, and no longer hosts showbiz celebrities in its now-closed five-star hotel, the array of shops and bustling crowds make it a great place to feel the vibe of a modern African city.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Top of Africa
Tel: +27(0) 11 308 1331
How to get here
Top of Africa is in Johannesburg's downtown Central Business District at 150 Commissioner Street. A really good way to get there is on the Johannesburg City Sightseeing Bus as this is one of the 12 stops en route.
Best time to visit
Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm; Saturday 9am to 5pm; Sunday 9am to 2pm.
Around the area
Constitution Hill, Gandhi Square, Market Theatre, Nelson Mandela Bridge, Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City – all part of the Johannesburg City Sightseeing Bus tour.
Tours to do
The Johannesburg City Sightseeing Bus.
What will it cost
Adults R15, children (under 12) R10.
What to eat
There’s a small restaurant but don’t expect gourmet food.
There's good affordable clothes shopping in the Carlton Centre.