Backpacking in South Africa: Top 5 Things to do In Soweto

Soweto is an amazing place and I must recommend it to everyone out there. It is one of the most famous townships in South Africa. Situated in Gauteng near Johannesberg, this place has so much history, you’ll end up enhancing your world history knowledge without even noticing it. It’s hard to do a top 5 for any place, and Soweto has so much happening that I’m going for a personal top 5 things to do in Soweto. What to do in Soweto…

1. Stay with a local family

jonny blair in soweto shebeens

Backpacking in South Africa: Top 5 Things to do In Soweto

This was a highlight of my Soweto experience, as I stayed with Rachel in her home in Orlando East in Soweto. It gives you an insight into what life is about here in this famous township. Just sitting watching TV with her and her son was a happy night. These homestays are very easily arranged through Soweto Backpackers .

2. Visit Nelson Mandela’s House

Nelson Mandela’s House

You have to make the trip to 8115 Vilakazi Street in Soweto. This is Nelson Mandela’s former house and now runs as a fully functional museum. You can walk all around the house where Nelson once lived and get your fix of Apartheid history while you are at it. This is easy to walk to if you are staying in Soweto Backpackers, and the streets are generally safe to walk around. Entrance was 10 Rand for me at the time (as I blagged a student entry – but bought plenty of souvenirs in the Hector Pieterson Museum – which didn’t make my top 5 but I also recommend it). I believe the entrance fee is now 20 Rand to get in – well worth it and remember you are also contributing for the up keep of this amazing community.

3. Visit a Shebeen

A shebeen

A shebeen

No stay in Soweto is complete without visiting a local Shebeen! I’m going to tell you to just ask local people and find your own, as they don’t really have names! But make sure you try the Joburg Beer with the locals. It comes in a tub (like an over-sized milk tub) and is pink in colour and you share it round a table. I visited two shebeens in Soweto – one was in a hut, the other was basically someone’s house that they welcome you just sitting there having a beer with them. The locals are so friendly and they really welcome people to their culture.

4. Soweto Bicycle Tours

Soweto Bicycle Tours

Soweto Bicycle Tours

The best way to see Soweto is by bicycle as you can get around easily and see places you can’t get to quickly on foot. Soweto Bicycle Tours are world renowned and world famous and I thoroughly recommend them. To make it easier – just stay in the awesome Soweto Backpackers which organises the tours. You’ll meet great people there. Lebo the owner is a local lad and his backpackers is highly recommended.

5. Hector Pieterson Museum

The Hector Pieterson Museum is highly recommended to get into the history of Soweto and in particular the Soweto Uprising of 1976. A museum and well maintained streets and tributes now sits where Hector Pieterson was once shot dead. It’s a real eye opener. Definitely in my top 5 things to do in Soweto!

In truth Soweto is just an amazing place to visit and these are only a very quick top 5 things to see and do. Here’s two videos from Soweto:



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