South African National Museum of Military History

#6 in Best Things To Do in Johannesburg
South African National Museum of Military History picture
Alan Wilson/Flickr

Key Info

22 Erlswold Way

Details

Museums Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
3.9

scorecard

  • 4.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Whether you're a history buff, a military enthusiast or just want a place to cool off on a hot South African day, odds are you'll enjoy the South African National Museum of Military History. With an array of military exhibits that include everything from military vehicles and service medals to Anglo-Boer War paraphernalia and a small arms display, there's plenty to peruse. But the standout here is the museum's military aircraft collection, which features iconic planes like a Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter jet, a Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk 50 carrier-borne strike airplane and a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito combat plane made mostly of wood.

In addition to its informative, attention-grabbing displays, travelers rave about the museum's friendly staff and well-maintained grounds. What's more, thanks to its kid-appropriate exhibits and proximity to the Johannesburg Zoo, the South African National Museum of Military History is a convenient attraction for visitors traveling with children.

The South African National Museum of Military History sits in Johannesburg's northern Saxonwold neighborhood (about 4 miles north of downtown). The museum – including a small cafe and memorabilia shop – is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on Good Friday, Christmas Day and the first Sunday in September. To enter, adults are required to pay a 30 rand (about $2) admission fee, while student tickets are 25 rand each. On-site parking is available for those who decide to drive, or travelers can arrive by bus. The bus stop is located about three blocks east of the museum.

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#1 Apartheid Museum

For a thorough understanding of South Africa's appalling apartheid era, a visit to Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum is a must. The museum features a series of graphic yet informative exhibits, including an array of hanging nooses that represent the execution of 131 government opponents and a series of televisions that show footage of anti-apartheid residents being attacked and killed. The museum also features several interactive exhibits, such as a room where visitors are invited to move a stone from the right to a pile on the left to show their commitment to fighting discrimination and racism. There's also two museum entrances – one for whites and one for nonwhites – to denote the physical separations once apparent during apartheid.

Although several recent travelers warned that you will feel emotional while making your way through this attraction, many agreed that the Apartheid Museum's heartbreaking atmosphere is necessary to help you truly understand what occurred during this period. And remember to take your time here. With so much information to digest, at least a few hours (if not a full day) is recommended.

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