As the tournament’s flagship venue, South Africa’s World Cup organisers simply had to get this stadium right. And they certainly have. The stadium, which is home to the country’s biggest and most famous football club Kazier Chiefs, has undergone a £250 million revamp for the finals, with the money spent on increasing capacity to 94,000, upgrading floodlights and VIP areas, and rebuilding changing rooms.
To lend the stadium a 21st century feel whilst offering a nod to African culture, designers have also created a stunning hi-tech terracotta outer shell that lights up at night to give the impression of an African cooking pot.
Soccer City Stadium will host the tournament's opening game, four group games, a quarter-final, and last but not least, will have the honour of staging the World Cup final.
Soccer City Stadium is located in the suburbs of Johannesburg, a short way east of the township of Soweto.
Johannesburg is served by OR Tambo International Airport, located 19km north east of the city centre. Various shuttle bus services operate to and from the airport including the Magic Bus and Airport Link.
From the city centre, the stadium is best reached by car or park-and-ride bus. To improve road access, the Soweto freeway has been widened and the stadium boasts a whopping 15,000 car parking places.
Johannesburg’s Fan Fest event will be held on Mary Fitzgerland Square in the centre of the city’s Newtown district and will include public screenings of World Cup matches, drinking and eating, and plenty of entertainment and activities for all the family.
If you’re tempted to venture out and explore some of the city’s more traditional attractions, Newtown itself is a vibrant part of town with an array of leisure and recreational activities on offer.
The Museum Africa on the north side of the square provides a fascinating insight into the history of the nation and the city, The Bassline (Henry Nxumalo Street) is Johannesburg's best live music venue and any football fan worth his salt will not want to miss out on the South African Breweries World of Beer, a 90-minute tour housed in a building on the corner of Miriam Makeba and President streets.
This district also boasts a good selection of bars, clubs, coffee shops and restaurants. For a greater choice of eateries, the upmarket northern suburb of Mellville also boasts a range of fine restaurants.
Those seeking retail therapy will not be disappointed with the shopping opportunities on offer in Johannesburg. The city boasts no fewer than 20 vast shopping malls, with the most popular being the Sandton City on the corner of Sandton Drive and Rivonia Road.
Johannesburg’s nightlife is varied and vibrant, ranging from pubs to trendy cocktail lounges and hotel bars. The district of Melville is a hub of activity, with dozens of little bars spilling out on the streets. The northern suburbs of Rosebank, Norwood, Rivonia and Orange Grove are favoured by more affluent crowds, while in the Central Business District, Newtown is popular after dark.
If you’re looking for cultural evening entertainment, the Market Theatre located on Margaret Mcingana Street offers theatre, music, dance and other artistic performances, with regular shows by new and established names from the entertainments world.
Since the stadium is located nearby, it would be a shame not to take the opportunity to explore the township of Soweto, which is famous for staging some of the significant events in the struggle against Apartheid, and was as the home of Nelson Mandela before he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Several of the companies that offer tours of Johannesburg and the surrounding areas include Soweto in their packages.