Johannesburg is a diverse and sprawling metropolis, and can be a confusing place to figure out, even for people who’ve lived here for a while! So if you are new in town - here is your bucket list of places to explore and things we think are worth a visit.
How to get around:
Public transport has improved considerably over the last five years with the Rea Vaya bus system and the Gautrain, but navigating Johannesburg can be confusing, so we’d recommend hiring a car or Uber to get around. We also highly recommend you buying a map and looking at the main roads, and pin pointing where you are going, it will be much faster way to learn the city, since GPS can get very confused - particularly when there are about 20 5th Avenues, or 5th Streets, depending on the suburb, so you could easily end up in the wrong place.
Johannesburg is a fairly big city so we recommend you allocate a particular suburb each Saturday, (or per day if you are keen to explore) rather than trying to do to much all at once.
WHERE TO STAY: Monte Casino, The Saxon, Sandton (variety of hotels)
An upmarket suburban area, this is an area with mostly larger houses, restaurants, malls and kid/pet-friendly activities.
Monte Casino is a popular destination for gambling, shows, restaurants and entertainment, as everything is easily accessible in the same place, with ample parking. There’s also a Bird Park for something different.
Other attractions in the area:
Liliesleaf Museum: a secret hideout location for leaders of the resistance movement during apartheid, this museum gives an insight into Nelson Mandela’s life as a fugitive and life in South Africa during the 1960s.
Bryanston Organic Market: a Joburg institution, this market sells a range of food and produce, and is open on Thursday and Saturdays.
Sandton City: A very popular shopping mall close to the Gautrain, with a cinema, restaurants and also events at the Sandton Convention Centre. You probably want to go there to have your photo taken next to the massive Nelson Mandela statue, if you are hungry then head to Pappas a lovely family run greek restaurant up behind the statue. The Sandton Sun also has a beautiful deck that overlooks the city, so is a great spot for sundowners.
Kramerville: a design hub with various outlets, great if you want to look for your furniture. Kramerville is home to Amatuli, Weylandts, Melville and Moon, the Milk Bar, it is also famous for several events venues and coffee shops. A must on your list of places to explore.
The Grill House
The Gables: A beautiful home with delicious pour over coffee and art for sale.
Tashas: a South African chain focused on good food, with differently themed menus depending on the franchise.
Hobart Centre: Fruits and Roots and a great spa stocking lots of imported favorites and well worth going for steak at Woombles.
Bryanston Shopping Centre: Cafe del Sol resturant is great!
Jacksons Eatery and Tiger’s Milk: newly opened health food store and outdoor bar/restaurant
Want to stay up to date with all the main events - Download our Calendar below to make sure you don't miss out.
Where to stay: The Peech Boutique Hotel, Melrose Arch, The Hamilton, Amanzi Guest House
Another beautiful suburban area, there’s lots to do in “The Parks”
Melrose Arch: A residential and commercial area with a hotel, visit Melrose Arch for coffee shops (Even a coffee in a cone!), restaurants, bars and a live comedy club. Here is home to a large number of designer shops, and chain restaurants such as Jamie's Italian, and Pauls.
Parkhurst: has a great strip (4th Avenue) with restaurants, bars and a number of clothing and lifestyle shops. Perfect for a wander around.
Norwood: an up and coming neighbourhood with a strip along Grant Avenue, including traditional Jewish eateries and shops.
Keyes Art Mile, Rosebank: A recently launch strip of shops, restaurants and a beautiful bar overlooking the city at Marble. Keyes Art Mile is open all week but particularly busy on First Thursdays, when Circa and Everard Read Gallery are open into the evening. Further along Jan Smuts Avenue (towards town), a number of galleries and newly opened restaurants and bars (opposite Goodman Gallery).
Rosebank Mall: With a weekend rooftop market, a cinema and games centre, and a variety of shops, Rosebank is a hub of shopping activity in the Parks area.
The Local Grill
Moyo at Zoo Lake
Where to stay:
44 Stanley (Auckland Park) is a must for another day trip! So many great little shops to explore and coffee shop to people watch in.
Emmarentia/Joburg Botanical Gardens
Linden Strip: The Whippet is a favourite coffee shop (their menu is wonderful, and afternoon tea amazing!). The Argentinian, Brian Lara Rum Eatery
Pablo-Eggs-Go-Bar (great for brunch)
Melville Koppies hiking trail and tours.
Where to stay: Airbnb, Protea Hotel
WHERE TO EAT:
Neighbourgoods Market (every Saturday)
POST (for breakfast and coffee)
Workshop Newtown (also a place to look for South African designer clothes and accessories)
Urbanologi for celebrated Asian tapas and locally brewed beer at Mad Giant
Jazz and dinner at The Orbit
WHERE TO GO/EAT:
Maboneng: Lenins, Ethiopian restaurants, Firebird Coffee, The Cosmopolitan, Che Argentine Grill
Oriental Plaza and Fordsburg (for authentic Indian cuisine)
Portuguese restaurants in Rosettenville: Adega and Parreirinha
WHERE TO STAY:
Curiocity, Decades Hotel, Airbnb
SUGGESTED WEEKEND ITINERARY:
Start your day with breakfast at POST in Braamfontein and a wander around the popular Neighbourgoods market (also good for brunch/lunch).
Pop into the WITS Art Museum (WAM) for a wander, or for those more interested in history, pay a visit to the nearby Origins Centre or Constitution Hill.
Uber to the Westcliff/Rosebank for a late afternoon drink on the balcony of the Westcliff or Marble to get a different view of the city (in summer you might be lucky enough to see a thunderstorm playing out over the city!)
*The first Thursday of every month is a good time to visit Braamfontein, Rosebank or Maboneng when all the art galleries are open late (www.firstthursdays.co.za)
Head to Foundry for drinks at the bar and then a dinner at the Local Grill opposite. Best to book a table!
Uber to Maboneng for brunch at Arts on Main and a wander around the area. See if there’s an afternoon show at POPArt or the Bioscope.
What gems have you discovered? We would love to know! Share with us in the comments below.
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