The most visited city in Africa (according to a 2016 Mastercard study), Johannesburg is the business hub of southern Africa.
Gauteng province, and Johannesburg in particular, is a leading conference destination with the highest number of hotel rooms of all South African provinces. Every year in late February/early March Johannesburg is the venue for the annual Meetings Africa, one of the biggest trade shows of the African conferencing calendar and a popular networking opportunity for Africa’s business community.
Visitors travelling to Gauteng for business need not spend all their time in the meeting room. With a few hours to spare each day it is still possible to do a little sightseeing and see more of the city beyond the confines of your hotel and the business district.
Maximise your time in the province by taking the speedy Gautrain to the airport, book a guided tour of Soweto, explore Johannesburg on the open-top City Sightseeing bus or enjoy the tranquility and unspoilt views of the Unesco-protected Cradle of Humankind.
Johannesburg in a day
If you want to grab breakfast before a meeting and would prefer to be out of your hotel, Johannesburg has a good choice of characterful neighbourhood cafes that open as early 6.30am.
In Rosebank, along the Keyes Art Mile, drop into Milk Bar, a colourful cafe filled with unusual African sculptures and vintage posters and signs, in Linden start the day with a great breakfast and a choice of local tea and coffee blends at The Whippet Coffee Company, while Croft and Co. on Parkview’s Tyrone Avenue is a popular place for a casual breakfast meeting.
The best way to see a lot of Johannesburg in a limited time is by taking a tour of the city on the open-top City Sightseeing bus. There are two interconnecting routes – the Red City Tour and the Green Tour, complemented by an audio guide. The one-hour green route starts at Rosebank and travels through the leafy suburbs between Rosebank and Braamfontein. The two-hour Red City Tour starts at Park Station Gautrain and travels through the historic city centre and the city’s southern suburbs. If you have an extra hour to spare hop off the bus at Constitution Hill and take the one-hour guided tour of this heritage landmark or join the free one-and-a-half-hour downtown Free Walking Tour that starts at the Park Station stop.
For a quick business lunch in the Sandton business district Nelson Mandela Square is always a convenient choice with plenty of restaurants like The Big Mouth (sushi and seafood), Pappas on the Square (Greek) and Tashas (cafe-bistro) clustered around the open-air piazza.
Alternatively if you are in a hurry grab a quick bite to eat from the Knead cafe inside the Michelangelo Towers mall which is directly opposite Sandton Convention Centre. After work networking with clients doesn’t have to be boring, take the opportunity to leave your hotel and head for sundowners with a panoramic view of the city on the terrace at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. Another option is the exclusive Mesh Club, a private member’s club that opens to the public daily from 4pm for cocktails with a sunset view of the suburbs. Located in the Keyes Art Mile art district Mesh shares a building with several top contemporary art galleries. For a big business dinner with clients make sure you have a booking at Marble on Keyes Art Mile, a sophisticated live-fire grill dining experience created by Chef David Higgs or at the celebrated steakhouse Wombles. The elegant safari-inspired decor and spacious private dining areas at Wombles have plenty of atmosphere and the restaurant is a 15-minute drive from central Sandton.
The Cradle of Humankind in a day
If you want to escape the city for a few hours head north to the Unesco-protected Cradle of Humankind, one hour’s drive from Sandton. Take a 45-minute tour of the
The world-famous Sterkfontein Caves where prehistoric hominid fossils such as Little Foot and Mrs Ples were discovered and if you have extra time combine a visit with a look around the Maropeng Visitor’s Centre where you can learn more about the evolution of humankind. Alternatively spend your time relaxing with a long lunch at Roots restaurant, five minutes drive from the Sterkfontein Caves. Listed as one of the top restaurants in South Africa, this fine dining restaurant has beautiful lakeside views. If you are interested in wildlife take a guided game drive through the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, which is also located within the Cradle of Humankind area, and view a wide range of animals, including wild dogs and cheetahs. If you are pressed for time but still want to enjoy some nature, take a stroll through the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, a 20-minute drive from central Sandton.
Soweto in a day
If you want to see Soweto during your business trip to Gauteng, then the best way to do this is by taking a guided tour. Most tour guides offer to arrange transfers from hotels in Johannesburg and tours can be tailormade to suit your interests. There are many ways to explore Soweto – take a tour of by bicycle or tuk-tuk with Lebo’s Soweto Bicycle Tours, zoom through the streets on quad bikes with Soweto Outdoor Adventures or you can even see Soweto from the air on a helicopter flight with Fly SA Wise.
If you don’t have time to take a tour then get a taste for Soweto’s history and culture on a visit to Vilakazi Street. There are lots of fun places to enjoy a traditional lunch such as Sakhumzi, Restaurant Vilakazi or Vuyos before you pay a visit to Nelson Mandela’s House Museum and the nearby Hector Pieterson Memorial, which commemorates the youth of 1976 and their brave stand against apartheid. Pick up souvenirs from one of the many streetside stalls and support local brands by shopping for clothing and accessories at The Box Shop, an unusual building constructed from shipping containers. Upstairs is Kofi, a coffee shop which roasts its own coffee and is a good spot to get a caffeine hit.
If you are lucky enough to be in Soweto for work then base yourself at the four-star Soweto Hotel and Conference Centre in Kliptown and make time in your diary to visit the interesting Kliptown Museum next door.
Milk Bar 19 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)10 594 5128
The Whippet Coffee Company 34 7th Street, Linden, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 11 782 7310, thewhippet.co.za
Croft and Co 66 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview, Johannesburg Tel. +27 (0)11 646 3634, croftandco.co.za
City Sightseeing bus Tel. +27 (0)86 1733 287, www.citysightseeing.co.za/joha...
Constitution Hill Corner Joubert Street and Kotze Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 381 3100, www.constitutionhill.org.za
Joburg Free Walking Tours Tours leave from the City Sightseeing bus help desk in Park Station, Johannesburg City Centre at 10:30am, 1pm and 5pm. Tel. +27 (0)73 919 3355, nielsentours.co.za.
Nelson Mandela Square Entrance on Maude Street and West Street, Sandton Central, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 217 6001, www.nelsonmandelasquare.co.za
Tasha’s Tel. +27 (0)11 883 0389, tashascafe.com
Pappas on the Square tel. +27 (0)11 884 9991/2, pappasrestaurant.co.za
The Big Mouth Tel. +27 (0)63 293 8869, thebigmouth.co.za
Knead Shop LO8, Michelangelo Towers, Sandton Central, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 884 9449, www.kneadbakery.co.za
Michelangelo Towers Mall 2 Maude Street, corner Fifth Street, Sandton Central, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 234 1823, www.legacyretail.co.za
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff 67 Jan Smuts Avenue, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 481 6000, www.fourseasons.com/johannesburg
Mesh Club Keyes Art Mile, 19 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)10 594 5545, www.meshclub.co.za
Marble Keyes Art Mile (Trumpet building), cnr Keyes and Jellicoe Aves, Rosebank, Tel. +27 (0)10 594 5550, www.marble.restaurant
Wombles Hobart Grove Shopping Centre, 88 Hobart Road, Bryanston, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 880 2470, wombles.co.za
Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng Visitors Centre R400 (off R563), Cradle of Humankind, Tel. +27 (0)14 577 9000, www.maropeng.co.za
Roots Forum Homini Hotel, Letamo Game Estate, R540, Kromdraai, Cradle of Humankind, Tel. +27 (0)11 668 7000, www.forumhomini.com/rootsrestaurant
Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve 520 Kromdraai Rd, Krugersdorp, Tel. +27 (0)11 957 0109, rhinolion.co.za
Johannesburg Botanical Gardens Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg, Tel. +27 (0)11 782 7064
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers and Bicycle Tours 10823A Pooe Street, corner Ramushu Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)11 936 3444, www.sowetobackpackers.com
Soweto Outdoor Adventures Dynamo Street, corner Old Potch Road, Orlando, Soweto, Tel +27 (0)72 692 8159, www.sowetooutdooradventures.co.za
Fly SA Wise Tel. +27 (0)78 040 2124 / +27 (0)11 067 0158, www.flysawise.com
Orlando Cooling Towers Dynamo Street, Corner Chris Hani Road, Orlando East, Soweto, Tel +27 (0)71 674 4343, www.orlandotowers.co.za/
Chaf Pozi Orlando Towers, corner Kingsley Sithole Street and Nicholas Street, Orlando East, Soweto, Tel +27 (0)81 797 5756, www.chafpozi.co.za
Sakhumzi 6980 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)11 536 1379, www.sakhumzi.co.za
Restaurant Vilakazi 6876 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)11 936 7423, restaurantvilakazi.co.za.
Vuyos 8038 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)11 536 1838, www.vuyos.co.za
Nelson Mandela House Museum 8115 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)11 936 7754, www.mandelahouse.com
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum 8287 Khumalo Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)11 536 0611
The Box Shop 7166 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)81 861 6510, www.theboxshop.co.za
Kofi The Box Shop, 7166-7176 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Tel. +27 (0)84 665 2400, kofishop.co.za