If you have just one day to explore Johannesburg you can see a lot by taking advantage of the Gautrain and the City Sightseeing Bus while on a two-day visit you can also squeeze in a tour of Soweto. On a three-day trip take your time and learn more about the city’s history and contemporary cultural scene.
Start your day with breakfast at Tasha’s cafe in The Zone@Rosebank, an outdoor shopping centre and restaurant hub right next to the Rosebank Gautrain station. The long breakfast menu includes generous portions of breakfast classics such as omelettes, French toast, muesli and poached eggs.
Visit the Rosebank Art and Craft Market for the biggest selection of African souvenirs in Johannesburg. Choose from all kinds of crafts from across South Africa and beyond such as beaded jewellery, bright fabrics, wooden sculptures, Ndebele dolls, handmade toys, masks, bowls, keyrings and magnets. Traders are very friendly and love to bargain.
Jump on the Gautrain to Park Station and board the open-top . The bus makes 11 stops in and around the city centre and you can hop on and off as many times as you like.
Get off the bus at the. One of the country’s best museums it offers an in-depth look at the complex history of apartheid and the struggle for democracy in South Africa. It is a large museum and there is a wealth of information so allow yourself plenty of time to get around it all.
Hop back on the bus and continue until the last stop, Constitution Hill. Now a museum and the home of South Africa’s modern Constitutional Court, it was once a colonial fort and a prison. Stop for lunch at The Hill cafe inside the Old Fort and then take a walk around the fort ramparts for a view of Joburg’s skyscrapers.
Book a table in advance for sundowners on the terrace at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. Located high up on one of the city’s ridges, it is an ideal place to watch the sunset over the treetops.
South Africa is famous for its excellent grain-fed beef and if you are a meat-eater then a fine steak accompanied by one of the country’s many excellent wines is a must. Top steakhouses to try include The Grillhouse, Turn n Tender or The Local Grill.
Start your day at 44 Stanley a collection of 1930s industrial buildings that has been transformed into a pretty series of courtyards filled with olives trees and fountains. For breakfast choose from the Fair Trade coffee roastery , the artisan bakery or . Browse the many little boutiques and galleries selling designer clothing, ceramics and secondhand books.
Make your way to Soweto for a tour of this most famous township. Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers run bicycle and tuk tuk tours that include visits to heritage sites such as the and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, as well as stops for refreshments at local shebeens.
Arrange to end your tour at Vilakazi Street, the most famous street in Soweto. To sample some real township cuisine have lunch at Sakhumzi which serves traditional dishes such as tripe and chicken feet.
Take a break at Johannesburg’s Zoo Lake. Feed the ducks, float across the water on one of the row boats or just laze on the grass under the shade of the trees.
For dinner and drinks Moyo is a colourful African restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the Zoo Lake. This is a fun place for families with traditional face-painting, a hand washing ceremony and live music all part of the experience. Choose from a broad selection of dishes from all over the continent - adventurous diners can even try mopani worms or crocodile pie!
If you still have energy to burn and want to party make your way to 7th Street in Melville, a nightlife hotspot that is lined with bars to suit all tastes.
Begin your day at Post, a small, breakfast bar with a view over one of the most colourful streets of Braamfontein, a busy student neighbourhood whose bars and boutiques are a magnet for young designers, hipsters and people working in the creative industries.
Visit the Origins Centre, located in the nearby University of the Witwatersrand and learn about our most distant ancestors who lived in the Gauteng region over 3 million years ago, as well as the ancient culture and rock art of the San people.
In the city centre take a stroll along Main Street, the place where gold was first discovered in Joburg. The pedestrianised street is full of relics from the early gold mining days as well as statues and monuments which pay tribute to the city’s gold rush history.
Head east of the city centre to Maboneng, a trendy urban district where you can take your pick from cafes specialising in Ethiopian, Mexican, Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian and Japanese cuisine as well as a typical South African braai stand and Argentine steakhouse.
Take time out to visit Maboneng’s art galleries and boutiques selling gifts, fashion and artworks with a distinctly Joburg flavour and admire the many street art murals that make for the perfect photograph. Alternatively for a local take on things inquire at the Curiocity Backpackers about their regular guided walking tours of the area.
Return to Braamfontein for dinner and music at the highly-regarded jazz club and bistro The Orbit. Dinner reservations are highly recommended as on almost any given night this venue is filled to capacity.
Tasha’s The Zone@Rosebank, Rosebank, Johannesburg, www.tashas.co.za
Rosebank Art and Craft Market Rosebank Mall, Craddock Avenue (next to Europa Cafe), Rosebank, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 568 0850, www.artandcraftmarket.co.za)
City Sightseeing Bus (tel. 0861 733 287, www.citysightseeing.co.za/joha...)
Apartheid Museum Corner Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Road, Ormonde (Gold Reef City) (tel. +27 (0)11 309 4700, www.apartheidmuseum.org)
Constitution Hill Corner Joubert Street and Kotze Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 381 3100, www.constitutionhill.org.za)
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff 67 Jan Smuts Avenue, Saxonwold, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 481 6190, www.fourseasons.com)
The Grillhouse The Firs, Corner Cradock Avenue and Biermann Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 880 3945, www.thegrillhouse.co.za)
Turn n Tender Parktown Quarter, 22 3rd Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 788 7933, www.turnntender.co.za)
The Local Grill Corner 7th Avenue and 3rd Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 880 1946, www.localgrill.co.za)
44 Stanley 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, Johannesburg, www.44stanley.co.za
Bean There (+27 (0)87 310 3100, www.beanthere.co.za)
Vovo Telo (+27 (0)11 482 4139, www.vovotelo.co.za)
Salvation Cafe (+27 (0)11 482 7795, www.salvationcafe.co.za)
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers 10823A Pooe Street, Orlando West, Soweto (tel. +27 (0)11 936 3444, www.sowetobicycletours.com)
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)
Sakhumzi 6980 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto (tel. +27 (0)11 536 1379, www.sakhumzi.co.za)
Moyo Zoo Lake 1 Prince of Wales Drive, Parkview, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 646 0058, www.moyo.com)
Post 70 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, (tel. +27 (0)72 248 2078, post-bl.tumblr.com)
Origins Centre Corner Yale Road and Enoch Sontonga Avenue, Wits University campus, Braamfontein, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 717 4700, www.origins.org.za)
Curiocity Backpackers Curiocity Backpackers, 302 Fox Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 592 0515, www.curiocitybackpackers.com)
Lenin’s Vodka Bar 300 Commissioner Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg ( tell. +27 (0)76 030 4200, lenins.co.za
Chalkboard Cafe 286 Fox Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg (tel. +27 (0)11 039 7306, www.chalkboardcafe.co.za)
Pata Pata 286 Fox Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg, +27 (0)73 036 9031
The Orbit 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg (+27 (0)11 339 6645, www.theorbit.co.za)