Johannesburg at night
Johannesburg

As South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg is channelling its electric energy into its food, art and fashion. While the city is abuzz with new marketplaces, breweries and restaurants, museums and local townships give glimpses into a city that has been shaped by its past. Know where to explore them with the help of our travel guide.

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Places to stay

As South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg has plenty of boroughs to explore. Just to the east of the CBD, the Maboneng precinct has boutique hotels and hostels that neighbour inventive restaurants and cool bars. In the bohemian northern area of Melville, historic houses have been converted into Airbnbs and B&Bs.

For luxury lovers, Melrose and Melrose North have hotels, like The Peech, that come with all the frills, including and not limited to, tranquil outdoor pools. Home to Wits University, Braamfontein is brimming with lively bars and budget stays. Rosebank has a relaxed feel without compromising on its proximity to the CBD.

Make the most of the all those sunny South African days by lounging around AtholPlace Hotel & Villa’s gorgeous grounds. Venturing out to Kruger National Park? Why not bookend your safari with some pampering at the splurge-worthy, Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa.

Things to do

Johannesburg is bursting with markets, historical institutes and artistic enclaves. To sample the vast variety of cuisines cultivated by the city’s mix of cultures, head to The Yeoville Food Market, where traders sell ingredients and dishes from all over Africa.

Understanding Johannesburg’s past will help you appreciate the city as it is today. The Apartheid Museum provides visitors with a detailed lesson on the country’s turbulent past. For history buffs, the Origins Centre explores the intriguing beginnings of humankind, including Africa’s unique heritage and culture. To experience first-hand how Apartheid shaped South Africa, head to the township of Soweto where local tours offer guides around the area and the chance to try the region’s famous street-food. While in Soweto, pay a visit to Nelson Mandela’s former residence at 8115 Vilakazi.

While Johannesburg is often used as a jumping point to the larger national parks, you won’t have to venture far to get up close and personal with local wildlife. The National Zoological Gardens, just outside of Johannesburg, is South Africa’s largest zoo. From animals to animal print, Work Shop New Town is a fashion, art and design hub where you can buy works from an array of talented local creatives.

Once you’re done trawling the stalls, head to Rosebank to wander in and out of the art galleries and interiors studios along the Keyes Art Mile. After a day of exploring the city, swing by 44 Stanley in Braamfontein. Here you’ll find a mix of bars, curated stores and restaurants, the Stanley Beer Yard and its small-batch craft beers are always a crowd favourite.

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Where to go

Top parks to visit Safari jeep and giraffe

Day trips

In the Gauteng province is The Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site that’s home to around 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils. Hire a jeep and see if you can spot the Big 5 at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, a self-drive park that’s about 50-minutes from Jo’burg.

Adventurous types will love the Magaliesberg mountain range, the canopy zipline is an exhilarating way to check out the views.

Top parks to visit
More art and cultural events African band playing instruments at night

Festivals

Engage with South Africa’s artistic side during September when Art Week Joburg opens a variety of exhibitions all over the city. In September you can also enjoy the smooth sounds of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz flowing through the streets of Sandton. Party down with Africa’s emerging talents and iconic legends at AFROPUNK Joburg, an art, music and culture festival held in December.

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Car hire information Couple in a car driving

Getting around

From the airport: the airport is approximately a 45 minute drive from the city. Alternatively a high-speed train service connects Tambo to the city centre in around 15 minutes. The Gautrain service has three commuter routes plus an extensive bus network to various suburbs in and around the train routes.

In and around the city: the best way to travel around Johannesburg is by car as the roads are good, plus affordable car hire and petrol. If you don’t want to hire a car, try a Hop on Hop Off bus.

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