How To Explore Johannesburg


Charlotte Ellis reveals how to explore and eat your way around the fascinating South African city of Johannesburg

Having undergone considerable regeneration over the last few years, a guided city tour of Jo-burg the creative capital with its culinary, design and music scene is a must. Visit ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ street with the homes of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Learn the shocking history of the schoolboy Hector Pierterson who was gunned down in 1976, at his memorial sight. The  Apartheid museum is harrowing but an essential part to your visit and understanding the countries complex and corrupt history. While Liliesleaf in Rivonia is the spot where Nelson Mandela and other key figures fighting for the liberation of Africa met, now it’s an impressive museum and heritage site.


Jo-burg really is a city of contrasts. Extreme poverty in certain streets and districts is at times heartbreakingly harsh (see Soweto) but despite this the residents and the locals are keen to show off their modern day city, attract tourists and continue in their work to regenerate the city create opportunity, amidst the existing political issues. Yes you can enjoy Jo-burg safely but you do need to keep to specific areas and travel wisely, taking a chauffeur or an uber is seen as a popular and safe way to get about.


“If Cape Town is the beautiful blond super model, Jo-burg is the rebellious hipster sister that you want to marry” says Vicki, who works to draw people to her cool city and  to the achingly hip Stanley 44. Here, you’ll find beautiful boutiques stocking local designers, organic beauty, handmade homewares, artisan food, hipster coffee shops, home-made chocolates plus the perfect sun-trap brunch and drink spots  and on the weekends, live music. Heaving with family and young trendsetters, buying records and picking up pottery, it’s a mix between Shoreditch on a good day and the Meatpacking district of New York.

And then there’s Maboneng, with its covered food market; a DJ belting out Afropunk, art galleries, book shops, a brilliant street market, brimming with fashionable locals. Maboneng is also home to the Orbit jazz club, the Marabi members club and cigar lounge and the historic Cosmopolitan building that is being renovated into the newest hotspot bar. If you’re keen to do taste some of South Africa’s exquisite wines, the Saxon has it’s own impressive cellar and can arrange a tasting. And if you’re an art fan, don’t miss the Turbine Art Fair, in July, for emerging African artists.

Find out more and start the adventure here.

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