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One Day in Johannesburg

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Johannesburg may only be about 125 years old, but it has enough history and sights to keep you busy for several days. The city is Africa's prime economic and creative hub, so apart from sights related to the well-known anti-apartheid struggle, there are plenty of surprising museums, markets, neighborhoods and activities on offer here, and all at very reasonable prices. You'll be planning a return trip before the day is out!

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Foodie
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

10 Places

6 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Carlton Centre

Observation Decks & Towers

Apartheid Museum

Speciality Museums

Salvation Cafe

Restaurants

Rosebank Sunday Market

Flea & Street Markets

Wits Art Museum

Speciality Museums

South Western Townships

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Maboneng Precinct

Neighbourhoods

Oriental Plaza

Historic Walking Areas

The Wolfpack

Restaurants

The Orbit

Performances

Jeroen M's City Tips

  • It's common to tip around 10-15% in cafés and restaurants if the service merits it; either tell the waiter the total amount you want to pay, or leave the tip on the table.
  • If you're driving, it's common to tip petrol station attendants.
  • Johannesburg is a huge, sprawling city with regular traffic gridlock; it's a good idea to plan your itinerary carefully to avoid cross-city trips at peak times.
  • The Gautrain is a clean, safe and fast way to get from the airport to the city center (Park Station) via the suburban Rosebank and Sandton shopping and hotel districts.
  • With little time in the city, it's a very good idea to base yourself near a Gautrain station so you can zip around efficiently.
  • Johannesburg can get chilly during the winter months of June to August; often sunny and mild during the day, but cold at night.
  • Carlton Centre
    Observation Decks & Towers
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    The tallest building in Africa towers over central Johannesburg, and the 'Top of Africa' viewing deck is a good spot to get orientated in this big city. The views are really good on clear days - all the way across to the FNB Stadium and Soweto to the southwest, and Pretoria to the north - though decidedly less impressive on hazy days. The shopping mall at the foot of the tower has a great mix of shops and locals and is well worth a look as well.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Find the cash desk for the viewing deck one floor down from street level.
    • The Rea Vaya buses from Park Station and Soweto stop at the Carlton Center, as does the open-top tour bus.
    • The Carlton Center is connected underground to the car park entrance on Main Street; show the ticket at the Top of Africa cash desk and parking is even free.
    • Signs inside the tower are minimal, and the view is best enjoyed with a local or guide who can explain what you're looking at.
    • On clear days, you can spot the Magaliesberg mountains, one of the world's oldest mountain ranges, 70km to the north.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #65 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    • Iconic building in JHB CBD 14/11/2018
    • In need of TLC 07/11/2018
    • Carlton Centre
    Address:
    150 Commissioner Street
    Johannesburg 2094
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 308 1331
    Other:
  • Apartheid Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    The ultimate must-see museum in South Africa does an awesome job of documenting the terrible history of Apartheid, and how people like Nelson Mandela fought to bring it to an end. The setup and design of the museum are very good, and there's even a lovely rooftop savannah landscape garden.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • To do the museum justice, and to take in the film and the exhibit texts, you'll need 2-3 hours, so plan your day around this.
    • The museum is hard to get to on public transport, but is on the popular open-top tour bus route. You can also easily book a tour that combines the museum with a visit to Soweto.
    • The museum has a good bookshop and lunch cafe by the exit.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Thought Provoking 14/11/2018
    • Worth every pwnny 13/11/2018
    • Apartheid Museum
    Address:
    Northern Parkway
    Ormonde
    Johannesburg
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 309 4700
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Salvation Cafe
    Restaurants (Cafe, Contemporary, International)
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    Inside the charming Stanley 44 complex with its shops, galleries and boutiques, Salvation is a fantastic place for lunch. Their balcony overlooking the small plaza is a great place to relax and plan the rest of the day. Great coffee and cakes too.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • On a warm day, try their Caesar salad and homemade lemonades.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #20 of 1,113 restaurants in Johannesburg
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Eatery in resurrected Braamfontein 04/11/2018
    • Always a great experience 14/10/2018
    • Salvation Cafe
    Address:
    44 Stanley Avenue
    Milpark
    Johannesburg 2092
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 482 7795
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Rosebank Sunday Market
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    Get all your souvenirs and presents in one go at the weekly Sunday art market, on the top parking deck of Rosebank mall. There's a great variety of art, jewelry, fashion and souvenirs on sale here, including animals made from beads. A couple of stands sell food, and there's often live music too.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Don't hesitate to haggle! Until you agree on a price, you can always just say no thanks, and walk on.
    • Arrive in the morning for a more relaxed experience; after lunch it can get quite busy.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #28 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting browse 07/11/2018
    • Sunday market shopping for souvenirs 13/10/2018
    • Rosebank Sunday Market
    Address:
    50 Bath Avenue
    Cradock Avenue and Baker Street
    Johannesburg 2196
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 442 4488
    Other:
  • Wits Art Museum
    Speciality Museums
    Jeroen M Says:

    For a taste of African art, visit this modern city-center museum run by Johannesburg's famed university. The cool state-of-the-art spaces host changing themed exhibitions drawn from their enormous collections of African art from across the continent, plus modern art and photography.

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The same building has an excellent lunch cafe frequented by Wits University students, a great place for a break after visiting the museum.
    • You'll need to register with the doorman before entering the museum.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #48 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    • Surprizingly great kids day out 22/10/2018
    • Great visit 06/09/2018
    • Wits Art Museum
    Address:
    1 Jan Smuts Avenue
    University of the Witwatersrand
    Johannesburg 2001
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 717 1365
    Hours:
    Wed - Sun
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Other:
  • South Western Townships
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    The sprawling township southwest of central Johannesburg is a pleasant and essential trip for visitors to the city. It has several good museums and monuments, and a host of lively restaurants and bars, crammed with fashionable locals at the weekends.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Soweto is increasingly easy to visit using public transport; Reya Vaya buses take you near Vilakazi Street where the main sights are. Just ask the locals for exact directions!
    • Restaurants along Vilakazi street serve good local dishes. There's good nightlife in Soweto too, but it's best to join a knowledgeable local to make the most of it.
    • Leave your valuables at the hotel, wear your brightest smile, and you'll have a great time in Soweto!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Intrusive But Instructive 01/11/2018
    • expeience Soweto 12/10/2018
    • South Western Townships
  • Maboneng Precinct
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    An exciting symbol of the regeneration of the city center of Johannesburg, the warehouses and offices of the Maboneng area have been re-purposed to house art galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, a hotel and a hostel, an art cinema and a museum. It's especially lively on Sundays when there's a food and design market.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • There's safe parking on most streets around the main venues in the district; don't forget to tip the private guards before you drive off.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great artsy and local market 13/11/2018
    • Late night drinks with some Jazz 06/11/2018
    • Maboneng Precinct
    Address:
    286 Fox Street, Maboneng Precinct
    City & Suburban
    Johannesburg 2094
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 72 880 9583
    Hours:
    Mon
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Tue - Sun
    9:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • Oriental Plaza
    Historic Walking Areas
    Jeroen M Says:

    Johannesburg is full of bland malls - but this one is special, aimed at the large Indian community living in the area, and although its not as flashy or well-maintained as the malls in the northern suburbs, it's crammed full of shops selling textiles, clothes, jewelry, decorations and much more. There are also several great places to eat local-style 'samosa' and other Indian delicacies.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveller
    Tips
    • There's ample guarded parking around the mall, which is just west of the city center.
    • On weekend nights, there's an Indian night market on the streets west of the mall.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #35 of 150 things to do in Johannesburg
    • Oriental Plaza 12/11/2018
    • Shopping! 30/10/2018
    • Oriental Plaza
    Address:
    Newtown Cultural Precinct
    Johannesburg
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 838 6752
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • The Wolfpack
    Restaurants
    See more photos
    Jeroen M Says:

    A bustling, hip restaurant in the popular Parkhurst area north of the center. There are great burgers on offer here, and you can choose from a variety of local craft beers.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • Wolfpack is often crammed; book ahead. It can also get quite rowdy - not the best place for a quiet date!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #0 of 0 restaurants in
    • Craft Beers 18/06/2017
    • True Burger Joint 10/06/2017
    • The Wolfpack
    Address:
    21 4th Avenue
    Corner Of Fredman And Gwen Lane In Sandton
    Johannesburg 2193
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 447 7705
    Price range:
    US$ 0 - US$ 200
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Tue - Sat
    12:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • The Orbit
    Performances
    Jeroen M Says:

    Jazz was a major cultural influence for the black community in Johannesburg in the 1930s to 1960s, and The Orbit jazz bar has recently managed to bring some of it back to the city center. There's live music nearly every day here, a cafe on the ground floor and a huge bar with the stage upstairs. The excellent mix of locals and visitors makes it a great place to hang out.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • Couples
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Check out the upstairs smokers' balcony, sandwiched in between towering high-rise buildings.
    • The Orbit is popular, so it's wise to book a table for the evening, especially at weekends.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 6 things to do in Braamfontein
    • Never disappoints 12/04/2017
    • Incredible music! 11/04/2017
    • The Orbit
    Address:
    81 De Korte Street
    Braamfontein
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 339 6645
    Other:
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