Known as the ‘City of Gold’, Johannesburg is a sprawling metropolis located in the northern region of South Africa. With a population of around 750,000 people, the city which is known as being the major business hub in the country, also has a large and vibrant arts scene and food scene.
When visiting South Africa, many people opt out of visiting the city and head to other cities in the country such as Durban and Cape Town, which is a shame since Johannesburg is a city that should not be missed when visiting South Africa!
« What to Do in Johannesburg »
Watch a Game or Take a Tour of the FNB Stadium
The FNB Stadium (also referred to as ‘Soccer City’) is the largest stadium on the continent of Africa with the capacity to hold over 90,000 people.
Located near the edge of the township of Soweto, the FNB Stadium is famous for being the stadium where Nelson Mandela delivered his first speech after being released from prison in 1994 and also for playing host to three games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Currently, the stadium serves as the go-to venue for major musical and sports events in the country.
Address: Nasrec, Johannesburg, South Africa
Stadium Tours: Tours are conducted on Thursdays between 09:00 and 16:00 for R60 ($5 USD)
Soweto (‘South Western Townships’) is a large cluster of townships located just outside of Johannesburg.
Home to over 1 million people, Soweto is comprised of people born in South Africa and expatriates from around the continent of Africa. The neighborhood of Soweto has a long and intense history in South Africa and is the site of the Soweto Uprising of 1976 where Hector Pieterson was murdered, home to the famous leaders Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and is the home of the famous Orlando Pirates soccer (football) team.
Getting There: You can take a guided, bicycle, or hop-on-hop-off tour (I rode the hoho van with CitySightseeing for R270)
Visit Market on Main (Sundays)
Market on Main is a weekly pop-up market in Johannesburg’s Maboneng neighborhood.
Every Sunday, food vendors, independent textile and jewelry retailers, and makers gather in the Arts on Main building to sell their goods. A great place to hang out, people watch, and relax and chat with creatives, MoM is a great place to see and be seen.
Address: Arts on Main, 264 Fox Street, Johannesburg // Hours: Sundays – 10:00 to 15:00
Visit the SAB World of Beer
The SAB World of Beer provides a guided tour and beer tasting that gives you knowledge about the history of beer in the world, the history of beer in South Africa, and shows you how beer is produced in South Africa today.
As you make your way through the interactive tour, you are provided with very generous amounts of beer samples and at the end of the tour, you are led to the bar, where you can select two beers of your choice.
Address: 15 Helen Joseph Street, Johannesburg
Hours & Admission : Sunday – Saturday 10:00 to 18:00; General Admission R140 ($12 USD)
Visit Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City is a theme park and casino complex located 8 kilometers outside of downtown Johannesburg. Named as one of the 31 Fun Things to Do for Under R200, Gold Reef City is a great place to go and enjoy a day of excitement for both children and adults.
Address: Northern Parkway and Data Crescent, Ormonde, Johannesburg
Go To the Top of Africa
Paying a visit to the ‘Top of Africa’ will literally take you to the top of the continent as you make your way to the top of the 50-story Carlton Centre, the tallest building on the continent of Africa. As you peer out of the windows on each side of the building, you will have four distinct views of the city of Johannesburg.
Address: 150 Commissioner St, Johannesburg
Hours & Admission: Monday to Friday – 09h00 to 18h00, Saturday – 09h00 to 17h00,Sunday – 09h00 to 14h00 ; R15 ($1 USD)
Visit the Apartheid Museum
Prior to visiting South Africa, I can honestly admit that I was not extremely knowledgable about the history of Apartheid. I had bits and pieces of information based on what I had heard from people and what I had seen in movies, but I really got a deep understanding of one of the worst time periods in South Africa’s history.
The Apartheid Museum is a place that should not be missed during your trip to Johannesburg. The museum provides an extremely in-depth look at the history of Apartheid in South Africa and the effects that it had on the society. Make sure to bring tissues.
Address: Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd, Johannesburg
Hours & Admission: Sunday-Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 ; R75 ($6 USD)
What & Where to Eat and Drink in Johannesburg
Where to Eat: Pata Pata
Pata Pata is a 1960’s styled restaurant that offers a wide range of culinary options including African-inspired cuisine, and . Although I found the service here to be quite slow, the food is delicious and affordable.
Address: 286 Fox Street, Maboneng Precinct
Where to Drink: Living Room
The Living Room is a jungle oasis-themed rooftop bar and restaurant cafe located at the top of the Main Change Building in Maboneng. Every Sunday, the Living Room comes alive as locals head to the bar for their famous Sunday parties and during the week, the space serves as a showroom and restaurant.
Address: 20 Kruger street (Main Change Building) Maboneng Precinct
Looking for more great places to eat and drink in Johannesburg? Check out the following links:
- 10 Great Spots for Sundowners in Johannesburg (Eat Out – 2014)
- The Best Restaurants in Joburg: Where to Eat Out in 2015 (Eat Out – 2015)
- 14 Foods You’ve Gotta Try In South Africa (Jetset Timess – 2014)
Where to Stay in Johannesburg
Faircity Mapungubwe Hotel Apartments
Located in the heart of the Johannesburg CBD, the 4-star African-themed Faircity Mapungubwe Hotel Apartments will be your home away from home.
As a fan of using apartment rentals when traveling, I loved the idea of staying in a hotel room that was just like an apartment. My room came equipped with a full kitchen, a living room, a separate bedroom, and a full bathroom. Even though my room was a self-serving apartment-style room, I liked the fact that I could still reach someone downstairs if I had questions (like how to get the air conditioning unit to work or how to connect to WiFi).
In addition to being a fan of apartment rentals, I am also a fan of themed-hotels, so when I saw that the Faircity Mapungubwe was an Africa-inspired hotel, I jumped at the opportunity to stay there.
One thing that I adored about the hotel was the various dining options that they had. Next to the lobby, is Twist restaurant which offers an eclectic menu featuring Asian, African, and Continental cuisines. The restaurant also has a vault with an extensive wine selection (and drinking wine in SA is a must!)
On the lower level of the hotel, there is a bar/event space called The Vault, which used to serve as an actual vault of the French Bank. A cool thing about visiting the Vault is that many of the safety deposit boxes are still preserved and serve as wall decoration in and around the bar area.
Finally, the hotel has a number of amenities and facilities including: a swimming pool, a gym, business meeting space, underground parking, and complimentary shuttle service in the Johannesburg CBD.
Practical Information about the Faircity Mapungubwe:
- There are a total of 95 African-themed apartments in the hotel and rooms start at $67 USD/night
- Address: 50 – 54 Marshall Street, Johannesburg
FTC Disclosure: I was a guest of the Faircity Mapungubwe hotel for one night, however as always, all opinions of this property are my own.
If you are looking to stay in the suburbs of Johannesburg, consider checking out the Protea Fire & Ice Melrose Arch.
Getting Around Johannesburg
My favorite way to get around the city of Johannesburg was to take Uber taxis, which were fast, easy, and affordable. In addition to Uber, some areas in Johannesburg are accessible by the Gautrain, which is the most cost-effective way to navigate the city.
For a complete guide to navigating the city of Johannesburg, check out this handy guide from Brooklyn Travel Addict.