Johannesburg City Guide

JOHANNESBURG is the financial heart of South Africa, but it’s also a capital city that’s thriving and alive due to its complex history. The ‘City of Gold’ has lots to offer and explore, but I’m partial to spending time in the northern suburbs where the best hotels, shopping and restaurants are located.

For unique shopping, you should visit the Mall at Rosebank with its African Craft Market, Sandton City and the open-air Melrose Arch. The city is also known for having great art galleries and my favorites are the GoodmanStevenson and JAG.

Johannesburg is also the departure city for most safaris, so plan a couple of days in J’oburg before flying out of O.R. Tambo to your game reserve destination.

Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum

Take advantage of your hotel concierge’s expertise to book tours and travel around the city, especially if you decide to visit Downtown or Soweto.

Apartheid Museum
Gold Reef Road

Learn the history of apartheid as you walk in the shoes of a real person, a very moving and emotional experience.

Constitution Hill Museum
Constitution Hill

Once a prison where Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were detained, unfortunately known for its brutal treatment of prisoners during apartheid.

Hector Pieterson Memorial
Khumalo Street

A drive through Soweto is not complete without a visit to this memorial that chronicles the life of Hector Pieterson and other children who were shot at by police while peacefully protesting the use of Afrikaans in their schools.

Sterkfontein Caves
Sterkfontein Caves Road

In the Cradle of Humankind, tour the caves and excavations where many believe the first human skull was discovered.

Soweto Township
For an in-depth visual of daily life, visit these neighborhoods built during apartheid. Also tour Nelson Mandela’s first home and drive by Soccer City.

Pigalle Melrose Arch

Here’s my list of restaurants that have offered consistenty and quality over several visits to Johannesburg.

Auberge Michel
122 Pretoria Avenue

This five-star restaurant is known for its traditional menu and measured service catering to the who’s who of Johannesburg.

Cube Tasting Kitchen
17 Park Avenue

Molecular gastronomy make this restaurant a rising star. A 6 to 14 course tasting menu which changes every 6 weeks and it’s BYOB. Only 30 seats.

Doppio Zero
Cradock Avenue

A good choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. At lunch, the Meditteranean menu includes tasty salads and pizzas and at night there is a great bar scene.

DW Eleven 13
Dunkeld West Centre

Hot spot known for its innovative cuisine, excellent wine list and informative service.

The Grillhouse
The Firs at Rosebank

Considered one of the best steakhouses in town.

5 Nelson Mandela Square

For an authentic African setting and tasty African cuisine, book a table here.

Moyo Zoo Lake
1 Prince of Wales Drive

A more touristy, but authentic African scene and cuisine. Kids will love the musicians and storytellers who entertain during dinner.

4 High Street

Delicious Asian cusine in a contemporary setting. Perfect for the fashion set.

Pigalle at Melrose Arch
Orange High Level Street, 5th Floor

My spot for deliciously grilled seafood. Order the langoustines.

198 Oxford Road

This traditional Japanese restaurant has good sushi, hot pots and donburi mono.

The Saxon


The Michelangelo Hotel
Nelson Mandela Square

This grand hotel in Sandton offers good service and classic rooms with modern amenities.

The Saxon
36 Saxon Road

This exclusive boutique property is the favorite of celebrities and heads of state. Known for their classically styled suites and impeccable service. Nelson Mandela famously wrote Long Walk to Freedom while living in the hotel.

Ten Bompas
10 Bompas Road

Chic all-suites hotel with a minimalist design and most modern amenities. The restaurant, Sides has an extensive wine list and fresh seasonal menu.

The Westcliff Hotel
67 Jan Smuts Avenue

A stellar boutique property atop a hill overlooking the city’z zoo. Popular with discerning business travelers. A bit out-of-the-way, but the oversized bathrooms make up for the lack of nearby sites.

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