A Local’s Guide to Johannesburg

Travelling to Johannesburg anytime soon? Be sure to check out some of these spots for an authentic experience. Johannesburg isn’t only defined by it’s physical boundaries. In fact it spills out into a large expense, encompassing many further little towns. Locals don’t just limit their definition to the city, They include every part of the surrounds which are then referred to as Greater Johannesburg

73 Juta St, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa
This semi-outdoor market on Juta Street in Joburg’s Braamfontein neighbourhood is fun fun fun. Eat oysters from Namibia, drink craft beer from South Africa, and devour paella, gelato, cheeses, chocolate...a food lover’s paradise! Open on Saturdays.
Vilakazi St, Orlando West, Soweto, 1804, South Africa
Vilakazi is perhaps the most famous street in Soweto—or all of Johannesburg, for that matter. It’s the only street in the world to have produced two Nobel Prize winners—His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu. It’s also where 13-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot dead, sparking the riots on June 16, 1976.

At the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, you’ll find the Mandela House, which serves as a beautiful testament to Madiba as well as to the greater fight for equal rights in South Africa and around the world. The rest of Vilakazi Street, however, is pretty average—a place where people live and work every day. In its simplicity, it proves that greatness can come from the most ordinary of places. Since it’s still home to so many people, approach the street with respect. Hire a local guide and take care when exploring the surrounding neighborhood of Soweto.
65 Ntemi Piliso St, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
The site of an old power plant, it has been turned into a beautiful modern building used for events and entry to the HQ for AngloGold Ashanti.
8287 Khumalo Rd, Orlando West, Johannesburg, 1804, South Africa
Well-designed and full of fascinating information, the Hector Pieterson Museum details the charged events surrounding June 16, 1976, when high school students staged a peaceful march against the use of Afrikaans as the main language in black secondary schools. The march ended in a violent confrontation with the police, and a young boy, Hector Pieterson, was shot and killed. In the museum, visitors will find a moving collection of oral testimonies, audiovisual displays, and historical documents related to the Soweto protests. Outside, they can visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial, which, together with the museum, commemorates those who died in the uprisings and celebrates the students’ role in the struggle for freedom.
11 Kotze St, Johannesburg, 2017, South Africa
A living museum in the heart of Johannesburg, Constitution Hill was built on the 100-acre site of a century-old prison complex, where the leaders of every major South African liberation group—from Nelson Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi—were once detained. Today, visitors can tour the area and its many attractions to learn more about South Africa’s turbulent past and journey to democracy.

Start your visit at the Constitutional Court (the highest in the country), where you can witness a real case as well as an exceptional collection of South African artwork. Next, head to the Old Fort. One of Johannesburg’s oldest buildings, it served as a “whites only” jail during apartheid, with Nelson Mandela as its only black prisoner (his cell now features an exhibition detailing the time he spent here and on Robben Island). The Number Four building, on the other hand, was reserved for black men, and once housed prisoners like Mahatma Gandhi, Robert Sobukwe, and the students of the 1976 Soweto Uprising. In this same complex, you can also visit the Women’s Jail, where female political activists like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, and Fatima Meer were held.
264 Fox St &, Berea Rd, Maboneng, Johannesburg, 2094, South Africa
A collection of art galleries, artists’ studios, restaurants, and shops, Arts on Main functions as a hub for Johannesburg’s creative community, bringing people together to share ideas, beverages, and one another’s company. Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the space also hosts a market where you can buy everything from ice-cold beer to books and prints by William Kentridge, who has a studio in the building. Make sure to stop by the David Krut Workshop to pick up an experimental etching, then grab a bite to eat at Canteen, a casual café serving everything from French toast to lamb burgers.
90 De Korte St, Johannesburg, 2017, South Africa
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place as magical as South Africa, you get some amazing sunrises & sunsets most mornings & evenings. What’s great about living in Johannesburg is that you get to experience the magic while overlooking an amazing city! With rooftop venues opening up all over the inner city, catching such a magnificent view, while sipping on cocktails and listening to some soulful live music with your friends is getting so much easier!
Yale Road &, Enoch Sontonga Ave, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa
Housed in Johannesburg’s historically significant University of Witwatersrand, the Origins Center details the history of humankind through displays, artwork, and more. Touring the interactive exhibits, either with a guide or a headset, will not only change the way you think about human existence, but also provide further insight into the way we’ve developed over the ages. While the museum focuses most on South African human development, there’s enough on offer to keep everyone engaged. Be sure to check out the 11 panels depicting the history of the San people in South Africa. Created by local women’s groups, the works serve as a timeline, covering everything from the distant past and the colonial period to issues affecting the San community today.
Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd, Ormonde, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Opened in 2001, the Apartheid Museum powerfully—and extensively—documents the rise and fall of racial segregation in South Africa. Constructed on a 16-acre plot of land, the museum features a unique design—as you head through the gates, for example, you’ll notice separate entrances for whites and blacks. It’s quite an interesting way to start your voyage through the history of apartheid. The back gardens were designed by Patrick Watson and feature an impressive sculpture by William Kentridge. For anyone wanting to better understand apartheid, a visit to this moving museum is a must when in Johannesburg.
R512 Pelindaba Rd, Hartbeespoort, Broederstroom, 0240, South Africa
The lion cub was licking my hand as if he were a puppy!
Fashion District, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
A modest three-story building in the Ferreirasdorp area of Johannesburg, Chancellor House once contained the first black law firm in South Africa, opened by Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo at the height of apartheid. It was here that the two attorneys fought for those accused of crimes against the state—many of which they were also held accountable for later in life.

Left to languish for years, Chancellor House was restored to its former glory in 2010 and now features a freedom struggle museum on the ground floor. One particularly fascinating display includes a timeline with photographs and interesting events from Mandela’s life, including a picture of him sparring with Jerry Moloi on the rooftop of the South African Associated Newspapers Building. Many of the displays are also visible from the street so passersby can learn more about Mandela and Tambo while exploring the surrounding neighborhood.
La Rochelle, Johannesburg South, 2190, South Africa
This statue of Apartheid fighters, Walter Sisulu and his wife Albertina by Marina Walsh, sits watch over their original offices in the background, where Walter was once an estate agent. According to my guide, the statue was designed for people to sit in the laps of the depicted couple and to have photos taken. So if you ever happen upon the statue, be sure to sit on Walter or Albertina’s lap and have a photo with them!
Wits Art Museum Cnr Jorissen and, Bertha St, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
An amazingly curated museum, the Wits Art Museum, fondly referred to as WAM, hosts a stunning collection of contemporary and traditional African art. It’s located in a bright and airy space and feels relatively undiscovered. My favorite piece was Sam Nhlengethwa’s “It left him cold”, a tribute to the death of Steve Biko. Definitely put this on your list.
70 Juta St, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Breakfasts are little godsends after a big night out, and Post at 70 Juta Street in Braamfontein is just the place to revitalise after a big night out and before working on your weekend party habits again. The Big Bomber is a drink combination of condensed milk and Espresso topped with cream and will definitely jumpstart your hungover ass back to reality, while the devine French toast with bacon topped with Fig preserve will fuel your tank for another round of weekend madness. The cozy corner spot has a well rounded menu which prides itself on using all locally produced, organic ingredients. Order something delicious and watch the world go by from the window counter seat or enjoy the cool breeze in the courtyard outside You’d be doing yourself a disfavour by not trying out something from this little spot! post is open all week from 8:30am, except Sunday when they are closed.
Ferreiras Dorp, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
This Impala Stampede sculpture was originally donated by the Oppenheimer. It was vandalized many years ago at its original location in Oppenheimer Park, but has been repaired and moved to this spot on Main Street, a beautiful pedestrian mall, right outside the Anglo American headquarters. A nice place to take a stroll on an afternoon.
Chris Hani Rd, Klipspruit 318-Iq, Johannesburg, 1809, South Africa
At the Soweto Towers, adrenaline junkies can indulge in a wide variety of extreme activities, from bungee jumping and paintball to SCAD free falls, base jumping, rock climbing, and more. For the sane among us, there’s also an elevator to the top of the Western Cooling Tower, where you can enjoy 360-degree views of Soweto and Johannesburg. If you do decide to jump, take comfort in the fact that the staff here is handpicked and highly trained to ensure your safety. And once you’re back on solid ground, reward yourself with a cold beer at Chaf Pozi, a lively African braai restaurant located at the base of the towers.
Diepkloof Zone 6, Diepmeadow, 1862, South Africa
A great dining experience can be found at the foot of the iconic Orlando Towers in Soweto in the form of Chaf-Pozi. Chaf-Pozi, is a traditional Shisa nyama. Shisa nyama is a Zulu phrase literally meaning “hot meat”. It is a term used to describe an informal barbecue or braai near a butchery to grill meat in an open fire. The site is usually provided by the butcher owner and only people who buy meat from the butcher are allowed to use the facility. In the photo, a group of friends who were out for a good time are enjoying their freshly picked and prepared meal together, The dining spot is perfectly situated being close to both the FNB and Orlando Stadiums, offering pre and post show meals and entertainment. The services of local taxis are also on offer. This allows guests to be transferred from other major centres to Chaf-Pozi to enjoy a stunning meal, followed by a sporting event or music concert. The extensive menu covers local cuisine including mutton, beef, chicken, wors, samp, pap, chakalaka as well as a variety of tasty side dishes. These meals are chosen fresh from the butchery and then prepared for guests’ enjoyment! Since it’s opening in 2010 the venue has hosted many dignataries and celebrities, and also works well as a spot for company year-end functions and birthday parties.
I’ve discovered an affinity for ostrich meat - it’s lean and so tasty! Perfect for burgers. At Dukes Burgers in Greenside. This burger had fried rosemary-infused butternut squash and cucumbers as well.
Fashion District, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Cool little park in the heart of the CBD. Originally the home of the Impala Stampede sculpture that is now on the Main Street pedestrian mall, and donated by the founder of Anglo American and De Beers. The park struggled In the CBD’s down years, but has now been relaunched as part of the rejuvenation of the CBD. They even added a sculpture of young bokkies to harken back to the original sculpture.
Jellicoe Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa
In recent years, Johannesburg has become a haven for contemporary artists working in South Africa. Rosebank, the neighborhood next to the affluent suburb of Sandton, even features a Miami-esque Design District with galleries, restaurants, and high-end shops. It’s here that you’ll find Circa Gallery, an architectural masterpiece designed by Pierre Swanepol of studioMAS. Elliptical in shape, the building features an indoor ramp that leads visitors around the perimeter of the gallery—much like at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Outside, 400 vertical aluminum bars cover the exterior of the building, allowing daylight to stream into the gallery. After taking in the contemporary art and photography on display at Circa, use the walkway to enter the attached Everard Read Gallery, located across Keyes Avenue. The sister to Circa, it’s the oldest commercial art gallery in South Africa.
Diagonal St, Johannesburg South, South Africa
On a recent inner city tour I attended with tour operator, Past Experiences, we went past some of the local stores, one of which was a Muti Store. Muti is the Southern African traditional medicine which is prepared by a Sangoma or traditional healer. The medicines range from plant materials to mineral compounds and even zoological specimens. This particular store carried all that and more (traditional dress, traditional weapons, etc), as store owners try to capitalise on the very diverse African market that filters past.
3 Desmond St, Kramerville, Sandton, 2090, South Africa
A new addition to the Jo’burg night market scene is the House & Leisure Night Market at Katy’s Palace Bar, which is also home to an antique store located on the ground floor and The night market featured a good variety of local arts and crafts as well as some locally produced foods and drinks. On the night there was a competition to win a prize hamper consisting of awesome prizes from all the vendors at the market, and amazingly my friend and I ended up winning! Katy’s Palace Bar is normally a private venue for hire, however they are also open for selected public events and every first Sunday of the month for easy lunches and cocktails on their balcony which looks out over the city of Sandton
70 Juta St
Located in the trendy 70 Juta Street complex, Parooz Fashions is stocked and run by an awesome young lady named Roxy. Frequented by top local celebs, the store has a wide range for all tastes, so as a visitor you should walk in and ‘Parooz’ the store, then grab something stylish that catches your eye and kit yourself out from head to toe in some awesome threads!
Derrick Ave
Derick Avenue in Cyrildene on the Eastrand of Johannesburg, is home to a whole host of different Asian run stores and restaurants. It is the new home of the original Chinatown which started in Commissioner Street (Now Albertina Sisulu Street) in Newtown. You can get a good bargain on a whole lot of cheap “Made in China” goodies here and once you’re done shopping you can grab some bubble tea from the corner store at the bottom of Derrick Avenue or rest your weary feet and fill your empty tummy at one of the numerous restaurants along the road. If you get to Cyrildene early, get yourself into a restaurant and have some mid-morning brunch or ‘Yum Cha’ which literally translates to Drink Tea in Cantonese. Don’t be too scared to try out something out of the ordinary, it may be the best thing you’ve ever tasted! Derrick Avenue is also a great place to watch Chinese New Year Celebrations as the whole road is closed off to traffic and vendors come out onto the sidewalks to sell the food and wares.
Staib St, New Doornfontein, Johannesburg, 2094, South Africa
If you’re travelling past the CBD along Jozi’s bordering M2 Highway, you might catch a glimpse of a new piece of street art which was commissioned in honor of the late, great Nelson Mandela. The artwork by the internationally acclaimed Ricky Lee Gordon, a.k.a Freddy Sam, is a 9-story high mural of Mandela in his heyday when he was doing a bit of boxing. He once commented, “I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one’s body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match. Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, color and wealth are irrelevant. When you are circling your opponent, probing his strengths and weaknesses, you are not thinking of his color or social status.” And so we can see how Nelson Mandela, thought about how to free a nation from its inequalities in everything he did.
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