Johannesburg

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Gauteng Johannesburg

edit

Introduction

Cooling towers, Soweto

Cooling towers, Soweto

© EmmylouSA

Johannesburg is South Africa's largest and most populated city with 3.9 million residents, easily boasting the largest economy of the country and thus Sub-Saharan Africa. Located in Gauteng province, and pronounced jō-hān'ĭs-bûrg', it's commonly referred to by one of it's shortened nicknames; Jo'burg, Jozi, Egoli or the city of gold. The last of these names also contains the clue to what lay the foundation for its development as the economic hub of South Africa: the discovery of some of the worlds richest gold fields in the region led to the establishment of Jo'burg in 1886. For all it's wealth and prosperity, the city is also one of stark contrasts with a large population of very poor people living in shacks. So great is the gap between the two that it's led to one of the highest crime rates in the world. If you are planning a trip to Johannesburg, take reasonable precautions and listen to the locals, so you can enjoy it safely.

The majority of the population is formed by South Africa's black residents who mostly live in Soweto, while white residents amount to 500,000 (although the number is likely to be higher). There are also around 300,000 residents of other descent, including Africa's largest ethnic Chinese community. The city is also home to two Chinatowns; the original one on Commissioner Street has shrunk dramatically since its heyday, but still has a few shops and business run by the small community of South African Chinese, while a newer Chinatown in the suburb of Cyrildene is largely populated by immigrants and expatriates from China. Unlike other South African cities, no language group dominates, although English is the established lingua franca.

The city is the economic hub of South Africa, and increasingly for the rest of Africa. Although estimates vary, about 10% of sub-Saharan Africa's GDP is generated in Johannesburg. Yet the city's wealth is unequally distributed among its inhabitants causing the city to have, within its own borders, living conditions varying from first world standards to third world conditions. The contrast between rich and poor has led to one of the highest crime rates in the world. The more affluent tend to live in houses with a high level of security by western standards, whilst the less affluent live in less desirable housing conditions. Don't avoid Johannesburg because of its crime however, since it is perfectly possible to have a safe and enjoyable stay if precautions are taken. Many South Africans choose to live here over other, safer parts of the country.

There are many things that are unique to Johannesburg. It features a distinct street entrepreneurship, and motorists can buy things from vendors selling goods at traffic lights, as in many other developing-world cities. This includes food, umbrellas, soccer balls, cellular phone accessories and many other goods. Barber shops consisting of nothing but a chair and an enthusiastic barber can be found on the sides of roads, although they tend to specialize in African rather than Caucasian hair. Mine dumps can also be seen throughout the city and are a reminder of the city's legacy of gold mining. These dumps are fast disappearing as new gold extraction techniques have made it profitable for mining companies to reprocess these dumps.

With around 6 million trees, Johannesburg is most likely the world's largest man-made urban forest. The city is certainly one of the greenest in the world, considering that the natural landscape is savannah.

Top

edit

Neighbourhoods

Johannesburg is split into eight administrative regions. These exclude the city of Ekurhuleni which traditionally was considered part of Johannesburg but has been split for administrative purposes. Although this list is not exhaustive, the main areas in Joburg are:

Inner City (which encompasses the tourist areas of Braamfontein, Maboneng, Newtown and Fordsburg)
Old Joburg (which encompasses Melville, Greenside, Killarney, Emmarentia, Parktown, Houghton and others)
Sandton (the new city centre including Rivonia, Fourways and Sunninghill)
Randburg ( which encompasses Northcliff, Linden, Weltevreden Park, Bordeaux,Greymont)
Soweto
Alexandra
Midrand
Roodepoort (the West - which encompasses the Cradle of Humankind, Muldersdrift and Lanseria Airport)
Ekurhuleni (the East - which encompasses Modderfontein, Greenstone, Edenvale, Bedfordview, OR Tambo Airport, Benoni, Germiston, Springs, Boksburg and Brakpan)
Alberton, Rosettenville, Brackendowns, Turfontein, etc. (the South)

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

CBD

The Central Business District regeneration accelerated in the run up to the 2010 World Cup and there are many areas of the inner city which are visitable. The central area's poor reputation is no longer deserved. City planners are using art as the cornerstone of the CBDs redevelopment and there are numerous galleries and art spaces popping up across the CBD. The city centre is the most-visited part of Johannesburg for African tourists, particularly the traders who come to shop at Johannesburg's wholesale outlets.

Newtown and the Market Theatre area (the city's cultural precinct) is now easily accessible from the highway and Mandela Bridge and very fun; here you will find live music venues and bars too. Braamfontein - the university area - has a great Saturday market, lively night life, is very artsy. By day there's nothing here.

On the east side of the city, Main Street Life, Maboneng Precinct and Arts on Main (especially the Sunday market and The Bioscope independent cinema). The Maboneng area has 24-hr security so you can freely walk around the streets, just be sure not to stray away too far. Troyeville has a fantastic restaurant at the Troyeville Hotel, an art centre and all the main sport stadiums (football, tennis, athletics, rugby).

On the west side, Fordsburg is the formerly-Indian now known as “little Somilia” and “ Eithiopia Town” part of central Joburg and has some Indian and Pakistani restaurants as well as African street food, shops and markets. Good food is to be found in this neighbourhood, which, by Johannesburg's standards, shows signs of street life in the evenings, and more so on Friday and Saturday. Most places are halaal, and so no alcohol is served. The Oriental Plaza shopping mall is here and has good bargains.

In the centre of town, between Jeppe St and Bree Street at Delvers Street, look up and see the Amharic script which denotes that you are in the Ethiopian/Somali part of town - there are Ethiopian restaurants and coffee shops located in the Africa Mall and Johannesburg Mall. Best to arrive before 14:00.

To the northeast, Yeoville is known as Le Petit Kinshasa and is home to many of the Francophone African diaspora in Johannesburg. Lots of Camerounian restaurants and Congolese bars.

Hillbrow (Little Lagos) has a bad reputation for drug dealing, sex bars, crime, etc., but is improving - if you visit Constitution Hill, or Johannesburg Art Gallery, Hillbrow is right across the street, not that scary. Empty your pockets and go for a walk to the base of the Hillbrow Tower on a Sunday morning - stay on the main streets and keep your wits about you - and don't carry anything that is worth stealing. Certainly an interesting experience. Worth watching Louis Theroux's Law and Disorder in Johannesburg before your visit.

Top of Africa, Carlton Centre, 150 Commissioner St (Take the elevator from the second floor to the fiftieth), ☏ +27 11 308-1331. 08:00 to 19:00 daily. Get a panoramic view of the city from the top of Africa's tallest building R7.50.
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Corner of Klein and King George streets, Joubert Park, ☏ +27 11 725-3130. The biggest gallery on the African continent with a good collection of local and international work on display. And it's free.
Standard Bank Gallery, Corner Simmonds and Frederick Streets, ☏ +27 11 631-1889. M-F 08:00 to 16:30, Sa 09:00-13:00. Entrance is free.
Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Electric Workshop building, cnr Miriam Makeba and President street, Newtown, ☏ +27 11 639-8400, fax: +27 11 832-3360, ✉ cynthia.sithole@sci-bono.co.za. M-F 09:00-17:00, weekends and public holidays 09:00-16:30. Adults: R20, children: R10.
Origins Centre - The South African Museum of Rock Art, Yale Road, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein, ☏ +27 11 717-6051, ✉ enquiries@rockart.wits.ac.za. M-Sa 09:00-17:30. A museum in Africa for the people of the world. An excellent multimedia display of the rock art and the origins of humankind. Good curio shop, book shop and coffee shop. Students R40. Adults R80.

Northern suburbs

In the north, the suburbs of Greenside, Houghton, Parktown North, Parkhurst, Killarney, Rosebank, Illovo, Melrose North, Atholl, Sandown, Sandton, Morningside, Fourways and Randburg are green, leafy and pleasant - and safe and comforting to first-world visitors, most have a shopping mall of some description, and some have a main street with cafes, boutiques and grocery shops.

Johannesburg Planetarium, Yale Road, Entrance 10, University of the Witwatersrand, Milner Park, ☏ +27 11 717-1392, fax: +27 11 339-2926, ✉ planet@planetarium.co.za. See their website for upcoming shows. R16-25, depending on show.
South African National Museum of Military History, Erlswold Way, Saxonwold (Next to the Johannesburg), ☏ +27 11 646-5513, ✉ milmus@icon.co.za. daily 09:00-16:30. A good collection of military hardware, including one of very few ME 262 jet fighters from WW2 still in existence. There is also a huge South African built G6 self-propelled, 155mm howitzer on show. A snack shop as well as a shop selling genuine and reproduction vintage military equipment is located within the museum. R20 entrance fee.
James Hall Museum of Transport, Pioneers' Park, Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, ☏ +27 11 435-9718, fax: +27 11 435-9821, ✉ curator@jhmt.org.za. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Largest museum dedicated to transport in South Africa. Free entrance.
Chérie De Villiers Gallery, Lower Level, Rosebank Mall, Rosebank, ☏ +27 11 788-9949, ✉ cheart@global.co.za. Art by South African artists.
The Apartheid Museum, ☏ +27 11 309-4700. A very moving and informative trip through South Africa's turbulent past and present. It takes at least a half day to go through and includes video, pictures and many artifacts that you can easily spend a day looking through. It is located alongside Gold Reef City and is a must-see.

Soweto is an increasingly popular destination for travellers from around the world. Take a tour or just drive in yourself using GPS set to Vilakazi Street: the road infrastructure and signs are excellent. You can stop off at Maponya Mall and join the Sowetan middle classes as they entertain themselves with retail and movies.

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

World Cup 2010

Johannesburg was a host city for the World Cup 2010. World Cup matches in the city were held at Soccer City Stadium and Coca Cola Park. Soccer City was host to the first mass rally after the release of Nelson Mandela and was also the venue for the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations final. Current capacity stands at 80,000 with an upgrade set to take it up to 94,700. Ellis Park has been a rugby stadium for most of its history and it was the scene for the famous SA victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Once work has been completed, it should hold almost 65,000 fans.

Joy of Jazz

Johannesburgs big Joy of Jazz festival brings together musicians from all over the world and runs in August.

The Soweto Wine Festival

Launched in 2004, the Soweto Wine Festival brings over 100 of South African's finest wineries offering over 1,000 wines to taste into trend-setting Soweto. Held in the first weekend of September over three nights, the University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus, is transformed into an up-market VIP experience for thousands of visitors. The Soweto Wine Festival boasts wine lounges by some of South Africa's premium wine producers, wine and food pairing classes hosted by Cape Wine Masters and Celebrity Chefs, Soweto's Finest Restaurants, Entertainment and wine for sale. The festival attracts an international audience of wine lovers who spend three days in Soweto tasting South Africa's fine wines by night, and touring some of Soweto's top tourist destinations by day. The Soweto Wine Festival is organised by South Africa's official wine and education authority, the Cape Wine Academy.

Arts Alive Festival

During September, Johannesburg hosts the Arts Alive Festival, a 10-day spectacle dedicated to South Africa’s visual and performance arts. Theaters and other venues in the city’s old Newtown precinct stage dance and musical shows. Audiences are just as likely to see local performers enact Afro-fusion as Spanish flamenco dances. International acts often include Chinese puppet groups and ballet troupes.

Top

edit

Weather

Johannesburg has what many would call excellent weather, with a dry and sunny climate, although the summer months (October to April) can bring impressive afternoon thunderstorms. Indeed, more than 90% of the yearly rainfall occurs in these 7 months, with January being the wettest. The average high temperature for the year is 22 °C, but highs of 35 °C are not uncommon in the warmest month of January. Yearly lows average 10 °C, with temperatures very rarely dropping under freezing point. Snow is rare as well, as winters are usually very sunny and dry as well.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max25.6 °C25.1 °C24 °C21.1 °C18.9 °C16 °C16.7 °C19.4 °C22.8 °C23.8 °C24.2 °C25.2 °C
Avg Min14.7 °C14.1 °C13.1 °C10.3 °C7.2 °C4.1 °C4.1 °C6.2 °C9.3 °C11.2 °C12.7 °C13.9 °C
Rainfall125 mm90 mm91 mm54 mm13 mm9 mm4 mm6 mm27 mm72 mm117 mm105 mm
Rain Days15.911.211.98.62.9212.13.79.815.214.9

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Johannesburg is served by the largest and busiest airport in South Africa, Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB). The airport is also an important gateway (or hub) for international air travel to and from the rest of Southern Africa.

From Johannesburg there are many flights within the continent and South African Airways has flights to and from Abidjan, Accra, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Hong Kong, Kigali, Lagos, Libreville, Lilongwe, London, Mumbai, Munich, Nairobi, New York, Perth, Sao Paulo and Washington, D.C. among many others. Numerous other airlines from all continents in the world fly to and from Johannesburg and it has one of the busiest airport within Africa. Other examples of destinations include Bangkok, Dubai, Paris, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Athens, Sydney, Jeddah, Zürich, Moscow, Lisbon and Madrid.
Kulula.com is a lowcost airline based in Johannesburg with flights to Namibia, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Mango flies from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Durban as well as South African Airways does.

To/from the airport

  • Car: The airport is easily accessible by car and it is located in northeast Johannesburg on the R24 Airport Freeway, which can be accessed by the N3 Eastern Bypass and the R21 highway.
  • Rail: the airport is currently accessible by the Gautrain, which travels to Sandton. Extensions of this line will continue into Johannesburg and further towards Pretoria.
  • Bus: several bus lines operate to and from the airport, but services are not always frequent or safe. Use the better shuttle buses provided by some airlines or take a taxi.

By Train

Spoornet is the national railway, with services between most major South African cities. Most of the connections are budget, but there is a Premier Class train between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The Blue Train and the Pride of Africa by Rovos Rail are luxurious options to cross South Africa and beyond.
The main routes with Shosholoza Meyl are:

  • Johannesburg - Cape Town via Kimberley and Matjiesfontein, 27 hours, premier class twice weekly, tourist 4 weekly and economy daily
  • Johannesburg - Durban via Ladysmith and Pietermaritzburg, 13,5 hours, premier class twice a week, tourist once a week and economy daily except Tuesday.
  • Johannesburg - East London via Bloemfontein, 20 hours, economy sleeper class, daily except Saturday
  • Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth via Kroonstad, Bloemfontein and Craddock, 21 hours, tourist class twice a week and daily economy class (except Saturday)
  • Johannesburg/Pretoria - Musina via Louis Trichardt (Makhado), 17 hours, economy class daily except Saturday
  • Johannesburg/Pretoria - Komatipoort via Nelspruit, 13 hours, economy class daily except Saturday, connecting with the onward train to Maputo, Mozambique.

By Car

Tarred roads run in all directions and getting there by car is straightforward. Car hire facilities include Thrifty Car Hire, Avis, http://www.europcar.co.za/Europcar, Hertz, Budget, First Car Rental, as well as many others. They have offices both downtown as at the international airport, where most travellers pick up their cars.
Sample distances from Johannesburg are:

  • Bloemfontein - 398 kilometres
  • Cape Town - 1402 kilometres
  • Durban - 557 kilometres
  • East London - 982 kilometres
  • Kimberley - 476 kilometres
  • Port Elizabeth - 1075 kilometres
  • Pretoria - 58 kilometres

By Bus

From Johannesburg there are connections to Maputo in Mozambique (8 to 9 hours), to Gaborone in Botswana (6 hours) and to Bulawayo and Harare in Zimbabwe. To Lusaka in Zambia, there are buses, most of which stop on their way in Bulawayo, taking a total of 26 hours. It takes almost as long to get from Johannesburg to Windhoek (21 hours), the capital of Namibia. Daily connections also travel to Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland. There are even daily buses between Blantyre in Malawi and Johannesburg, travelling through Mozambique and Zimbabwe, taking about 30 hours to cover the distance.
Minibus taxis travel between Johannesburg and Gaborone, Johannesburg and Palapye (Botswana) and between Mafikeng in South Africa and Lobatse in Botswana.
Minibuses also travel between Johannesburg and Manzini in Swaziland (4 hours).
There are many companies offering services, but the main operators are Greyhound South Africa, Intercape and Translux, all offering at least services between major cities in neighbouring countries from Johannesburg and also to dozens of domestic destinations, including Cape Town, Durban, Nelspruit, Upington, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein.

The Baz Bus is a bus where you can hop on and off and is mostly used by backpackers travelling on a budget. They are dropped off at hostels. There are three routes two of which are routes between Durban and Pretoria via Johannesburg: one via the Drakensberg (Drakens Mountains) and one via Swaziland. In particular, if you are coming from Swaziland simply to fly out from Johannesburg, then taking the Baz Bus to one of the hostels near to the airport is the most convenient way - the fare is similar to taking a minibus from Manzini to the centre of Johannesburg then a taxi back out to near the airport.

Top

edit

Getting Around

Street Scene

Street Scene

© soupatrvlr

Johannesburg was a city built for the car and so public transport is in the development process. The Gautrain (a speed train not part of the metro system) is a good, clean and safe way to jump fast between the airport, Malboro, Midrand, Rosebank, Pretoria and Centurion. There are buses and minicabs on the streets, but there tends to be no designated stops, so buses may be flagged down on main roads such as Oxford street and Jan Smuts. They can be unsafe, but larger double decker metro bus are easy to use all along Oxford, starting in Gandhi Square, going through Killarney, Rosebank, Illovo, Sandton, Rivonia and Sunninghill (bus no. 5C and 5D). Generally, it is a bad idea to make use of minibus taxis unless accompanied by locals. The other bus alternatives, are orange putco buses, coming more regularly than the metro buses and its slightly more expensive. Lastly there are the Gautrain feeder buses connected to the Gautrain, these have quite extensive routes from each station - these can be found easily on the gautrain website or mobi site. The problem is that buses are quite problematic on weekends and public holidays, Gautrain buses do not run, Metro buses have two route runs, and putco buses are at a complete halt. This is when the train would be a good alternative, or rent a car.

Renting a car will give you the best flexibility and opportunity to tour the city, however driving is fast paced, but by no means difficult as long as you stay alert. Heavy traffic into Sandton in the morning (06:30 to 09:00) from all directions leading towards Sandton and in the afternoon all routes leading out of Sandton (15:30 to 18:30) in all directions could delay your journey by up to 2 hours, so plan accordingly.

By Car

Car hire companies in Johannesburg include Thrifty Car Rental, Avis, Budget Rent-a-Car, Hertz, Europcar and First Car Rental.

Renting a car is your best option if you are a confident driver, as the city's public transport is very, very limited. It is worth buying a good road map of Johannesburg, using a GPS (available when you rent a car) and planning your trips carefully before setting out. The city is large and somewhat poorly signposted. Make sure to be exceptionally clear with your rental agency what types of things are covered by their insurance plans. The phrase "full coverage" doesn't necessarily mean full coverage. Traffic can be aggressive, and minibus taxis in particular often defy the rules of the road.

Like any big city, there are some areas of Johannesburg that you don't want to stray into if you look like a tourist or don't have enough fuel to get out of. Many areas have high rates of violent crime, and carjacking is a real risk; it is therefore often advised that you should not stop at traffic lights after dark. Ask advice. Local numberplates start with "GP" (Gauteng Province). If your car has any other numberplate, then you will advertise yourself as being from "out-of-area". If in doubt, stop at a police station and ask them for directions.

From the airport: stay on the freeway between the airport and Sandton, and don't divert through the townships and Alexandra on London Road. A GPS following the fastest route will usually divert around the townships, but it pays to know where you are going. (If you are coming from the airport and you are afraid of getting this wrong, carry on past Marlboro Drive with the N3 (which becomes the N1) until you reach Rivonia road. Then turn left/south and this will take you straight into Sandton, bypassing any townships.)

By Taxi

Foreigners are advised to use only normal sedan taxis (metered or fixed-price taxes that transport only you and your travel partners), as minibus taxis have a reputation for being rather unsafe. The minibus taxis, however, are very cheap and are the quickest way between two points. It provides an authentic experience but if you are using these, you must understand the risks. Using these relies mostly on a variety of local hand signals, and should only ever be used if travelling with a local. Metered taxis are not as abundant as many big cities but are available and in most cases, need to be called before hand. This could incur long delays as you wait for the taxi. Unless you are visiting for a very short time, it would be worth your while to rent a car. Uber, an app-based taxi company, is also a viable alternative for getting around, although the company is highly unpopular with local taxi companies, with reports of violence against both drivers and passengers.

In general all the taxi operators collude with one another and fix prices, so taxis are not cheap or metered. Haggling is usual so it is best to agree a price when you phone. Do not rely on taxi ranks in shopping malls as often there are none. Always have a few taxi telephone numbers and cash with you so you avoid being stranded anywhere. If you have a local SIM, Uber offers better pricing and service than taxis.

By Public Transport

Public transport in Johannesburg is provided by city buses and informal minibus services. Bus (other than Gautrain buses and the City Sightseeing ones) is not a viable option if you are a foreign tourist/business visitor unfamiliar with South Africa and Johannesburg in particular. Large blue city buses run up and down the main roads and mini buses can be flagged down on the side of the street although they are not the best mode of transport as they are unreliable and often associated with crime. These should not be used unless you are very familiar with the way of life in South Africa and the basic geography of Johannesburg.

Rea Vaya. This bus rapid transit (BRT) is designed to offer a safe, secure and affordable public transport system on main routes to and from the city. Rea Vaya has dedicated bus lanes and stops every 500 m. Smaller buses (feeders) and taxis will add value to transport people to and from the main routes.
Metrobus, ☏ +27 11 833-5538. Providing bus traffic in the Johannesburg region. Buses are available but routes and times are somewhat limited by western standards.
Minibus taxis. should be avoided unless you are with a local: the routes are very confusing, and drivers will often say 'yes' when you ask 'are you going to X?' so that they get your money, and then drop you at some crossroads and say 'change here'. Thus if you travel with minibuses it's safer to ask directions from the other passengers, not the driver - people are generally very friendly and will help you out. Minibuses are frequently not roadworthy (although they are in much better condition than in most of the rest of Africa) and involved in fatal accidents. Extreme and violent competition between minibus taxi drivers has resulted in affordable transportation for the masses.
City Sightseeing, ☏ +27 861 733 287. While not really public transportation, the City Sightseeing bus tours some of the city's most prominent tourist attractions (Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Braamfontein, etc.) and can therefore be used as an alternative to car and taxi. Tour starts at "The Zone" in Rosebank.
Gautrain, toll-free: 0800 428 87246. In addition to the train, Gautrain runs an extensive bus network that feeds passengers to the different Gautrain stations. The buses are safe and can be used by tourists, but as always, plan ahead and know where you are going. There is no weekend service.

Top

edit

Eat

Like all major cities, Johannesburg has a wide variety of places to eat and you'll be sure to find something to suit your taste buds, be it local delicacies or international cuisines. In addition to standard South African shopping mall restaurants Johannesburg is one of the few cities with various 'restaurant streets' scattered around the suburbs offering a more European dining experience.

7th Street, Melville - Traditionally Melville has been where most people head to for an evening meal - however, it now caters to students more than the moneyed middle classes. Melville offers a small pocket of culture, with street vendors often selling their own artworks, and charity shops abound.
Gleneagles Road, Greenside makes a good destination (north of Melville - head to where the M71 crosses the M20, Green Way) and there is a good collection of cafes and restaurants which won't be full of tourists.
Grant Avenue, Norwood is becoming more popular since Melville started catering more to students. A collection of uncomplicated restaurants, including numerous sushi places and simple pizza / pasta Italians. Pick of the crop is probably Sharwarma, with serves South African flavored Lebanese food, and also serves good steak and fish.
Tyrone Avenue, Parkview has a collection of coffee shops and restaurants.
4th Avenue, Parkhurst boosts an handful of restaurants and shops along the street. The area is very safe so you can walk the street without any problems.
Queen's Street, Kensington to the east of the CBD has a handful of restaurants near the crossing with Northumberland.
Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene near Eastgate is a local Chinatown, and has numerous excellent Asian restaurants.

Don't ignore the CBD either, there are a handful of nice restaurants near the Market Theatre, and they are cheaper than their northern suburb cousins. Of course the northern suburb shopping malls are brimming with South African chain restaurants, of which the more expensive ones are also quite good, if a little soulless. South African cuisine features many varieties of sauces, and your food may be drowned in said sauce if you don't ask for it on the side.

Melrose Arch. Curious high-security compound housing many hotels, offices, upmarket restaurants and nightclubs, including Moyo (an African-themed restaurant) and several other casual eating establishments.
Rodizio. Used to be located in Victory Park and has great Brazilian dishes and a lively party atmosphere. Live music and dancing, it has now moved.
Arirang in Rivonia. Very good authentic Korean food, but very expensive.
Mexican Fresh, Riverview Centre, corner Conrad Drive and Hillcrest, Craighall (just off Jan Smuts Ave between Hyde Park Shopping Centre and Republic Rd), ☏ +27 11 326-2276. 11:30AM-8:30PM. Serves burritos, nachos, fajitas, tacos and quesadillas. Available as vegetarian, beef, chicken or prawn, all made on-site, every day. All dishes can be accompanied with guacamole, pico de gallo, Mexican rice and fresh salsa. Ask for chilli if you like it spicy.
Moyo, Zoo Lake park. Typical touristy location. Lots of fun! Moyo serves stereotypical "African" food, and though it is quite a pricy experience, the restaurant is beautiful, and situated in one of the most charming areas of Johannesburg. Moyo is also located very near the Johannesburg zoo, and the two experiences together make for a great day out!

Top

edit

Drink

Good pubs and clubs are available in the Melville student district, Braamfontein, Rosebank and the Newtown cultural precinct. Posh and upmarket clubbing happens in the Rivonia and Sandton area.

Back o' the Moon Nightclub, in Gold Reef City Casino, ☏ +27 11 496-1423. A casino-restaurant with live traditional and contemporary jazz, plus dinner and dancing. It has a wide selection of grills and seafood on a good-value set menu. Open Tu-Sa for lunch and dinner, R25.
Troyeville Hotel. Old-fashioned bar with pool tables and occasional events like book launches, jazz bands. Good restaurant. Close to rugby and soccer stadiums, the bar is packed on match days. Sunday barbecues with a view of the city and local draught beers.
The Manhattan Club, 19 Wessels Rd, Rivonia (From the N1 take exit 100 (Sandton/M9 Rivonia Rd), follow Rivonia Rd south and turn left into 12th Ave at the second traffic light, turn left into River Rd and follow that until it becomes Wessels Rd), ☏ +27 11 803-7085, ✉ guyb@manhattanclub.co.za. Th-Sa 8PM-4AMish, Tu W 9PM-3AM. Closed Su M, Th. A huge stylish and bustling venue, with a total of 8 bars which include a shooters bar and a ladies only cocktail bar. Discounts for students and ladies. R50-70 cover.
The Woods / Town Hall, 66 Carr Street, Newtown. F Sa 7PM-2AM. The best venue in Johannesburg if you're young and looking for a party. Most commonly hosts dubstep or drum 'n bass parties. The Woods and Town Hall are two clubs right next to each other, close to the bustling city. Mostly 20-somethings and students. Fun place. Varies based on event. Expect R50 - R300.
The Radium Beer Hall, Louis Botha Ave, Orange Grove, ☏ +27 11 728-3866. This place has been serving beer since 1929. Live music on weekends.
SAB World of Beer, 15 President Street, Newtown, ☏ +27 11 836-4900, fax: +27 11 836-4900, ✉ events.co-ordinator@za.sabmiller.com. The SAB-Miller Beer museum. R25 for the tour, including 2 free drinks in the pub at the end of the tour.
Katzy's. Upmarket bar in The Firs mall next to Hyatt in Rosebank with music and dancing most nights. Specialises in expensive whiskies. Mixed, middle-aged, wealthy kinda crowd. There is a cover charge to get in when a live band is playing.

Top

edit

Sleep

Johannesburg is full of accommodation to suit any type of budget, from the ultimate in luxury & expense, to backpacker lodges.

Rosebank Boarding House, 217 Jan Smuts Avenue, ☏ +27-11-4477445. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. 4-bed dorm. not far from the Gautrain. dorm R100 pp.
The Backpacker's Ritz, 1A North Rd, Dunkeld West, ☏ +27 11 325-7125, ✉ ritz@iafrica.com. Excellent views of the city, reasonable prices and an extremely helpful travel desk with information about all aspects of travel in South Africa. Also have airport transfers. R165 dorm bed.
The Lodge and Backpacker Rosebank, 219 Jan Smuts Avenue., ☏ +27 11-0238747, ✉ mail@placetostay.info. Dorm beds. You can walk here from the Gautrain which takes you to and from the Airport. Dorm R115 pp.
Johannesburg Backpackers, Umgwezi Rd, Emmarentia, ✉ info@joburgbackpackers.com. In the very safe area of Emmarentia this is the new place from the people at Cape Town Backpackers. Its fun, friendly and clean. They also have regular theme nights in the funky bar and have various options for sleeping from dorms to ensuites. From R150.
Zoo Lodge, 233a Jan Smuts Ave, Parktown North, ☏ +27 11 788-5182, ✉ zoolodge@backpackafrica.com. This backpacker lodge is in a good location; close to Johannesburg Zoo and Rosebank Mall and on a bus route. Airport and train station pickups available. near Gautrain. dorm R130.
Melville Arch, 113 St Swithins Ave, Melville. Nice affordable bed and breakfast a short walk from Melville's bars and restaurants. From R350 single (R450 en suite).
House of Pharaohs Guesthouse and Conference Centre, No. 1 Gaunt Road, Bryanston Ext 5, ☏ +27 11 706-7148. All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning/fan with heating, cooling. Private en suite bathroom with shower/bath, Flat-screen TV with DSTV, High-speed wireless Internet connectivity and mini-bar. Some of its facilities and services are bar, room service, conference rooms, banquet facilities, swimming pool, Wireless Internet access, secretarial services, photocopy and fax services. Rates start at R500.
Melville Manor Guest House, ☏ +27 11 726-8765, ✉ mmh@icon.co.za. Check-in: noon, check-out: 10AM. This guesthouse has 7 seven different suites suiting different budgets. Swimming pool, outside patio, WiFi and breakfast served daily. about R570.
Blue Chip Accommodation. Provides various self catering apartments around the Sandton/Johannesburg area which enables the traveler to feel more at home. The apartments have fully equipped kitchens as well as a lounge with a television/prepaid telephone, bathrooms, bedroom/s and either private balconies or gardens. All located in secure complexes with 24 hr guard and swimming pool.
Protea Hotel Wanderers, Cnr Corlett Dr & Rudd Rd, Illovo, ☏ +27 11 770-5500, ✉ apple@phwanderers.co.za. Close to Rosebank and Sandton From R210 shared.
Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre, Viewpoint Road, Bartlett, Boksburg, ☏ +27 11 897 0000, ✉ reservations@birchwoodhotel.co.za. Hotel near OR Tambo Airport, offering three different accommodation options. Gym, Spa, WiFi and restaurants on site. Free airport transfer available for guests.
Orangerie Guest House, 4 Hillel Avenue, ☏ +27 82 457 2710, ✉ info@orangerieguesthouse.co.za. Nice guesthouse near Randburg on a hill with a great view from each of the rooms (each having a shared balcony) and a nice host; WiFi; small indoor swimming pool R740 (single occupancy), R960 (double occupancy).
D´Oreale Grande (in Emperors Palace near OR Tambo Int Airport), ☏ +27 11 928-1770. 5-star hotel.
Don Johannesburg Int'l Airport Hotel, Electron Ave, Isando, Kempton Park, ☏ +27 11 392-6082.
Highland View Executive Guesthouse, 164 Highland Rd, Kensington, ☏ +27 11 615-9001, ✉ reservations@highlandview.co.za. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Offers double en-suites and self-contained apartments. All suites have their own private entrances which open onto the patio which is set in a lush, peaceful landscaped garden. There is a warm ambiance to the guest house as well as spacious interiors.
The Melrose Arch hotel, 1 Melrose Sq, Melrose Arch, ☏ +27 21 430-5302. Locked away in the Melrose Arch complex this is a great hotel, with all the facilities you would expect from a 5-star deluxe hotel.
Lesedi Cultural Village, ☏ +27 87 740-9292. Offers traditionally themed accommodation with modern conveniences.
Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, 191 Oxford Rd, Rosebank (adjacent to Firs Shopping Centre), ☏ +27 11 280-1234, ✉ johannesburg.regency@hyatt.com. 259 rooms & suites with African-inspired décor, black granite bath, work area with high-speed internet access, daily newspaper and evening turndown. Regency Club Lounge for free continental breakfast, evening cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
The Westcliff, ☏ +27 11 481-6000. Hotel with hillside setting and cascading sculpted gardens along with elegantly opulent accommodation. Great facilities and several restaurants and bars.
Mount Grace Country House & Spa. 5-star hotel and spa just outside of Johannesburg.
Decades Art Hotel, 286 Fox Str, Maboneng Precinct, ☏ +27 861 226-787, ✉ reservations@urbanhiphotels.com. Rooms are conceptualised to interpret each decade of Johannesburg's history.
African Rock Hotels, 48 de Villiers Ave, van Riebeeck Estate, Kempton Park. (10 km from OR Tambo International Airport), ☏ +27 11 976-3486, ✉ res@arhotels.co.za. This boutique hotel is in the quiet suburb of Kempton Park, away from the flight path of arriving and departing planes. It has a lush tropical garden, a swimming pool and large patio. The interior “look and feel” boasts a successful fusion of African, Western and Oriental design trends and offers a warm, welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. The architecture is contemporary, includes all modern day technologies and is practical and comfortable. The conference room is equipped with a one of its kind suspended boardroom table and has all the facilities required to ensure a successful meeting.
54 on Bath,54 Bath Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196> Hotel Reservations & Customer Contact Centre +27 11 461 9744 | 0861 44 77 44 A sophisticated boutique which features a terrace area used for entertainment and an outdoor swimming . The hotel as 75 uniquely designed rooms which offer a premium stay in Johannesburg.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

Top

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

Big cities and most of the popular places in the country usually have an internet café though they are not as abundant as in, for example, Asia or South America. It's also relatively expensive, usually 20-30 rand an hour, sometimes even more. Many of the accommodation options have internet access available, either wireless with your own laptop or by their own computer(s). Wireless access is also available throughout the country in more and more cafes and eateries, sometimes free and sometimes for a small fee. Note that you usually have to login anyway and agree with the terms and conditions. It is cheapest to buy a prepaid cell phone starter pack (less than R10) and access the Internet with GPRS or 3G. Generally R2 per MB for out of bundle data from most providers (50c for Virgin Mobile), but it becomes a lot cheaper if you buy a data bundle. In general coverage is good except the more rural parts of the northern and northwestern parts of the country (especially Northern Cape).

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.

Post

The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.

Top

Quick Facts

[edit]

Coordinates
  • Latitude: -26.20000000
  • Longitude: 28.08333330

Accommodation in Johannesburg

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Johannesburg searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Contributors

as well as Sam I Am (3%), Kieran-M (1%), Hotsalsa9 (1%), hasbeen (1%), Sander (<1%), Lavafalls (<1%), mohn (<1%), KellieBarnes (<1%), JamesL86 (<1%)

Johannesburg Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Johannesburg

This is version 95. Last edited at 14:29 on May 20, 20 by Utrecht. 124 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License