JohannesburgTravel Guide

They don’t call her “The City of Gold” for nothing! Once the site of the gold rush, nowadays, South Africa’s Johannesburg, also fondly called “Joburg”, is full of hidden treasure in the form of friendly locals and enthralling attractions. She’s also worth her weight in gold for curious travellers looking to explore the country’s history, heritage and culture.  
 

Joburg is the business capital of South Africa, so let’s get down to business and focus on what’s really interesting about this bustling city: the food, the folks, the sights and the shopping!  

Johannesburg quick facts

Language

National language

English

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

NZD $1.71

Local time

Sunday

5:13am

Currency

South African rand

NZD $1.00 = ZAR R11.08

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

NZD $15.33

Electricity

Plug type: C

2 or 3 pins • 230V

Explore Johannesburg

Where to stay in Johannesburg?

From low-key, no-frills guesthouses to luxurious five-star hotels that are as frilly as can be, there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from when checking out where to stay in Johannesburg.  

You’ll find the majority of the ultra-luxurious options in Joburg’s northern suburbs, including Sandton, Randburg and Bryanston. The Four Seasons Hotel: The Westcliff is a great example close to most of the city’s main attractions and offers two heated swimming pools and an onsite spa. African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel is perfectly positioned for travellers looking to dive head-first into lavish Joburg living, stationed right inside the uber-trendy Melrose Arch shopping precinct. 

With a restaurant, free private parking, a shared lounge, an outdoor pool and a manicured garden, Highgrove Guesthouse in Sandton is a lovely 4-star option if you’d prefer something smaller, simpler and more intimate. If staying in the eastern parts of Joburg, Bedfordview Boutique Lodge comes highly recommended and is located in walking distance from Eastgate Shopping Centre. 

Finally, how about barefoot luxury at its best? It’s always a good time to make your way to a restful haven on Joburg’s outskirts to experience “glamping” (glamorous camping).  


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • woman riding bike on paved footpath
    • men cooking in commercial kitchen
    • entrance to mandela house
    • aerial view of subsurban johannesburg with jacarandas in bloom
    • aerial vide of Johannesburg city
  • woman riding bike on paved footpath
    woman riding bike on paved footpath
    woman riding bike on paved footpath
  • men cooking in commercial kitchen
    men cooking in commercial kitchen
    men cooking in commercial kitchen
  • entrance to mandela house
    entrance to mandela house
    entrance to mandela house
  • aerial view of subsurban johannesburg with jacarandas in bloom
    aerial view of subsurban johannesburg with jacarandas in bloom
    aerial view of subsurban johannesburg with jacarandas in bloom
  • aerial vide of Johannesburg city
    aerial vide of Johannesburg city
    aerial vide of Johannesburg city

Things to do in Johannesburg

While there are plenty of opportunities to crank up the “fun” factor when touring through Johannesburg, there are also plenty of historical landmarks. In short, you’re in for a pretty well-balanced getaway, if that’s how you like it!

It’s the city’s trendiest neighbourhood, and you’d better believe that Maboneng is where the magic happens! Vibe with the local youngsters at Arts on Main – a creative hub and the perfect place for stocking up on locally made goodies and admiring works by local artists. From there, catch a film at The Bioscope (an independent movie theatre) or throw on your knee and elbow pads and sign up to tour the area on a skateboard: it’s the coolest way to soak up the urban street culture and mingle with the cool kids. Finally, end the day off sipping on a cocktail at a rooftop restaurant, revelling in the honeyed Joburg sunset as it spills over the city.  


Gold Reef City is undoubtedly the city’s favourite theme park, promising thrills for everyone. Along with 18 heart-stopping rides, 13 dedicated kiddies’ rides and the Jump City Trampoline Park, Gold Reef City is also a gamers’ go-to, featuring a casino where you – in the venue’s own words – “make your own luck”! Shout at the top of your lungs on the Anaconda rollercoaster, place your bets on a game of blackjack and then fill up on some delicious food to round things off.  


Delve deeper into South Africa’s history with stops at the Apartheid Museum, Mandela House and the Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial. The Apartheid Museum is packed full of permanent and temporary exhibitions serving as a history lesson about the country’s difficult past and its journey to peace and equality. The Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial pays homage to young Hector Pieterson and many other youths who were killed fighting for their rights during the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Finally, Mandela House, located in Soweto’s iconic Vilakazi Street, is a must-see for visitors looking to learn more about South Africa’s heritage and the Mandela family legacy.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Johannesburg

Johannesburg food and drink

With the city being a cultural melting pot, it stands to reason that eateries and food are as diverse as the residents. From typically South African fare like shisanyama (barbequed meat, because barbequeing is a national pastime!) and melktert for dessert (a tart with a pastry crust and a custard filling) to Italian, Chinese, Ethiopian and Middle Eastern food, rest assured there’s something on the menu for everyone when scoping out where to eat in Johannesburg.

While Cape Town is considered the “gourmet capital” of South Africa, Johannesburg is also blessed with more than her fair share of establishments dishing out five-star food. Parkhurst’s Café del Sol is always a treat for travellers with a penchant for Italian delights, while The Grillhouse, which has establishments in Rosebank, Melrose Arch and Sandton, is a favourite for meat lovers.  

Those sniffing out a truly world-class dining experience will definitely find DW Eleven - 13 to their taste. The restaurant specialises in experimental cuisine, serving up a variety of foodie favourites with unique twists and unexpected finishing touches. 


Street food is entrenched in South African culture. You’ll usually find a pop-up barbecue (called a braai) and an enthusiastic South African with a pair of tongs in hand outside every local supermarket on a sunny Saturday in summer. Alternatively, head to one of the markets or bustling downtown Johannesburg to sample street food from a street-food vendor such as an Indian bunny chow (a hollowed-out loaf of bread with a fragrant curry that’s been ladled into it). 


Joburgers love their, well, burgers. And slap chips (crispy on the outside and soft on the inside). In short, you don’t have tol go far to find some fast comfort food. Be sure to check out Wandies in Soweto for buffet-style African cuisine or make a stop at a Kota Joe roadhouse for a mind-blowing milkshake (you don’t get anything more proudly South African than the Zoo Biscuit shake).


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Johannesburg through your eyes

Where to shop in Johannesburg?

Of course, everyone at home is hoping you’ll bring back an authentic South African souvenir for them. And we’re pretty sure that you’d like to take advantage of the exchange rate to splurge on some spoils for yourself, right? Thought so!

In that case, you might want to make a beeline for Nelson Mandela Square, an upmarket shopping centre in Sandton, arguably Johannesburg’s most sophisticated suburb. Here, you’ll find a variety of stylish boutiques and outlets that will have you feeling very swipe-happy indeed.  


If shopping malls just aren’t your vibe and you’re in the mood to check out a local market instead, you can’t go wrong with a stop at the crafty and creative Bryanston Organic Market or Fourways Farmers’ Market.  

Looking for that middle ground? Melville’s 27 Boxes is a hipsters’ playground and an interesting mashup of a quirky marketplace and a traditional lifestyle centre.  


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Johannesburg?

Johannesburg is a year-round destination. Even during winter (June – August) when the locals are zipping up their puffer jackets and loudly exclaiming how cold it is, most travellers will find it to be perfectly pleasant out. Temperatures rarely drop below 17 degrees Celsius in the day. 

While many other cities in South Africa experience their high season during the festive period, December is one of the best times to travel in Johannesburg if you want to steer clear of crowds. This is because the majority of local Joburgers are off on their own travel adventures, leaving you to live it up while they’re away. The weather is also blissful during this time, with an average high of 26 degrees Celsius.  


Finally, you also can’t go wrong with a holiday in Johannesburg from March – May and September – November. During these times of year, the weather is at its mildest and the airport isn’t too busy. Not to mention in Spring when the city turns awash purple with hundreds of jacaranda trees in bloom. 


Don't miss out. Book your flight today!

How to get around Johannesburg

The most popular form of public transport in Johannesburg is the Gautrain, an express commuter rail system stretching 80km. Operating seven days a week, it makes stops in Joburg’s busiest and most popular regions, including Sandton and of course, the OR Tambo International Airport. The Gautrain route also extends north to Pretoria and its suburb of Hatfield, popular for its restaurants and shopping plaza.  

Travellers can also opt to use other public transport like buses, hail an Uber or even hop on a minibus taxi for a truly South African experience. 

Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

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What are the best parks in Johannesburg?

Johannesburg may be an urban jungle, but it’s definitely possible to escape the blaring hooters as well as the crowds if you know where to go!

Finally, don’t forget to add Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve to your daily to-dos and must-sees. Despite being just 10km away from the heart of Joburg, it’s where you’ll find a rich diversity of large game like zebra and black wildebeest, especially if you’re not averse to breaking a sweat. The reserve boasts plenty of challenging hiking trails and there’s a decent chance you’ll bump into a herd of animals if you’re stealthy enough.  

Remember to take care when enjoying Mother Nature’s many gifts – she’s known to dish out some tough love for those who get a little too brave or forget to watch their footing! 


Yet another natural haven not far from central Joburg is The Wilds Nature Reserve stretching across 16 hectares and found just on the outskirts of the suburb of Houghton. The evergreen park is best known for its footpaths and fountains. 


Zoo Lake Park doesn’t require hours on the road to reconnect with nature. Pull on your walking shoes and trek along the well-kept walking paths or rent a rowing boat if you don’t mind potentially going for a “refreshing” dip in the lake.  


You can’t talk about things to do in Johannesburg without mentioning the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden, home to 240 species of birds, flourishing flora and plenty of little creatures flitting and scuttling about. It’s also the perfect picnic spot if you’re keen to whip out your blanket, treat yourself to some snacks and soak up the sunshine.


Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Johannesburg Frequently asked questions

Comfortable walking shoes are a must in Jo’burg! Whether you’re planning to take a safari or you’re keen to explore the city, a sturdy pair of walking shoes are absolute travel essentials. The rest of your packing list will depend on the time of year you plan to travel as well as your proposed itinerary, but as a starting point, aim for lightweight layers in breathable fabric.


Begin your Johannesburg adventure by soaking up the sights and sounds of the Maboneng Precinct, where artsy cafes, bustling markets and colourful street art will tickle your senses. The Apartheid Museum, although heart-breaking, offers a thought-provoking glimpse into South Africa's past. If ancient fossils and awe-inspiring caves sound like your ideal holiday activity, be sure to check out the Cradle of Humankind. If you're craving a wild encounter, head to the Lion and Safari Park, where you can come face-to-face with majestic big cats. And let's not forget about the shopping! Oh, the shopping! If you’re keen to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, head to Sandton City Mall, which is home to designer boutiques and trendy eateries. Whether you're an art enthusiast, history buff, nature lover or shopaholic, Johannesburg is a playground of excitement.


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Although Johannesburg is a popular year-round destination, many sun-seekers are drawn to the delightful South African spring, which stretches from September to November. As the city awakens from the chilly grasp of winter, Johannesburg transforms into a vibrant kaleidoscope of colours. If you’re keen for a steamy summer holiday, December to February is the peak tourist season, but you might want to throw in some gumboots as rain is likely!


Dive into the heart of the city's buzzing cultural scene by exploring the vibrant neighbourhoods of Newtown and Maboneng, where hipster cafes, art galleries and live music venues bustle for your attention. Unleash your inner shopaholic at Sandton City and Rosebank, where designer boutiques and local crafts beckon. For a taste of history, visit the thought-provoking Apartheid Museum or take a guided tour of Constitution Hill, where you'll uncover the rich tapestry of South Africa's past. Wildlife enthusiasts can embark on a thrilling safari adventure at the nearby Pilanesberg National Park or explore the Johannesburg Zoo, home to a diverse array of fascinating creatures. Then, when it's time to unwind, savour the city's delectable culinary offerings, from traditional South African braai (barbecue) to international flavours that will tantalise your taste buds.


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The current requirements for travelling to Johannesburg

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