Ah, Joburg, I love you so from your cosmopolitan feeling, gritty edges, street art, people, contrasts, heritage… I could go on and on.
But you don’t make it easy to enjoy your best vibes, especially on those nervous tourists and pompous Capetonians.
See, Joburg makes you work a little bit as everything is quite spread out, and admittedly there are a few dodgy, best-be-avoided areas in between.
So I’m going to make it easy for you and give you my top tips for exploring Joburg like a local...
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Have a picnic
Joburgers love to get outdoors, especially on the weekend! We may not have the beach or the mountain, but we do have some great picnic spots. Head to Northcliff Hill for the best Joburg 360-degree views or Zoo Lake or Emmarentia dam for family vibes. Take a picnic blanket, your Woolies salads and dips (or KFC bucket if that’s your vibe) and your wine in a paper bag and you’re good to go!
Yes locals visit (and live in Soweto too!). The best time to go is a Sunday afternoon for lunch or drinks. Go with a group and make sure you get a table at one of the popular Vilakazi street restaurants. There’s usually live music somewhere. Get a bucket of beers or your favourite premium brand bottle and enjoy the Soweto swag. If you’re feeling adventurous take a jump off the Orlando Towers!
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Joburgers love their weekend foodie markets. We can spend an entire weekend floating from market to market, looking fresh, drinking expensive craft beer and eating exotic food. The hipster hangouts are Neighbourgoods Market (Saturdays in Braamfontein), and Market on Main (Sundays in Maboneng). This is where the young and the hip go to shop, be seen and instagram. Really though, they are fun. When the markets close, the party moves to the bars in the Braam and Maboneng hoods. Post market, check out Great Dane or The Living Room to get your groove on.
There’s s a thriving live music scene, and you’ll find live music any night of the week. My favourite live music venues are The Orbit and African Freedom Station (for jazz), Bassline, The Good Luck Bar, and Kitcheners and Great Dane for their Funky DJs. There also seems to be a festival somewhere in Jozi almost every weekend, so check out the gig guides for more.
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Bars & Clubs
From hipster hangouts to historic pubs and posh rooftop decks… Joburg has a wide selections of bars to get hammered. The Radium Beerhall is a Joburg institution while Hell's Kitchen in Melville caters to the hipster crowd.
For cocktails with a view, and a little more Joburg bling don’t miss The Pool Bar at Southern Sun Hyde Park, Sandton Sun’s San Bar or The Four Seasons at The Westcliff. If you want to club like a Joburg local Taboo plays pop till you drop, while And is the club for techno and drum and bass. Sankayi is fun for African beats, Latin and R&B and Zone 6 in Soweto get’s lit!
Indulge your inner foodie
Besides the thriving market scene, Joburg has some great restaurants that are not in malls. Most of my favourites are located on the Parkhurst, Greenside and Melville strips.
Melville: Head to Pablo Eggsgobar for a egg-centric breakfast, The Turkish restaurant for a no-frills Turkish feast, and The Leopard for dinner, mainly because it’s quirky and the food is amazing.
Parkhurst & Rosebank: There’s a lot of great eateries on this strip. A few of my favourites are Coobs, Bistro on Vine, The National and the Wolfpack, for their fabulous burgers. In nearby Rosebank, don’t miss Marble, Joburg’s hottest new restaurant by celebrity chef David Higgs.
Greenside: This neighbourhood has had it’s ups and downs but still has some great restaurants. Try Spiceburg for some great Indian food, and the newly opened Momo Bauhaus for their mouth-watering Asian tapas, noodle bowls and sushi.
Jozi has a fantastic contemporary art scene. Wits Art Museum is not only a beautiful building, but has one of the best art collections in Africa, and has amazing collections – the current Walter Battiss exhibition is mindblowing. There are a lot of fancy art galleries that are worth visiting. Goodman, Everard Read, Gallery Momo & Circa on the Rosebank art strip have made careers for many local artists. But dig a little deeper and head to some of the smaller galleries like Spaza Art Gallery and the Kalishnikovv for more affordable art.
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Us Joburgers love our craft beer, and we have more and more places dedicated to serving us an artisanal brew! The Mad Giant in Newtown is a brewery with an amazing restaurant - Urbanologie. Stanley Beer Yard has a great range of local beers and live music on the weekends. If you’re stuck in Fourways, the BeerHouse has enough different beer that you’ll never be bored. For craft beer selections and gastro-pub vibes head to The Griffin or the Foundry.
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