Vibrant, ever-changing, multi-faceted Johannesburg flings contrast at you from every angle. Trees line streets where houses hide their manicured gardens and pristine blue swimming pools behind high white walls, miles of shacks tell of the effects of the apartheid years – still to be overcome. The air of Africa’s most dynamic city vibrates with music and buzzes with business while its stylish restaurants, elegant shops, art galleries, and theatres delight the international visitor.
1 Rand (ZAR) = 100 cents
+27 11 375 5911 (Accidents, Fire, Medical, Crime)
The Star (Johannesburg’s oldest English-language daily newspaper, has a Tonight listings supplement.)
The weekly (Friday) Mail & Guardian has extensive What’s On listings.)
Mall shopping hours are generally 09.00am-05.00pm from Monday to Saturday, and 09.00am-02.00pm on Sundays. Most museums and galleries are closed on Mondays.
Gauteng Tourism Authority
124 Main Street, Johannesburg
+27 11 085 2500
Cosmopolitan Johannesburg (also known as Jo’burg or Jozi) sprawls for miles, sprouting upper-income suburbs like satellite towns – one of them, sophisticated Sandton, is the business and economic capital of South Africa. Soweto, home to most of Johannesburg’s black population, lies to the southwest, a 20 square km conglomeration of townships with homes that range from millionaire mansions and neat middle-income housing to the tin shacks of squatter camps.
The city built on gold has seen its landmark yellow mine dumps recycled and replaced by skyrise buildings and glitzy shopping malls, and its recent apartheid history remembered in superb new museums. Soaring chrome and glass buildings, housing opulent international hotels and corporate giants, pepper the leafy streets of a string of exclusive northern suburbs – among them, rich Rosebank, elite Sandhurst, bohemian Melrose Village and foody Greenside. Across a canopy of green, the horizon is spiked by the outline of downtown Johannesburg, slowly stirring from its no-go dilapidation. Six-lane highways and swirling freeways indicate the importance of the car.
The city built on gold has seen its yellow mine dumps recycled, and replaced by towering skyscrapers and glitzy shopping malls. The history of the not too distant apartheid history is remembered in superb new museums.
Old Fort and Constitution Hill
Gold Reef City
Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary
Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
Botanical Gardens and Emmarentia Dam
SAB World of Beer
This cosmopolitan city will spoil you for choice: Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Argentinean, just to name a few. South Africans are great meat-eaters, so steak houses abound. Greenside is packed with smart restaurants, but all the northern suburbs have their stars. Melville, Parktown North, Melrose Arch, and trendy Parkhurst are particularly good locations.
Here's a list of the top restaurants in Johannesburg:
Moyo Melrose Arch
The Grillhouse Rosebank
Great Eastern Food Bar
The Butcher Shop & Grill
Est Est Alea
Ristorante La Trinita
Joburg's coffee culture is booming, with hip cafes (some with on-site stores and even book shops) and casual eateries aplenty. Having brunch is in, so finding a suitable venue in your neighbourhood shouldn't be hard.
Here are some of the best cafes in Johannesburg:
Nice on 4th
City Perk Cafe
Living Room Jozi
From the sleek bars of top-notch hotels to shebeens (informal drinking places, usually in someone’s front room) in Soweto, Jozi boasts a very lively nightlife. Melville’s Seventh Street is popular with night owls, while Rosebank, Rivonia, Norwood and Orange Grove attract the more affluent party crowd. Soweto has crowded bars and live jazz, but it is only advisable to go there on an organised tour.
And here are the best bars and nightclubs in Johannesburg:
Living Room Jozi
Radium Beer Hall
Beach Blanket Bohemia
From upmarket malls to street markets, via designer fashion, crafts, curios and lovely things for the home, Johannesburg is a paradise for shoppers. Mall culture distinguishes this city of dedicated shoppers. Sandton City and its adjacent Nelson Mandela Square is one of the largest shopping centres in the southern hemisphere. The packed African Crafts Market lies next to the stylish Mall of Rosebank, which takes on new vibes on Sundays and public holidays when the lively Rooftop Market is in full swing.
Norwood’s Grant Avenue is good for antiques and Parkhurst’s Fourth Avenue for collectables and interior design. Go to The African Toyshop on Stanley Avenue, Milpark, for toys as works of art Art Africa on Tyrone Avenue in Parkview for a dazzling array of ethnic arts and crafts and Kim Sacks Gallery in Parkwood for excellent tribal African art.
Keep all the receipts of your shop purchases, as visitors can reclaim the tax paid on departure at the airport.
Sheds @ 1Fox
Market on Main
Nelson Mandela Square
Michael Mount Organic Village Market
Eastgate Shopping Centre
O.R. Tambo International Airport is Africa’s busiest airport with 24-hour facilities. It lies 25km east of the city.
The cheapest way to reach town is use the public transportation: buses and minibuses depart from just outside the international and domestic terminals. Please mind, however, that these may not be either convenient or easy to navigate for first-time visitors.
Another way to reach the city is by rail: the Gautrain system connects the airport to multiple suburbs (Sandton, Rosebank, Pretoria, Hatfield and Rhodesfield). Travel time between the airport and Sandton is 12 minutes.
Minibus shuttles and metered taxis can be booked in the baggage claim area. The hotels of Rosebank and Sandton are a 30-45 minute drive from the airport. Most hotels offer shuttle services (inquire with your hotel in advance).
Train service now runs between the suburbs of Sandton and Pretoria and the airport.
Address: O.R. Tambo International Airport
Phone: +27 11 921 6262
Passport / Visa
Citizens of multiple world countries do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. These include: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Citizens of a further 28 countries do not require a visa for stays of up to 30 days: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Eswatini, Gabon, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Jordan, Lesotho, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Peru, Poland, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey.
For nationals of countries not listed above, visa requirements apply. Please contact your local consulate for further details on required documentation.
Passport holders of Cameroon, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Uganda can apply for eVisas online provided they will land at O. R. Tambo International Airport.
Travellers aged less than 18 years old must provide a birth certificate complete with both parents' details and, if flying with only one of the parents, a parental consent statement signed by the other parent.
While most locals use minibuses to get around the city, flagging one down and figuring out its final destination may prove daunting to first-time visitors.
Instead, make use of the public buses (Rea Vaya buses were introduced during the 2010 World Cup and remain in operation to-date; they are a relatively reliable means of transport).
Another convenient, safe way of getting around are the trains of the Gautrain system. They connect the stations of Sandton, Rosebank, Pretoria, Hatfield, Rhodesfield and the airport. There is a bus service run by Gautrain from some stations onward. Buy and top-up the Gold Card to use Gautrain.
Metered taxis are the safest way to travel if you are not hiring a car, they are available at major hotels, otherwise you have to phone for pickup. The fare should be confirmed with the driver at the outset (inquire with a local what an average fare for you drive distance would be).
One reliable taxi company is Rose Taxis:
Phone: +27 11 403 0000
Post boxes are red in colour. There are multiple post offices around the city.
Address: 150 Commissioner St, Marshalltown, Johannesburg
Phone: +27 11 331 1057
Pharmacies have a rota system for out-of-hours service. Most hospitals and clinics with an ER will also have a 24/7 pharmacy on-site.
Netcare Olivedale Hospital
Tel: +27 11 777 2000
Corner President Fouche & Windsor Way, Olivedale, Randburg
Netcare Linksfield Hospital
Tel: + 27 11 647 3400
24 12th Avenue, Linksfield West
220/240v, 50Hz. Round three-pin plugs are standard.
Country code: +27
Area code: 11