If you ever find yourself in Jhb. First impression, it is really quite a hole of a place. But, if you happen to live there, or find yourself on business, and you dig a little, you will be pleasantly surprised. Like the Jhb art fair this year. Although only on its 8th year, and still has a long way to go, to me produced some better art than art Basel Miami and art Frieze in London combined.
As anyone will probably know, Joburg is an industrial city so tourism is not a priority and for that reason I can’t suggest many natural places to visit apart from the cradle of civilization, Cosmos on Hartebeestportdam, The Lost City (kitsch but naturally beautiful surroundings) and a huge wave pool, and Magaliesburg which is quite pretty for hiking, etc. Try Retief’s kloof. Quite a climb but worth it once up there.
However there are a whole lot of other… unnatural? things to do, that are pretty happening.
Neighbourgoods market on Sundays and the whole Braamfontein area I generally enjoy, day or night. There’s the roof top beach club (with real sand) that someone I know, Adam Levy, started, and the block project gallery on the corner, with a whole lot of cute shops and other galleries behind it. There’s also Arts on Main on Sundays and the first Thursday nights of the month where, David Krut has his second printing gallery, and is one of my local haunts…
Talking about David Krut, where I did an internship for three months… They have just moved across the road on Jan smuts, where they co habit with a Mexican craft imports shop. Just up from the Goodman Gallery. That’s a delicious, brand new find, and when you walk through those doors, you will feel like you have left your world behind. If you are lucky to catch him between his galleries in Jhb, NY and Cape Town you will meet the phenomenal, ever knowledgeable, David himself. That is a real treat, if you are into all things current in Art! He is also a great printer and works mostly on paper.
Catch me on odd occasions with fellow artist, the talented, almost established, Senzo Shabangu who’s often in the studio downstairs preparing for his next exhibitions.
I love paper, and in this impersonal digital world of ours, it’s great to get back to rawness of touch. I’m working towards an exhibition at David Krut at some point, so been working closely with paper, Hence I love walking into this new stationery store in Greenside called Macaroon and finding inspiration: http://www.niqi.co.za/stylish-social-stationery-at-macaroons-new-studio/
Some of my friends with kids or dogs really enjoy Emmerentia, delta park and zoo lake. Another lil find I stumbled upon in the middle of Bryanston, whilst walking my sister’s Doberman Diablo, is Jukskei park/ Robyn’s park. Really couldn’t believe I was in the middle of Jhb, with a river and well cut grass and a little waterfall with beautiful natural rocks. With some lovers picnicking along the water, I really felt safe. Unheard of for such territories…
As far as restaurants go, my favourites are pretty much mainstream, like Tasha’s for the best quality, freshly prepared food. Specifically, the one in Rosebank which is owned by a delicious, handsome, young character, Peri, who is always on the ball. He will make sure your lunch is filled with impeccable quality in all you order. My best are the mini salmon burgers, which was their signature dish, but seems to have disappeared from the menu, but anything salmon there is great, they have all types of salmon dishes. And of course a visit to Jhb is not complete without getting some of that coconut syrup cake, especially since other cakes in South Africa are generally dry and full of fake butter.
Talking about my sweet tooth, there’s a restaurant in Illovo, called Oliva’s, there they have the most amazing Flan! (Unfortunately now closed down, and I don’t know where they went) Rich, sweet, served in a metal cup, but properly made as the originals in Brazil and Spain. I have never eaten there but always go for dessert and ambience. And back to cakes, recently I asked around for the best cakes in Jhb for my birthday, so from Patisserie, came my big surprise, in a box et al, just as it should be, like in Paris, the most delicious, moist, chocolate cake, I have had in SA. (That’s until I knew the Brazilians existed, which I mention further down this article)
Although not a new place, and quite pricy, I love Khoi for the best starter, Salmon New Style Sashimi. Even better than Nobu’s! And quite a scene with vibey energy too. There are two in Jo’burg, go on Thursdays for the vibe.
There’s also Mami’s Mediterranean. Just an iron roller door. She makes such delicious Moroccan dishes. Usually two different meals every day and a plate is about R60. She has 6 tables and opens between 11 and 2. Try also Rabbit in the Moon in Illovo.
Another great thing to do in Joburg is Critical Mass. Once a month, during full moon, by word of mouth, thousands take to the street for a night cycle ride through the Johannesburg CBD. Groups start from two places and join downtown, going through some crazy places, but accompanied by a boom box that fills the air with energy as we ride along the Nelson Mandela bridge and stop for a drink half way. Happy pedaling and just follow the music. If pedalling is not your thing, you can try walking. I haven’t taken the tour myself, but it is on my to do list. http://www.joburgheritage.co.za/docs/Heritage%20Weekend%20Brochure/Brochure%20Heritage%20Weekend%202013_28.08.13.pdf
If you still have any energy left, or need to burn all that yummy food, go to Kitchener, a late night place in Braamfontein. A cool eclectic mix of people in a old building, left as it was in its glory days, very old school (a bit like Kimberly hotel in CT but with cool music and dancing) Interiors with the dance floor beyond the bar as if it was a party in a private house or old hotel.
If you are visiting in the day, you must pop in next door, the night I went the music was too techno, but the old two cents, copper coin paved floors and walls are worth a look-see.
For something more glamorous try VIP in Sandton, the owner, Chris Catroulis and his wife Vanessa Carrera are awesome! Congrats they just had triplets. Good on Thursday nights!
Unfortunately Johannesburg, and much of South Africa, is not commerce friendly in terms of shop opening hours.
If you have a corporate job, I haven’t the foggiest how one gets their shopping or groceries bought. Everything closes at 5 pm or six.
There are however two woolworths mini food stalls that stay open 24 hours. One is in Glenhove, Oxford road next to McDonald’s.
For best sushi, I have been recommended Real Sushi, quick, easy, cheap in Norwood and Japa off Rivonia, for apparently best sushi in SA. As soon as my pregnancy is over I will be trying them.
For private catering, of absolutely the most delicious cakes (on Earth) and snacks, moist and rich contact Conceição Silva (0603339638 or +27846782861)
And for a classy affair, you can’t beat duo bother and sister chefs for anything you can dream of, with a Brazilian fine cuisine (optional) touch/flair. Contact Mirlene Souza or Josafa Moises (0787341429 or +27835327825)
Lonehill Koppie, is a lovely hike in a park for great views of Johannesburg, closed in the winter due to the conservation of dassies.
Nirox park is an artist residency, with foreign and local established artists. A must visit to the Nirox sculpture park for art lovers, or anyone wanting a little culture in their lives together with a beautiful Sunday outing at a beautiful leafy park strolling and deciphering sculptures. Watch out for events.
If you can’t make it out of Johannesburg, then try closer to home, every Sunday during the day and every first Thursdays nights of the month, for a night market, where You will also find lovely mainstream galleries such as Nirox with the absolutely fantastic curator Neil Nieuwoudt and a great artist himself, and David Krut arts project, with an extensive book shop, if you are lucky, you will find the ever so knowledgeable David himself there. He’s a walking encyclopedia of South African art throughout history and a captivating man.
Also visit Circa for more, contemporary art on Jan Smuts.
For weekend getaways try Clarens, Retief’s kloof, cosmos in Hartebeestportdam, Magaliesberg, etc.
VIP, Sand bar, MiHouse Let’s Swing?
Taboo, Sway, Kong? Movida? Churchill? Katzys?
All night spots to try.
The social life is divided into three main areas: Sandton/Fourways/Melrose, Parkhurst and Braamfontein.
The first area is more upper class, the second is more “easy”, the third is “melting pot” trendy.
Hyde Park lounge terrace and Sundeck at Sandton sun hotel for aperitivo or drinks are good places to start off the evening, or to meet up friend before or after dinner.
For dinners try:
•Thomas Maxwell Bistrot (French cuisine) ,
•Bice restaurant (real Italian) ,
•Koi Sandton (hq sushi),
•Bottega (Italian fantasy),
•Pronto (nicest pizza in town)
For “pure” clubbing:
•Movida (girls place) , The Sands (outside for a half, not bad music),
•Taboo (only on good events sometimes, and only open sat nights)
•Icons (small and annoying but girls like it usually)
•Buddahtha in Fourways (restaurant, bar and prive upstairs with dance music – 30-35 avera),
•The Barons (typical after work on Friday, decent restaurant and music area),
•Nicci beach (water park, club, restaurant on Sunday, average age 25)
• beefcakes (gay) was great fun! They play great music, and the place was light and airy instead of dark and dingy, and fairly spacious, situated in a nice satellite centre.
•Neighbourgood market (very European meltingpot, on Saturday for lunch),
•Arts on Main (urban scenario re qualified, with art gallery, restaurant and dance, open on Sunday for lunch and once a month first thursdays during the night with an ethnic market),
•Jimmy’s Inn (usually after neighbourgood market but also good for some password parties on Saturday night).
That’s almost all what I would suggest. There’s a little bit for everyone, so take your pick.
If you have any specific question, please feel free to ask.
Have a look also at, or Google the following:
– Zoo lake very pretty, but a bit too popular for pic nics, try rather Emarentia rose gardens.
– The Wonder Cave in Kromdraai
– Fordsburg Night Market
– The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve (approximately 45mins by car from Johannesburg)
– The Lion Park (located at Cnr Malibongwe & R114 Lanseria, Johannesburg)
– Johannesburg Botanic Gardens
– The Montecasino Bird Gardens (located at Cnr William Nicol Drive & Montecasino Boulevard)
– Liliesleaf Farm (located at 7 George Avenue, Rivonia, Johannesburg)
– Apharteid Museum
– Johannesburg Museum
– The Magaliesberg Canopy Tours (located 1.5 hours from Johannesburg)
– The Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary (located at Coordinates -25.71926, 27.80391 on Highway R104 – 1.5 hours from Johannesburg)
– Market on Main
– Hartbeespoort (45mins by car from Johannesburg) (cosmos)
– Neighbourgoods Market Johannesburg (73 Juta St, Johannesburg) good on Saturdays, art galleries and trendy bar/restaurants in area.
– Picnic no Zoo Lake
– Johannesburg Zoo
– The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
– 44 Stanley- creative space, providing an eclectic mix of studios and cafés, antique furniture and rare book shops, while retaining an urban and industrial 1930s street café vibe.
– For SAFARI – (Kruger Park), Bela-Bela, 2 hours by car from Johanesburg. Try ITAGA LODGE, everything but lions. Cheap and apparently good food. http://www.itaga.co.za/
Singita for a more upmarket experience (very expensive/luxurious but worth it)–