News & Trends, Joburg, Travel

The ultimate guide to Joburg: 25 reasons why we love the City of Gold

Keenan Constance

joburg city guide things to do

Staying in Joburg this December? Or visiting the city for the first time? Then you’ve come to the right place . Here’s the House and Leisure team’s instant intro to the City of Gold, from the coolest areas to the best places to eat and drink, and of course some tours of our favourite homes. 

4 of the coolest areas in Joburg 

Every visitor to Johannesburg should spend time exploring two of its youngest and hippest areas: Braamfontein – adjacent to the world-renowned University of the Witwatersrand and thronging with students and young artists and designers – and Maboneng in the CBD are both must-visits.

Another wonderful destination for food, drinks and shopping is the quirky suburb of Melville, where you can eat everything from traditional South African cuisine to Asian-style street food. And a day out at the new Victoria Yards development, with its artists’ studios, craft beer and small creative businesses, is also well worth it.

3 insider guides worth memorising 

We regularly ask Joburg insiders such as internationally renowned tour guide Jo Buitendach for their advice on where to go in the inner city. Jo knows all about the city’s wide range of immigrant communities as well as being the very best person to ask for a tour of Johannesburg’s burgeoning street art districts.

Specially for our focus on Joburg in print this month, we asked cool kids Kenny Jules Morifi-Winslow, Zanele Kumalo and Keneilwe Mothoa to guide us around their favourite places in the city to have breakfast (while doing your emails, of course) as well as where to take in some contemporary art and enjoy a seriously creative cocktail. Also worth taking note of are comedian Gilli Apter’s favourite spots for a night out on the town.

3 of the best restaurants and bars

If you’re looking for somewhere really special to eat and drink, check out some of our latest finds, including all the bars in this round-up of the eight top indie bars in Joburg. For a special dinner date, visit Italian-inspired eatery Saint Pazzo Italiano in always-bustling Sandton, or the hidden gem that is modern European eatery Farro in Illovo. 

8 of our favourite homes that we've shot  

As well as loving the bright lights, Joburgers are serious homebodies. This is a city where people take great pride in their houses, and where everyone loves to entertain at home – even if they order dinner for their friends (we recommend the brilliant The Leopard deli). 

Joburgers’ homes are as diverse as its people. Many are art-filled, such as this urban eyrie on a Rosebank rooftop, an apartment belonging to a young creative director in Hyde Park and internationally renowned artist Nandipha Mntambo’s heritage home.

Still others offer effortless contemporary elegance combined with family living or inner-city living at its best in the form of rising-star fashion designer Rich Mnisi’s urban pad. Classic cool makes an appearance too, in the form of homes that bring traditional style right up to date with contemporary elements or decor that combines the old and the new for a seriously romantic feel. And our Johannesburg issue contains a shoot of a remarkable heritage home that combines an old stone Randlord building with resolutely contemporary interiors to beautiful effect

4 gardens that prove Joburg is not a concrete jungle

And then there are Joburg’s gardens: from Henk Swanepoel, a specialist bonsai grower, to the trio of young women behind the inspiring Fox Street hydroponic gardening project this is a city of dedicated gardeners of every persuasion. With its famously mild climate, Joburg is home to thousands of beautiful domestic gardens, ranging from this contemporary example to more classic green spaces.

2 periods in architecture not to be missed

Joburg is also well-known for its Art Deco structures and a wealth of noteworthy buildings dating from the 20th century, during which the city rapidly expanded from a gold-mining settlement into the megalopolis it is today.

The creativity

Last but perhaps most exciting in terms of the city, Johannesburg is packed with creative people who are making incredible art and design, and creating noteworthy interiors and original fashion. We asked five top creatives to curate a room setting inspired by the City of Gold recently and we think you’ll love the diverse results as much as we do.  

More Joburg? Tour our editor's favourite homes

Editor Tiaan Nagel has lived in Joburg all of his adult life. He’s currently based in Parktown North but has a great attachment to Rosebank, the area where he lived when he first arrived in the city to study fashion design. The December issue is entirely devoted to Johannesburg and what some of its coolest citizens most enjoy about it. If you want to vicariously enjoy more beautiful Joburg interiors, Tiaan’s five favourite Johannesburg abodes are great examples of why no invitation to visit a Joburger’s home should ever be turned down.