Ask a local: 20 essential Joburg experiences

09 Dec 2019
In our Ask a Local series we ask some of Joburg's most interesting and switched on residents to share with us their tips on the best places to visit in their city and the most exciting underrated attractions to seek out. We picked out 20 of their most intriguing sightseeing recommendations.

  "A new year's sunrise between and over the buildings of Johannesburg, as seen from the Melville Koppies". –  Marie-Lais Emond, writer, food critic and columnist at The Citizen newspaper.  

"Check out the graffiti and street art scene and do a graffiti walking tour". – Themba Malaza (aka local street artist Dreda) 

"I think Maboneng is a uniquely Joburg experience. Visitors should also try their best to engage in conversation with locals, as Joburg is a city that often needs a guiding hand or some context. And of course I would love it if they came to watch a film here at The Bioscope in Maboneng! Shameless self-promotion aside, we're often showing some really interesting local content that can bring visitors some great context to South Africa." –  Russell Grant  founder and director of  The Bioscope independent cinema in Maboneng. 

"Victoria Yards, because there’s something quite magical about the place. It’s a collection of studios for artists and makers – but walk past the textured old buildings and through the vegetable gardens, seeing how these spaces are being reimagined by creative minds – visitors feel inspired and awed."  –  Artist James Delaney

"The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown is one of the most underrated places!" –  João da Fonseca (aka J'Something), frontman of soulful South African house band Mi Casa.

"Open days at an artist studio collective such as The Bag FactoryAugust HouseVictoria Yards or Artist Proof Studios, an art performance or talk at The Centre for the Less Good Idea and First Thursdays in Braamfontein or Rosebank". –  Dutch creative consultant and storytelling coach Els van Mourik of  African Art Stories.

"One thing that nobody would expect to hear about Joburg is that the city's best jam session happens in Soweto, it is held every Tuesday in Chiawelo and it's called Sawubona Music Jams." –  Alternative Afro-pop star and general director of Soweto Theatre  Nomsa Mazwai (aka Nomisupasta).

"On the edge of Joubert Park, the biggest park in the city’s CBD, is the Johannesburg Art Gallery. This architectural wonder is the largest gallery in sub-Saharan Africa. It is essentially an art museum with a mix of historical collections dating back hundreds of years and works by top contemporary African artists. It is in need of a lot of love, care and visitors." Ulrich Janse van Vuuren of travel blog and digital media agency Meet My Mzansi.

"The Market Theatre. It’s still one of the best places to watch awesome local productions." –  Standup comedian, presenter and performer Stuart Taylor.

"Moyo Zoo Lake is one of the most underrated sights. It has everything I enjoy. Good music, delicious cocktails (and great food specials), beautiful views, and good service."  –  Copywriter Dudu Luthuli

"Visit the Northcliff water tower, it's the perfect place for a picnic with a gorgeous view!" – Actress Jo-anne Reyneke.

"Joburg is often described as lacking in natural beauty. But the city has so many nice parks – Walter Sisulu, Emmarentia Dam, Delta Park, the Wilds, the Melville Koppies, etc – and each park is so uniquely beautiful, often with great views of the city skyline. Also we have the blooming jacarandas in October, surprisingly lovely autumn leaves, and spectacular post-thunderstorm sunsets in the summer." Heather Mason, American photographer and the author of the 2summers blog.

"Come for dinner with me at the Yeoville Dinner Club, we are bringing the Pan African food, style and stories of Yeoville to the world!" –  Sanza Sandile, founder of the Friday night Yeoville Dinner Club in pan-African Yeoville. 

Don't miss MabonengBraamfontein and the inner city for vibrant street culture." – Cookbook author Mogau Seshoene (aka The Lazy Makoti)

"Chinatown in Cyrildene as well as the Cantonese quarter in the CBD are awesome and underrated Joburg experiences." –  Bheki Dube, founder of the popular Maboneng-based backpacking hub Curiocity Hostels.

"My favourite place to relax is James and Ethel Gray Park - really peaceful and quiet. A good place to clear the mind and get some fresh air". –  Xavier Francis, head chef at Onenineone, the Hyatt Regency Rosebank Hotel’s renowned contemporary restaurant.

"This city is rich with architecture from Neo-classical, Neo-Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco to Modernism.  This architectural side to the city has not really been appreciated or showcased enough. Join a tour (such as Microadventures cycle tour) and discover these places. " –  Kennedy Tembo, founder of Joburg cycling tour company, Microadventure Tours.  


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