Exploring Gauteng with the Gautrain

27 Mar 2024
It's a source of great pride – a public transport service that is efficient, clean, reliable, well-run, well-maintained, and fast. The shiny-gold Gautrain (pronounced ‘how-train’, sort of) links the Johannesburg City Centre (Park Station) with the business districts of the north (Sandton and Rosebank), beyond to Pretoria, and east to O.R. Tambo International Airport. 

For the basics, check out our guide to all you need to know about using the Gautrain.

To help you make the most of this service and see Gauteng through fresh eyes, we've created a series of day trip guides using the Gautrain's stations as your base. We've covered Park StationRosebank, Sandton, MidrandHatfield, and Pretoria. Don your tourist cap and plan a fun day out.


Skip the highway drive and take the Gautrain from Joburg to Hatfield instead; it's a pleasant journey that's under an hour. This underrated suburb is well worth exploring. Whether historical landmarks, contemporary art, or natural splendour are on your radar, there's plenty to see and do in a day with the Hatfield Gautrain station as your springboard.
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, the grand Union Buildings are the official office of the South African President and one of the most famous landmarks in the country.
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, the grand Union Buildings are the official office of the South African President and one of the most famous landmarks in the country. Photo: @antbosman.

The University of Pretoria campus was established in Hatfield, east of the Pretoria City Centre in 1910. It steadily grew during the mid-20th century to become one of the biggest campuses in the country and academia still dominates life here. While much of the university campus is out of bounds to visitors, the university's impressive Javett-UP Art Centre is open to all and is worth a day trip in and of itself. Bordering Hatfield to the north and west is leafy Arcadia, an old-fashioned suburb whose wide streets are lined with grand embassies and beautiful jacaranda trees, home to the historic Union Buildings, the official office of the President.

Our guide to exploring Hatfield with the Gautrain.


While Midrand sits neatly between Joburg and Pretoria, it’s more than a convenient halfway point – with giant malls and mosques, and much else worth experiencing. If you catch the Gautrain to Midrand, the midi-bus to South Africa's largest shopping mall, Mall of Africa, operates daily. From there, it’s possible to navigate to many places on foot, by bus or by Uber/Bolt.
Exquisite detail at Nizamiye mosque. Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket.
Exquisite detail at Nizamiye Mosque in Midrand. Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket.

The epic Mall of Africa is a shopping mecca with a huge Bounce warehouse to boot, go there to get your heart rate up before a spin on the giant ferris wheel at the mall’s year-round theme park. We love the Nizamiye Mosque: a most impressive place with intricate, hand-crafted details everywhere you look. For such a new area, Midrand is also one of the greenest – the delightful Waterfall Park is a testament to this. And for food, there’s plenty. Cowfish has an Asian-fusion menu as quirky as its name, and gourmet cuisine comes with countryside views at Riboville Boutique Hotel. Before you catch the train back home, stop for a selfie with Rina Stutzer's Two Faces sculpture near Mall of Africa's main entrance. 

Read our guide to exploring Midrand with the Gautrain.


Bang in the centre of Joburg’s historic central business district, Park Station is the city’s biggest transport hub and one of the busiest transport nodes in southern Africa. It's the ideal springboard from which to explore the surrounding areas. From historical sightseeing to market shopping, street art, and more, you'll find there's plenty to see and enjoy in all directions. Make the wonderful Wits Art Museum (WAM) a stop on your itinerary, and don't leave without visiting Braamfontein's most playful precinct, complete with a rooftop beach bar. 
Find the beach in Joburg (and a rooftop basketball court) in Braamfontein's Play Precinct. Photo: Play Braam. 

Our guide to exploring Park Station with the Gautrain.


If heritage is what you’re after, Pretoria Central is loaded with excellent museums and grand, historic buildings – a fascinating destination for tourists and locals alike. To this day, Church Square remains the undisputed centre of Pretoria, and from here the inner city spreads out in a grid of wide streets lined by grand, historic buildings and abundant jacaranda trees, earning Pretoria its nickname of Jacaranda City. More recently, new contemporary spaces tied to the 012 Central complex in the city are adding fresh energy to the area.
Looking out over Pretoria's Church Square. Photo: 012 Central.
Looking out over Pretoria's Church Square. Photo: 012 Central.

Our guide to exploring Pretoria with the Gautrain. 


The friendly district of Rosebank draws a diverse crowd daily – and with good reason. With a central Gautrain station a short walk or even quicker drive from the neighbourhood’s many attractions, there’s plenty to plan a day trip around. Rosebank has one of the biggest concentrations of art galleries in Joburg: start at the city’s oldest commercial gallery Everard Read and wind your way over to 223 Jan Smuts, a showstopper new art destination.
Contemporary sculptures at Goodman Gallery, a Rosebank institution. Photo: Goodman Gallery.
Contemporary sculptures at Goodman Gallery, a Rosebank institution. Photo: Goodman Gallery.

In addition to Rosebank’s trio of malls, there’s the huge daily art and craft market with everything from hand-woven baskets to colourful African fabrics. And when it comes to food, you can do no better. Rosebank has it all, from celebrity chefs to some of the city’s best burgers. Thanks to the Gautrain's network of midi-buses that run from Mon – Fri you can get even further afield to Hyde Park, Illovo, Killarney, and Melrose Arch

Our guide to exploring Rosebank with the Gautrain.


​​​​​​For such a business-centric district, there’s plenty in Sandton worth planning a day trip around. Catch the Gautrain to the Sandton station and navigate on foot or with a short drive to some of our favourite attractions. The Leonardo is a must-visit for its astounding collection of contemporary art, followed by sundowners from a dizzying height at the Alto234 rooftop bar. Fall in love with the fashionable crowd at David Higgs’s knockout restaurant Saint; the food is classic Italian and we suggest you bring an appetite and a budget to match.
 Drinks from a dizzying height at Africa's tallest urban bar, Alto234. Photo: Alto234.
Cheers from Africa's tallest urban bar, Alto234. Photo: Alto234.

It’s not all glitz and glamour in Sandton though: the small Mushroom Farm Park is a green hideaway in the heart of Central Sandton, a popular picnic spot with its playground and hilly, landscaped lawns. After hours, we’ll see you at The Greenhouse for deep house on deck.

Our guide to exploring Sandton with the Gautrain.


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