The city of gold glitters with bright lights as it comes to life in the night time and what better way to enjoy the city after dark than on a tour of its nightlife. Book a guided bar crawl and test your sense of adventure on an excursion through the city's lesser-known underground bars, distilleries, craft breweries and rooftops.
Many of Joburg's inner-city tour specialists offer great guided nightlife tours that take you out for a night on the town to discover some cool places and unusual off-the-beaten path hangouts. Here's our guide to some of the best.
Youthful, hip and energetic, Bheki Dube and his crew from the Curiocity backpackers hostel put the regeneration of downtown Joburg into vivid context with their regular bar crawl tours that take visitors out to the coolest new urban bars, neighbourhood shebeens and legendary historic pubs in and around the trendy Maboneng Precinct.
The tour starts at The Hide Out bar in Curiocity African Design Hostels, and then heads out into Maboneng and the surrounding neighbourhoods making stops at lesser-known historic pubs like the Fairview Tavern and at Maboneng's Situation East rooftop. Make a night of it and book a room or dorm bed at the Curiocity hostel so you can continue partying after the tour.
Tours head out on Friday evenings from the Curiocity hostel in Maboneng and should be booked in advance online. The tour costs R300 for hostel guests or R350 (includes two shots and a beer).
Expect a slice of class with MicroAdventure Tours' Magical Jozi by Night tour, led by the inimitable Kennedy Tembo, Joburg's very own Ambassador of Adventure. Dress smart and “slay” in your best outfit as Kennedy takes you out to a mix of prominent and lesser-known Joburg hotspots. The nightlife tour kicks off with dinner at the opulent Rand Club, one of Joburg's grandest heritage buildings and then it's time to hop on a shuttle to The Little Fox, an eye-catching, mixologist-led cocktail bar that shares space with a craft gin distillery in the heritage-rich 1 Fox precinct. From here it's off to experience the dizzy heights of the Elevate rooftop bar on the 16th floor of the Reef Hotel with the drink of your choice before concluding with some jazz music at the hugely atmospheric underground bar and restaurant The Marabi Club.
Booking is via email or the MicroAdventures website. This monthly tour frequently sells out, although if you have a group of at least ten people it is also possible to book your own private tour. Tickets cost R600 per person.
Guided by the eternally inspirational Franck Leya, the weekly Franck's Jozi Nightlife Experience run by Honest Travel Experiences, is a Saturday night, social guided pub and club crawl across Joburg. The perfect weekend excursion if you are the kind of traveller who lives for staying out (very) late to discover new cities by night, this is a late-night affair with the party bus rolling up to your hotel at 20:00 to take you out for a night on the town (transportation all night between the party locations is included in the price). After warm-up drinks from 23:00 you head to the buzzing clubs of Joburg to dance the night away among like-minded party people, and you don't have to stop until the early hours of the morning when your party bus finally drops you back off on your doorstep.
JoburgPlaces unique night tours combine history, heritage, storytelling and unusual city viewpoints, all tied together by the fact that every destination on this journey through Joburg's cultural and political history, has both a rich history and a good bar! From trendy rooftops to hidden underground bars, it's a colourful spin through a fun side of Joburg by night. Stops include rooftop bars in Maboneng, Braamfontein and Marshalltown, the craft gin distillery at 1 Fox Precinct and the amazing Zwipi Underground Bar located inside an Edwardian bank vault on Gandhi Square. JoburgPlaces also has another nightlife tour - the Craft Breweries and Distilleries tour - which visits three inner-city craft breweries and two craft gin distilleries.