Johannesburg

Joburg Itinerary: How to spend 36 hours in Joburg, by the New York Times

04 Apr 2023
The New York Times seems to be enchanted by Joburg. The paper featured the city in January 2023 in it's  T magazine, and in March shone a light on our city once again with a ‘36 Hours’ feature. Why wouldn’t they? While Joburg has a fearsome reputation – only sometimes deserved – beneath the callous exterior we know it has a heart of gold. Diverse, exciting, and creative – we were delighted to see the city through fresh eyes. Below, read the New York Times recommendations for where to shop, eat, stay and visit, including the most memorable places – 44 Stanley, The Shortmarket Club and Soweto hot spots, Konka and 1947 on Vilakazi Street
See Lynsey Chutel’s full article here.

Stylish Soweto:

Thesis Lifestyle in Mofolo, Soweto. 

Thesis Lifestyle 
This Sowetan store, described by the Times is "a gathering place for the township’s young, creative scene" sells clothing with references to Soweto street culture and if you want to party after you purchase they often host street parties. In true South African fashion! Thesis Lifestyle celebrates kasi youth culture and embraces the unique cultural melting-pot that is Joburg. For other great Joburg brands and shops to explore see our shopping guide

Vilakazi Street 
This iconic street in Soweto "draws visitors to see the Mandela House, where Nelson Mandela and his family lived, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which commemorates the 1976 Soweto student uprising," says the Times.  

Konka
Described by the Times as "a day-to-night club in Soweto [that] celebrates car culture, barbecue and music." Konka, known as the "millionaires' playground," has become synonymous with fancy schmancy people and celebrities who don't bat an eyelid at the price tag of luxury alcohol brands. And with luxury cars lining the parking lot of this high-end club, the message is clear: Hey Big Spender! 
 
Kasi elegance at 1947 on Vilakazi Street. 


1947 on Vilakazi Street 
This restaurant on iconic Vilakazi Street gets high praise for its family-friendly atmosphere, and South African cuisine with a refined and fancy twist. The menu also features local wines. It's been on our list for ages, so we loved the reminder to visit and taste the famed lamb curry.

Sakhumzi
A spot loved by tourists and native Sowetans, Sakhumzi is a lively restaurant with a bustling atmosphere on Soweto's historic Vilakazi Street. With a "seven colours" buffet including local dishes like mogodu (tripe stew) or even maotwana (chicken feet) and a wide variety of stews, salads and of course delicious dessert options. 

Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers
And for an overnight stay in one of the city's well-known townships, Lebo's Soweto Backpackers offer safe dorm-style accommodation. A guesthouse with single and double room options is also available with a sunny courtyard ideal for a delightful morning. If your hunger wakes you from your slumber enjoy a meal at Lebo's Open Air Restaurant and end it with a fresh coconut drink from the Coco bar. 

In the city
 

Delicious traditionally South African food awaits at Kwa Mai Mai. 

Kwa Mai Mai
One of Joburg's oldest markets just a few minutes away from Maboneng, "[Kwa Mai Mai] is a dizzying and vibrant destination for real-deal chisa nyama," according to the Times. The market is synonymous with great food and easy conversations and if you're hungry for traditional South African street food, how do large meat platters featuring braaied beef cuts and boerwors sound? 

The Market Theatre
The Market Theatre is a celebrated theatre of the Apartheid-era, "located in a former fruit market downtown." The theatre has a rich history of staging protest plays and challenges against racial segregation and and now focusses on nurturing and promoting new talent. Known for ground-breaking productions by local and international playwrights. 

Joburg Theatre's 60th anniversary celebration. Photo Ihsaan Haffejee.


Joburg Theatre 
The biggest theatre in the city often welcomes popular mainstream productions for adults and children and is the performance theatre of the Joburg Ballet company. 

The Dlala Nje Ponte City Experience. Photo Dlala Nje.


See the city in a different way with JoburgPlaces who offer curated inner-city walking tours and interactive storytelling dinners that explore the amazing histories and people that have shaped Joburg's culture. If you want more downtown experiences, head to Bridge Books where you can find new and second-hand books from local and other African writers as well as literary events like children's storytelling, writing workshops and a monthly walking tour through the lens of the city’s fascinating literary history. Dlala Nje offers innovative guided tours of Hillbrow and Berea, food tours "from one African eatery to another," and even a monthly a race up Ponte Tower's 900+ stairs!


44 Stanley
 

44 Stanley in Milpark. 

The New York Times describes this unique curation of shops and restaurant as "a collection of interesting boutiques, galleries and cafes, all centred around a canopied courtyard." A gathering place for local designers, speciality shops and artisans, 44 Stanley in Milpark is a gem. The Times recommends stops at  the Drum Archive Shop which sells merchandise of the Apartheid-era magazine Drum and bespoke chocolatier Chocoloza. Make time, as there's plenty more to see. Just click on our 44 Stanley guide for the lowdown.

Bean There
An excellent 44 Stanley spot, Bean There, South Africa's first roaster of Certified Fairtrade coffee, is ideal for a catch-up with friends or colleagues and with space to work. The shop's minimalist decor is perfect for working as you savour the smell of their freshly roasted beans and delicious treats. 
 
Peachy at 44 Stanley.

Peachy
This bar and restaurant, said by the Times, "awash in pastels, is perfect for soaking up the afternoon sun." In the instagrammable courtyard of 44 Stanley, Peachy offers an ideal spot for cocktails or an exploration of their small but inventive menu based around far-eastern Asian flavours. 
 

Rosebank 
 

Impressive views and sunsets served daily at Marble in Rosebank.

Marble 
The Times describes it as "a stylish restaurant with a no-reservations bar area that offers a fabulous view at sunset." Marble serves up everything from meats and seafood to freshly baked bread in its 250-seater dining room. Despite the large setting, it offers an intimate and elegant setting perfect for date night or a celebratory dinner. And that bread ... the best focaccia bread in Joburg (take it home from Pantry downstairs). 
 

The Shortmarket Club 
The creation of chef and restaurateur Luke Dale Roberts, The Shortmarket Club at Oxford Parks offers a menu of Asian-fusion and European dishes with some South African touches. The restaurant's stylish and laid-back setting is perfect to enjoy their sensational pan-fried gnocchi and a dreamy dessert menu featuring a Cheesecake Mille-Feuille and their house Tiramisu. 
 

The opening of Zandile Tshabalala’s "Lovers in a Secret Place" at BKhz at Keyes Art Mile. 
BKhz
Artist Banele Khoza's gallery BKhz at Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank is one of the city's most exciting up-and-coming galleries, featuring emerging local artists like Talia Ramkilawan, WonderBuhle and Bahati Simoens. The gallery was also featured in the New York Times 2022 Wanderlust newsletter and we agree with their wise choice. Keep an eye out for what's showing and coming up on our exhibitions and art events page

 
A deluxe room at 54 On Bath – with reminders of Johannesburg's skyline.

54 on Bath 
This modern boutique hotel is perfect for a stylish and tranquil stay amid the hustle and bustle of Rosebank. Or even for an elegant afternoon tea with a generous selection of savoury treats and delicate pastries. Take the time to browse their impressive collection of photographs that celebrate contemporary Johannesburg. 

Voco 
Art Deco inspired Voco is a sexy and elegant space wrapped in contemporary beauty. You'll  find glamorous city-chic hotel rooms on every floor, a Proud Coffee shop in the lobby and a co-working space on the second floor all neatly tied together with access to their bold restaurant Proud Mary

Our vibrant city has experienced numerous changes over the years, from the revitalisation and metamorphosis of the city centre to the flourishing restaurant and art scene in Rosebank. We are delighted that the New York Times and the rest of the world recognise this. The historic theatres, emerging cultural hotspots, eclectic clubs and restaurants, unique art and fashion hubs, as well as celebrating iconic townships like Soweto—described by the Times as "a testament to Black South Africa's contemporary creativity and unbridled joy"—all come together to create and contribute to our city's dynamic character that continues to evolve, thrive and inspire. 

 

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