This is also a city with a wealth of tall buildings in the City Centre, Rosebank, Sandton and Waterfall in Midrand, from which to enjoy a sky-high view. The city is surrounded by at least a dozen different rocky ridges, some of them topped with mansions and others declared as nature reserves, so you are spoilt for choice when it comes to interesting vantage points to enjoy a different perspective.
The spring blooms of jacaranda season (usually in October and November) make the views all the more special as Joburg's vast urban forest is liberally sprinkled with pops of purple from thousands of blooming jacaranda trees. On that note, read our article on where to find the best jacaranda views and streets in Joburg and Pretoria.
Now is the perfect time of year to order an ice-cold drink, find a table with a view and enjoy a memorable sunset at a rooftop restaurant or terrace. Here are our top picks to do just that.
Enjoy a spellbinding view of the Joburg skyline at sunset (and the all-time best view of the impressive cityscape of Hillbrow) while you sip a beer or a cider quart with shebeen-style snacks. The venue is a 51st-floor apartment, 5101, on the top floor of Ponte, Africa’s tallest residential building. Once one of the city's most notorious landmarks, the building is now well-maintained and the venue is operated by tour company Dlala Nje, who do incredible work, and operate in the community centre in the building. Book your spot for sundowners at 5101 here. Beyond an epic drinks spot, Dlala Nja offers fascinating guided tours around Ponte itself and the greater Hillbrow area, as well as a culinary tour of Yeoville. If you're interested in learning more about Joburg's distinctive Ponte City and the history of its surrounding neighborhoods, we highly recommend these experiences. Booking via their website is essential. A portion of proceeds from each experience go towards supporting Dlala Nje's continuing work in the building.
Where: Ponte City Apartments, entrance off Joe Slovo Dr (turn off at Abel Rd and Lily Ave), Berea.
The Leonardo is Joburg’s newest love-it-or-loathe-it landmark, and the tallest building in Africa. Alto234 is its open-air sky bar sitting right at the very top. At a dizzying 234m, you can’t get higher than this. This is an exclusive spot offering unparalleled 360-degree views. It is said that on clear days you can see all the way to Pretoria and even the Magaliesberg mountains. Of course Moët & Chandon Champagne is the drink of choice and for a snack, there are gourmet nibbles like oysters, wagyu beef biltong or langoustines. Prior booking is essential and a R370 entrance fee applies (this includes a complimentary glass of Champagne). There are different time slots starting from 12:00 that you can book; book a visit online.
Where: The Leonardo, 75 Maude St, Sandton Central.
After a hard day's designer-label shopping spree at the upmarket Hyde Park Corner and a quick manicure or grooming at the beauty salon, Island Bar at Southern Sun Hyde Park is the pool-side way to end your day. With a glass of bubbles and Insta at the ready, take in the views across the leafy northern suburbs that stretch for many kilometres, then sink into a lounger at the intimate pool deck. Open daily.
Where: Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel, 1st Rd, Hyde Park.
Living Room in Maboneng is a little garden in the sky with a fantastic urban view, filled with exotic plants and trees snaking over the eco-friendly furniture, and boasts an organic menu to match. More of a café-bar than a late-night venue, Living Room is at its most happening on Saturday afternoons (and every now and then offers their 'Sundays in the Living Room' party) when the rooftop fills up for sundowners against a spectacular urban backdrop with DJs providing the soundtrack. Closed Mon – Tue. See more here.
Where: 20 Kruger St, Maboneng.
The buzz of a busy 250-seater restaurant that generally requires reservations at the weekend provides that all-essential extra vibe (or 'viaaabe') as Joburgers say, at star chef David Higgs's live-fire grill restaurant, Marble, on the rooftop of Keyes Art Mile. Tables on the wraparound balcony are prime spots at sundowner hour and the whole space gives the impression of being suspended in a cabin in the sky. If you can't quite afford to dine with Joburg's high rollers, find the same views one floor up at the considerably more casual Asian street-food spot Momo Kuro (note they are unlicensed, so bring your own drinks).
Where: Keyes Art Mile, cnr Keyes, and Jellicoe Aves, Rosebank.
Where: Radisson RED Rosebank, Oxford Parks, 4 Parks Blvd (entrance on Rosebank Rd), Rosebank.
The Rooftop at Hallmark House truly offers some of Joburg's most jaw-dropping city views. It's also a welcoming space with indoor and terrace seating, a lounge area, a wraparound bar, good food and drinks, and The Hallmark Gallery, which showcases the latest in African contemporary art. It's also undergone a recent renovation where industrial edge meets modern chic (the rooftop venue reopened for spring 2023). Open Mon – Thu from 16:00, Fri from 14:00, Sat – Sun from 12:00. Bookings are essential; book online here.
Where: Hallmark House, 54 Siemert Rd, New Doornfontein.
The steady construction of new tower blocks in Sandton's Central Business District has meant that the panoramic view is not as impressive as it once was, but that doesn't detract from the San Deck being the biggest rooftop bar in Sandton and a long-time neighbourhood favourite. You'll find fire pits, hanging chairs, sofas and a dining area, plus sun loungers and even a small swimming pool atop the five-star Sandton Sun Hotel. A favoured hangout of local sporting celebrities, there's an excellent Champagne menu too. Open daily, 11:00 – 22:00.
Where: Sandton Sun Hotel, cnr Alice Ln and 5th St, Sandton.
The Troyeville Hotel is a historic favourite in the east of the city, known for its tasty Portuguese food and lively, pre-rugby match afternoons at the bar (Emirates Airline Park is practically round the corner). Under new ownership since 2021, this somewhat grungy but always atmospheric destination underwent a major renovation. 'The Troyeville' (as it's affectionately known by regulars) now includes a new café downstairs, a second sports bar area and a rooftop bar with impressive city skyline views. The formerly unused rooftop of the building is now called the Sunset 1403 Rooftop Bar. On Fri and Sat, resident DJ Mzwa Ngubeni is on the decks and regularly hosts up-and-coming DJs. Soak up the tunes of saxophonist Sheldon Sham on Sun afternoons. Access to the Rooftop Bar is free from Fri – Sun. Available for private hire from Mon – Thu.
Where: 1403 Albertina Sisulu Rd, Troyeville.
If you are looking for a sundowner spot in Joburg's far north, consider The Highline Restaurant on the ninth floor of the Courtyard Hotel in Waterfall City. It boasts panoramic views stretching as far as the Magaliesburg mountains in one direction, but also to the distant Sandton skyline in another. This elegant space is open as a bar and restaurant serving lunch and dinner, with a menu of shared plates and refreshing cocktails. The Courtyard Hotel (opened in March 2021 by The City Lodge group), is situated across the road from the Mall of Africa, so this is a great post-shopping stop. No under-21s; book here.
Where: 13 Karkloof Cres, Jukskei View, Waterfall City, Midrand.
RIDGES AND HILLTOPS
The city's most famous luxury hotel is perched on the top of Westcliff Ridge and boasts some of the most fabulous 180-degree views over Joburg's urban forest to the north. In spring this is possibly the best place to view the purple canopy of blooming jacaranda trees from above. Book a table for a long, lazy brunch, perhaps with a glass of bubbly or two to toast the view, at the hotel's terrace restaurant Flames. Open daily but no walk-ins.
Where: Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, 67 Jan Smuts Ave, Westcliff.
Clinging to a rocky ridge overlooking the rugged Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, Pablo House guesthouse is the perfect hilltop hideout. This is an uber-cool crash pad with a front entrance that gives nothing away. Inside you'll find glam interiors, luxury touches, a staircase that weaves down the ridge to a secluded pool below and knockout Joburg views that stretch north to the Magaliesberg mountain range. If you are not an overnight guest and would like to enjoy the view from the Pablo House restaurant Pablo Dos Manos (the pizzas are excellent!), note that reservations are absolutely essential and subject to availability.
Where: 3 4th Ave, Melville.
This pricey New York-style grillhouse and bar with branches in Sandton, Rosebank and Melrose Arch, is a Joburg institution. Serving excellent, spice-crusted fillet and saucy ribs amid a constant buzz accompanied by a selection of single malts and fabulous local wines, reservations are recommended. What makes this Sandton branch special is the expansive bar and terrace perched on top of one of the steepest points of Sandton Central's ridge, with panoramic views looking out north and west over the sprawling greenery of the northern Sandton suburbs. Closed Sun; book here.
Where: 11 Alice Lane, Sandton Central.
At 1 807m above sea level, the steep Northcliff Ridge is the second tallest ridge in Joburg (pipped to the post by just one metre by the Observatory Ridge in the east of the city). The Northcliff Boutique Hotel sits atop this ridge, nestled inside an ultra-exclusive housing estate. The view is entirely uninterrupted and you'll hear nothing but the tweeting of birds. The distant Magaliesberg mountains form a backdrop, surrounded by a great spread of trees with the rooftops of houses poking up out from the foliage. This most exclusive view can only be accessed by securing a restaurant booking, and it is advisable to book well in advance as this is a very popular spot. For non-hotel guests, the restaurant opens Mon – Wed for dinner and Thu – Sun for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Where: 10 Solution Close, Northcliff Ext.25.
This magnificent historic park, with its stone-cut paths and water features, was brought back to life in the 2010s after essentially being abandoned by the public following a terrible crime wave that swept through the area in the 1990s. A dedicated team from 'Friends of The Wilds' led by artist James Delanely has worked tirelessly to cut away the thick, overgrown vegetation that made an ideal hideout for opportunistic criminals and install colourful new public artworks, plant new succulents, fix fences, mend pathways and generally make this park a wonderful place to explore, loved by dog walkers and picnicking families alike. Follow the signs up to the top of the ridge from the car park for some of the best Joburg views.
Where: Houghton Drive, Houghton.
A UNIQUE VANTAGE POINT
Where: The bus leaves from Rosebank.