The best Joburg tours and experiences

05 Apr 2024
Taking a guided tour is a perfect way to explore the hidden gems of a city and neighbourhoods that might go unnoticed. Whether you're interested in learning about Joburg's history and heritage, its diverse culture, or exploring its street art and gallery scene, fashion, food, cycling or even birding, we think these are the best guides to show you the city and surrounds. 

We have chosen immersive experiences, where the guides are familiar to locals, and you gain so much more by feeling as if you are part of the neighbourhood. Also, see our list of free walking tours in Joburg. The tours listed below must all be booked in advance, and vary in cost. Details can be found for each if you click on the tour name. 

Our top Joburg guided tour picks

Avid conservationist Raymond Rampolokeng is Soweto’s first trained BirdLife South Africa guide who offers bird-watching tours in the township's wetland areas, including Orlando and Moroka dams. A particular tour highlight is the hike up Enoch Sontonga koppie, offering spectacular views of Soweto. We loved seeing Soweto in this way. 

Experience Johannesburg's rich, cultural diversity through historical and culinary walking tours with an emphasis on food. Tours include a spice walk in Fordsburg, exploring Asian culture in Cyrildene's Chinatown, and Ethiopian culture in the City Centre.

Join Griffin Shea of Linden-based bookshop Bridge Books for a guided walk through the City Centre's literary district, tracing Joburg’s informal book trade and rich reading culture. The walk starts at the African Book Trust office at the pop-up arcade at 97 Commissioner Street, before a literary walk through the city. 

Fashion designer and storyteller extraordinaire Sebo Marobela is the founder of Caraci Clothing in Marshalltown in the City Centre and offers an exclusive tour called the Caraci Experience. Marobela takes you to Johannesburg's fashion district, where you'll select your fabric from a dizzying array of African prints, and you'll then return to the studio, where Marobela’s team creates your custom bomber jacket, dress, or any other clothing item of your choice. In between, you'll head to Maboneng or another part of the city for lunch and enjoy a lesson on how to fashion a garment. Being handed your finished outfit and wearing it while the team captures a photo of you with the city as your backdrop, is the perfect end to the day. 
Custom dresses made as part of the Caraci Experience. Photo: Caraci Experience via Instagram.

A great way to explore Johannesburg while learning how to skateboard is with City Skate Tours. The tour was created by Ayanda Mnyandu and Daniel Monegi who fell in love with skateboarding at a young age. The tour starts with a beginner's course before you are taken to Harrison Street in the heart of the City Centre to practise your new skills. Mnyandu, a self-taught tour guide and a history buff, fills the tour with interesting anecdotes about the early history of Joburg. A great way to see the city, they also offer walking tours of Braamfontein if skateboarding is not your thing. 

The iconic red open-top, hop-on hop-off bus makes 11 stops in the City Centre and south Joburg, including the Apartheid Museum. The bus also links to a Soweto mini-bus tour. It's a fun and easy way to see the sights. You'll be accompanied by an insightful audio guide on the two-hour journey (the length of the route, without stops). Be sure to download their map to see all the places on the route. 

Unique walking tours around the tough City Centre neighbourhoods of Hillbrow (Sat) and Yeoville (Sun) include visiting the 52nd floor of the Ponte building for awe-inspiring views. The Yeoville tour is a culinary adventure that includes visits to places along Rockey Street that sell incredible authentic dishes from Cameroon, Ethiopia and DRC, and both tours offer plenty of chances to meet the locals. Dlala Nje's tours support the amazing work they do at the community centre at Ponte, too. 

Gilda Swanepoel, a former restaurant manager and travel blogger, is the founder of Eenblond Tours. Utterly dynamic, her tours focus on connecting with locals and offering historical background on the city, but she is more interested in immersing guests in the present environment of her tours. She offers various tours in Johannesburg, including a Fordsburg street art and street food tour (our favourite).

Join Mbali Zwane for a unique walk through Sophiatown that follows the stories and lives of the musicians, writers, and activists who grew up in this community before its destruction in 1955. Tours can also be arranged to include a visit to the Fietas Museum in Vrededorp (another nearby neighbourhood that was a victim of apartheid's forced removals policy) and lunch in Fordsburg. There is also a five-hour Sophiatown to Soweto tour that traces the journey of the forcibly removed residents of Sophiatown to the Meadowlands area of Soweto, and a hiking tour. 

Eelco Meyjes offers a city graffiti experience like no other – a ride in a safari vehicle through the streets of Joburg. His eBiker SA Graffiti Masterpieces tour is a great way to spend a Sunday, traversing the streets of places like Newtown and Braamfontein in the City Centre, and visiting other key urban graffiti sites along the way. 

Founded by the young and dynamic Franck Leya (known fondly as 'the inner-city mayor' for his passion for the Joburg City Centre), Honest Travel Experience is a Joburg tour company that offers adventurous and unusual walking, e-scooter, and cycling tours of Johannesburg's lesser-known neighbourhoods.

Led by experienced guide Sarah BarretJoburg 360 Tours offers regular and custom tours of Constitution Hill and the city's historic neighbourhoods like NewtownTroyeville, Marshalltown, and Braamfontein. She brings to life the characters who have shaped the city, from underground resistance movements to glamorous Randlords, religious leaders, musicians, and more. Her tours showcase the multiculturalism and community reflected in the people and places of Johannesburg. Barret is incredibly knowledgeable and offers fascinating insights into the city. And if you're interested in art,  she offers specialist art tours too.

Joburg Places offers entertaining tours of the City Centre taking in its history, regenerated areas, hidden places, and multicultural areas such as Little Addis and the fashion district. It's a great way to get insider knowledge into how Joburg's City Centre has changed over the years. Charlie Moyo will be your guide, and you'll love meeting him and seeing Joburg through his eyes. 
Joburg Places also offers private tours for company functions and birthdays. Photo: Joburg Places via Instagram.

A diverse range of weekend walking and bus tours focused on the city’s history and architecture that are led by heritage specialists and historical conservation activists. Tours range from heritage walks of the Joburg City Centre to visits to old Randlord mansions and bus trips to historic battlefields. 

Veteran South African journalist Lucille Davie offers engaging tour experiences that are richly imbued with her intimate knowledge of the history of Joburg and its most famous residents. Her list of 15 tours includes a bike tour of the old Joburg suburbs or a bike ride along the Braamfontein Spruit. Her tours are held monthly, depending on demand. 

A great way to experience Soweto is by taking a cycling, walking, or tuk-tuk tour. Lebo's Soweto Bicycle Tours offers two-hour, half-day, or full-day options, taking in everything from struggle history to traditional African customs. The half-day and full-day tours include a local lunch and home-brewed beers at a shebeen. It's always a great way to spend a day. 

Founder Siphiwe Ngwenya struggled to exhibit his artwork earlier in his career, so he exhibited in the streets and homes of his community, Alexandra. Maboneng Township Arts Experience is a non-profit initiative that converts township homes into attractions and communities into creative districts. They have created tours and experiences that solve the problems of artists looking for space, families looking for work, and the township looking for its place in the world.

These young guides based in Maboneng offer inner-city tours that help visitors discover the sights and sounds of Joburg at street level. Some of their most popular tours include bar crawls, street art walks, and visiting the Kwa Mai Mai Healers Market.

Kennedy Tembo founded Microadventure Tours in 2017 to offer unique experiences to Joburg residents that get them out of their comfort zones and explore their own backyard. He provides cycle rides through Joburg and around the scenic Cradle of Humankind. The Jozi Coffee Cycle tour is one of his most entertaining tours, and we highly recommend it (there are running and walking versions too). 

Thabo Jacob Modise, also known as Thabo the Tourist, is a young and enthusiastic entrepreneur and artist attempting to change the art gallery experience through his company, Toura Travel Therapy. In 2021, Thabo realised that Joburg's art scene, although featuring a mix of established and new galleries, was not attracting enough attention to its exhibitions and openings, and usually saw the same faces. As a result, he founded Toura Travel Therapy, which aims to bring more people to these spaces. 
Thabo the Tourist brings people to art. Photo: Thabo the Tourist via Instagram.

Led by former photojournalist Ilan Ossendryver you’ll experience Soweto by getting an opportunity to meet local community members and even celebrate birthdays and special occasions with the children of Kliptown. Expect to be led down paths not usually visited by tourists. You'll also get to meet local traders, sangomas, and other Soweto denizens plus he'll lead you to the best 'vetkoek' in Soweto.

TOUR 2.0
Tour 2.0 organises community-led tours in various townships. The cultural and historical Alex tour is titled 'Lights, gangs, and all that jazz' and includes lunch with a local jazz band, a short movie screening at the 33mm cinema Kings, and a visit to the old headquarters of one of the township's notorious gangs from the 1950s

You couldn’t wish for a better tour guide to explore the tastes of the pan-African melting pot that is Yeoville than Sanza Sandile. Even the late top chef Anthony Bourdain agreed. At his Yeoville Dinner Club on bustling Rockey Street, Sandile serves up a ‘Pan Afrikan Plate’ long-table dinner made with ingredients sourced from the neighbourhood market and local kitchens. 

Honest Travel Experience

The Zone@Rosebank (opposite Clicks), 177 Oxford Rd, Rosebank


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