The best of Braamfontein – where to eat, drink, shop and stay

22 Feb 2024
Bordering the city centre and joined to Newtown by the Nelson Mandela Bridge (Johannesburg’s landmark equivalent of Cape Town’s Table Mountain), Braamfontein is affectionately known as Braam, and is home to the sprawling University of the Witwatersrand campus. A student and activist district (many NGOs are located here) marked out by incredible street art and murals, this is also the place to find hipster cyclists, a vinyl store, quirky design and fashion labels, and limited-edition street wear brands.

Here's our guide to what to do and what to see in this must-visit neighbourhood.


Walking through Braamfontein's central streets and alleyways you are greeted by mirror mosaic birds in flight, iron tree sculptures, intricate graffiti murals and a giant purple portrait of the late Nelson Mandela painted by the American graffiti artist Shepard Fairey (of the OBEY posters fame). In recent years, the streets of Braamfontein have become a canvas for South Africa's best graffiti artists.

Braamfontein also houses one of the city's leading art galleries – the Wits Art Museum –and two leading museums, The Origins Centre that takes you on a journey into the roots of humankind, and Constitution Hill, a 'living museum' that's an impressive former fort and prison complex, and also the site of South Africa's Constitutional Court. It sounds like serious business but most weekends you'll find exciting events in the Constitution Hill precinct, and there's plenty of activity at the former hospital complex now renamed The Creative Uprising Hub (at Transwerke), a studio space for artists, makers and creative organisations. Braamfontein is also home to the Joburg Theatre and the wonderful Joburg Ballet Company. Here are some of our favourite stops. 
Eland by Clive van den Berg
At the gateway to the city, Clive van den Berg's famous Eland sculpture.

One of the city's most important heritage landmarks. The large complex contains the Constitutional Court as well as two former prisons and an old colonial fort which are now museums. The views of the city from here are worth the visit alone.

Artist Clive van den Berg’s sculpture of a giant buck with its aloe planters (2007) greets visitors to Braamfontein at one of the gateways to the inner city, bringing to mind San ancestors and the natural environment that has long since been taken over by a growing metropolis.

This park located in front of the Liberty Life Headquarters was opened in 2023 and contains carefully landscaped gardens and a collection of artworks that includes an archway sculpture by Bag Factory Studios' Kagiso Pat Mautloa, and a mosaic designed by the late Andrew Lindsay.

Based on the Wits University campus, this is a fascinating museum which explores and celebrates the history of modern humans, tracing the emergence of humanity along an 80 000-year path to its African source.

Here you'll find the façades of buildings and historic landmarks beautifully brought to life by a collection of commissioned street art and graffiti. Play Braamfontein, a property development company that started the Saturday Playground Market and own many spaces along Juta Street, have been at the forefront of bringing big-name graffiti talent to the streets of the neighbourhood.
Part of Wits University and also known as WAM, the museum's impressive permanent collection of historic and contemporary African art is complemented by regular temporary exhibitions. The adjoining Vida e Caffè is perfect for a light snack or a cup of coffee. 


Braamfontein offers a melting pot of cuisines. Eat your way through Braam with these unique eateries. 

Loco is a fun and quirky location for a day or night out. Photo: Loco.

This cool art café has an innovative and delicious menu, and is tucked away in pretty Reserve Street. Stay long enough on a Saturday and you might be able to melt into the crowd heading downstairs to the Untitled Basement

You'll find this delicious German bakery and café in a small, hole-in-the-wall in Braamfontein. Visit their original café in Parkmore if you want more space to settle in and enjoy their famous collection of authentic, traditional German baked goods.

This colourful and contemporary Mexican restaurant in Braamfontein's Juta Street precinct serves up tasty tacos and tequila cocktails, among other easy eating and drinking delights. Opened in 2023, Loco is already popular amongst Braam's movers and shakers. With super-sexy interiors, and a must-try list of cocktails, this is one of Play Braamfontein's hotspots. 


With plenty of students and academics who need a perk-up, Braamfontein has some notable coffee shops and cafés. 

The Commune is a welcoming space for all. Photo: The Commune via Instagram. 

This popular coffee franchise offers a range of flavours to satisfy all palates. The baristas are friendly and attentive, ensuring that each cup is brewed to perfection and the seating areas provide a comfortable space to relax or work.

The Commune is a cosy, non-profit bookshop, café and reference library that describes itself as “community-centred, collectively-run”. The majority of the floor space is given over to café tables and comfy couches, while an entire wall is lined with bookshelves stacked with titles covering topics such as pan-Africanism, decolonisation, queer theory, climate change and the abolition of prisons. The books on the shelves are for sale although unlike many bookshops, The Commune don’t mind if you treat the place more like a library. The café menu is as brief as they come. Choose from coffee, tea or a soft drink and a slice of cake or a cookie.


Explore vinyls at Bantu Records in Braamfontein. Photo: Bantu Records.

The first queer, black-owned vinyl store in Braam, Bantu Records has an impressive selection of jazz, neo-soul, broken beats, Afrobeats, and a vast representation of its local moniker – so it's a great place to browse for South African vinyls by Black artists. 

This dynamic, urban cycling club is dedicated to spreading the love of biking in Black communities. Through their inclusive and empowering approach, they aim to break down barriers and promote the benefits of cycling as a means of transportation and recreation. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or just starting out, head over to their store in Braam to join them on one of their rides through Joburg, or even get your bike back in tip-top shape. 

What you'll find in this pink and turquoise restored building will definitely get you your cool Braam credentials. 99 Juta houses design showrooms and the 99 Design Store, carrying a variety of local brands including Boys of Soweto, Boyde and Refuse Clothing Brand. And if you're in the mood to party, 99 Juta also hosts events such as First Thursdays

A showcase of international collaborations, many of them displayed as artworks for your admiring glances. Made for those who worship the designer sneaker at any price.


Braamfontein was one of Joburg's late-night nightlife hubs, and it still retains some of its attractions.

Fun times are guaranteed at Kitchener's Carvery Bar. Photo: Kitcheners via Facebook. 

A hip but unpretentious hangout in an old Victorian pub. A second-home for Joburg's cool kids and creative types, the welcoming atmosphere and youthful ambience is addictive. Expect long queues to get in at the weekend.

A relaxed place to enjoy drinks whilst watching the Braamfontein street life, the windows are open to the street and fringed with palms giving it a breezy, tropical feel.

It doesn't get much cooler than this underground hideaway below the Artivist on Reserve Street. With a regular line-up of great music events, and sets by co-owner DJ Kenzhero, this is one of our favourite Braamfontein nightspots.


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