Why Johannesburg? Why not Johannesburg!

We’ve said this before – Johannesburg has for many years been overlooked as a destination, always seen as unsafe and uninteresting and always overshadowed by its’ smaller sister, Cape Town as a better city destination. Lets clarify one thing, everyone that actually spends time in “Jozi” always have amazing things to say. We have even of late had clients say that they preferred Johannesburg to Cape Town as a city destination.

Johannesburg has become a melting pot of culture, trends and most importantly integration. A constant cycle of new and different restaurants, bars, markets and galleries brings people from all walks of life together. Not only is “Jozi” the gateway to Africa, not only does it have elements of nature, art, culture and entertainment all at its doorstep the most important element of Johannesburg is that it allows everyone coming to South Africa a better understanding of the countries’ history. From ‘The Gold Rush’ which started the cities’ expansion to the more recent Apartheid and Rivonia Trials Johannesburg will give you a clear understanding of the entire countries’ history. Visiting downtown Johannesburg is now a must thanks to a thriving art and food scene. Johannesburg has become a destination to remember. Here are a few of the “must sees” in Johannesburg.

Maboneng City Tour

Maboneng, meaning ‘Place of Light’, is a privately developed urban neighborhood on the east side of Johannesburg’s downtown. A fully fledged thriving community, Maboneng is home to several independent boutique retail stores, restaurants and entertainment venues as well as loft apartments, a museum and creative factory spaces in a connected urban environment. Arts on Main is where urban Johannesburg artists unite  so whether you’re looking for the latest contemporary exhibitions or photographic installments, Arts on Main is the place to find it!

Restaurants

The Blackanese  – With a full menu of delightful sushi as well as special afro-fusion creations and a noodle bar, the Blackanese is one of Maboneng’s most talked about new restaurants.

The Living Room – High up on the rooftop of the Main Change, the Eco Urban cafe is not only a great place to enjoy a healthy meal and take the view, but is also a space intended to demonstrate the positive effect of plants, nutritional food, community living and good vibes. This is a firm favorite of ours and definitely recommend their choice of food and cocktails.

Canteen at Arts on Main – Sits between Olive trees and art galleries, offering a relaxing and intimate setting to enjoy a meal. Menu items range from small meals and snacks to platters and gourmet meals.

House of Baobab –  One of Mabonengs newest restaurants, is fast becoming a firm favorite offering an authentically African dining experience, specializing in traditional food and drink from Pan Afrikan countries.

Retail

Maboneng offers an eclectic mix of trendy, urban and locally crafted clothing, furniture and local souvenirs which makes this a must stop for urbanites. Make sure you see amongst others Black Coffee, Love Jozi and Boutique 1886 as these designers’ goods are amongst the hottest items on the Jozi must have scene.

Having established a reputation as a creative capital early on, Maboneng provides a platform to engage with arts and culture all in one venue. Arts on Main, is home to a number of galleries and artist studios with further creative spaces and public art sites throughout the neighborhood which showcase some of the best up and coming Jozi artists. Galleries include Goethe on Main, Nirox Projects, David Krut and Studio 230

Markets

There are three well known markets in the area which are only available on select days of the week. The Night Market on Main is open only on the first Thursday of every month. Saturdays play host to Neighbourgoods similar to the one based in Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill. Here you can expect some of the freshest ingredients and most artisan eateries in the city. If visiting on a Sunday Market on Main is where the people of “Joburg” can be found. The goal is to encourage an inner city lifestyle. The stallholders are Gauteng based food and design fanatics.

Soweto – No visit to the city of Johannesburg is complete without a trip into its largest and most vibrant township in Southern Africa, Soweto. The famous Soccer City on the outskirts is now renowned world wide thank you to the success of the 2010 soccer world cup. This Soccer stadium is in the shape of a giant calabash, a symbol of unity. Start off at the Hector Pietersen memorial where you will learn about the events of June 16, 1976 that became a catalyst for the Soweto Uprising. Walk in the footsteps of the Legend and Father of the Nation Nelson Mandela, as you enter the Mandela House, now a museum, where he and his family lived in Vilakazi Street. Just down the road lies the Tutu house. Vilakazi Street is the only place in the world from which two Nobel Prize winners originate. In this same street you will encounter local restaurants and markets. Enjoy drinks as you overlook Soweto and greater Joahnnesburg in the distance.
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Parkhurst – Parkhurst is an eclectic neighbourhood which now attracts most of the tourists visitng the city. A vibrant sidewalk cafe culture and arguably some of Johannesburg’s finest and most popular restaurants as well as boutiques, antique stores and galleries creates quite a buzz, especially on the weekends.

The main street of Parkhurst is without doubt 4th Avenue, which is lined with a mix of classy restaurants, local pubs and casual bars, antiques dealers, speciality lighting shops and boutique outlets. Gift shopping is a breeze at Take it for Granted or Alf Stewart’s Buckhouse, both treasure troves for the unusual. Be sure to peruse the Colonial Trading Company and Shop No 1 – sellers of interesting objects, furniture and paintings. Home décor, both new and vintage, also features along the bustling sidewalks

The restaurants range from the trendy gastronomy of the Wolfpack to The Jolly Roger; well-known for their thin-base pizzas as well as Coobs for those looking for a more formal style bistro.

Accommodation in Johannesburg:

Again, Johannesburg caters to a variety of travellers and naturally a range of hotels is available for different budgets. Triumph Travel tens to recommend boutique or smaller hotels as we are confident that they will offer the best accommodations as well as service. Here is a list of our favourite places to stay in Jozi.

The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa – At the Saxon every detail is considered, from the quality of the food to the finer points of the warm hospitality, you can expect only the best.

AtholPlace – Situated in Atholl, one of the most beautiful parts of Johannesburg and only a short distance from the commercial centre of Sandton, AtholPlace Hotel is the best spot to be

Fairlawns Boutique Hotel – The Fairlawns is a unique, exclusive, up-market sanctuary for today’s traveller, be that business or leisure.

Four Seasons Johannesburg – Fully reinvented with cool, contemporary style, Four Seasons TheWestcliff offers legendary hillside views of the world’s largest urban forest. Right beside the Johannesburg Zoo, and conveniently close to business, culture and shopping

For more information on why we suggest Jozi as a destination contact andres@triumph-travel.com

*Images courtesy of Four Seasons Johannesburg