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Johannesburg - South Africa

With South Africa currently celebrating 25 years of democracy, Tracy Lynn Chemaly discovers a metropolis transformed into the cosmopolitan soul of a continent

Travel Time 11hrs 10min

Why go?

Joburg or ‘Jozi’, as locals call it, is known as the world’s largest man-made forest. Its abundance of trees makes this time of year beautiful to visit as leaves change colour while the sun shines on. Often overlooked by visitors racing to nearby game reserves or Cape Town’s beaches and vinelands, you can’t say you’ve experienced the real South Africa until you’ve been part of Joburg’s authentic cultural mix and felt the friendly charm unexpected from an economic capital. March’s South African International Film Festival and the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival are more reason to visit.

What to do

Dlala Nje’s three-hour walking tours are great for getting your political-heritage bearings safely with visits to the once ‘grey areas’ of Hillbrow or Yeoville. The tours encapsulate the spirit of street-vendor entrepreneurship and traditional pan-African cuisine (think grilled Cameroonian fish). Braamfontein and Maboneng are areas to tackle solo. Wander the food stalls at Saturday’s trendy Neighbourgoods Market http://www.neighbourgoodsmarke... snacking on biltong, and explore Sunday’s Market on Main for crafts by local creatives. Grab a coffee at Father – an espresso bar that roasts beans from countries like Rwanda and Kenya, along the way. Liliesleaf was once the epicentre of the liberation movement. Today, it’s a museum depicting events leading up to the Rivonia Trial, which resulted in the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. For deeper insight into this era, the Apartheid Museum is a poignant pit stop. Everard Read & CIRCA on Jellicoe has intriguing art and architecture, but the best way to understand the art scene here is on First Thursdays when galleries like Stevenson and Goodman open at night. A Joburg trip isn’t complete without an evening of jazz. The soul of 1940s Sophiatown lives on in places like The Marabi Club – named for the style of township music that emerged during the city’s formative gold rush. The Skillachi gin cocktail with grapefruit and cinnamon is superb

Where to stay

For ultimate five-star treatment, stay in a luxury suite at the African-chic Saxon 00 27 11 292 6000, where you’ll have access to 24-hour butler service and the spa’s hydro facilities. Lauded for its in-house restaurants, its famous Sunday brunch is a must. More intimate is The Munro Boutique Hotel 00 27 11 487 1420, where five suites surround a Victorian conservatory teeming with plants. The infinity pool offers panoramic views over Jozi’s treetop canopy. If you’re travelling with family, book the Treehouse Studio at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa 00 27 11 808 7300, where the kids can run amok in the big garden. Or check in to a courtyard suite at the eclectic The Winston Hotel 00 27 11 268 3140, if its privacy that’s your priority.

Where to eat and drink

Lunch at Tashas on Nelson Mandela Square will delight with its elegant, bistro-style menu. Don’t miss the malva pudding. Combine a trip to Soweto with a trip to Chaf Pozi to savour shisa nyama: meat cuts braaied (barbecued) across from your outside table as you sip a zamalek (local beer). Choose traditional sides like papand chakalaka. South Africans love their meat, and, at Marble David Higgs cooks it best. Try the game loinsosatie. The coal-roasted aubergine is a top pick for veggies. Higgs’s other restaurant, Saint is the go-to for Italian specialities, including a killer prawn tagliatelle, or try Ferreirasdorp’s Urbanologi for the snoek on toast.

Time running out?

Travelling on via Lanseria Airport? Stop by the fascinating Cradle of Humankind, nearby. The fossils found here provide evidence for humans originating in Africa.


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the South African rand (ZAR). Local time is 2 hours ahead of GMT. Flight time from London is just over 11 hours.

Getting There

South African Airways is the national carrier, and offers direct daily flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.
Virgin Atlantic flies the same route.


Visit Joburg is the local tourist board. Its website has plenty by way of handy info, recommendations and listings.

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp15151411855719121315
Max Temp252323201815161821222324

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