We chose to spend three days in Johannesburg and most people seemed surprised by this but we found it well worthwhile. A good way to see the city is on the City Sightseeing Bus, this give you an insight to the city and it’s history as well as stopping at some of the most important places to visit including The Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, you can also take an additional visit to Soweto which we did but with a private guide.
Unusually probably for most visitors we arrived in Johannesburg by train having taken the Shosholoza Meyl train overnight from Cape Town which was an excellent experience. For more information you should check out the Affordable South Africa Blog on the web site.
Most large hotels are in the Sandton area which has an excellent train link from Oliver Tambo Airport called the Gautrain, very fast and very safe. We spend one night in this area but chose to spend our first three nights in the area called Melville because of the selection of restaurants and bars nearby. This being Jo’burg however walking around at night even in this upmarket residential area is not recommended and taxis were required but they are reasonably cheap.
Using www.booking.com we chose Life on 3rd www.lifeon3rd.co.za a lovely guest house in the Melville area, the owner, manager and staff were very helpful and arranged tickets for the sightseeing bus, our visit to Soweto and taxi transfers.
If you were only visiting the city for one night on the way to or from a safari in the Kruger then Sandton is probably a better place to stay with good transport links to the airport.
La Luna, 9 7th Street, Melville is an excellent Italian restaurant in the main street, although quiet the night we visited the food was very good and offered some very different choices from so many Italian restaurants.
Brauhaus, 7th Street, almost opposite La Luna and with the same owner, we only tried this at lunchtime but enjoyed the German food and also the beer selection.
The Leopard, 4th Avenue was on our list to try but we did not get a chance but worth checking out as it was recommended by Johannesburg foodie friends.
Cube Tasting Kitchen, Parktown, www.cubekitchen.co.za was also recommended by friends and is the number one restaurant in the city at the moment, a ten course tasting menu is on offer for the equivalent of £35 per head, expensive by SA standards but a bargain for visitors. The restaurant is also BYO with no corkage and they suggest wines to go with the various courses. I enjoyed the experience but felt that some of the dishes just tried too hard however still delighted that we went.
The Butchers Shop & Grill, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, is very well known and we tried it for lunch when staying in Sandton and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The meat as you would expect was top notch and the service was good and of course a fantastic wine list although with some at high prices for South Africa. We also shopped at the wine shop attached to the restaurant and selected some excellent wines to take home.
Cafes & Bars
Melville’s 7th Street has a wide selection of bars and the ones we tried and enjoyed were Hell’s Kitchen, Xai Xai and Six Cocktail Bar where the happy hour 2 for 1 cocktails are excellent.
As everywhere else in South Africa a chance to try the fantastic wines and amazing prices, also to try some of the many craft beers.
The Apartheid Museum was one of the main reasons for staying in Johannesburg and it was a moving and powerful experience, you really need to spend around 3 hours to get the most from the visit.
Soweto was another reason for the visit and we did this with a private guide, the stand out sites were the Hector Pietersen Museum, another incredibly moving experience and also of course Nelson Mandela’s house. Another and less visited site was Walter Sisulu square where in 1955 three thousand people gathered to adopt the Freedom Charter now the basis of the country’s constitution.
A Safari may well be the reason for your visit to Johannesburg as the Kruger National Park is either a 35 minute flight away or roughly 6 hours by road. We spent five days on the edge of the Kruger at Mvuradona Safari Lodge, www.mvuradona.co.za this was a wonderful experience and more information is available in the Affordable South Africa blog on the web site.