- Joburg is a vast city with a public transport system that isn’t easy to work out for the non-adept.
- The best way to get around is by Uber and the Gautrain for certain destinations.
- To travel out of town, you can rent a car – there are many well-known international companies (for example: AVIS and Hertz).
- Walking should be done with care during the day and is not an option at night.
- While there are a number of neighbourhoods that are fairly safe (see suggestions below), avoid carrying around expensive things (e.g. laptops, cameras) when walking. Keep them out of sight when driving.
Get a local SIM card
The easiest option is to get one at the airport, there are a number of providers (MTN, Cell-C, Vodacom) who have shops near the arrival’s hall in the airport. In order to register the SIM card you will need to show your passport. (In town it gets far more complicated.)
Places to stay near UJ
Activities and Sites around Joburg
- Apartheid Museum (Northern Parkway & Gold Reef Road, Ormonde): A heavy, though must-see museum. Temporarily closed due to Covid. check website for updates.
- Constitutional Court and Human Rights Precinct (11 Kotze Str, Braamfontein): Built from material from a demolished prison wing, as a sign of SA’s new focus on transformation. There are also other interesting architectural bits about the building.
- Freedom Park (Corner Koch and 7th Avenue, Salvokop, Pretoria – 30miles/50kms from Jhb): A cultural institution dedicated to chronicling and honouring the many who contributed to South Africa’s liberation. Well worth a visit and a good outdoor walk. Set up by an ACEPS founder member, Prof Mongane Wally Serote – a veteran and stalwart of the African struggle; and South Africa’s National Poet Laureate.
- The Origins Centre (Wits University, West Campus, Yale Rd & 1 Enoch Sontonga Ave, Braamfontein): Exhibitions pertaining to modern human evolution and history. Contains stone tools, spiritual/symbolic artifacts, and rock art. Pre-booking is required (https://www.wits.ac.za/origins/)
- Vilakazi Street and Mandela House (Vilakazi Str, Soweto): Site of Nelson Mandela’s house. Vilakazi str is also where Desmond Tutu lived and where Hector Peterson (12yo killed in Soweto Uprising) was shot. The street is quite popular now and there are several restaurants along the road. You can do this by taking: Lebo’s Soweto walking tour
- Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg (163 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood – goodman-gallery.com): Hosts regular contemporary art exhibitions. Website has current exhibitions. It’s free to walk in. They often raise funds or raise awareness for healthcare NGOs and human rights advocacy.
- Soweto Towers Bungee (email@example.com): Bungee between two cooling towers of a decommissioned coal power plant. The towers have been painted with art and are a landmark.
Neighbourhoods to consider visiting/ staying in
- Linden – places to go eat and drink: Brian and Lara, The Whippet, Choo Choo Junction.
- Rosebank – Art galleries (Everard Read, Goodman Gallery), Rosebank Mall (Restaurants, cafés, shops – also check out: Rosebank art & craft market – Rosebank Sunday Market)
- Melville – places to go eat and drink (Xai-Xai, La Stalla, Hell’s Kitchen, The Ant Cafe), there are also plenty of small shops and stores. Also consider visiting 27 boxes a shipping container development with boutique stores and restaurants geared towards starter entrepreneurs.
- Auckland Park – Places to go eat/drink: Piza e vino, Rocco Mamas (for any potential burger fans)
- There is also a fairly new shopping centre near Melville and Auckland park called Rand Steam Shopping Centre.
- Also fairly near Melville and Auckland park: 44 Stanley.
- Parkhurst – There are lots of places to eat and drink in this neighbourhood, for example: Nice on 4th. Also consider taking a look in 4th Avenue Parkhurst which is filled with cafés, restaurants, shops.
Day trips from Joburg
- Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind, and Sterkfontein Caves (various locations in area): Area has many caves (Rising Star Cave system) that are still being explored (recently discovered a Homo naledi child’s skull). Sterkfontein is one of the easier caves to access and has a guided tour.
- Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens (Malcolm Rd, Poortview): Lovely park with indigenous flora and small river with a waterfall. There are a couple of bird hides, if you like bird watching. There is also a breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles which you will likely see in flight if you’re there at certain times. Small restaurant on the grounds. There are also some hiking/walking trails.
- Lion and Safari Park
- Visit a petrol station 2.5 hours drive on the N4, half way to Kruger National Park, which just happens to have a spectacular view overlooking a watering hole with Rhino, Buffalo, Zebra, Eland, Oryxes and Ostrich.
Nature reserves near Johannesburg
- Rietvlei Nature Reserve (14 Game Reserve Avenue, Irene): One of the best nearby birding sites, about 50min out of Joburg. There’s also plenty of larger animals, like zebra, springbok, ostriches, wildebeest, rhino, etc. There are cheetahs, but they’re rare to see. If you’re a bit lucky you’ll see some Secretary Birds. Distance from Johannesburg: 54 kilometres (34 miles)
- Dinokeng Game Reserve: really close to Pretoria – half an hour, or an hour from OR Tambo International Airport. Distance from Johannesburg: 116 kilometres (72 miles)
- Plumari Game Reserve: Distance from Johannesburg: 82.5 kilometres (51 miles)
- Groenkloof Nature Reserve: stone’s throw from Pretoria, just 5km south of the city. Distance from Johannesburg: 54 kilometres (34 miles)
National Game Parks
- Kruger National Park: Distance to Johannesburg: 410 kilometres (255 miles) – with accommodation options
- Pilanesberg National Park: Distance from Johannesburg: 249 kilometres (155 miles) – stay at Ivory Tree Game Lodge
- Fresh Earth – located in Emmarentia and Blairgowrie. One of Joburg’s oldest vegetarian restaurants which has expanded its menu to include many vegan options. Open till 5pm.
- Lexi’s HealthyEatery – Rosebank Mall. Beautiful selection of smoothies, all day breakfasts, mains, and desserts. Their menu is almost completely vegan with vegetarian options. Open till 6pm.
- Jackson’s Eatery – Bryanston. A place for the omnivores but skewed towards vegan and vegetarian selections. All ingredients are locally sourced. Open till 6pm.
- Vegan Italy – Craighall. A family owned Italian restaurant, they boast having the best vegan pizza in Joburg. Their menu has a blend of vegan and non vegan options, as well as gluten free fare. Open till 10pm.
- Cleavy’s Eatery – Rosebank. A more upmarket vegan restaurant. Open till 5pm.
- Shayona – Illovo. Indian style vegan food. It’s been open since 1999 making it one of Joburg’s oldest vegetarian restaurants. Open till 10pm.
- The Grind Greenery – Melrose Arch. Fully vegan and plant based food. Open till 6pm.
- Kaylee’s – Bedfordview. 100% vegan, most food is locally sourced and the menu changes based on what is available in season. Open till 6pm.
Suggestions compiled by: Josien Reijer, Caitlin Rybko, David Scholtz, and Veli Mitova