24 hours in Johannesburg

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Known as Jozi, Johannesburg has burgeoned from a rough mining town to a sophisticated cosmopolitan city. The gold rush of 1886 was the start of a money-making trend, and today the city is the economic powerhouse of sub-Saharan Africa.


Johannesburg is home to around 4 million people, and its high-energy bustle spreads south from the city centre towards Soweto, and north to Sandton – the flash business district where towering skyscrapers overlook the country’s oldest township, Alexandra First and third worlds collide in full colour, with informal vendors co-existing with sleek shopping malls, packed minibuses vying for space with luxury sedans. The vibrant hum is punctuated by vuvuzelas, the cry of hadedas, and a dozen different languages. Renowned for its sunny climate, an estimated 10 million trees provide the biggest man-made urban forest in the world. Like anyone with a complicated past and a generous heart, ‘Jozi’ is well worth getting to know.

Nelson Mandela Square adjoins the Sandton City complex.

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Nice
on Parkhurst’s trendy 4th Avenue. The menu must-haves include egg baskets with spicy salsa, and honey-drenched crumpets with strawberries.

The Everard Read Gallery in Rosebank
is a sublime place to get lost for an hour, as is its sister museum, Circa, opposite. Look out for iconic artists such as Zwelethu Mthethwa, Velaphi Mzimba, and Dylan Lewis.

For first-time visitors, the Apartheid Museum
is a heart-rending, yet ultimately uplifting look at South Africa’s transition. Don’t miss the hall devoted to Nelson Mandela (called ‘Madiba’ by locals).

Get your adrenaline fix with a bungee jump
off the brightly painted disused cooling towers in Orlando, Soweto. Favoured by locals and visitors alike, you can also make this part of a township tour.

Circle back to The Service Station in Melville
for a delicious light lunch. Then browse for a good read at Love Books next door, or check out Black Coffee and Superella for stylish South African fashion.

Browse for top quality souvenirs at the African Craft Market
in Rosebank. You’ll be pleasantly hassled by southern African craftsmen, showcasing such items as wirework, carving, textiles, and jewellery.

Indulge in high tea
at The Westcliff, a palatial pink hotel with stunning views across Forest Town and Saxonwold. Milk tart, red velvet cupcakes and über-rich chocolate brownies are just a few of the daily temptations.

Escape the city frenzy and book a sunset tour
of the Johannesburg Zoo. Founded in 1904, this suburban gem covers 81 hectares and is home to 2,000 animals, from the big cats to the endangered apes.

Take in a show at The Market Theatre
in downtown Jozi – a notable part of the city’s cultural life since the 1970s, when playwrights such as Athol Fugard and Pieter-Dirk Uys challenged the apartheid regime.

Head to The Bassline in Newtown
for SA’s finest live jazz, kwaito and hip-hop. Legends such as Vusi Mahlasela, and Jimmy Dludlu have played here, and the venue hosts bands from the whole continent.

Johannesburg, South Africa
Distance: 6,750 km
Flight Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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