Johannesburg has long since had the undeserved reputation of being a bland business destination with high-rise buildings, shopping malls and little scenery. There’s no denying that Jo’burg’s neighbouring scenic provinces offer unsurpassed natural beauty, but Johannesburg certainly deserves a place on the map for being a place worthy of exploring. There are bohemian and quaint little leaf-lined streets with restaurants spilling onto pavements, there are whole food markets, art deco buildings, architectural masterpieces, dams, gardens and an underground bustling lifestyle that pulsates beneath the maddening crowd.
The city of Johannesburg is the perfect place to spend a few days combined with a safari to Kruger and coastal break to Cape Town.
Here are a few recommendations of things to do and regions to explore, that break away from the standard areas visited in Johaneesburg (Sandton etc).
First up is the cultural melting of edginess that is of massive historical significance – Soweto, the heart of a nation. Soweto is commonly referred to as an urban settlement. An area that was created in the 1930s during apartheid when the government segregated black from white. In 1976 there was an uprising against the Afrikaans decree – the Soweto riots. In memory of those that lost their lives, June 16th is a public holiday in South Africa. Today, Soweto is an interesting place to visit and offers visitors a must-see part of our nation’s existence. Heritage sites, restaurants, clubs, shebeens and tours will let the contrasts and the friendliness of this unique place. It’s traditional, vibey and introduces you into an integral part of our nation.
Melville is another place to visit, and it’s one of the trendiest places to visit at the moment. Old-fashioned buildings form the backdrop for an energetic neighbourhood that pulsates during the day and night. This is the place of cafes, coffee house, bistros and a buzzing nightlife. Seventh Avenue is the busiest place, but don’t forget to take a walk around the area and explore the Main road where a few old school haunts still operate. One of the many great local places to enjoy pizza is Café Picobella Trattoria , combined with many other places to eat.
Forming the backdrop to Melville is the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve , a place worth exploring. There are numerous hiking groups to join – we definitely don’t recommend doing it alone. Take to the rocky outcrops and head into Melville afterwards for coffee and a languid lunch session.
Melrose is an upmarket suburb located close to Rosebank, and the Wanderers Golf Club. The key attraction in this wealthy suburb is Melrose Arch which lies on the borders of this burgeoning suburb. This dynamic urban project is well-worth a visit, and it’s the perfect place to go shopping, browse the art galleries, and experiment with a variety of food options in one of the many restaurants.
So just what is Melrose Arch? It’s a development that’s a street based layout with high street stores, tree-line pedestrian streets (there are actually 400 trees in the development) adding to the greenery vibe. It provides the perfect hub of activity for pedestrians to stroll around in a luxurious and safe environment. The area is a modern architectural delight, with a variety of unique shapes and African inspired patterns dotted throughout the public spaces. There are art deco office blocks, two hotels and over 20 restaurants catering for this relaxed yet bustling way of living.
Melrose Arch is a unique place that is a smart city within a city that has a cafe culture well worth exploring.
Parkhurst is a leafy suburb and has a relaxed ambience with cafes on sidewalks, and plenty of hipsters strolling about. It’s modern, creative and laid back. And it’s pretty! 4th Avenue is a popular stretch during the evening time, and craft beers combined with gourmet beers seem to be popular with the locals. you’re bound to find something trendy when enjoying Parkhurst’s nightlife.