Only have three days in South Africa’s vibrant City of Gold? Afraid you’re going to miss out on something? We’ve got your back! Here’s a jam-packed 72-hour itinerary that’s bound to cover all your bases:
Day 1: Inner City Exploration
Roll into your first day exploring Joburg by joining a City Skate Tour! Never skated before? No problem! These tours are made for people just like you. In fact, they start off with a short beginners course outside Curiocity Backpackers in Maboneng. You will also be kitted out with a helmet, knee- and elbow pads for maximum safety! Once your guides feel you’re ready for the real deal, you will catch a shuttle to the city centre where your tour will commence. Unfortunately, these skate tours are only available on Saturdays and Sundays, so plan your trip accordingly. Alternatively, join Main Street Walks for one of their exciting walking tours. Even though your legs might be feeling a little tired after your active morning, grab an energy drink or a coffee and gear up for an exploration of the vibey Maboneng Precinct.
As Gauteng Tourism points out on their website: “Maboneng, a Sotho word meaning “place of light”, is a fitting name for a district that has fast become a centre of creative energy for Johannesburg’s urban artists.” Enjoy a meal and craft beer/glass of wine at one of the sidewalk cafes and shop up a storm at the designer- and vintage shops dotted all around. End your day off with a bird’s eye view of Johannesburg from the Top of Africa on the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre. Standing 223m high, this is the tallest building in Africa and only 40m too short to feature about the top 100 tallest skyscrapers in the world. From one bird’s eye view to another – settle down for the evening with sundowners and tapas at The Living Room Rooftop Café
Day 2: Soweto from here?
There’s no way you can spend time in Joburg without including Soweto in your itinerary. During the Apartheid years, this township played a central role in the liberation struggle – it was home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and also the scene of the 1976 Student Uprisings that, in many ways, served as a turning point in South Africa’s history. So, Day 2, takes you into the heart of this special place! Start your day with a two-hour guided bicycle tour with Lebo’s Backpackers. It will take you to some of the most interesting historical sites around Soweto, such as a visit to the informal migrant workers’ hostel, the vibrant community of Meadowlands, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and finally to the famous Vilakazi street where Nelson Mandela used to live. When you return to the backpackers, you’ll get to taste their home-brewed beer and learn more about African customs and traditions. All that cycling is sure to have worked up an appetite, so head straight to the famous Chaf Pozi for lunch.
The restaurant is a local institution where you will be able to experience a traditional Shisa Nyama (flame-grilled meat). You select your own meat and the local ‘Braai Masters’ take care of the rest. The Premium Bar offers a great selection of drinks - anything from an ice cold Quart of beer to Johnny Blue on the rocks. Wine and soft drinks are also, of course, available! Chaf Pozi is also conveniently located for your next activity… Once the food has settled and you’ve had a drink or two to take the edge off, it’s time for an adventure of extreme proportions at the Soweto Towers. It’s most famous for its 100m bungee jump, but you can also do a freefall, base jump or abseil up the side. If all of this sounds a tad too extreme, there’s always the option of catching the lift up to the top of the cooling tower, crossing the bridge from the one to the other and enjoying the view from the top! Such a busy day is sure to have taken its toll on you, so head back to the hotel for some rest and dinner before heading to The Orbit, Joburg’s legendary jazz club, for a live show!
Day 3: Art & History
On your last day in Joburg, you deserve a seat at the most popular breakfast spot in the City of Gold. Pablo-Eggs-Go-Bar in Melville has been making waves on social media and for good reason – it’s home to some of the most creative breakfast options you’ll find on menus across the globe. We highly recommend trying their signature Red Shakshuka with Yemen Flat Bread.
While it’s a painful story to hear, South Africans have decided to commemorate Apartheid and its atrocities in an effort to ensure that “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another,” as Nelson Mandela himself wished. It is for this very reason that the Apartheid Museum exists and why you should pay it a visit during your stay in Joburg.
Next up, you’ll head to WITS Art Museum to peruse their extraordinary collection of African art. It forms part of the Wits University Cultural Precinct in Braamfontein. Be sure to spend some time strolling through the designer shops and hip coffee shops in the vicinity after visiting WAM. Pick up where you left off at the Apartheid Museum and head to Constitution Hill to find out more about South Africa’s journey to democracy. This living museum is built on the site of a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past and, today, is home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens. End your day of exploration off at the Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank. Here you will find a collection of curated art galleries, designer stores and restaurants. Head to Marble Restaurant for dinner. This trendy spot in the Keyes Art Mile boasts a grand wood-fired grill as the focal point, tapping into the open-fire trend, seen internationally, with an added pinch of true South African flair.