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The Johannesburg skyline at sunset taken in the Maboneng neighborhood |© Carina Claassens
The Johannesburg skyline at sunset taken in the Maboneng neighborhood |© Carina Claassens

How to Spend 24 Hours in Johannesburg

Picture of Carina Claassens
Updated: 19 May 2017

The City of Gold has much to offer in terms of restaurants, historic sites, museums, art galleries, and more, and it’s quite difficult to squeeze everything into one day. However, it’s possible to get a feel of what this vibrant city has to offer if you only have 24 hours, so here’s our ultimate guide to spending a day in the city and making the most of it.

Morning

If you’re spending a Saturday in Johannesburg (which would be ideal), start the day in Braamfontein at Neighbourgoods Market or visit 27 Boxes, a permanent market in Melville that’s open every day of the week. Both have great breakfast and freshly brewed coffee on offer and the atmospheres are lively, and will give you a real sense of Johannesburg’s diverse locals.

breakfast at Neighbourgoods Market

The Neighbourgoods Market is a popular Saturday morning breakfast spot, make sure to get there early |Courtesy of Neighbourgoods Market

The Wits Art Museum is a short drive away from both of these venues and has a wide collection of African art on display for free, both contemporary and historical. Check out their website to see what’s on. Visitors can expect to see works by Irma Stern, Walter Battiss, J.H. Pierneef, and more.

Constitution Hill, a five-minute drive from the Wits Art Museum, is a must-visit site when visiting Johannesburg. It’s a former prison and documents South Africa’s journey to democracy. The site is also home to the Constitutional Court, which can be visited as well. It’s recommended to book a tour; they’re extremely educational and range from one to two hours long.

The South African Constitutional Court

The South African Constitutional Court houses amazing artworks by prominent local artists |© Xevi V / Flickr

Afternoon

Parktown North is a bustling suburb ideal for having a tasty lunch and people watching. Choose from world-class steakhouses, cafés, and bistro-type restaurants. Another popular stretch of restaurants is found in Parkhurst—but it’s wise to book as Johannesburg restaurants fill up fast. If however, you’re after a more traditional South African meal, check out Die Waenhuis Restaurant, D6 District Six Eatery, or Pata Pata. Johannesburg has so many different neighborhoods, each offering a unique experience. From gentrified inner-city districts to upmarket suburban areas, there really is something for everyone.

Johannesburg street art

Don’t forget to pay attention to Johannesburg’s street art |© Carina Claassens

After lunch, if you’re not too lazy, go for a stroll in one of the city’s many parks. With more than ten million trees, Johannesburg is famous for its greenery. There’s the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, Zoo Lake, Melville Koppies, and Emmarentia. All of these parks have beautiful gardens and walkways to explore, or you can simply take a blanket, spread it out on the grass, and relax.

Emmarentia dam

Emmarentia dam is situated next to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens |© Evergleamy / Flickr

Evening

Depending on how tired you are after spending the day wandering the city, choose between watching a show at The Theatre at Montecasino or having dinner in Nelson Mandela Square.

The shows at the Theatre at Montecasino range from world famous Broadway productions to ballet and music performances. It’s best to check out the calendar on their website and book in advance.

Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton is well-known for its large statue of former president Nelson Mandela and houses approximately ten restaurants within close proximity. Choose from casual eateries to Italian cuisine and sushi, all in one spot.

Nelson Mandela Square

Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton City is a popular tourist spot |© Anagoria / WikiMedia