What do you do when you are visiting one of the most interesting cities in the world, but you only have 24 hours to explore? You do your research and you make a plan. Here, we have taken on the hard work for you, and compiled our itinerary for 24 hours in Johannesburg.
Beat the stress of arriving at the airport with the VIP service. The VIP service at Johannesburg airport begins at the aerobridge. Your VIP meet and assist worker will escort you from the aerobridge/gate, guide you through the airport, assist with security, quarantine and customs and fast track you through immigration.
Time to leave the airport! Travel to your hotel in style by booking a chauffer service from Drive South Africa. This will be like a ride like no other, as not only will your driver transport you safely and efficiently to your hotel, but also will be able to point out any areas on the way that may interest you as they have thorough local knowledge. So you get a chauffer and a tour guide!
So you’ve already had a VIP arrival and a luxury car ride – what a great start to the morning. Maintain the theme by booking into the indulgent Four Seasons Hotel, The Westcliff. Only thirty minutes from the international airport, The Westcliff is a prestigious business hotel, wit a business centre open every day giving access to computers, secretarial services and Business Service Assistants. However, it is not all work and no play. The hotel boasts two new restaurants, a bar and a newly built spa. Work hard, play hard!
By 10am you will be ready for some breakfast. Well we have just the place for you- POST Breakfast Lunch. They have something to suit everyone’s tastes, such as the egg and cheese crostini with Neapolitan sauce for savoury palettes, and chocolate flapjacks with Nutella for those with a sweet tooth. Take in a view of this beautiful city by eating in the outdoor courtyard, or inside next of one of the huge windows.
POST Breakfast Lunch, 70 Juta St, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 72 248 2078
Well, late morning and it is time for some sight seeing. Johannesburg has so much history, so there is so much to see. Yet, with 24 hours, you have to prioritise what you want to see in this trip. For us, the absolute must see is the Apartheid Museum. It is a very solemn, dramatic experience, one that is serious and heavy. Upon entering you will be given either a white or non-white token at random, and proceed to the corresponding entrance. The visit can be unnerving and upsetting, but it is important to experience this crucial part of South Africa’s history.
Another important place to visit is Constitution Hill. Constitution Hill is a multimillion-pound development which opened in 2004. This is the site of the new Constitutional Court, but also the Old Fort prison complex. Thousands of people were treated awfully and brutally before the democracy in 1994 at the Old Fort prison complex, and now it is open to the public. Here, you can see into the court building and see the letters and diaries written by Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment on Robben Island. Within the complex you can see the Women’s Jail, Section Four and Five (the black men’s jail) and the ‘isolation cell’, where Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were held.
After visiting these two sombre sites, go to see the Market Theatre. This theatre was a vital player in the struggle against apartheid, and it had three theatres, a bar, a restaurant and an art gallery.
Alright, lunch time! Treat yourself to some beautiful prepared and presented lunch at Voodoo Lily Café. The food is is organic, sustainable and made with love. I love their sweet dishes, like the Blintzers, which are traditional Jewish pancakes with sweetened cream cheese and berry coulis. But if you are a meat lover then you have to try their famous voodoo burger- a free range beef mice patty, topped with roasted peppers, caramelised onions, rocket, cheddar and mozzarella. A heavenly combination.
Walk off your lunch with some shopping. Johannesburg is the shopping capital of Africa, and you can find anything from fashion, to home wares, to diamonds to handicrafts. For books and artwork, visit the David Krut bookstore in Parkwood. Here you can find local and imported art books and will definitely find a unique souvenir for your 24 hours in Johannesburg.
If you want to take home some cool threads or home wares then visit the new Work Shop New Town shopping emporium. This shopping centre is houses in the historic Potato Sheds, an old fruit and vegetable market, and has more than 100 stores dedicated to fashion, home ware, accessories and furniture.
After your shopping trip, freshen up and then head out to a local favourite for dinner- the District Six Eatery. This restaurant offers up home cooked Cape Malay-style curry, and the regulars keep coming back for more. The curries are rich, flavoursome and mildly spiced, made with the freshest flavours and the most tender meats. The portions are huge- we shared one main between two of us, so beware of over ordering, though it will be hard to make a decision when you see all of the meals on offer!
Your time in Johannesburg is coming to an end. Use this time wisely to relax and unwind. If you want to soak in the views of the city whilst sipping on a spectacular cocktail, then go to the Skye Bar. The Skye Bar is on the ninth floor of the Johannesburg Holiday Inn. And provides panoramic views over the city. The hotel is generic, but the bar itself is accessed by an external lift and takes you to a modern, lush bar with a touch of decadence.
For a more wild evening, put on your dancing shoes and head out to L’Opulence. The décor is Gatsby-esque, with all the gold and glitz of a lavish Dubai lounge bar. The bar hosts house DJs, has an impressive wine cellar and exciting cocktails. L’Opulence hosts regular guest DJS and also throws themed parties, so check out what events are on when you are in town!
24 hours has almost passed, and you have experienced the true Johannesburg- from the sumptuous hotel, to the captivating history, to the delicious dinner and sparkling night life. Perhaps you will be so enchanted by Johannesburg that you will want to come again- this time, for more than one day!
5 Quirky Things You Didn’t Know About Johannesburg
- The only two polar bears in Africa – Geebee and Wang, from Canada and Japan- are in the Johannesburg Zoo in Parktown.
- It takes one-minute longer to boil an egg in Johannesburg than it does in the coastal cites of Cape Town and Durban. This is because Johannesburg is 200m above sea level, and so the air is not as dense.
- Johannesburg is the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees.
- There is a Johannesburg in California which is named after the gold miners who worked in Johannesburg South Africa.
- The city of Johannesburg has been rebuilt four times in one century. First, it was a tented camp. Then, it was rebuilt as a town of tin shanties before becoming a town of four-storey Edwardian brick buildings. Finally, it became the modern city of skyscrapers that it is today.