A melting pot of culture, history, art and cuisine.
Visit South Africa’s most stylish city, Johannesburg, where fashion meets funk. The host city for South African Fashion Week, Jo’burg is the largest city in South Africa within its smallest province, Gauteng.
Jo’burg is host to a thriving creative scene which meets, greets and dances at the likes of Neighbourgoods Market and Maboneng Precinct. These quirky hangouts combine shopping and pavement café culture with live music from some of the country’s most exciting up-and-coming acts.
The city’s buzz can be found in the evening at boutique indie bars, such as Muse Café, Afrikan Freedom Station and the historic Radium Beerhall. For a pilgrimage to South Africa’s musical heritage, head to Bassline, where acts perform jazz, blues, afro-bear and even slam poetry. A statue of the late, great Brenda Fassie (revered as the ‘Madonna of the townships’) stands outside Bassline and is testament to the club’s contribution to South Africa’s music scene.
Unsurprisingly, such a creative scene is the birthplace for some of the continent’s most innovative and interesting art. The art landscape is championed by William Kentridge, a feted artist who has exhibited his works on time and space across the world, including a major exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Art galleries in Jo’burg include the Johannesburg Art Gallery, which is a treasure trove of modern art, while the Rooke gallery is at the forefront of South African avant-garde art.
For something far less contemporary, try travelling 50km outside the city to the Cradle of Humankind, a series of caves which were the birthplace to some of mankind’s earliest roots. Remarkably, the Cradle of Humankind accounts for 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils, which can be seen as part of an interactive exhibition. The caves are set in a wilderness home to scores of rare species, an environment which conjures images of when we lived a more wild existence, as evidenced by the 9,000 stone tools found locally.
Back in the city, it’s essential that you try some of Johannesburg’s cuisine. Vilakazi Street in Soweto offers some of the best traditional home-style cooking that you could ask for. This street was home to not one, but two Nobel prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. After a visit to Mandela’s first home with his then-wife Winnie, visit any one of the numerous cafes and restaurants, serving pap and chakalaka, two distinct local dishes.
To taste something more contemporary, head to Marble, newly-opened by one of South Africa’s most awarded and internationally acclaimed chefs, David Higgs. Marble is a ‘live-fire’ restaurant situated in Roam, the growing art, food and culture hub of Rosebank. A rooftop bar provides space for socialising and celebrating local wines, with a view stretching over Johannesburg towards the Magaliesberg mountain range.