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Travelers once considered Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, as no more than a quick stopping point before departing for Cape Town or a safari. And while the city is still largely divided—northern Joburg is predominantly white—certain pockets are slowly but surely gentrifying, bringing a smattering of hotels, cool eateries and bohemian shops to the once violent metropolis. Despite this, an edgy, anxious feeling still pervades the city, a reminder of a not so distant past.

Cheat Sheet

  • Stay…at the historic, intimate Saxon Hotel
  • Experience…a tour of Soweto Township
  • Splurge…on a meal at the tony Five Hundred restaurant
  • Eat…local specialties biltong and braai
  • Savor…an art gallery tour in the up-and-coming Braamfontein district
  • Shop…at the innovative 27 Boxes, in Melville, an indoor/outdoor shopping center and gallery housed in designed shipping containers
  • Visit…the Nelson Mandela Museum and the Desmond Tutu House
  • Know…that as an Indagare member you can contact our Bookings Team for customized recommendations and itineraries

Lay of the Land

Central Business District: Johannesburg’s once decrepit, dangerous inner city has seen a resurgence in recent years. Of particular interest to visitors is the burgeoning Braamfontein neighborhood. Mostly populated by students, the nave is home to cultural sights like the Wits Art Museum and a number of independent art galleries. Neighboring Milpark and Maboneng are full of myriad cafés and shops.

Northern Suburbs: The tony northern suburbs are home to Johannesburg’s wealthiest contingent. The picturesque Hyde Park, Morningside and Sandton are dotted with leafy green sidewalks and sizable mansions. There are a number of boutiques and cafés for shopping.

Johannesburg South/Soweto: This is the least integrated, poorest area of Johannesburg. A trip to this part of the city is a sobering, but necessary experience, as there are a handful of historical sites here, including the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Need to Know: Entry Requirements

Entry requirements to South Africa have changed and now require birth certificates for all minors. They must be the originals and state the names of both parents.

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Beyond… Johannesburg

Consider combining your trip with one of these destinations.

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