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Top Tips for a Johannesburg Stopover

August 11, 2020  By: Gretchen
Shopping stalls at Maboneng

Many visitors to Southern Africa have a forced overnight in Johannesburg before continuing on safari. At AAC we love helping our guests take advantage of their stop to discover what the “City of Gold” has to offer. From fine dining to world-class museums and shopping to urban culture and history, there is much to tempt the traveler in this cosmopolitan South African locale! We’ve listed a few of our favorites below, but don’t hesitate to contact one of our Journey Specialists to discuss what you might like to see – we customize your visit to match your interests.

Sara and Kellen outside Mandela House

Visit Soweto

A sprawling collection of residential townships, Soweto covers an area of 77 square miles and houses approximately 1.3 million residents. Your visit will give you an opportunity to take in some of the area’s history, experience the hospitality of its residents and taste some of its food. Soweto is also home to Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have the historical residences of two Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu).

outside of Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum

This moving museum gives you the chance to take a historical voyage of discovery, diving into the past that examines the story of apartheid right up to the first democratic elections held in 1994.

Storytelling Dinner

Storytelling Dinners

We can get you in to a secret storytelling dinner, where a local will delve into the history of Johannesburg and the waves of migration that have been happening since the city was founded 133 years ago. Dinners are held in one of Johannesburg’s hidden historical gems – a 115-year-old underground bank vault. In addition to the storytelling, you will enjoy a delicious 3-course meal of global Afro-fusion cuisine.

Street Art in Johannesburg

Walking Tours

There’s nothing like moving the legs after a long-haul flight! We offer a number of specialized walking tours in and around Johannesburg. One staff favorite is an exploration of the city’s vibrant street art scene with a local expert – it has a wealth of eye-catching works.

Victoria Yards


Like any cosmopolitan city, Johannesburg has no shortage of places to shop, but we favor something a bit different. The Victoria Yards is a historic warehouse complex which has been converted into artist studios and planted with vegetable gardens. You can shop for art and African crafts or simply relax and soak up the vibe at the coffee shop or craft brewery.

Sara and Kellen at Sterkfontein Caves

Visit the Cradle of Humankind

The possible site of the origin of our species sparks fascination but can be underwhelming without someone to reveal and explain its significance. We will pair you with an expert in geology, paleo-anthropology, history and the ‘stories behind the history’ of mankind. Your guide holds broad and extensive knowledge in this field, and your time with him will be interspersed with interesting facts, personal stories and rich encounters.

bartender at Johannesburg brewery

Food and Drink

South Africa has a thriving craft distillery scene, excellent gins, brewpubs galore, world-class wines and award-winning, globally recognized dining. Travelers can sample these delights across the board during their time in Johannesburg.

Journey Specialist Tip: For an upmarket and lavish dining experience, we are happy to make the short trek to Pretoria for a visit to Fermier to indulge in their sustainable 8-course tasting menu. Be sure to check out their many innovative sustainability elements – from the design on the building to the nose-to-tail approach on the menu.

For a more casual meal, we suggest Brik, a café that focuses on eco-conscious, sustainable and ethical eating. The restaurant sources all its vegetables from its own plot on a co-operative organic farm which are then put to good work creating beautiful dishes.

If you’d like to sample contemporary African food, Moeing is a treat! Serving traditional South African tastes and dishes while emphasizing regional variations, patient cooking methods and beautiful plating. You’ll have the chance to try regional dishes from South African provinces Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal, and even further afield in Zimbabwe – it’s authentic local dining at its finest!

Drinks at Randlords in Johannesburg

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? We have more ideas up our sleeves! You name it – art, architecture, street culture, history, shopping – we have specialist, talented guides that we work with to tailor a visit to your wishes.

Journey Specialist Tip – there are a lot of boutique hotels as well as luxury properties in Johannesburg – travelers are spoiled for choice. One AAC favorite is The Peech – a well-located, lovely property with great amenities. Its onsite restaurant Basalt serves an incredible multi-course, globally-inspired tasting menu that includes an array of mouth-watering dishes that will wow the most of discerning of diners. If you’d rather venture out, it’s just a short ride away to the bustling Melrose Arch area with its vibrant bar and restaurant scene.

Make Your Johannesburg Stopover Unforgettable

Photos courtesy of AAC Journey Specialist Sara Stark, Apartheid Musuem, New Frontiers and South Africa Tourism