The Best Areas To Stay In Johannesburg: 2023 Guide

Johannesburg, known as the City of Gold or Jozi by locals, is South Africa’s biggest city. It’s the country’s business hub, bringing in a whopping 17 percent of the country’s GDP.
Joss’s skyline looking gorgeous during golden hour. Photo: Simon Hurry | Unsplash.

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Johannesburg is also a cultural melting pot and offers visitors a plethora of activities, museums, restaurants, historical sites, and galleries. If you visit what locals call ‘Jozi’, these areas are certainly top contenders for the best places to stay.

1: Sandton

This area is perfect if you like shopping and restaurants. It’s also great for first-time visitors.

Sandton is located in the Northern part of Jozi, 18 kilometres from the CBD. It’s the city’s financial hub and has been called “Africa’s richest square mile.” It’s known for its Manhattan-style buildings, huge skyscrapers, dynamic outdoor spaces and parks, and plush entertainment complexes like Montecasino. If you have a proclivity for shopping, you will also love the abundance of malls.

Take in the impressive architecture of Sandton City. Photo: Jalome Chirwa | Unsplash

Top things to do in Sandton

• Shop till you drop at Sandton City Mall. With over 300 retailers and restaurants, there is much to see!
• Spend some time outside at Mushroom Farm Park or Sandton Central Park. The sunset is particularly gorgeous from the latter.
• Meander around Nelson Mandela Square for some fine dining and art installations and exhibitions.
• Catch a show at Innesfree farm or revel in some nature as you enjoy a picnic

2: Central Business District

If you are visiting the City of Gold on business or you’re a first-time visitor, the Central Business District (CBD) is the place to be. It’s located in the middle of Joburg, making it a must-stay location if you want to get in on all the city action. There is just so much to do here, and many attractions are easily walkable.

Joburg skyline at night, illuminated by the city lights. Photo: Vije Vijendranath | Unsplash

Top sights around the Central Business District

• Constitutional Hill – the complex that houses the Old Fort Prison and South Africa’s famous Constitutional Court. Learn about the brutal apartheid regime and the notorious activists like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi who were detained here.
• Visit the Apartheid Museum and learn about the country’s jaded past and the freedom fighters who fought fiercely for liberation.
• Pop into the The Museum of Africa.
• Check out the amazing views from the 223-metre Carlton Skyscraper.
• Stroll around Maboneng, located in the eastern part of the city centre. This area is known as “the place of light” and is filled with vibrant cafes, dynamic nightlife, trendy restaurants, and fantastic shopping experiences.
• Check out a play at the Market Theatre, located in downtown Newton. It opened in 1976 and was a pivotal place for anti-apartheid protest theatre. Today it is still a thriving theatrical spot known for housing incredible plays and workshops.
• Explore Nelson Mandela bridge and Gandhi Square.
• Check out some amazing art at the Standard Bank Gallery.

Street Art in Joburg, featuring Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba. Photo: Gregory Fullard | Unsplash

3: Rosebank

Rosebank is a vibrant, multi-cultural suburb of Joburg, located 9 kilometres from the city centre. It amalgamates African chic with European charm, making it one of the trendiest neighbourhoods around. It’s definitely a meeting point for young folk and is distinguished by cute cafes, trendy bars, bespoke curiosities, and its energetic nightlife. It is also home to some superb festivals and events like Gay Pride celebrations.

Things to see and do in Rosebank

• Stroll through the Keyes Art Mile and enjoy the collection of design stores, galleries, and delicious eateries. Catch the sunset from Mix Cocktail Bar while you enjoy some good conversation and music.
• Pick up some hand-crafted pieces at the African Handicraft Market.
• Check out the Sunday flea market with its numerous stalls, gourmet food stands, and live entertainment.
• Get your art on at the Irma Stern Museum.

Trendy art mural between buildings in Maboneng Precinct. Photo: PJK | Unsplash

4: Melrose Arch

Melrose Arch is 21 Kilometres North of the CBD and a great spot for families. If you love spending time outside and want to escape the urban jungle, it’s a must. There are loads of green pockets – perfect for walks and biking – and those with a flair for adventure will enjoy ziplining through the trees at Acrobranch. It is also a great spot at night, offering visitors a myriad of restaurants and bars.

Spots to check out in Melrose Arch

• Explore multiple museums, including the Railway Museum, the Linfield Victorian House Museum, and the South African National Museum of Military History.
• Visit a range of parks nearby, including Zoo Lake (where you can row boats) or the James and Ethel Gray Park with its bird sanctuary.
• Pop into the Bluebird Shopping Centre and check out the market.
• Have fun with little ones (or older ones) at Art Jamming and unleash your inner Picasso as you play, paint, sponge, and create on your canvas.

The Takeaway

Johannesburg is a bustling metropolitan and can provide an action-packed agenda for any traveller. Whether you have little ones and want to explore outside spaces, love art and culture and immerse yourself in the local theatre scene, or have a penchant for dancing until the sun comes out – there is always something to do. It really is a city that caters to all.

Top tip: If you visit Joburg in Spring (from early October to early November), you can get lost in a magical sea of purple as the Jacaranda trees bloom. Top spots to enjoy them include the Radisson Red Rooftop Bar in Rosebank, Melrose Estate, and Parkwood.

Magical Jacarandas in full bloom. Photo: Vidisha Sanghvi | Unsplash

If we’ve piqued your interest a little and you want to learn more, check out our ultimate guide for 48-72 hours in Johannesburg! We know you’ll love it.

If you are planning on spending more time in South Africa, Cape Town – with its coastal towns, quaint architecture, and world-famous Table Mountain – is also worth your time. Check out our guide for the best three-day itinerary in Cape Town!


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