Johannesburg

Photo of Johannesburg

About Johannesburg

‘Jo'burg’ or ‘Jozi’ to its inhabitants, Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city, its financial hub, and one of its most diverse. Founded in 1886, following the Witwatersrand Gold Rush, its original etymology remains under dispute, though Johannesburg remains the heart of South Africa’s gold and diamond, as well as its financial industry. Long before European settlers made their way this far up north, the plains that now surround the city were inhabited by San hunter-gatherers, and the Sotho–Tswana tribes. Our choice of the best places to stay in Johannesburg showcase the best in budget-friendly to all-out luxury stays.

Today, the city’s vibrant street life is unmissable, it permeates every experience and street corner. Local markets can be found everywhere, with vendors plying their wares to passers-by; pop-up barbers cutting hair on street corners; and locals selling everything from food to footballs. Each neighbourhood entirely distinct from the next, once synonymous with crime, Johannesburg now boasts a thriving art and music scene. The previously run-down area of Maboneng, in particular, is now a haven for hipsters and culture-vultures, home to some of the city’s coolest bars, restaurants and music venues.

A trip to Johannesburg is not complete without a trip to Soweto, originally an informal settlement, this area has blossomed from forced habitation to an address of social prestige. Visit to experience South African culture at its most welcoming and delve deeper into Soweto’s rich historical significance, including the former home of Nelson Mandela and the Hector Pieterson Museum.South Africa’s largest city. Johannesburg is also one of its greenest, with over six million trees and some beautiful examples of urban parkland. Rosebank is the largest and most popular, whilst Zoo Lake in Johannesburg Zoo is also a must-visit.

JOHANNESBURG'S NEIGHBOURHOODS

Previously dodgy and dilapidated communities have been rejuvenated by a spate of urban renewal projects: Maboneng, for example, is now an artsy and hipster neighbourhood, with some of the greatest bars and clubs in Johannesburg. The historic downtown area generally is exceedingly colourful and energetic, boasting some amazing markets and Soweto, the best-known township of the city has some incredible museums like the Apartheid Museum and Nelson Mandela House.The once bad-mouthed locale of Yeoville is now home to the city’s most memorable meal. Yeoville Dinner Club, a tiny, artily decorated room with a balcony overlooking Rockey Street. Sanza Sandile, your host and chef, spins a wonderful yarn about the city he grew up in whilst rustling up delicious Pan-African dishes. For a good time, you should head over to the Market Theatre area - arguably the city's cultural hub - which brims with music venues and bars, or 7th Street in Melville.


WHAT NOT TO MISS

  • If you're interested in the history of South Africa, visit the Nelson Mandela House Museum and the Apartheid Museum in Soweto. The South African National Museum of Military History is also worth seeing, boasting an impressive collection of howitzers and ME 262 jetfighters.
  • Far from being a place that rewards the aimless walker, while exploring the city you should book one of the many tour companies there, who are both informative and professional, allowing you to safely see the hidden nooks and crannies of Johannesburg.
  • Explore the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site of major historical significance, where humans have lived since the Stone Age, and the ridges are estimated to be 2.9 billion years old.
  • Another painful reminder of South Africa’s blemished past can be witnessed at Constitution Hill, comprised of The Old Fort, Number Four Jail, the Women's Jail; and the Awaiting Trial Block, which housed men and women, black and white, who resisted the Apartheid regime.
  • Head out of town for the day, to the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve outside the city, a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and crisscrossed with mountain hiking trails. On your way back, go to the Lion Park.
  • Why not paint the town red along Fox Street in Maboneng or 7th Street in Melville for the bars and clubs. If you want to dance-till-dawn, check out the Market Theatre area, which dominates the music scene in terms of its venues and bars.
  • Johannesburg created much of its wealth through gold mining and throughout the city are disused mines like the Old Kromdraai which are well worth seeing.
  • If travelling in September why not visit the Soweto Wine Festival, one of its most popular annual events.

Our choice of the best places to stay in Johannesburg take into account the best locales, as well as some of the chicest city stays in town.

WHERE TO STAY IN JOHANNESBURG

FOR A BUDGET FRIENDLY STAY

  • Starkly decorated, accentuated with little quirks, offering very good value, Motel Mi Pi Chi, has a contemporary feel that younger travellers will love.
  • Arum Place Guest House provides guests with a homely family-run stay, within easy reach of town, complete with a hearty English breakfast served each morning.

FOR SOMETHING TRULY SPECIAL

  • Arguably Johannesburg’s finest address, The Saxon Hotel boasts stylish rooms and lavish dining, right in the heart of town. Be sure to earmark an afternoon by the pool and for afternoon tea – plus don’t miss dinner at Qunu.
  • Johannesburg’s best new boutique hotel, The Peech champions mix-match prints and quirky décor, blending traditional African styles with modern patterns. Guests will love the laidback, open-plan feel of the communal areas.

FOR FOODIES

  • One for the travelling gourmands, Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa’s ‘Into The Woods’ menu has been picked right from their own vegetable garden. One of the best restaurants in Johannesburg, it is located in a very refined setting, with manicured grounds and opulent rooms.
  • Boasting a seasonally inspired, locally sourced, haute cuisine restaurant, Clico Boutique Hotel, which boasts a pool, expansive grounds, and stylish rooms, will wow foodies the world over.

FOR CITY CHIC

  • A sleek ten-room hotel, Atholplace Hotel is great for solo travellers and couples. Chic interiors set the scene for a very civilised stay. Ideally placed for exploring, and well equipped for a sunny afternoon by the pool.
  • Right in the heart of town, the trendy 54 on Bath boasts minimalist rooms, a bubbly champagne bar, and a very popular rooftop pool. A great stay amidst central Johannesburg.
  • A heritage stay in a former post office, Monarch Hotel is filled with period features and provides guests with a stay amidst history. Centrally located, it’s great for exploring on foot.
  • Designed by acclaimed architect, David Adjaye, Hallmark House is a fashionable stay amidst this up and coming corner of town. Smart, jewelled coloured rooms and sparse yet inviting.
  • Excellently priced and beautifully decorated, at Pablo House wood, glass, and natural materials are combined to create stylish yet tranquil living spaces, surrounded by greenery.
  • A glamorous city hotel, The Michelangelo is right in the heart of the city and provides opulent dining with all the amenities of a five-star hotel.

FOR A BOUTIQUE STAY

  • The perfect combination of modern meets heritage, The Residence’s contemporary structure is filled with antique pieces. Quirky outdoor spaces juxtaposed with classic interiors create a winning stay.
  • A delightful owner-managed stay, guests at The Parkwood are well taken care of. Comfy rooms, an inviting pool, plus a superb breakfast included in the rate. It’s a great value yet charming stay.
  • A private house lovingly turned into a 15-bedroom boutique hotel, 10 2nd Avenue Houghton Estate, is a homely yet luxurious stay. Well taken care of by your hosts, there’s a superb menu, spa treatments, and an outdoor pool to enjoy.

GREAT FOR COUPLES

  • A thirty-minute drive from Johannesburg, Riboville is something truly special. Total relaxation, guests can enjoy horse-riding, a swim in the pool, a strong amidst its grounds, or an indulgent spa treatment. Adults-only, it’s a great couples’ retreat.
  • Adults only, The Munro Hotel provides guests with an urban hideaway in the heart of Johannesburg. In-room curtained four-posters and plant-filled bathrooms create a Regency-feel, whilst outdoors trickling ponds and leafy gardens offer total seclusion. Bliss.
  • Pure relaxation, Valley Lodge & Spa is the perfect couple’s escape with an eighteen-hole golf course, fine dining, and a long list of relaxing spa treatments. Just a short drive from Johannesburg it’s the perfect urban escape.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

  • Wherever you’re travelling to, the best time to visit Johannesburg is in the winter months of between November and February, when the temperatures generally remain in the 20°Cs, dropping to close to freezing in the evening. Summer months can get hot and sticky during the day, with a burst of refreshing rainfall in the afternoon.
  • With worldwide international flights to Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport and daily flights from and to all of South Africa’s major domestic airports, it’s very accessible. Though by European standards, public transport is limited, taxis are widely available, especially now that Uber has been introduced, making getting about easier and more reliable.
  • If you want to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Johannesburg

  • Motel Mi Pi Chi Johannesburg (Melville,) 11 rooms from £48

    A quirky owner managed guest house, located in the inviting neighbourhood of Melville. Filled with turn of the century furnishings, each room boasts period features and bags of character. Snacks are available in the kitchen, and breakfast is included in the rate. Great value.

    Value chic  -  A very retro chic stay in a cosy suburb of Joburg
    Great walks  -  Through Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, just 1 km away
    Restrictions on children  -  Children above the age of 12 are welcome
    Sights nearby  -  Johannesburg Zoo is within easy reach
    Check Availability
  • Arum Place Guest House Johannesburg 9 rooms from £52

    Charming owner managed guesthouse, located in the quiet suburb of Melville, yet within easy reach of the main sights of the city. Each room is a good size, with tea and coffee making facilities, en-suites, and sunny terraces. There's a pool and a hearty English breakfast served each morning.

    Value chic  -  An excellent value stay within easy reach of the city's sights
    Great walks  -  Through Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, less than 2 km away
    Kayaking  -  On Emmarentia Dam
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability
  • Pablo House Johannesburg 8 rooms from £59

    A one of a kind modern, minimalist hotel within the popular neighbourhood of Melville. Each room is light and bright, with colourful interiors and the best have their own private balcony. A superb breakfast is served, plus there's a popular on-site coffee shop, and restaurant. Excellent value.

    City Style  -  A very chic stay in a smart neighbourhood of Joburg
    Great walks  -  To Melville Koppies Nature Reserve
    Kayaking  -  Emmarentia Dam
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability
  • Hallmark House Johannesburg 47 rooms from £73

    Located in a trendy corner of Johannesburg, this hip hotel, designed by acclaimed local architect David Adjaye provides guests with an excellent value, stylish stay. Each of its rooms is decorated in rich colours with vibrant prints and private balconies. A buffet breakfast is served.

    Value chic  -  An excellent value stay in the heart of town - live like a local!
    Local markets  -  Shop at Maboneng Market
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
    Spa
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  • Monarch Hotel Johannesburg 12 rooms from £112

    Dating back to the 1930s this former post office turned boutique hotel provides guests with a heritage stay amidst this characterful suburb of Johannesburg. Opulent suites include silk linens and capacious beds. Choose from indoor and outdoor dining and indulgent menus. A great stay.

    Local exploring  -  A perfect spot to base yourself for exploring the city
    Sights nearby  -  The Nelson Mandela Foundation is an interesting visit
    Restrictions on children  -  Children above the age of 12 are welcome
    Spa
    Check Availability
  • Riboville Johannesburg (9 Waterfall Drive, Waterfall City,) 16 rooms from £115

    Boasting such picturesque views, you'd never believe you're just a 30-minute drive from beating heart of Johannesburg. Opulent suites, with enormous beds, are the height of luxury. This, combined with gourmet dining and equestrian facilities, is the perfect urban meets rural stay. Adults-only.

    Total relaxation  -  A very sophisticated stay, on the outskirts of the city, designed to relax and unwind
    Sights nearby  -  The Cradle of Humankind is a fascinating visit
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Restrictions on children  -  Adults only
    Check Availability
  • 54 on Bath Johannesburg 75 rooms from £118

    A slick city hotel in a convenient location in central Johannesburg. Each of its rooms has a minimalist New York loft feel, with moody palettes and plush textiles. Continental dishes are served at Level Four Restaurant or enjoy drinks at the champagne bar. Outdoors there's a very inviting pool.

    City Style  -  Very luxurious hotel in a smart corner of Joburg
    Local markets  -  The colourful African Craft Market is just 200m away
    Sights nearby  -  Goodman Gallery is within walking distance
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability
  • The Parkwood Johannesburg (Parkwood,) 16 rooms from £119

    Delightful owner-managed guesthouse with fabulous indoor-outdoor living. Each of the rooms is large, decorated in colourful palettes, and all the mod cons. Some with private terraces. There is an inviting pool, al fresco lounge areas, and well-maintained gardens. A superb breakfast is served.

    Total relaxation  -  A tranquil stay within easy reach of the sights of the city
    Restrictions on children  -  Children above the age of 12 are welcome
    Sights nearby  -  Goodman Gallery is moments away
    Great walks  -  Take a stroll to Zoo Lake
    Check Availability
  • Clico Boutique Hotel Johannesburg 9 rooms from £124

    Sleek and modern boutique hotel boasting a popular gourmet restaurant. Focusing on its unique seasonally inspired menus it is a destination in itself - not to be missed. Rooms are light and airy, the best opening out onto a leafy garden with an outdoor pool. A great value stay.

    Foodies  -  Boasting a gourmet restaurant, a destination in itself, foodies will love
    Sights nearby  -  Goodman Gallery is within walking distance
    Kayaking  -  Out on Zoo Lake
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability
  • The Peech Johannesburg 16 rooms from £131

    Stylish boutique hotel boasting commendable eco principles, designer interiors, and superb dining. The Peech family have turned their family home into a sleek address in the inviting neighbourhood of Melrose. Modern rooms are spacious with leafy garden views, and an inviting pool. A great stay.

    City Style  -  One of Johannesburg's chicest addresses
    Great walks  -  Through James and Ethel Gray park
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Restrictions on children  -  Adults only
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
    Check Availability
  • 10 2nd Avenue Houghton Estate Johannesburg (Houghton Estate,) 15 rooms from £148

    Grand private house turned hotel, located in one of Johannesburg's smartest locale's Houghton Estate. This 15-bedroom hotel provides guests with lavish suites, large bathrooms, an outdoor pool and spa treatments. Gourmet dining is on the menu, though guests should be aware no alcohol is served.

    City Style  -  A stylish stay within easy reach of the city centre
    Sights nearby  -  Pay a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation
    Great walks  -  The Wilds Nature Reserve
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability
  • The Residence Johannesburg 18 rooms from £155

    Nestled in the charming suburb of Houghton this refined hotel provides fabulous suites with Persian rugs and sparkling chandeliers. Some include private balconies with jacuzzis. There is a superb spa, excellent dining, as well as an inviting pool and sunny gardens.

    Total relaxation  -  Indulgent spa treatments, lavish rooms, in a leafy setting
    Sights nearby  -  Munro Drive Viewpoint is only a walk away
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Full of character
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  • The Munro Hotel Johannesburg 5 rooms from £165

    Located in a leafy suburb of bustling Johannesburg this charming B&B is a refined stay within an urban jungle. Trickling ponds and birdsong provide the soundtrack to your stay. Elegant rooms are filled with antique pieces, fine silks, and luxurious bathrooms. Lunch and dinner on request.

    Romantic Break  -  An adults only, refined hotel, ideal for a break for two
    Great walks  -  Through 'The Wilds' and the scenic Munro Drive Viewpoint
    Sights nearby  -  Joburg Zoo is just a short distance away
    Sailing  -  Boating on 'Zoo Lake'
    Check Availability
  • The Michelangelo Johannesburg 240 rooms from £193

    Slick hotel in the heart of Johannesburg's CBD yet within easy access to many of its most popular sights. Towering tall this smart hotel provides guests with all the amenities: a spa, pool, and large leisure complex. Rooms are decorated in a classic style, with lavish bathrooms.

    City Style  -  Opulent address within easy access of Johannesburg's attractions
    Sights nearby  -  Do not miss a visit to Mandela House
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor pool
    Spa
    Check Availability
  • Southern Sun Montecasino Johannesburg (Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways,) 119 rooms from £194

    A luxurious hotel located within the Montecasino complex, you're within walking distance of plenty of designer shops, restaurants, and bars. Bedrooms are made for lingering with smart bathrooms and modern amenities. An extensive breakfast is served.

    City Style  -  A very grand stay within Johannesburg
    Great walks  -  Johannesburg Botanical Garden is a perfect place to spend an afternoon
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Spa
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  • Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa   Johannesburg 41 rooms from £268

    A very sophisticated country house within an inviting suburb of Johannesburg. Dine on haute cuisine to your heart's content at "Into the Woods" the hotel's award-winning restaurant, or indulge in a spa treatment if that's more your style. Beautifully appointed rooms make it an idyllic stay.

    Foodies  -  Boasting a fine dining menu, gourmands will love this stay
    City Style  -  A very stylish stay in a smart suburb of Johannesburg
    Restrictions on children  -  Children above the age of 12 are welcome
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability
  • Atholplace Hotel Johannesburg (Atholl) 10 rooms from £349

    A stylish hotel in Johannesburg, an ideal stop-off point for pre-safari trips, with a relaxed ambiance, a choice of two pools, pleasant gardens and a truly excellent restaurant with a changing seasonal menu. Explore the city or simply relax and recharge your batteries before the next adventure.

    Hideaway  -  Days can be whiled away languorously in the gorgeous grounds, making the most of South Africa’s temperate climate
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Nelson Mandela Square and discover the origins of mankind at the Sterkfontein Caves, an Unesco World Heritage Site
    Swimming Pool  -  There’s a main pool with a deck and sunloungers, plus a family-friendly pool with a shallow end
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
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  • The Saxon Hotel Johannesburg 18 rooms from £475

    One of Johannesburg's finest hotels The Saxon provides luxurious lodgings in the heart of town. Sample Asian flavours at Qunu, a generous breakfast each morning, or high tea in the afternoon. Lavish interiors create a refined ambience whilst spa treatments are the height of indulgence.

    Foodies  -  Fine dining, high tea, with many ingredients sourced from an organic vegetable garden
    Spa breaks  -  Superb wellness programme: spa junkies will love
    Great walks  -  Through Hyde Park, just 1.5km away
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check Availability