36 hours in the City of Gold

They don’t call Johannesburg (Joburg) the ‘City of Gold’ for nothing. There are so many marvels to uncover in this vibrant city that our YPA travelers often leave wishing that they had factored in a few more days.

In order to give you three different but equally delightful itineraries to make the most of Joburg’s magical spaces and places, we recruited the expertise of local artist James Delaney.

James not only works from a studio in downtown Victoria Yards, but he’s a proud advocate for the city of Johannesburg and is well known for championing the rejuvenation of a once derelict public park, The Wilds, in Houghton, near the Johannesburg CBD. (Click here to read more about how James helped breathe new life into The Wilds)

Itinerary 1: Active and immersive

STAY at the Houghton Hotel in Houghton Estate and enjoy:

  •   Huge spacious rooms
  •   Beautiful sunrises and suburb views
  •   A fully equipped gym, swimming pool and spa
  •   Early morning walks in the surrounding Houghton Golf Course with an 8km walking trail


  •   Hike up to 5km around The Wilds, spotting James’ sculptures in the natural surrounds along the way
  •   Head to the artistic hub that is Victoria Yards to see James in action, and view the surrounding art studios and shops
  •   Cycle downtown for a street art tour 
  •   Visit the historically significant Constitution Hill (a former prison complex that is today a museum and home to the country’s Constitutional Court)
  •   Take time out to enjoy the Constitution Court’s permanent, curated art collection including chandeliers, rugs and acoustic panels – an unexpected treasure trove


  •   Sanctuary Mandela the restaurant set in Nelson Mandela’s primary place of residence in Houghton (they have a small menu that includes vegetarian options)
  •   Victoria Yards (for a pizza at The Four Dots and a coffee at Foakes)
  •   Supper at Séjour at the Houghton Hotel

Itinerary 2: Perfectly pampering and leisurely

STAY at Fairlawns Hotel in Morningside and enjoy:

  •   Lush gardens in the Johannesburg suburbs
  •   A luxurious Balinese spa (we are happy to pre-book your appointments)
  •   A heated swimming pool tucked away in the bamboo gardens near the spa
  •   In-house dining


  • Head over to the 44 Stanley development in Milpark for great shopping and coffee breaks
  • Enjoy some more retail therapy just up the road in Kramerville at Amatuli, a multi-floor shop packed with exquisitely curated artifacts from all over Africa
  • Enjoy one of Joburg’s best brunches at Glenda’s in Hyde Park (try the cold pressed green juice and their signature avo on toast)
  • Pick up some ceramic art treasures at Ardmore (next door to Glenda’s).


  • Dress up and dine out at Flames Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff (all while enjoying spectacular views over the Joburg zoo and tree-lined suburbs)

Itinerary 3: Central and chic

STAY at Voco Hotel in Rosebank and enjoy:

  •   A prime Rosebank location
  •   Being walking distance from numerous trendy shops, restaurants and galleries
  •   A wonderful buzz with downstairs eating, coffee to go, a shared working space, and a popular restaurant and bar


  •   After you’ve checked in, spend the afternoon visiting Rosebank’s ‘art strip’ of top local galleries (Everard Read, Circa, Bkhz)
  •   Finish your wanderings with drinks downstairs at Proud Mary
  •   The next morning, wake up and have coffee downstairs in the hotel or hop across the street and grab a cuppa at Starbucks
  •   Spend the day touring Victoria Yard and Constitutional Hill, or venture further out and enjoy an interactive walking/cycling tour of Soweto, including the famous Vilakazi Street (where Nelson Mandela spent the first couple of nights after being released from prison)


  •   Lunch at Food, I Love You in the old prison on Constitution Hill, creative and fresh food by Mpho Phalane
  •   Supper at Shortmarket Club centrally located in Oxford Parks, Rosebank
  •   Supper at Marble much talked about restaurant by David Higgs

To add to any of the itineraries, for an historically significant stop, don’t miss the world-class Apartheid Museum, an emotionally moving museum that illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid. There’s a lot to take in, so allow yourself at least 3 hours (if not more) to walk around.

36 hours spent in Joburg, or ‘Jozi’, as the locals affectionately call it, will never be dull. If you need help planning your next safari, including a colorful stop in Joburg on your way into or out of Africa, let us help you plan the perfect itinerary.

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