Let’s Talk Johannesburg: An Insider Guide to Jozi over the Holiday Season

You have packed your bags, booked your flight, and reserved your hotel. You are ready for a festive holiday in one of the most uplifting and inspiring cities of the world—Jozi.

Whether you have booked a holiday over the December holidays to beat the 2020 blues, you are a Gautenger expecting family from Port Elizabeth, or you and your family will see the holiday season in, here is what to do and see in and around Pretoria and Johannesburg over the holidays.

Indulge in the Shopping Mecca Capital

Hosting two national fashion weeks, Johannesburg is the Mecca for Pan African Fashion—from Bohemian, Millennial Streetwear to Souk-Meets-Afro-Future styles. To pay homage to up-and-coming designers, weavers and crafters, visit Melrose Arch, Crafters Fair at Emperors Palace, Neighbourhoods Market, Linden market, Field Market and Kim Sacks Gallery. Alternatively, make your way to the vibrant Maboneng in the city’s famous meatpacking district—and do not forget your visa.

An urban renewal success story, this once derelict hood is now a bustling strip of chic restaurants, cafes, art galleries, studios, and fashion boutiques. Flaunting the finest talent in Jozi, max your card out at the Revolution House or Market on Main with fashion, art and food inspired by the DRC, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Cameroon, Madagascar, Ivory Coast and Rwanda. If leading global luxury brands is your thing, then Sandton—the wealthiest square mile in all of Africa, will hit the spot.

Jozi Caters to the Young, Old, Single and Families

Much like every other province, Johannesburg and Pretoria offer everything for a festive holiday season—from horseback riding, hiking, go-cart racing, river rafting, boating, jet skiing, boxing, cliff-hanging, golfing, shopping, and fly-fishing to quad biking. With some of the most adrenaline-pumping things to do and fascinating places to see, start your trip by hopping aboard one of the new Gautrain trains to explore the city or take guided tours to one of many tourist hot spots.

If you have kids, visit Gold Reef City with theme park rides and historical exhibits, go ziplining with Acrobranch, take the kids star gazing at the Johannesburg Planetarium, or drive up to the Vaal Dam and hire a speed boat or houseboat for a day or weekend. However, if you fancy some history, the past is preserved at James Hall Transport Museum and the mining village of Cullinan in Pretoria.

Explore the Cradle of Humankind

About an hour drive from Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the planets most influential paleo-anthropological areas—the Sterkfontein Caves. Not only does it comprise six underground chambers with an underground lake, but this world-renowned landmark also features a humanoid skull dating back to the birth of humanity. You can even take a romantic or family hot-air balloon ride over the entire landscape.

Tour Soweto and the Lesedi Cultural Village

Johannesburg provides a multi-cultural ambience, unlike any other city, with Soweto leading the way in diversity. If you are heading down to Sun City for a couple of days, take in the sites of Soweto along with the childhood home of former President Nelson Mandela. For an authentic experience, take a day or afternoon to explore the rich traditions of several South African tribes: Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho, and Ndebele at the Lesedi Cultural Village.

Experience the Big Five in its natural habitat

Johannesburg is a large, busy city, but not far from its borders, a world of wildlife adventures awaits nature lovers. While Johannesburg may not have an ocean or Mountain, it is home to the Pilanesberg Game Park, the Lion Park, the Elephant Sanctuary, and the leading global bucket list winner—the Kruger National Park. People trek across borders and fly over oceans just to come face-to-face with the most beautiful and dangerous wildlife in the world.

The music, arts and cuisine scene

Bursting with flavour and heritage, Joburg offers everything from pavement dining, downtown hipster eateries and 5-star gastronomy to Instagram-worthy restaurants that draw cosmopolitan crowds. If local art, music, cuisine and craft beer are your thing, you will need a lot more than just a weekend in Jozi’s meatpacking district.

While the trendy eateries that line the main street of Maboneng are where you will taste authentic Africa, visit the Bryanston Organic Farmers Market or the rooftop Rosebank Market for Thai, Serbian, Russian, Spanish, European, Asian and more. For wine pairing and a selection of award-winning local Gauteng wines, head down to Kievits Kroon in Pretoria, Grei at the Saxon Hotels, oneNINEone at Hyatt Regency, or View at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Mixing home-grown and global talent, Johannesburg over the holiday season is abuzz with fresh beats and entertainment. Besides trendy craft beer, gin and cocktail bars, live music is a big part of the daily Jozi experience. You can watch live jazz at The Marabi Club or Indie bands at The Good Luck Bar. For drama, visit the Market Theatre, and if you are after art, explore Stevenson and the Kalashnikov commercial galleries or Agog and Hazard in the meatpacking district.

While the city of Jozi, and its sleepy neighbour, Pretoria, may not have Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, Joburg has crept up with its art, cuisine, nightlife, fashion, museums, kids entertainment, wildlife, markets, and outdoor activities. Boasting a unique beauty—the City of Gold is dynamic, cosmopolitan, and its vibrant go-getter culture will leave you craving more.