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The Alternative City Guide To Johannesburg

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Johannesburg is over 130 years old, but the city is constantly changing, adapting and growing. A big part of the city’s appeal is the fact that it is always developing and changing, and this generates a sense of excitement, novelty and adventure. The Hillbrow Tower (JG Strijdom Tower) is a tall tower located in the suburb of Hillbrow in Johannesburg, South Africa.

However, Johannesburg is much more than the beautiful landmarks, fancy restaurants and cafes that are continually featured on the Instagram accounts of visitors. There is another side to Johannesburg, which is filled with undiscovered restaurants, hit jazz clubs and excellent shopping spots. This is the alternative guide to that side of Johannesburg.

Culture and Heritage

There is no shortage of culture and heritage in the Johannesburg arts scene. The Market Theatre is a legendary Johannesburg space, filled with history and cultural significance, while the Soweto Theatre, managed by Johannesburg City Theatres, is situated in the vibrant cultural precinct of Jabulani. It’s an amazing venue and an architectural gem in its own right.

As for the visual arts, the Bag Factory is a place where you can meet some of the top visual artists in South Africa and buy directly from them. You can also visit the Wits Art Museum in Braamfontein, which also features a vibrant schedule of shows, activities, exhibits and performances. Art Africa in Parkview is another spot that should not be missed as it features art pieces and artisanal creations from across the African continent.

If you want something slightly edgier and more fun, King Kong on the Troyeville border is a happening spot located in an old industrial area. King Kong is a nightclub and performance artist hangout that features amazing views of the city and really fun parties.

Live Music, Jazz Bars and Night Clubs

If you enjoy live music, Johannesburg has a range of highly rated jazz and music clubs. The Orbit Jazz Lounge in Braamfontein is one of the clubs in Johannesburg that is solely dedicated to live music performances and the ambience and acoustics in the club are second to none.

Two other hidden bars that are excellent for settling down with a cool drink and taking in the music are The Bassline’s jazz room, and Kitcheners in Braamfontein. Kitcheners is an especially fun bar because it hosts a wide variety of clientele. In the morning and afternoon, older people visit to order a drink, chat and listen to music. Later on in the evening, students arrive and are noisy, boisterous and excited about hearing new music. The acoustics are not excellent at Kitcheners, but the crowd is almost always enthusiastic and ready to have an extremely good time.

Johannesburg, South Africa, March 29-2018: Long exposure of busy city street with modern buildings in skyline.

Johannesburg, South Africa, March 29-2018: Long exposure of busy city street with modern buildings in skyline.

Casinos and Gambling

Johannesburg is one of the best cities in the world in terms of night life, and this includes casinos and gambling. Gold Reef City Casino, The Marco Polo and Emperors Palace are all extremely glamorous casinos that feature lively, fun casino floors to rival any casino floor in Europe or the Americas.

South Africa also has a vibrant online casino industry, which both residents and tourists can enjoy and take part in. You may not always feel up to visiting a casino, but online casinos can be easily accessed on your tablet, laptop or smartphone, making it much easier to play your favourite game.

There are hundreds of different online casinos that can be enjoyed in South Africa, but it is worth doing your research to find the best online casinos in South Africa as some casinos have better bonus offers, more developed platform security and larger games libraries than others. Regardless of whether you are playing your favourite casino game from the comfort of your own home, in between drinks with friends or before bed, you are sure to enjoy the excitement and fun of an actual casino floor.

Fashion and Shopping

Downtown Johannesburg is one of the best spots for shopping and scoping out the local fashion designers and artisans crafting beautiful pieces. Diagonal Street has a great variety of Shweshwe on offer, along with Basotho blankets. Mai Mai, located down the road from the upscale Maboneng district, is one of the best local markets for fashion. Here, you will find artisans whose families have worked there for generations, perfecting their craft and selling gorgeous wares.

It is an excellent spot to pick up Zulu, Tsonga and Shembe beadwork, and to visit a traditional healer. If you are looking for authentic Johannesburg streetwear, DOPEstore on Commissioner Street is a great urban streetwear spot, along with Thesis in Mofolo Village in Soweto. Both of these stores stock goods from their own designers, along with other local streetwear labels.


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