We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Johannesburg Off the Beaten Path

Exclusively commissioned by TripAdvisor

93%
Found this guide helpful

Due to its reputation for crime and grime, Johannesburg is not known as a big international tourist destination. But this huge, frenetic, diverse city actually has countless fascinating and quirky sights, most of which are unknown to tourists (and even locals). This guide covers a selection of hidden spots — including restaurants, bars, parks, museums, and shops — that you won't discover on conventional tours of Joburg.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

10 Places

6 City Tips

Print
Map

10 Places

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

Gardens

Mulaudzi Alexandra Tours

Sightseeing Tours

Liliesleaf Farm & Museum

Speciality Museums

Troyeville Hotel

Restaurants

Johannesburg Art Gallery

Art Museums

Melville Koppies

Nature & Wildlife Areas

Fordsburg Square Flea Market

Flea & Street Markets

Collectors Treasury

Gift & Speciality Shops

Lindfield Victorian House Museum

Speciality Museums

The Radium Beerhall

Restaurants

Heather M's City Tips

  • It's easy to eat cheaply in Joburg, especially if you venture away from the malls and touristy areas. Indian and Chinese food is plentiful, cheap, and usually of good quality.
  • Many of Joburg's off-the-beaten path destinations are far-flung and best reached by car.
  • Despite rumors to the contrary, Joburg locals tend to be very friendly. If you get lost or need help, simply smile and ask the nearest security guard or passer-by for advice.
  • Joburg has an informal "car-guarding" system, in which self-appointed guards watch cars for car-owners in shops and restaurants. It's customary to tip car guards.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings when walking and driving in Joburg; keep a close eye on valuables, especially wallets and phones.
  • It's easy to get lost in Joburg, so bring along a GPS if you can.
  • Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
    Gardens
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    One of nine national botanical gardens around South Africa, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens is Johannesburg's most beautiful park. The only problem is that the park is quite far from the city center — about 30 minutes' drive into Joburg's West Rand. Still, Walter Sisulu is worth the journey: The park features a huge number of plants indigenous to the South African highveld, including a collection of rare cycads. The grounds are huge (large enough for a strenuous hike), and include a beautiful waterfall, a dam (pond) with a hide for birdwatching, a small cafe, and numerous picnic spots.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Walter Sisulu is very popular with locals and tends to be busy on weekends; it's blissfully quiet and peaceful on weekdays, though, so try to visit then.
    • If you like birds, don't miss a visit to Walter Sisulu's birdwatching hide. Note that talking loudly is not allowed there.
    • Bring your hiking shoes and allow enough time for a long walk around the park. You may even encounter one of Walter Sisulu's resident tortoises.
    • The park's stunning, 70-meter Witpoortjie Waterfall is home to a pair of breeding black eagles. Bring binoculars and check for the nest in the cliff wall behind the falls.
    • The park hosts big-name musical performances in the summer.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 11 things to do in Roodepoort
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Pleasant family visit 18/12/2018
    • Beautiful day out in Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens 17/12/2018
    • Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
    Address:
    Malcolm Road
    Poortview
    Roodepoort 1732
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 86 100 1278
    Price range:
    US$45 - US$45
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Other:
  • Mulaudzi Alexandra Tours
    Sightseeing Tours
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    Unlike Soweto, which has become a popular tourist destination, Alexandra Township ('Alex' for short) still holds a reputation among many locals of being too dangerous to visit. This is an unfortunate misconception. Founded more than 100 years ago, Alex is Joburg's oldest township, and one of the most historic parts of the city. In fact, it is the first place Nelson Mandela lived when he moved to Johannesburg in 1941. Thanks to Jeff Mulaudzi's bicycle tours, visiting and exploring Alex is quite easy for locals and visitors alike. Jeff meets his cycle tour participants at the Marlborogh Gautrain station, just outside Alex, and then everyone heads to his headquarters to select bikes and start the tour. You'll enjoy an in-depth perspective on this notorious township, which is impossible to gain without help from a local. Jeff has lived in Alex for his entire life and knows the township like the back of his hand. Tours last for several hours and include stops at half a dozen historical/cultural sites, as well as a traditional township lunch.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    Tips
    • It's not necessary to be in great shape for the tour; Jeff adjusts the difficulty to the fitness levels of the riders. However, you should feel comfortable on a bicycle.
    • Visit Alex with an open mind.
    • Always ask permission before taking a person's photograph in Alex.
    • Sundays are the best days for cycling tours in Alex. The streets are filled with Zionist Christians, dressed in flowing blue and white robes, on their way to and from church.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #27 of 159 Tours in Johannesburg
    • Excellent!! 04/12/2018
    • Fascinating/Humbling Bike Tour of Alexandra Township 02/10/2018
    • Mulaudzi Alexandra Tours
    Address:
    54-13th Avenue
    Johannesburg
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 71 279 3654
    Other:
  • Liliesleaf Farm & Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    In the 1960s, Liliesleaf Farm was the underground meeting place of the South African Communist Party and Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress. Nelson Mandela lived at Liliesleaf disguised as a gardener in 1961 and 1962, and a police raid on Liliesleaf in 1963 led to the arrest of most of South Africa's leading anti-apartheid activists. This raid resulted in the infamous Rivonia Trial, in which Mandela and many other anti-apartheid leaders were sentenced to life in prison. The historic farm fell into obscurity for several decades before being opened as a museum and research center in 2008. Today, Liliesleaf is one of Johannesburg's best-kept secrets — even most Joburg locals don't know about it. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in the far northern suburb of Rivonia, Liliesleaf still feels much as it must have felt 50 years ago when Mandela lived there: quiet, peaceful, and hidden. All the original farm buildings are there, and look just as they've always looked from the outside. Inside, the buildings are filled with interactive exhibits telling the mysterious story of Liliesleaf, as well as various theories about how and why the police raid took place.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Allow at least two hours, preferably three or more, to visit. There is a lot of information to absorb, and this is also a good place for a meal.
    • Liliesleaf is extremely off the beaten path, and hence best reached by car.
    • If you get tired during your visit, grab a coffee and take it to the roof of the cafe. The roof offers a great view and historic audio recordings about Liliesleaf to listen to.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Rivonia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Not anything like it was 11/12/2018
    • Excellent inforrnation about a hidden past 14/11/2018
    • Liliesleaf Farm & Museum
    Address:
    7 George Avenue
    Rivonia, Sandton 2191
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 803 7882
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Sat - Sun
    9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    Other:
  • Troyeville Hotel
    Restaurants (Bar, Seafood, European, Portuguese, Pub)
    Heather M Says:

    Besides being one of the best restaurants in town for Portuguese-style prawns and calamari, the Troyeville Hotel also has a unique, locals-only vibe. The rundown bar is usually populated by regulars and hardcore sports fans (it's a great place to watch rugby), and the sunny adjoining restaurant is a hangout for artists, journalists, intellectuals, and people who like great food in a lively yet civilized environment. In addition to beautiful views of the Joburg skyline, Troyeville Hotel offers a legendary all-you-can-eat Sunday braai (barbecue) and regular book evenings featuring local authors.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • The Troyeville Hotel is best known for its grilled calamari, prawns, and roasted whole baby chicken. You can't go wrong with any of these choices.
    • Try to park within close proximity of the Troyeville Hotel, especially at night; and make sure a car guard is looking after your car.
    • Ask for a table with a view of the skyline.
    • There is often live music on weekends.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #65 of 1,117 restaurants in Johannesburg
    • Jazz and Rock evening by The Bucket List 28/10/2018
    • Portuguese - what you see is what you get. 19/07/2018
    • Troyeville Hotel
    Address:
    1403 Albertina Sisulu Road
    Corner Wilhemeina Street
    Johannesburg 2094
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 402 7709
    Price range:
    US$15 - US$22
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
    Other:
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery
    Art Museums
    Heather M Says:

    Built in 1915, the beautiful Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) is one of Joburg's most historic buildings, and is the largest art gallery in sub-Saharan Africa. JAG's collection of African and European art is stunning, and the museum features frequently rotating exhibits of cutting-edge art. The challenge, however, lies in JAG's location in the frenetic neighborhood of Joubert Park, where the traffic (which can be truly insane) puts off many potential visitors. However, it's worth fighting the traffic for this gem — once inside, away from the honking taxis, you'll feel like you've entered a peaceful, cultural oasis.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • When driving to the JAG, approach the museum from the northeast (Braamfontein) side, as traffic is lighter here than on the south or west.
    • If you get caught in a traffic jam near the museum, don't panic. Simply be patient and hold your ground with the taxis. You'll reach your destination eventually.
    • The area around the JAG, including Joubert Park, is not safe to walk around after dark.
    • Not keen to drive? The museum is accessible via the Rea Vaya rapid transit bus. The Rea Vaya's Johannesburg Art Gallery station is located close to JAG's entrance on Twist Street.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #70 of 157 things to do in Johannesburg
    • Fun day out for the whole family 06/11/2018
    • A very sad and neglected gallery. 21/09/2018
    • Johannesburg Art Gallery
    Address:
    Joubert Park
    Johannesburg
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 725 3130
  • Melville Koppies
    Nature & Wildlife Areas
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    The Melville Koppies ('koppie' is an Afrikaans word for 'small hill') is a Johannesburg Heritage Site and one of the best places to experience nature near the city center (Melville is a 10-minute drive from downtown Joburg). Here you'll find brilliant views of Joburg's iconic city skyline, beautiful indigenous plants and animals, and Iron-Age archaeological ruins. It may not be immediately obvious how to access the Koppies, but the good news is that once you know, it's relatively easy. In fact, the eastern section is walking distance from Melville's popular restaurant/shopping area on 7th Street!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Koppies East has several entrances, but the best is at the corner of Rustenburg Rd and 8th Ave, near the Brent Oil station and close to safe parking at the Bamboo Shopping Center.
    • Koppies East is generally safe, but it's best to walk there with a friend or, at the very least, a dog. (Koppies East is very popular with evening dog walkers.)
    • The Melville Koppies are divided into 3 sections: Koppies East, Koppies West and Koppies Central. Koppies East is the best section to visit on your own.
    • Like Koppies East, Melville Koppies West is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. However, Melville Koppies West tends to experience more problems with crime.
    • The Friends of the Melville Koppies (FOMK) organization offers weekly organized tours of the Koppies, the only way to visit Koppies Central. Check online for details.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #42 of 157 things to do in Johannesburg
    • Had a great time explaining here ... 25/11/2018
    • Guided tour 18/11/2018
    • Melville Koppies
    Address:
    Judith Rd. and DF Malan Dr.
    Johannesburg
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 482 4797
    Other:
  • Fordsburg Square Flea Market
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    Fordsburg is one of Johannesburg's most culturally vibrant neighborhoods, and Fordsburg Square is the area's cultural center. Every weekend from Friday through Sunday, the city-block-sized square fills with vendors selling South Asian street food, clothing, jewelry and DVDs. Try the spicy chicken tikka stall next to Albertina Sisulu Road, or the roasted mielies (maize) stand at the back of the market near Central Road. The market also houses a sugarcane juice shop, where you can watch raw sugarcane being pressed into juice that goes straight into your cup.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveller
    Tips
    • The best times to visit Fordsburg Square are Friday evening, Saturday day/evening and Sunday day/early evening.
    • Fordsburg is primarily a Muslim neighborhood, so most restaurants do not serve alcohol.
    • Parking in Fordsburg is hard to come by on Friday and Saturday evenings. Take a taxi if you can.
    • Fordsburg Market is a great place to go for a straight-edge shave, an eyebrow wax, or a henna tattoo.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #65 of 157 things to do in Johannesburg
    • Great Products at decent prices 28/10/2018
    • Asia in South Africa 25/10/2018
    • Fordsburg Square Flea Market
    Address:
    Corner Mint and Commercial Roads
    Fordsburg
    Johannesburg
    South Africa
  • Collectors Treasury
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    According to its owners, the Collectors Treasury is the largest secondhand bookshop in the southern hemisphere, with more than two million books and collectibles. Exact numbers aside, this shop — which is actually an eight-story building, filled to the brim — is a sight to behold and a book lover's dream. It is sometimes difficult to walk through the front door, as stacks of books clutter the entry hall!

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • If you like old books, budget at least two to three hours to spend here.
    • The Collectors Treasury is on Commissioner Street, just two blocks down from the trendy Maboneng Precinct.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 74 Shopping in Johannesburg
    • Overwhelmingly amazing 30/08/2018
    • Fascinating 17/01/2017
    • Collectors Treasury
    Address:
    244 Commissioner Street
    Johannesburg 2094
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 334 6556
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Sat
    10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    Other:
  • Lindfield Victorian House Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Heather M Says:

    Hidden on a residential street in the suburb of Auckland Park, Lindfield House looks like any other stately Joburg house on the outside. But inside, this house/museum is furnished and decorated like a Victorian-era English mansion, right down to the tiniest detail. Catherine Love, the owner/curator/tour guide/occupant of Lindfield House, has spent her entire life researching the Victorian era and collecting Victorian furniture, books, art, kitchenware, and collectibles. Catherine conducts all tours herself, wearing a Victorian maid's costume, and serving a delicious afternoon tea prepared in her authentic Victorian kitchen.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • All tours of Lindfield house must be booked in advance.
    • Catherine Love has an encyclopedic knowledge of Victorian history and culture. Ask her lots of questions.
    • Be sure to book at least one week in advance for Catherine's post-tour high tea. You won't regret it.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 157 things to do in Johannesburg
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • So much to see! 11/12/2018
    • Unique experience 02/10/2018
    • Lindfield Victorian House Museum
    Address:
    72 Richmond Avenue
    Entrance Greenlands Road
    Johannesburg 2092
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 726 2932
    Other:
  • The Radium Beerhall
    Restaurants (Bar, Pub, Steakhouse, Seafood, Portuguese)
    Heather M Says:

    The Radium Beer Hall is Joburg's oldest continuously running pub. This bar looks as if it has changed very little over the last century, with original pressed-tin ceiling tiles and old-school wood finishing. Every day of the week, day and night, the Radium is filled with locals shooting the breeze over beer and tasty pub food. It's also a great venue for live music, attracting top local musicians.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • The suburb of Orange Grove is what locals call a "dodgy" neighborhood. If you drive, park on 9th Street, which is well-lit and patrolled by car guards.
    • The Radium serves great pizzas, although they aren't particularly cheap.
    • The Radium features live jazz on the first Sunday of every month. There is a cover charge for this.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #98 of 1,117 restaurants in Johannesburg
    • Good old reliable Radium 13/10/2018
    • It's an iconic legend. Must be seen 20/09/2018
    • The Radium Beerhall
    Address:
    282 Louis Botha Avenue
    Johannesburg 2192
    South Africa
    Phone:
    +27 11 728 3866
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    10:00 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
    Other:
top
×
Was this guide helpful?
YesNo