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"Joburg," as the South Africans commonly call it, is a bustling, modern city that exudes the unique charms of Africa. Known as the gateway to the African continent, it is a powerful, commercial center with an identity that will always be linked to gold. Visit one of the many local craft markets with displays of traditional African art or an authentic African bazaar, known for exhibiting traditional healing practices. Take a heritage tour or a trip down a gold mine shaft. Joburg has it all....sophistication, great restaurants, museums, shopping, culture, history and beautiful places for nature lovers to explore.
The Apartheid Museum
Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Road
Learn the story of triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of the racially prejudiced system that blighted much of the country’s progress. The exhibits include film footage, photographs, text panels and artifacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga known as apartheid. A series of 22 individual exhibition areas present a dramatic emotional journey that tells a story of a state-sanctioned system based solely on racial discrimination. The museum shows the world how South Africa is coming to terms with the past and is working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.
Jan Smuts Avenue (main public entrance on Upper Park Drive)
The Johannesburg Zoo is a favorite place for locals to stroll among numerous enclosures that house more than 3,000 species, including polar bears that can be viewed underwater in their pool. On the eastern edge of the zoo is the Museum of Military History, which has some interesting exhibits like tanks, fighter aircraft and submarines. For a tour of the zoo that's easy on your feet, ride the tractor-tram that circuits the zoo.
85 Grayston Drive, Sandton
The food here is authentic and prepared homestyle by Tuscany brothers Federico and Fernandino, who use family recipes handed down from their mother and uncle, as well as some newly created inspirations. Al Dente is popular for its ambiance, excellent food and the genial presence of Federico who is always close by to explain the innovative specials of the day. The extensive menu has the usual pastas and pizzas, as well as a specialty rump steak, lightly roasted and stuffed with garlic and rosemary. Reservations recommended.
Market Theatre Complex (Bree Street)
For more than 30 years, an international clientele of celebrities, heads of state and royalty have flocked to Gramadoelas to sample traditional South African and Cape cuisine. The menu has recently expanded to incorporate specialties from all over Africa, making it one of the best spots to taste excellent dishes like Cape Malay-spiced bobotie, melktert and malva pudding, as well as recipes from Zanzibar, Morocco and Ethiopia. You'll find game meat, such as cubed crocodile tail and ostrich steak, and more adventurous diners can try Hillary Clinton’s and Nelson Mandela’s favorite dishes of mopani worms and mogodu (black tripe and wild African spinach stew), respectively. Reservations recommended.
58 Wierda Road (Wierda Valley)
Situated in the spacious grounds of a prewar rooming house, Linger Longer is among South Africa's top ten restaurants as rated by Wine Magazine. The elegant ambiance and legendary culinary standards make this one of the country's longest surviving and favorite fine dining experiences, combining classic French fare with Eastern flavors. Famous signature dishes include Walter's Foie Gras, rack of lamb with rosemary, garlic and coarse-grain mustard, and the brandied crepes filled with warm cream cheese and vanilla. Reservations recommended.
Shop 31 (Nelson Mandela Square)
Rivonia Road, Sandton
This trendy restaurant boasts a variety of delicious seafood as well as excellent service and international cuisine. There are meat and vegetarian dishes, pastas and curries, along with famous specialty dishes like the seafood chowder, which is considered the best in the world. Another specialty is the Kingston kebabs, consisting of skewered prawns wrapped in bacon accompanied by a voodoo dip. A fresh oyster and sushi bar is available for starters and light luncheons.
5 Melrose Square (Melrose Arch)
Spectacularly decorated with a mixture of modern and African design, this restaurant is spread over five floors, each featuring a unique ambiance with secluded alcoves, elevated galleries and atmospheric lighting. Moyo is a unique experience from start to finish, from the traditionally attired staff and perfumed finger bowls to the exotic dishes and the live African entertainment that keeps the place abuzz. Dishes are inspired from across the continent, including fragrant North African stews, East African fish curries, huge Mozambique prawns and unusual desserts like sweet potato and chocolate pudding. Pre-arranged, family-style menus can also be served in large platters for the table to share. Service is outstanding and advance reservations are essential.
African Craft Market
Bath Avenue (Rosebank)
The African Craft Market, between the Rosebank Mall and the Zone, has more African crafts and curios than you can shake a wooden giraffe at, all to the beat of traditional African music.
Kim Sacks Gallery
153 Jan Smuts Avenue (Parkwood)
The Kim Sacks Gallery, in a lovely old home, has a superb collection of authentic African art. Displayed throughout its sunny rooms are Zairian raffia cloth, Mali mud cloth, Zulu telephone-wire baskets, wood sculptures, and original masks and carvings from across the continent. It's also a good place to find ceramic art. Be prepared; high prices mirror the upscale art.
Shining Light of South Africa
South Africa is diamond country. The world's biggest diamond, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, was found in the town of the same name (near present-day Tshwane) in 1905, and is now among the British crown jewels. For a comprehensive list of diamond retailers, contact the Shining Light of South Africa.
Village Walk Centre, (Corner of Rivonia and Maude streets)
A renowned blues venue in the heart of an upscale shopping center, this club is relaxed despite the fact that it’s always full of ardent fans. Blues greats and local talent alike have graced the stage here. There’s fair selection of food, but the quality is variable. The music is the drawing point here. A well-stocked bar and enchanting lighting, coupled with the mood on stage, make for an evening to remember.
Corner of 9th St. and Wessels Rd., Rivonia
A trendy crowd flocks to this joint on Thursday for R&B and hip-hop, Friday to sample some fusion, and Saturday to dance to disco and French house. The music and cocktails help enliven the evening.
39 Pim Street (Newtown)
New artists and genres mark this hotspot as having its finger on the pulse of Jo'burg's latest happenings. Hosting everything from hip garage bands to drum n' bass to Brazilian music, Carfax also holds poetry readings and literary group meetings. Open in the daytime on weekdays and into the early hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Melrose Arch (Melrose)
Africa's hip and well-heeled love to splurge at this ostentatious club; some say it's gotten too big for its boots and is already going out of fashion; catch it before it's gone. It has a restaurant, bars on two levels, and a stage where jazz, kwaito, and other local acts perform on weekends.