Bright and bold, Johannesburg is dense with skyscrapers, townships, leafy suburbs and socialites. Recently revamped to host the World Cup games, the city built on a gold reef now offers supersized mall shopping, an electric nightlife and a flourishing art scene. Johannesburg does not forget its apartheid past: Constitution Hill, MuseuMAfricA and the Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum all document the long walk to political freedom with compelling displays.
Things to Do
Learn about township life at the Apartheid Museum, then see the progress the Rainbow Nation has made in the past 30 years with a tour of Soweto, taking in Soccer City, Africa's biggest stadium. From the Central Business District, walk across the Nelson Mandela Bridge to the Newtown Cultural Precinct, a cultural hub of museums, art centers and music venues. Dotted with giant oaks and sycamores, Zoo Lake park is a lovely place to spend the afternoon with the kids.
Johannesburg attracts people from all over the continent with one sole purpose -- to shop till they drop. Sandton has several tasteful shopping malls, although anyone looking for distinctive "where-did-you-get-that?" designer items should head to Rosebank. Here you'll also find a daily African Craft Market selling creative artwork to the sound of bongo drums. Haggle for precious Indian fabrics in crowded Fordsburg and antiques and retro items in 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark's relaxed shopping complex.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Bar or club-hop with the "Jo'burg Joller" (Johannesburg party animal) in Melville, where the action spills out onto the road once venues fill up. Nearby Milpark is more sedate but equally sociable. Large-scale musicals, operas and dance are the speciality of the Johannesburg Civic Theatre but Mary Fitzgerald Square also stages worthy performances. Kippies, formerly a jazz club named for the South African jazz artist Kippie Moeketsi, has been reborn as a heritage and cultural space.
Restaurants and Dining
The trendy and health-conscious love the designer portions of fusion food served in Parkhurst, while those prepared to loosen their belts stick to steakhouses like the 500-seater Carnivore in Muldersdrift. Authentic African food, such as mogodu, a black tripe and wild African spinach stew, is a hit at renowned Gramadoelas; the similar Moyo restaurants offer North African stews and Zanzibar fish burgers. Or pick a tried-and-tested restaurant in Sandton's Nelson Mandela Square to combine dinner with dance or music shows.