How to Spend a Week in Johannesburg

These days Johannesburg is much more than a stopover destination. With history, culture and a vibrant arts scene, Johannesburg pulsates with energy reminiscent of New York City. The city’s transformation is due in part to the emerging creative class who revitalize neighborhoods through redevelopment, maintenance and arts and culture focus. How do we recommend you get to know this up-and-coming urban destination?

1. Stroll local galleries

Venture over to Rosebank for a pleasant stroll along Keyes Art Mile, comprised of a series of smaller art and design galleries, as well as Everard Read Gallery and CIRCA Gallery. Reserve a room at CIRCA for a sundowner on the rooftop with private lounge with art. Dine next door at Marble, which is David Higgs’ new creation. Psst...It’s possible for us to arrange something private with David Higgs!

Event at ©Keyes Art Mile

2. Brush up on your history

Explore on full day historical tour of Johannesburg with private guide Jo Buitendag. Start in the city center at Constitution Hill as the history of the site is the history of the city. Continue with a walking tour of the Financial Precinct/Mining District focusing on an introduction to Johannesburg, its early mining history, architecture, Mandela history and regeneration. Then, head out to Soweto to visit the Hector Pieterson Museum, Regina Mundi Catholic Church, and if time allows, Mandela House and Freedom Square. For dinner, enjoy ‘Urban Garde’ cuisine in the heart of Johannesburg CBD at Urbanologi.

3. Explore with an artist

Okay, it's another downtown tour, but this time with private guide/artist James Delaney. View the extensive collections of art at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) or Wits Art Museum, which features more contemporary works. (It’s possible to organize performance art at JAG.) Break for lunch or a cup of coffee around the corner. Then, continue to Stevenson and Kalishnachov Gallery for private viewings of art works by famous South African artists.

Get first hand insight into living and working as an artist in Johannesburg with ©James Delaney

4. Breathe the fresh air

Escape the city for a half-day tour of the gardens at Brenthurst Estate in Parktown. Sprawling over 40 acres, the gardens form part of the residence of the Oppenheimer family, a famous mining dynasty. Join Mrs. Oppenheimer for tea and see the famous collection of cattle watercolors.

5. Try going multidisciplinary

Spend an unforgettable morning with David Krut and multidisciplinary South African artist William Kentridge at David Krut Workshop (DKW) in ‘Arts On Main’ (a pioneering inner-city renewal project in Johannesburg). Later venture further afield to Nirox Rocks Sculpture Garden, located on 38 acres of landscaped gardens and waterways within an extensive private nature reserve in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Explore the grounds and their unusual art pieces at ©Nirox Sculpture Park

6. Get social

Wake up to a morning talk with artists and curators at Goodman Gallery. Then, breakaway for coffee across the street at Espressobar. Next door be sure to check out Gallery2 with emerging artists and visit with old friends at David Krut Gallery. In the evening, why not sip a cocktail at one of Johannesburg’s oldest bars at the historical and revamped Cosmopolitan Hotel in Maboneng. Then, meet with artists-in-residence at the studio space upstairs, perhaps followed by dinner at the Cube Tasting Kitchen at The Cosmopolitan.

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