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 the arts. This weeklong itinerary features unique opportunities for artistic and cultural enrichment in one of the world’s most exciting cities.


Day 1: In the morning, arrive and check-in at The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa, one of the world’s top rated hotels. Later, 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. (It’s possible to arrange something private with David Higgs.)

Day 2: Set the stage with a 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.

Day 3: This morning return to downtown Johannesburg to gain a different perspective 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. In the evening savor a decadent 8-course meal at the Saxon.

Day 4: 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. Return to the hotel for downtime. That evening make your way back to Constitution Hill for a private catered dinner with an historian.

Day 5: 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. Enjoy sundowners before returning to Johannesburg for dinner at the hotel.

Day 6: Arrange 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. Luncheon at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, elevated on a hillside with panoramic views across the Johannesburg Zoo and the prestigious neighborhoods of The Parks. In the evening have 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 followed by dinner at the Cube Tasting Kitchen at The Cosmopolitan.

Day 7: Depart Johannesburg.

Forthcoming in Johannesburg:

  • Arts Alive International Festival: September 1-25, 2017
  • FNB Joburg Art Fair (Celebrating 10 Years): September 8-10, 2017
  • The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival Johannesburg: September 28-30, 2017

*For the FNB Joburg Art Fair, it’s possible to arrange for a private tour in CBD, where William Kentridge bronzes, with cocktails and dinner in the space.

*For The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival Johannesburg, it’s possible to organize a private dinner with musicians.


Price starts at $2,700.00 per person sharing. Single supplement is an additional $1,550.00 for solo travelers.

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Elizabeth Gordon