10 things to do in Joburg before you die

Posted on 8 August 2022 By Anita Froneman

Looking to define the 10 most interesting things to do in Joburg right now, Ryan Enslin taps into his love for his home city to craft this definitive list. See if you agree.

Joburg, the City of Gold, the city that never sleeps and the city where something new launches every other week. It can be an intimidating place to explore, even for locals. The FOMO is real and, if you’re not careful, can bring about a spate of planning inertia.

Hence my list of the must-do things in Joburg to get you out there and soaking up the energy of this unique city.

1. Savour a beer at The Radium Beerhall

Radium beer hall

Step into the oldest surviving bar in Joburg, take a seat at the bar counter and become a part of history. The Radium Beerhall started life as a tearoom in 1929, selling liquor to people of colour in defiance of the racist laws of the time. Since then The Radium has become the local of many journalists and musicians, many of whom defined an era in pre-democracy South Africa.

The bar counter was salvaged from the Ferreirasdorp Hotel, earmarked for demolition during World War 2. It is rumoured that this self-same bar counter was once the stage from which Pick Handle Mary, an activist during the Rand Revolt of 1922, would inspire striking miners.

Find The Radium Beer Hall at 282 Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove, or call them on (011) 728 3866.

2. Find a book at Collectors Treasury

You will need some time on your hands for this one, as Collectors Treasury has over 2 million titles spread over five floors. Owners Geoff and Jonathan Klass are bibliophiles of note and can literally track down just about any book your heart desires, in record time.

Time spent navigating the endless rooms and passageways that make up this Joburg institution often reveals many gems. I never leave empty-handed. Collectors Treasury stock Greek and Roman classics as well as books on philosophy, motoring, weapons and Word War II. There is also a large photography section which captured my attention, plus antiques and a large collection of vinyls.

Find Collectors Treasury at CTP House, 244 Commissioner Street, City and Suburban.

3. Learn a new skill at Artist Proof Studio

Picture: Supplied

Artist Proof Studio is a community-focussed printing centre that aims to empower everyday people around this particular skill, based largely on the notion of Ubuntu (the concept of humanity towards others). Established in 1991, the project has been running for 31 years and hosts workshops on printmaking, catering for all levels of skill.

These workshops include photographic screen-printing, monotype screen-printing and drypoint and surface roll workshops. Keep an eye on their website for all upcoming courses.

Find Artist Proof Studio in the Isle of Houghton, 36 Boundary Road, Houghton Estate or call them on (011) 492 1278.

4. Conquer your fears as you abseil off a Jozi cliff

Picture: Unsplash

Joburg is surrounded by many ridges which add to her beauty. GZ Adventures have found some great spots where you can descend a rock face with just a rope coiled around your body and fixed at a higher point. Yip, abseiling baby!

Grab a few friends and conquer your fears, GZ Adventures provide all the equipment needed plus their guides are professionally trained. Abseiling is done at your pace, but generally takes around two hours.

Book directly with GZ Adventures or contact them on 067 727 6521.

5. Craft your own bottle of gin at the Indaba Gin School

COVID-19 resulted in many interesting changes but these days at the Indaba Hotel in northern Joburg, you can go to Gin School. This clever bout of out-the-box thinking by the iconic Indaba Hotel offers the opportunity to learn all about gin as you craft your unique variant from ingredients and botanicals made available. Follow the instructions of the master distiller, put them into your specially crafted copper still and await the magic.

The Gin School is a great activity for groups of friends and is a wonderfully social and interactive way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The Gin School also offers gin tastings during the week.

Find the Gin School at the Indaba Hotel on William Nicol Drive, or call them on (011) 840 6600.

6. Watch POPArt create performances before your very eyes

The POPArt Theatre is driving independent theatre in Joburg with some really interesting performances. Their Improv Nights are not to be missed, based at the Bioscope Independent Cinema.

A well-planned and brilliantly executed show sees the audience provide random answers to set questions before the show begins. Owner Hayleigh Evans scrambles these answers together and provides the cast with scenarios based on the input of the audience – and they act them out in a series of short skits. I was mesmerised by the talent on display when I last took in a performance, and it makes for a great evening out.

Find the POPArt Theatre at the Bioscope Independent Cinema in the 44 Stanley Precinct, or call Hayleigh on 083 245 1040.

7. Enjoy the best cup of coffee in Joburg

Cramers Coffee, in the heart of the CBD, is an institution in Joburg. This coffee-centric business hires personalities in the shop which makes for a unique experience each time you pop by. Never a dull moment at Cramers.

Grab a seat at one of the window benches and watch Joburgers go about their daily lives. The free WiFi also makes this an ideal working spot for fellow digital nomads. Find Cramers at 17 Harrison Street, Joburg or call them on (011) 833 2699.

8. Take in a session of jazz at Bertrand Café

With its air of cosmopolitan chic, Bertrand Café in downtown Maboneng has become the meeting place of the who’s who of uber-trendy Joburgers. The recent inclusion of the upper floor now sees regular jazz sessions, an ideal way to pass a lazy Sunday in Joburg.

When at Bertrand Café be sure to seek out the secret bar at the back. This tiny space, which opens onto a courtyard, sees guests dance away the night hours with locals. A truly immersive Joburg experience, most definitely not to be missed.

Find Bertrand Café at 296 Fox Street, Maboneng, or call them on 082 645 0416.

9. Paint and Sip at The Playground in Braamfontein

Picture: Supplied

The former Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein, recently relaunched as The Playground, has added painting and wine sessions to its Saturday offerings. Grab a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, and join them on a Saturday as you tap into your creative side.

The session is guided by a local artist who takes you step-by-sip-by-step through painting the session’s featured artwork. Be sure to book, these sessions are turning out to be quite popular with Joburgers.

Find The Playground at 73 Juta Street, Braamfontein, or book your session via their website.

10. Take a hike in Mountain Sanctuary Park

mountain sanctuary park

Picture: Getaway gallery

The beautiful, privately owned Mountain Sanctuary Park, just outside Hartbeespoort Dam, is the ideal last-minute getaway. With 1000 hectares to explore, they offer a range of overnight hikes or, for the less adventurous, guided day hikes of either three hours or four and a half hours.

The accommodation offering is bound to entice you to want to stay a little bit longer. Be sure to book as Mountain Sanctuary Park limits visitor numbers.

Joburg truly is alive and kicking. Now you are in the know to maximise your time of revelry in this once mining town that will steal your heart.

Pictures: Ryan Enslin unless indicated otherwise

Follow more of Ryan’s adventures in and around Joburg here.

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