Our guide to exploring the trendy Maboneng

Posted on 13 August 2018

The trendy Maboneng has been featured by Lonely Planet as the neighbourhood to look out for in Joburg.

Music and good vibes are inevitable at The Living Room. Image by Gauteng Tourism Authority

Since it’s establishment in 2009, the neighbourhood has been well received by locals and visitors alike as a great spot for getting the best of arts and culture that Johannesburg has to offer.

The area offers plenty to do. Sunday is one of the most popular days ito visit Maboneng because the Market on Main comes alive, but there’s plenty to do on any day in this renewed inner-city area that’s brimming with the trendy.

Visit Africa’s first design museum MOAD, experience a unique movie experience at The Bioscope or sip a cocktail at The Living Room. There are also are plenty of restaurants in the area and a number of coffee stands to get your fix.

Here’s our list of things to do in Maboneng.

1. Visit Maboneng Precinct on a Sunday

A post shared by Place of Light (@maboneng) on

Arts on Main is a market on the Maboneng Precinct open from 10am to 3pm on Sunday, which sells a variety of locally designed and manufactured products ranging from food to clothing and bags. It is a great place to support local artists and designers or to indulge in the young, relaxed vibe. There are various restaurants in the area that offer cocktails and some live performances too. You’ll find the market in Newtown, just across the bridge from Braamfontein. It’s really worthwhile to visit: this spot is an essential part of the Braamfontein experience foe me.
Contact: mabonengprecinct.com

Also Read: The 13 Best Maboneng Restaurants

2. Take in some views and sip on a cocktail at The Living Room

The Living Room. Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

This awesome rooftop venue in Maboneng overlooks the gorgeous city skyline and it feels like you’re sitting in a greenhouse or nursery. Eat tapas surrounded by an abundance of plants and sip on cocktails as the sun goes down. Keep an eye on The Living Room Facebook page for events like the hosted DJs on some Sundays.
Cost: An entrance fee of R60 is charged on Saturdays and Sundays and varies depending on the event. After 4pm on Sunday the fee increases to R80. Monday to Friday entrance is free.

3. Experience cinema like never before at The Bioscope

Photo supplied by The Bioscope.

The Bioscope is an independent cinema located within the Maboneng precinct. The cinema hosts a variety of alternative local films. They host theme-based movie nights and activities – such as the hidden cinema with a surprise film revealed upon arrival, or Noodlebox Cinema, where you watch a kung fu movie with a serving of noodles. They also have games nights with drinking games based on various movie titles. Check out their program for the screening schedule.
Contact: thebioscope.co.za


4. Try out Che Argentine Grill

Che Argentine Grill in Maboneng. Photo by Vuyi Qubeka.

Why hide the kitchen in the back? That’s Oscar Farad’s take on grilling steak. Co-owner of the trendy inner-city spot says that the grill is the star of the show. An open kitchen takes up the majority of the space in this refurbished warehouse. Stacks of hay dot a low-lit space with high ceilings giving it a ranch-like feel. The feats began with empanadas de carne – traditional pastries stuffed with beef, onion, olives, eggs and red pepper. Most meals are meat-based and cooked on the asado (Argentinian for braai) and are traditional and simple. All meat is free-range, grass-fed and additive-free. Open between Tuesday to Sunday 11h00 – 23h00. Average meal cost is R200.
Contact: cheargentinegrill.co.za

5. Explore the area on a skateboard

Learning to skate with City Skate Tours is half the fun, the other half is learning about different parts of Joburg. We started off our tour in Maboneng and I was hesitant to launch the skateboard on the road for fear of falling, a fear which had kept me from riding a bike in childhood.
City Skate Tours was established by Ayanda Mnyandu in September 2017 although things started off slowly according to Ayanda, more and more people are open to trying skateboarding out. The tour includes stops to gain insight into the history of Joburg and some of the historical buildings that formed part of the establishment of Johannesburg. We walked up Van Beek and around the corner from Van Beek and Charles Road is a youth development agency where Ayanda works as part of his 9-5 daytime job. Here, he teaches children skating as a way of helping them avoid substance abuse and crime in the city centre. I remain convinced that his patience is largely informed by the fact that he teaches children too how to skake. Join City Skate Tours every weekend, Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm. He can accommodate large groups of more than 13 if you let him know in time. Costs R300 for three hours.
Contact: facebook.com/cityskatetours/


6. Discover Maboneng on a bike

Every Thursday night, the Maboneng City Cyclists get together and take to the Johannesburg streets on their bicycles. The meeting point is outside Love Revo at 17:00 and the cycling starts at 19:00. Make sure to look out on their Facebook page for one of these or other tours for an opportunity to explore the area on a bike.
Contact: facebook.com/mabonengcitycyclists/
Photo by Maboneng City Cyclists


7. Go Gin tasting

Only open on Saturdays and Sundays, tour The Tasting Room at Time Anchor Distillery and see how the grain-based spirits are made. People attending the tasting will arrive and be seated, get an introduction to Time Anchor Distillery followed by a tasting of up to three of their Craft Gins. This is followed by a craft cocktail or G&T and a further discussion around the fascinating world of craft distilleries. From R150 per person.
Contact: timeanchor.co.za


8. Rooftop Salsa

Every Sunday from 3-7pm at 28 Auret Street near Maboneng you can salsa with pros. There’s a great mix of regulars – young and old folks, locals and foreigners. The atmosphere is great and the Afro-Cuban tunes will have you both swinging. Expect impromptu dance lessons, line dances and the perfect way to kiss the weekend goodbye. Look out for updates on their Facebook page.
Contact: rooftopsalsa.com


9. Stay at the Hallmark House Hotel

When you’re in a very urban space in the city, there are two ways you can go: try to mitigate its concrete, its noise, its grey tar, hard corners and yellow lines, or you can embrace these elements. The latter is how to describe what Hallmark House does. It’s a 13-storey building, excluding parking levels. The suites are only two storeys; the rest is given over to apartments and penthouses, and on the rooftop, there’s a spa, gym and bar/restaurant. The hotel celebrates Africa classily – gorgeous big woven baskets, wooden stools/side tables, red pots and local art. All the rooms have full-length glass doors that lead out onto concrete balconies, some bigger than others, all with chairs and a side table. And below you is the busyness of downtown Joburg. From R1210 per room.
Contact: hallmarkhouse.co.za.


10. Visit the largest second-hand bookstore on the continent at Collectors Treasury

Image: Ugur Akdemir

This bookstore is located in an eight-storey building on the east side of the Joburg CBD and was founded in 1974. It’s said to be the largest bookstore in the southern hemisphere, hosting over one million books in stock, as well as maps, artworks, antiques and over 300000 vinyl records. If you’re collecting, this is unequivocally your spot to visit. The store is located on 44 Commissioner Street, Joburg Central.
Contact: 0113346556, antiqbook.com/bookdealers/collectorstreasury


11. Enjoy music at Marabi Jazz

Image: Bruno Cervera

The Marabi Club offers food and drinks accompanied by live jazz performances. Visible from the street only by the discreet black canopy above a small metal door in Doornfontein, downtown Johannesburg, the Marabi Club harks back to a vibrant history. The Marabi Club, tucked into the basement of award-winning British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye’s Hallmark House, also a boutique hotel, evokes this history through the many careful details of the club’s interior.
Contact: themarabiclub.com


12. Go on a walking tour with Past Experiences

Past Experiences run a variety of themed tours that explore insights into the city centre and surrounds. Their Maboneng based tour focuses on the energetic, gritty and graffiti-rich Maboneng, New Doornfontein and Jeppestown areas. When walking around these areas, one can’t help but notice how the historic buildings have now become canvases for colourful street art and graffiti, most of which is produced local artist and a few international artists. Budget public tours cost from R160.

Contact: pastexperiences.co.za

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