10 (more) unusual things to do around Joburg

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 11 March 2015

A few weeks ago I published a blog on 10 unusual things to do in Joburg that won’t cost a fortune. The feedback has been amazing and I’ve been inundated with suggestions on more great things do around Joburg this year. There are so many options in our awesome city (keep your suggestions coming in), but here are a few that didn’t make it onto my initial list, and a selection of my favourites from the responses I’ve had so far.

2015 is the year the City of Gold will shine. Rough Guides gives it the number one spot on its  2015 list of the Top 10 Cities, it features on BBC Travel’s list of 2015’s Hottest Cities, as #37 on Travel and Leisure’s list of the Best Places to Travel in 2015 and in The Times as a “the latest hip city break”. My favourite recent article on the Big Smoke comes from Conde Nast Traveller and opens like this:


Joburg is the one your mother warned you about. She’s pierced, tattooed, laughs too loud, and drinks and smokes too much. While most cities seduce you with their subtle charms, Jozi just knocks you on the head and drags you in.


If you’re looking for more ways to explore this feisty city, these unusual things to do around Joburg should keep you busy.

Also read: 10 unusual things to do in Joburg that won’t cost a fortune


1. Shadow Boxer outdoor museum

Cost: Free
Place: Chancellor House on 25 Fox Street
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
On a recent walk through the CBD with talented photographer group I See A Different You (check out the photos here) I briefly visited this incredible, well-thought out outdoor museum. Housed in the windows of original attorney’s offices of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo (which they opened in 1952) a time-line has been laid out explaining the story of Apartheid accompanied with photographs and interesting facts. Opposite, is an impressive six-metre tall statue of Mandela in his iconic boxing attire by Marco Cianfanelli.

The Chancellor House was the first black legal practice in the country and is now a National Heritage Site and well worth a visit. I’m definitely going to go back and read through it all on a sunny weekend.

Here’s a description of the site from the book A Long Walk to Freedom


“Mandela and Tambo” read the brass plate on our office door in Chancellor House, a small building just across the street from the marble statues of justice standing in front of the Magistrate’s Court in central Johannesburg. Our building, owned by Indians, was one of the few places where Africans could rent offices in the city. From the beginning, Mandela and Tambo was besieged with clients. We were not the only African lawyers in South Africa, but we were the only firm of African lawyers.

This site also leads you right along to the second to-do on the list…


2. [email protected]

Cost: Free
Place: 1 Fox Street Ferreirastown
To Do In Joburg
The hippest new market on the block The Sheds at 1Fox is a great new city space. Old storage sheds dating back to the 1920s have been renovated and filled with fabulous food stalls, a musically-orientated bar called the Good Luck Bar, which is hosting an awesome line-up of musical talent including Laurie Levine and Josie Field every Thursday this March. There are also lekker local crafts and goods available, like these fantastic customised shoes.
To Do In Joburg - Melanie van Zyl - shoes Sheds@1Fox

It also neighbours the original Joburg Chinatown which is a fascinating area to stroll through while you’re there. There are plenty of authentic restaurants to try out.


3. De Vette Mossel

Cost: R230 a person
Place: Hartbeespoort
To Do In Joburg - Melanie van Zyl- De Vette Mossel
I hesitated putting this on the list because I kind of wanted to keep it to myself. There’s not much more to say about this one except SEA FOOD! It’s not exactly on the sea, but Hartbeespoort Dam is probably the closest us Gautengers are gonna get. Book your seat at De Vette Mossel faaaaaar in advance and salivate over the promise of mussels, West Coast snoek, potjiekos and calamari.

It’s BYOB so bring a cooler box and you have a great excuse for a day out exploring the Hartbeespoort area.


4. Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

Cost: R25 an adult and R15 a car for entrance and R25 an adult to overnight in the huts.
Place: Near Heidelberg
To Do in Joburg

After a successful day hike in Hennops I figured it’s time to take it to the next level and try an overnight option. Covering over 11000 hectares, the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is the place to do it. Along the numerous hiking trails ranging from 4- to 17 kilometres you can spot eland, zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and if you’re really lucky, brown hyena.

The overnight huts sound pretty neat with solar lighting and geysers, beds and bar areas at a great price, and it’s just an hour from Jolsburg. Each unit sleeps 10 but you can book an entire hut even if you’re only two people.

Call 011 439 6300 to book an overnight hut at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve.


5. Random Harvest Nursery

Cost: Free
Place: Plot 57, Kontiki Road, Muldersdrift
To-Do In Joburg - Melanie van Zyl
I was more or less a teenager the last time I went to Random Harvest Nursery. My gran had asked me to come along on a tree-identification course and I was too keen to be a cool teenager. I remember sprawling land filled with birds, insects, trees and a sweet tea garden. I’m dying to return to see what it’s like these days.


6. Black Horse Brewery

Cost: About R140
Place: Magaliesberg

Original picture from Safarinow.com

Original picture from Safarinow.com.

An easy and beautiful day trip from Joburg, I last went to Black Horse Brewery for breakfast while on assignment to find five of the best Magaliesberg getaways. An artisanal craft brewery and restaurant are located on site underneath lush trees overlooking the lazy Magalies river.

Lunch consists of extraordinarily tasty burgers, wood-fired pizza or a selection of tapas washed down with their craft beer – the ginger berry is on my wanted list. If you have one too many, they also have beautiful accommodation available on the farm.

Be sure to book though as tables fill up fast. Use the morning to check out what else the Magalies Meander has to offer.


7. Sterkfontein Caves

Cost: R194 (combo ticket to Maropeng Visitor Centre bought online).
Place: The Cradle of Humankind
To Do In Joburg - Melanie van Zyl - Sterkfontein Caves
When was the last time you went underground? The Sterkfontein Caves are a World Heritage Site and home to fossils over 4 million years old. That’s ancient. These guys tell us about the precursors to modern humans and the Maropeng Centre offers insight into the development of the world as we know it using world-class interactive displays (my favourites are the boat ride through time, and the meticulous original fossil display). For more thorough information of the displays and history available read these excellent exhibition guides.

Looking through the TripAdvisor reviews it seems you’ve got to be relatively fit for the caves tour which requires a bit of climbing, bending and crawling – so be sure to wear comfy shoes and practical clothing.


8. The Planetarium

Cost: R40
Place: Wits University
To Do In Joburg - Melanie van Zyl- The Planetarium
I visited the Johannesburg Planetarium last year when I was researching the best places in South Africa to stargaze. The show was incredible and informative and made me appreciate the huge world above so much more. The speaker was funny and interesting, showing us the current night sky with the impressive projector that’s been in use since 1930.

They are running a skeleton show schedule during March due to maintenance, but make a date in your diary to go one evening during 2015. It’ll ignite a love for the stars above and makes a really great date night.


9. Magaliesberg Canopy Tour

Cost: R495
Place: Sparkling Water Hotel, Magaliesberg
To Do In Joburg - Melanie van Zyl - Magaliesberg Canopy Tour
This is the priciest excursion on the list, but this action-packed eco-adventure is worth saving for. The Magaliesberg Canopy Tour takes you on an aerial sightseeing journey of the world’s oldest mountain range in a foefie slide fashion. Roughly a three-hour treetop experience, it’s suitable for kids, parents and granny (yes, my grandmother did it in her mid-sixties) and if you’re a little nervous it can be done in tandem so you can just enjoy the ride without worrying about the brakes.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this gallery.


10. Satyagraha House

Cost: Free
Place: Orchards
To Do in Joburg - Melanie van Zyl - Satyagraha House
The Satyagraha House was once home to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (later known as Mahatma Gandhi) and his Orchards home is now a fascinating living museum-cum-guesthouse. The gorgeous home was named ‘The Kraal’ by Gandhi and his dear friend (who was also the architect) Hermann Kallenbach.

The museum is filled with the intertwining history of these two men and is called the Satyagraha House after the passive-resistance movement of the same name. It is said that Gandhi began working on his principles of Satyagraha in this very house (although this could be more romantic thought than truth), which were later adopted by Nelson Mandela in the form of mass civil protest and passive non-compliance with the South African apartheid government as opposed to violent resistance.

The house is fascinating and the gardens peaceful, it’s well worth an afternoon look. You can read more about the house and find photographs here.


BONUS: Johannesburg in your pocket

If you’re stuck for cool stuff to do in Jozi, have a look at the weekly round up by this awesome online travel guide Johannesburg In Your Pocket. They always have their finger on the pulse when it comes to finding unusual things to do in and around the city, and post weekly updates. Check out what’s on in Johannesburg for Joburg’s latest events.


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