17 awesome things to do in and around Braamfontein

Posted by Welcome Lishivha on 14 July 2016

This part of the city is slowly rising from the ashes into a phoenix, and becoming the cultural hub that should be every tourist’s first stop to Johannesburg. If you’re looking for things to do in Braamfontein, you’ve come to the right place.

Braamfontein (and the surrounding suburbs) is where you’ll find some of the trendiest fashion, the most delicious food, and entertainment spots that offer an authentic experience of great South African talent. Here’s my guide for navigating Braamfontein for beginners – with a few pointers for regular Braamies.

 

Live music, poetry and comedy

1. The Orbit

The Orbit is the new hotspot in Braamfontein, and I hope it will be around for a while for us to enjoy. They host live jazz performances with some of the best jazz artists in South Africa. They have hosted the likes of Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Thandi Ntuli and Judith Sephuma. They also offer poetry nights, as well as comedy and jazz nights with renowned comedian Kagiso Lediga. This sought-after spot is a sanctuary for experiencing musical expression and inspiration at its finest. Check out the monthly program – it’s best to book ahead of time.
Visit: theorbit.co.za

 

An audience enjoys a live performance of Jazz music at The Orbit in Braamfontein. Photo by South African Tourism.

An audience enjoys a live performance of Jazz music at The Orbit in Braamfontein. Photo by South African Tourism.

 

2. The Bassline

The Bassline is based in Newtown which is a stone’s throw away from Braamfontein, and offers fantastic poetry sessions, Fire Thursdays of reggae music, comedy nights as well as live musical performances with young artist and is frequented by some of South Africa’s top artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Simphiwe Dana and Nakhane Toure. Bassline offers a good sense of the talent that Johannesburg has to offer, with a balance of established and upcoming artists.
Visit: bassline.co.za

 

An artist performs at The Bassline in Newtown. Photo by Erich.

An artist performs at The Bassline in Newtown. Photo by Erich.

 

3. The Living Room

The Living Room in Maboneng hosts Sunday parties which promise a relaxed environment for a Sunday sundowner over house or jazz music depending on their program. It is a great place to support local artists and designers or enjoy the youthful vibe.
Contact: livingroomjozi.co.za

 

The Living Room. Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

The Living Room. Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

 

4. Kitcheners

Kitcheners is the second-oldest bar in Johannesburg that hosts deep house soul sessions on Sundays and comedy nights every Tuesday from 8pm with a R20 entrance. The bar offers alternative music, local DJs and live performances from South Africa’s top and upcoming artists. Beyond the old and dusty carpet, there is a vibe about Kitcheners that keeps people coming back because this bar has stood the test of time.
Contact: kitcheners.co.za

 

An audience enjoying a live performance at Kitcheners. Photo by South African Tourism.

An audience enjoying a live performance at Kitcheners. Photo by South African Tourism.

 

Food and drinks

5. Great Dane

Known as the bar with the floor tiled with five cent coins, Great Dane is a great place for drinks if you want to be out and about with friends. They serve a few tasty snacks, making it a perfect spot for drinks and not lunch or heavy meals. They host Friday braai sessions called Braaifontein and are an ideal second stop after visiting the Neighbourgoods market which closes at 3pm. Great Dane is particularly gay-friendly on Saturdays. It is open on Thursdays to Saturdays from 12pm-2am, and you’ll find it on 5 De Beer Street.
Visit their Facebook page.

 

A group of friends enjoying snacks and drinks at Great Dane. Photo by South African Tourism.

A group of friends enjoying snacks and drinks at Great Dane. Photo by South African Tourism.

 

6. Maboneng Precinct on a Sunday

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

 

7. Have lunch at 44 Stanley

44 Stanley is a collection of boutique bars, restaurants and stores that sell art, antiques, books collectables and décor. This place is celebrated for its relaxed ambiance, and is ideal for lunch especially on a sunny day. You’ll find it just outside Braamfontein, right off Empire road.
Contact: 44stanley.co.za

 

Entrance at the 44 on Stanley. Photo by Rafiq Sarlie.

Entrance at the 44 on Stanley. Photo by Rafiq Sarlie.

 

8. Enjoy Pizza at 86 Public Pizzeria

This restaurant offers pizza made from a wood-burning brick oven. They offer the best pizza in Braamfontein – one of their desert pizzas is made of chocolate, mascarpone, pineapple, apple, pear, banana and strawberries! 86 Public is located right at the heart of Braamfontein with a glass wall facing Melle street, which is great for people-watching. The outside sitting area is lovely for enjoying the sunlight as you sip your cocktail.
Contact: 86public.co.za

 

Pizza made from a face brick oven with food fire at 86 Republic. Photo by 86 Republic.

Pizza made from a face brick oven with food fire at 86 Republic. Photo by 86 Public.

 

9. Visit The Neighbourgoods Market

The Neighbourgoods Market gathers the vibrant community of Johannesburg over craft beers, diverse food stalls and clothes – often with a band playing in the background. It’s an ideal place to start your Saturday in Braamfontein. The market is open from 9am to 3pm, which means you can dash off across the road to Kitcheners or Great Dane if you still want to continue the vibe. The Neighbourgoods Market is also open every first Thursday of the month as part of the Johannesburg version of First Thursday where galleries, stores and restaurants are open until much later.
Contact: neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za

 

The Neighbourgoods market in Braamfontein on a Saturday. Photo by South African Tourism.

The Neighbourgoods market in Braamfontein on a Saturday. Photo by South African Tourism.

 

Nature, animals and hiking

10. Go for a hike on the Braamfontein Spruit MTB trail

There aren’t a lot of spots to enjoy nature if you are in Braamfontein, but the Spruit trail that links the Emmarentia dam to the Johannesburg Botanical gardens is only a short drive away. It’s best to stick to hiking by the dam, where the trail is mostly accessed. It also offers great bird watching along the way. The trail is straightforward and offers little room for getting lost, and you can also take kids with you on the trail.
Check out MTB routes for more information.

 

A view of the Emmarentia damn that is along the hiking trail. Photo by Ever Gleamy.

A view of the Emmarentia damn that is along the hiking trail. Photo by EverGleamy.

 

11. Visit the Johannesburg Zoo

The Johannesburg Zoo hosts over 320 animal species and is open for day and night tours. The zoo also offers a variety of education and entertainment events and activities for children that vary depending on the program. The tours range from R55 to R95. The Johannesburg Zoo is a 10 minute drive away from Braamfontein with plenty of taxis that will drop you right on the gate.
Contact: jhbzoo.org.za

 

Two mountain goats having a go at each at the Johannesburg Zoo. Photo by Baynham Goredema.

Two mountain goats having a go at each at the Johannesburg Zoo. Photo by Baynham Goredema.

 

12. Enjoy a picnic at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens offer a great encounter with nature in the highly industrialised Johannesburg – without having to travel across the country. The 81-hectare gardens overlook the Emmarentia dam and include a rose garden, the herb garden and the Shakespeare garden. There are also great bird-watching opportunities and as a result of close proximity to the dam, you can enjoy water activities such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
Contact:jhbcityparks.com

 

A view of the Johannesburg Botanical gardens overlooking the Emmarentia. Photo by Paul Saad.

A view of the Johannesburg Botanical gardens overlooking the Emmarentia dam. Photo by Paul Saad.

 

Arts and culture

13. Experience cinema like never before at The Bioscope

The Bioscope is an independent cinema located within the Maboneng precinct. The cinema hosts a variety of independent and alternative local films tackling various issues. They host movie nights based on a variety of themes 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

 

The Bioscope is an independent cinema in Maboneng. Photo by SoulProvider.co.za.

The Bioscope is an independent cinema in Maboneng. Photo by SoulProvider.co.za.

 

14. Check out The Wits Theatre

The Wits School of Arts hosts plays and performances by established and upcoming directors and performers across a variety of genres like contemporary dance and theatre. The theatre is open to the public and functions as a laboratory for students to experiment and develop their artistic crafts. It sure will give you a sense of underground and upcoming talent. However, if you are not that interested in student theatre, the Joburg Theatre is up the road from the Wits Theatre and always showcases a lot of excellent performances as well.
Contact: wits.ac.za

 

15. View a free exhibition at the Stevenson Gallery

The Stevenson Gallery is a well-known South African gallery that has hosts local and international artists, often for the very first time. Currently running an exhibition on award winning Kemang wa Lehulere, the Stevenson gallery is a place you have to pop into if you are in Braamfontein. Even if you aren’t big on art and exhibitions, visiting a South African art gallery that has played a role in pushing the boundaries of art in South Africa for a free exhibition is something worth trying out at least once.
Contact: stevenson.info

 

History and Heritage

16. Tour the Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is rich with South African history. The tours will take you through prison cells that hosted Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and the students of the 1976 uprising. The purpose of the various tours is to take the visitor through South African history and give them a sense of the harsh conditions that black people had to endure under apartheid. The intention is to promote the values of constitutionalism, human rights and democracy with the purpose of “building from the past to preserve the future”. I say a tour on the Constitution Hill is a must.
Contact: constitutionhill.org.za

 

Bust of Gandhi donated by President Pratibha Patil. Photo by Nagarjun Kandukuru.

Bust of Gandhi donated by President Pratibha Patil. Photo by Nagarjun Kandukuru.

 

17. Go for a walk through human history at The Origins Centre

The Origins Centre houses a museum, art gallery and hosts public lectures on the 80 000 year cycle of human evolution from Southern Africa. Opened by Thabo Mbeki in 2006, the centre houses archaeological findings that make it home to hominid fossils found in Africa and archaeological artefacts like rock art dated to over 75 000 years ago. There is a restaurant at the origins centre called Café Fino which serves delicious food.
Contact: origins.org.za

 

The origins centre. Photo by Wits.

The origins centre. Photo by Wits.

For more on things to do in and around Johannesburg, check out some of the links below:
10 unusual things to do in Joburg that won’t cost a fortune

12 things to do with your kids in Johannesburg for the school holidays

10 (more) unusual things to do around Joburg

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