Johannesburg: worth more than a stopover?
Johannesburg gets a bad rep to say the least. Before I left Ireland to come to South Africa I was told horror stories about hijackings, robberies and assault. Of those that wished me well, they all said the same thing- stay out of Johannesburg.
I couldn’t believe that a city home to so much South African history had nothing to offer. Luckily, while in beautiful Hogsback we got talking to a lovely couple from Johannesburg who directed us towards the up and coming area of Maboneng.
Maboneng- cool cafés, swinging jazz and vintage paradise.
Our journey to Curiocity Backpackers took us past grey, run down buildings and we began to wonder if this area could possibly be safe. As we got closer I began to notice some street art. We turned onto the street the hostel is on to find it bustling with people. I immediately wished I had cleaner (cooler) clothes in my bag but it didn’t matter. We quickly left our bags in and got out to explore.
Along the main street of Maboneng Precint, market stall holders sell everything from clothing to vinyl to traditional souvenirs. I spent our time their cursing the baggage allowance for my flight to Zanzibar.
Sunday is market day.
If you get there on Sunday, lucky you! We had some best food of the trip in Market on Main. It kicks off Sunday morning and winds down around 3pm. Downstairs there are tonnes of amazing food stalls. I wanted to try everything! Maboneng is home to some really cool restaurants and the market was a great way to sample some of their food for a fraction of the price.
Upstairs there are stalls selling art, crafts and vintage clothing. Music pumps out from the rooftop bar and people spend the day chilling out, eating and shopping. Definitely try arrange your stay for a Sunday to soak up the relaxed, artsy vibe.
Main Street life- where to eat and what to do:
If you’re not there on a Sunday, don’t worry. Just walking along the main street will give you a taste for Maboneng life. The cafés are a great way to people watch and take in the Maboneng style. We really liked Soul Souvlaki, a café in a converted truck that serves up fabulous Greek food and rooftops views.
Pata Pata is great for cocktails, dinner and jazz. The POPArt Theatre has weekly performances and a Sunday night comedy club that’s always a huge hit. Don’t be afraid to check out the local galleries and shops, even if you can’t afford what’s inside!
Be safe, but don’t let it keep you away.
In general, the street between Curiocity and the Market on Main is safe to walk. Security officers are present throughout the day and night. Of course, common sense should prevail. Where possible, don’t walk alone at night or carry valuables ever. Leave your passport at the hostel and ask the hostel staff if you plan to veer off the main street.
Now is the time for Maboneng to shine.
Maboneng is hipster central so my advice is go now! I overheard one girl say “I know in a year I won’t be able to afford Maboneng.” So get there while the artists and inventors can still afford to live there. Just don’t blame me if you don’t want to leave!