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The Best Hidden Gems in Johannesburg You Need to Discover

The Best Hidden Gems in Johannesburg You Need to Discover

Most tourists visiting our beautiful country usually just go to the tried and tested spots, and I can’t blame them. These usually consist of parks and safaris, and while they are great venues to check out, they can get pretty repetitive if you visit more than one.

We locals, however, know a few spots in and around the beautiful city of Joburg—a list of hidden gems, if you will—that you need to check out if you want something unique. Below is a list of these hidden gems for you to uncover!

1. Lesedi Cultural Village

From ahalesedi 

Address: R512, Lanseria, 1739


Contact Number: +27715071447

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday, Open 24 hours

We are proud of our tribal history and to us, nothing showcases this heritage better than the Lesedi Cultural Village. Here, you can experience different activities that will immerse you further in South African culture in a fun and memorable manner.

One of the most important tours you need to avail of onsite is their village tour. While you can go for either their lunch (monati) or their dinner (boma) tour, we recommend that you go for the former so you can see and enjoy the vibrant colours around the village.

You also need to watch the dance (ingoma) show at least once. We watched one of these ingomas and felt proud of our deep cultural roots as we listened to the beating drums and marvelled at the dancer’s lively movements.

Pro Tip:
While there are a ton of amazing shopping malls here in Johannesburg, we recommend buying something handcrafted from the village’s curio shops. 

Buying an item here is a piece of African culture that you can take home as a souvenir.

2. The Fat Mermaid

From ulungile_khoza

Address: 4 Jasmine Rd, Geldenhuys Estate AH, Germiston


Contact Number: +27 10 065 2610

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Friday, 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM
  • Saturday, 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Sunday, 7:30 PM to 5:00 PM

I’ve always wanted to travel to Greece but since I don’t have enough saved up yet, I tried the next best thing—booking a room and enjoying a meal at the Fat Mermaid. Locals consider this a hidden gem for its amazing vibe and scrumptious Greek cuisine.

During my visit, I booked one of their standard rooms, and I got really good value service and amenities. The kids had a ton of fun at the outdoor swimming pool while we adults had a couple of cocktails while relaxing on the outdoor (marble) recliners.

However, what we think is the main draw of the Fat Mermaid is its authentic Greek offerings. Imagine eating heaping servings of gyros stuffed with melted cheese, grilled meat, and crispy veggies—the perfect salty and savoury snack while you unwind!

Pro Tip:
Check out their Facebook to learn more about their updated schedule and promo packages.

3. Cowboy Town

Address: 1 Mclean St, West Village, Krugersdorp


Contact Number: +27795965225

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Saturday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a cowboy, so imagine how pleased I was when I first visited Cowboy Town in Krugersdorp. This is another hidden gem that you need to experience if you’re a fan of the Wild West or if (just like me) you want to play cowboy!

What I liked most about this tourist attraction is how realistic the old-timey feel of the spot is. It has a range of Wild West village establishments including bakeries, groceries, and even a jailhouse made mostly from wood with aged signages.

One of the highlights of my trip to the village is the different eateries and saloons onsite. There’s a cowboy cafe here serving hickory Eisbein (ham hock) with a side of crispy fries. It was enough to feed two people, but I finished mine on my own, as I was famished!

Pro Tip:
You can also visit Cowboy Town on a Sunday to check out their Sunday Pop-Up Market. Here, you can score some plants, leather accessories, and food items while enjoying some live music at the venue. 

4. Kota Joe Roadhouse

Address: 13 Van Riebeeck Ave, Edenvale 


Contact Number: +27114530883

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Thursday, 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
  • Friday and Saturday, 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Sunday, 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM

While it’s true that Western fast-food chains are well-loved in South Africa, one of the hidden gems I recommend you try out is our very own fast-food chain called Kota Joe Roadhouse. Aside from burgers and fries, you can order some unique menu items here!

Personally, I keep ordering either their KJ Dogs or Wraps paired with some of their filling Loaded Chips. My favourite KJ Dog variant is their Chilli Dog with its thick and meaty sausage topped with some spicy (but slightly sweet) mixed peppers.

For their wraps, my family usually orders their Grilled Chicken and Bacon. The pita wrap is just the right thickness with grill marks lending it that smokey flavour, and there are deep-fried chicken tenders and sweet and hickory bacon strips for the filling.

Pro Tip:
If you’re travelling with kids, then we recommend that you ask the wait staff for their Kota Joe kids menu. This is perfect for young children who don’t really need a full (or adult-sized) serving of the restaurant’s menu items. 

5. 44 Stanley

Address: 44 Stanley Ave, Braamfontein Werf


Contact Number: +27615830184

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

I always admired indie establishments, so I included 44 Stanley on this hidden gems list. If you’re a regular tourist, you’ll probably shop at the more mainstream malls of the city, but since you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking of shopping somewhere else!

The mall itself has a rural vibe thanks to its tree-shaded grounds—an ideal place where my friends and I usually stroll around or chill. Plus, there are a ton of clothing and apparel shops here, like Lucky Fish and Lunar, selling native or local dresses.

I also hang out at 44 Stanley to catch up with my buddies over delicious meals and beverages courtesy of our favourite cafes like Been There Coffee and Baker Brothers. The latter bakes soft chocolate chip bread with just the right amount of sweetness!

Pro Tip:
You can check out the events tab on their website to learn more about upcoming events at 44 Stanley.

6. Lindfield Victorian House Museum

From kristenraath 

Address: 72 Richmond Ave, Auckland Park


Contact Number: +27117262932

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

South Africa is steeped in history, and most people usually dream of visiting the more commercialised historical spots like the Mandela House. However, you can visit a unique site in Johannesburg through the Lindfield Victorian House Museum.

The place is literally like a time capsule, and every time we visit this spot, it feels like being transported back to the Victorian era. The interiors are impressive with intricate floral pattern wallpapers along with sculpted wooden furniture and living room decor.

My favourite spot in the museum, though, has got to be the highly detailed pantry. I saw various items (like flour and biscuits) on display, and they all looked like they were produced and sold during the period (Victorian) they were available to the public.

Pro Tip:
To learn more about the history of the Lindfield Victorian Museum House, you can check out their Facebook page.

7. Black Horse Brewery & Distillery

Address: 32 Seekoei Hoek Road, Magaliesburg


Contact Number: +2782453529

Operating Hours: 

  • +27824535295

My buddies and I are always on the lookout for drinks to try during our boys’ night outs. Fortunately, we discovered a local brewery called the Black Horse Brewery & Distillery that serves some amazing gin and rum, so I decided to check their distillery.

Once I got to their location, I was pleasantly surprised that aside from their distillery, the site offers other attractions like their Country Family Restaurant serving comfort food (like burgers and steaks) and Stables Cafe offering light snacks (like croissants).

I went here for their distillery, though, so I went ahead to see what they had on offer. True enough, I saw unique gin variants on offer called the Seven Deadly Gins and tried out Pride with its strong but fresh alcohol taste and a dash of blueberry.

Pro Tip:
If you don’t have time to visit their physical store or distillery, then you can also order online via their online store

8. Goddess Café

Address: 44 1st Ave, Linden


Contact Number: +27101098277

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Sunday, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Goddess Cafe is another unique establishment we recommend you visit if you want something special to do while you’re in our fair city. Aside from the delicious meals and beverages on offer, this cafe has a feminine and laid-back vibe that’s perfect for chilling.

The interiors, furnishings, and even dining ware are all predominantly pink, and I think this does the trick of making guests feel like goddesses. During my visit, I also liked the menu items on their Skinny Bitch Special set.

Most of the food on this set are healthy options (hence, “skinny bitch”). I tried their Half Salmon Eggs Beanie, and the poached egg was soft, moist, and perfectly cooked while the smoked salmon was just the right amount of smokey and salty.

Pro Tip:
Check out their menu for their food availability, as some of their menu items are only available during a specific time of day like their Skinny Bitch Special only available from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily. 

9. Prison Break Market

Address: 10 MacMillan Rd, Glenferness AH


Contact Number: +27825221739

Operating Hours: 

  • Wednesday, 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Thursday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Going to the Prison Break Market doesn’t entail getting out of a jail cell with other convicts. Instead, we experienced a unique all-in-one lifestyle experience during our visit, thanks to the different sheds offering various items and services for us to enjoy.

Some of the more notable ones that caught our attention include Shed 1 with its gourmet food and Shed 2 offering artisanal drinks and food items. However, my family and I gravitated towards Shed 4 with its ceramic painting restaurant.

I don’t consider myself a Picasso, but this unique restaurant (Create Lonehill) allowed me to explore my inner artist as I drew my own designs on a small ceramic plate. I drew a bird while my kids came up with their abstract art while enjoying a meal. 

Pro Tip:
If you want to try out what we experienced at Create Lonehill, then you need to book via their website. Keep this in mind, as bookings are essential!

10. The Donkey Dairy 

Address: Portion 23 of the farm Boschfontein Magaliesburg, Maanhaarrand 


Contact Number: +27722625369

Operating Hours: 

  • Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Our country is well-known for safari adventures and trail hikes, but we know a special place where you can enjoy a day at the farm with some cute animal friends. It’s called the Donkey Dairy, a place we recommend you visit for some farm-fresh air!

The setup is pretty simple. Once we got to the farm, we chose which activities we wanted to try out. Staff offered us donkey milk tasting, donkey rides, and donkey grooming, but the kids opted to bottle-feed baby goats.

These baby goats (dwarf goats to be exact) are simply adorable. You can pick them up with one arm! We cradled our baby goat while we held a bottle of milk to its mouth. Our maternal instincts were in full swing that day!

Pro Tip:
We recommend that you visit this location early if you want to bottle-feed their baby goats. The farm doesn’t allow overfeeding of these cute babies, so bottle-feeding them will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

11. Shazmins Luxe Patisserie

Address: Nelson Mandela Square, 5th St, Sandown, Sandton


Contact Number: +27645112658

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

If you happen to be in Mandela Square, then we highly recommend that you check out this upscale cafe in the area called Shazmins Luxe Patisserie. It’s considered one of the most picturesque cafes in the city owing to its pink interiors and artsy food items on offer.

When I checked out this cafe a few months ago, I noted that the interiors were indeed coloured pink, but it was done in such a tasteful manner that it was a pleasure to behold. The gradient shades of pink used on the walls and tables simply looked classy!

For my meal, I ordered their pastel-coloured macarons—sweet and light. I then had their creamy chocolate milkshake topped with some pink cream and pink candy sprinkles.

Pro Tip:
If you want to give the gift of pink, then you can also purchase a Pink Ticket as a gift for your loved ones via their website. It’s a voucher that they can use when in the Sandton City Branch of the cafe or via their online store.

12. Pablo House

Address: 3 4th Ave, Melville


Contact Number: +27662150993

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday, Open 24 hours

If you don’t have accommodation yet, then I highly suggest that you consider this quaint hotel in Melville called Pablo House. What makes this hotel extra special (and a hidden gem) is that it’s located at the highest point of the suburb offering amazing views!

The rooms here are fantastic, offering guests an unobstructed view of the surrounding area thanks to its wide glass windows. We also liked the room we booked that had huge sofas, comfy beds, and a spacious living area where the family and I got to relax.

What drew our attention here the most, though (aside from their outdoor swimming pool), is the hotel’s greenhouse-like restaurant (Dos Manos). Nothing beats eating a delicious breakfast with your loved ones as you take in that beautiful Joburg sunrise.

Pro Tip:
You can book a room with this hotel or if you’re travelling with family, you can book their Pablo House Villa for ZAR 3,850 per night online. This villa has 3 rooms—perfect for a family of 5 to 6.

13. The Shortmarket Club

Address: 1 Oxford Parks, 199 Oxford Rd, Rosebank


Contact Number: +27100062323

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday, 12:30 PM to 9:30 PM

I had dinner last month at the Shortmarket Club, and I highly recommend that you visit this hidden gem when in Rosebank. It offers elegant European interiors thanks to its use of sleek furnishings and intricate wooden designs which I really enjoyed.

I also liked the exquisite menu items on offer—modern European food infused with Asian flavours—a unique combo that we don’t usually get here in South Africa. We ordered two mains (BBQ pork and crispy duck breast), and both tasted phenomenal.

The BBQ pork belly was served with lemongrass and coconut, making the tender and slightly sweet meat much more flavourful. I also enjoyed the succulent meat of the duck breast and appreciated the salty and hickory breading used to coat the dish.

Pro Tip:
You can also book your private event here at the Shortmarket Club.

14. Greensleeves Medieval Kingdom

Address: R563, Sterkfontein, Krugersdorp 


Contact Number: +27832295677

Operating Hours: 

  • Wednesday, 2:00 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Friday, 12:00 NN to 9:00 PM
  • Saturday, 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM
  • Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Aside from being a cowboy, my friends and I always fancied being knights in shining armour. Fortunately, we can live out this fantasy of ours (and so can you) if you visit the Greensleeves Medieval Kingdom—a restaurant with a fun mediaeval theme.

We tried their mediaeval feast here, and it was truly bawdy fun. My buddies and I dressed up in our best mediaeval costumes and showed up to a mediaeval dining hall decked in period-authentic long tables, lighting fixtures, and colourful banners.

You can choose between different feasts (menu packages), but we decided to go all out and order the King’s Feast. We were served roast beef sirloin, which I found succulent with a smokey flavour, and some slightly spicy spit roast chicken.

Pro Tip:
Their feasts are usually scheduled every Sunday and have very limited seats. It’s best that you reserve your slot in advance via their website if you really want to try out this mediaeval food experience.

15.  Fo Guang Shan Nan Hua Temple

From travelwithafrika  

Address: 27 Nan-Hua St, Erasmus, Bronkhorstspruit 


Contact Number: +27139310009 

Operating Hours: 

  • Tuesday to Friday, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Fo Guang Shan Nan Hua Temple stands out as one of the grandest and majestic-looking Chinese temples in South Africa. I checked it out a few months back, and I was floored by its sheer size and grandeur.

Traditional Chinese facades, pillars, and decor are present all throughout the temple grounds. I especially liked the red rounded pillars and light brown roofing of the pavilions topped with intricate dragon sculptures. 

The different sculptures located across the grounds and the temple itself were also sights to behold. There were statues of monks, lions, dragons, and Buddhas to admire and take in!

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