South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg is a fantastic destination for travellers, which offers a rich history, diverse culture, incredible food and amazing nightlife.

But Johannesburg is a massive city and not all of its neighborhoods are of interest – or are safe – for tourists.

Which is exactly why we put together this article for where to stay in Johannesburg.

Written by travellers for travellers, this guide is designed with one purpose – to help YOU find the best neighborhood in Johannesburg for YOUR travel needs.

So whether you’re looking to eat the best food, dance the night away, or explore the coolest spots of town, our list of the top five neighborhoods will help you find the area that best fits your needs.

So, let’s get right to it. Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Where to Stay in Johannesburg

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg skyline South Africa

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you. Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more.

Curiocity 12 Decades Art Hotel | Best Hotel in Maboneng

Curiocity 12 Decades Art Hotel

This awesome hotel comes complete with a backyard, relaxing garden, massage services and luggage storage. It has 16 well-appointed rooms with essential amenities. Located at the centre of Maboneng, this hotel has plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars at its doorstep. It’s also a short walk to Newtown and trendy Braamfontein.

Curiosity Backpackers | Best Hostel in Johannesburg

Curiosity Backpackers

Voted one of the chicest hostels in the world, it’s no wonder this is our pick for the best hostel in Johannesburg. Set at the heart of Maboneng, this hostel is close to restaurants, cafes and top sightseeing attractions. It has comfortable and spacious rooms and hosts a myriad of in-house activities.

If you love hostels, you should check out our list of the coolest hostels in Johannesburg!

Luxury Suite on the West side | Best Airbnb in Johannesburg

Luxury Suite on the West side

For your first time visiting the city, staying somewhere with a view of the sunset is ideal, and this apartment accommodates just that. Before you explore the cultural centerpieces of South Africa, there’s plenty of seats near the fireplace or dinner table to host a gathering or simply invite a couple of friends over to enjoy a glass of vino before a night out on the town. And when you make time for yourself, the apartment has access to a gym conveniently inside the building!

Johannesburg Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Johannesburg

FIRST TIME IN JOHANNESBURG
newtown johannesburg
FIRST TIME IN JOHANNESBURG

Newtown

Newtown is a bustling neighbourhood located in Johannesburg’s Inner City. Set at the heart of the metropolis, this neighbourhood is where you’ll find many of Johannesburg’s top tourist attractions as well as important art galleries, museums and historic landmarks

ON A BUDGET
maboneng johannesburg
ON A BUDGET

Maboneng

Maboneng is one of the coolest and most vibrant areas of Johannesburg’s Inner City. It’s a thriving neighbourhood packed with local shops and restaurants, creative spaces and cultural highlights

NIGHTLIFE
braamfontein johannesburg
NIGHTLIFE

Braamfontein

Set towards the north end of Johannesburg’s Inner City is Braamfontein. Home to the main campus of the University of Witwatersrand, Braamfontein is where you’ll find Johannesburg’s young, hip and fabulous populations

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
rosebank johannesburg
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Rosebank

Located north of the Inner City is Rosebank. A mixed-use neighbourhood, Rosebank has both commercial and residential spaces alongside shops, cafes, bars and clubs

FOR FAMILIES
melrose johannesburg
FOR FAMILIES

Melrose

The Melrose neighbourhood is one of Johannesburg’s best-kept secrets. This stylish and urban area is located north of the Inner City and east of trendy Rosebank

Johannesburg is a massive and sprawling metropolis. It is the largest city in South Africa and is home to a population of nearly 10 million people.

You may be questioning whether South Africa is safe. For years, Johannesburg was plagued by its reputation for violence, which stopped many people from travelling here. And, while it’s still not perfect, the city is considerably safer than it once was – as long as you know where to go.

To help you plan your time in Johannesburg, this guide will examine the five best neighborhoods in detail.

Starting with the Inner City. At the heart of Johannesburg is Newtown. Home to many of Johannesburg’s most famous tourist attractions, Newtown is a hub for history, culture and great cuisine.

East of Newtown is Maboneng. Once a no-go zone for tourists, Maboneng is one of the coolest and most creative areas of the city thanks to a recent redevelopment and an influx of hip cafes and rustic boutiques.

North of Maboneng and Newtown is Braamfontein. This lively and vibrant neighborhood is dotted with trendy restaurants and hip boutiques as well as fun bars and thriving clubs.

Travel north out of the city centre and you’ll arrive in Rosebank. Undeniably the coolest neighborhood in the city, Rosebank is home to quality shops, rustic cafes and plenty of great places to eat.

And finally, head east from here to Melrose. A stylish suburban zone, Melrose is where you can enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle without going too far from the action.

Still not sure where to stay in Johannesburg? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Johannesburg’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Knowing where to stay in Johannesburg is super important as getting around the city can be a tricky task and you want to be close to all the biggest attractions in Johannesburg. Although there is public transit, it can be unreliable. Uber is also available as are minibusses, tuk-tuks and metered taxis.

Now, let’s take a look in more detail at the five best neighborhoods in Johannesburg.

1. Newtown – Where to stay in Johannesburg first time

Newtown is a bustling neighborhood located in Johannesburg’s Inner City. Set at the heart of the metropolis, this neighborhood is where you’ll find many of Johannesburg’s top tourist attractions as well as important art galleries, museums and historic landmarks. Dotted with restaurants, cafes and plenty of shops, Newtown is our recommendation for where to stay if you’re visiting for the first time.

Culture vultures will love exploring the streets of Newtown. This neighborhood is a hub for creativity, art and history. From the Market Theatre to the Museum Africa, there’s no better place to immerse yourself in the culture of South Africa.

newtown johannesburg
Photo: sacks08 (Flickr)

Things to See and Do in Newtown

  1. Dine on delicious African fare at Sophiatown.
  2. Enjoy a night of drinks and live jazz at Niki’s Oasis.
  3. Explore a world of science, math and technology at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.
  4. Learn about Johannesburg’s rich and at time tumultuous history at Museum Africa.
  5. Listen to live music at Bassline.
  6. Spend an afternoon people watching in Mary Fitzgerald Square.
  7. Take a guided tour of SAB World of Beer where you’ll discover the rich history of beer in South Africa.
  8. Visit the Market Theatre, which regularly hosts engaging and bold productions tackling social and racial issues.
  9. Walk across the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, which spans 295 meters connecting Newtown with Braamfontein.

Alcazaba Lodges | Best Hotel in Newtown

Alcazaba Lodges

This four-star hotel is our top choice for where to stay in Newtown. Set at the centre of the neighborhood, this hotel is within walking distance of the Market Theatre, Museum Africa, great restaurants and lively bars. Rooms are comfortable and each features a kitchenette with a fridge and microwave.

Urban Backpackers | Best Hostel in Newtown

Urban Backpackers

Urban Backpackers is located at the heart of Newtown. It’s close to top attractions, as well as shops, restaurants and bars. This hotel offers private rooms, and male, female and mixed dorms. It has balconies with city views, a rooftop terrace, and plenty of social spaces to relax in.

Luxury Suite on the West side | Best Airbnb in Newtown

Luxury Suite on the West side

For your first time visiting the city, staying somewhere with a view of the sunset is ideal, and this apartment accommodates just that. Before you explore the cultural centerpieces of South Africa, there’s plenty of seats near the fireplace or dinner table to host a gathering or simply invite a couple of friends over to enjoy a glass of vino before a night out on the town. And when you make time for yourself, the apartment has access to a gym conveniently inside the building!

Modern Designer Suite | Another Great Airbnb in Newtown

Modern Designer Suite

Modern design is your thing? Don’t look any further than this amazing Airbnb. The brandnew studio offers an incredibly value for a very reasonable price. You can enjoy the stunning interior design, a fully equipped kitchen which includes a minibar, nespresso machine and a dishwasher (this can be a lifesaver), and on top of that, one of the best views of the city. You’ll be located high up on the 16th floor – quiet nights are guaranteed – and you can use the buildings gym and jaccuzi for free.

Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
audy on top of a mountain in japan with the osprey aether

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

View on Osprey View on REI

2. Maboneng – Where to stay in Johannesburg on a budget

Maboneng is one of the coolest and most vibrant areas of Johannesburg’s Inner City. It’s a thriving neighborhood packed with local shops and restaurants, creative spaces and cultural highlights. But it wasn’t always that way. Until recently, Maboneng was one of the city’s biggest no-go-zones in Johannesburg, known for violence and danger. But thanks to a recent redevelopment and revamp, it’s now one of Johannesburg’s can’t miss destinations. Here you can enjoy fun urban life any night of the week.

Maboneng is also where you’ll find a high concentration of budget accommodation options. From backpacker hostels to chic boutique hotels, this trendy downtown neighborhood is full of cost-conscious options for travellers of all styles and budgets.

maboneng johannesburg
Photo: South African Tourism (Flickr)

Things to See and Do in Maboneng

  1. Browse the weekly Market on Main, Johannesburg’s leading food and arts market.
  2. Catch an art-house flick at The Bioscope.
  3. Chill out with a few drinks as you listen to DJs spin the latest tunes at Poolside.
  4. Eat amazing sushi at The Blackanese.
  5. Enjoy a delicious meal at Canteen.
  6. Explore Arts on Main, a fantastic space filled with vendors and shops, restaurants, cafes, arts and more!
  7. Feast on incredible Latin fare at Che Argentine Grill.
  8. Sample speciality cocktails at Lenin’s Vodka Bar.
  9. See an incredible collection at the Museum of African Design.
  10. Sip small batch spirits at Time Anchor Distillery.
  11. Take in the views from the rooftop lounge at The Living Room.

Curiocity 12 Decades Art Hotel | Best Hotel in Maboneng

Curiocity 12 Decades Art Hotel

This awesome hotel comes complete with a backyard, relaxing garden, massage services and luggage storage. It has 16 well-appointed rooms with essential amenities. Located at the centre of Maboneng, this hotel has plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars at its doorstep. It’s also a short walk to Newtown and trendy Braamfontein.

Curiosity Backpackers | Best Hostel in Maboneng

Curiosity Backpackers

Voted one of the chicest hostels in the world, it’s no wonder this is our pick for where to stay in Maboneng. Set at the heart of Johannesburg, this hostel is close to restaurants, cafes and top sightseeing attractions. It has comfortable and spacious rooms and hosts a myriad of in-house activities.

Maboneng Penthouse | Best Apartment in Maboneng

Maboneng Penthouse

Boasting a fantastic terrace and incredible views of the city, this penthouse is our favourite apartment in Maboneng. Set at the heart of the neighborhood, this two bedroom flat is close to museums, art galleries and shops. It has a great kitchen, a comfortable seating area and spacious bedrooms.

Condo in the happening spot of Maboneng | Best Airbnb in Maboneng

Condo in the happening spot of Maboneng

In the Maboneng precinct – this apartment is located in the heart of the artsiest, most trendy & vibrant areas of Central Johannesburg. From the entrance to the studio, this place boasts comfort with style. Relaxing bed to die for and for those nights, you just can’t make it out the complex will host movie nights on the roof.

3. Braamfontein – Best area to stay in Johannesburg for nightlife

Set towards the north end of Johannesburg’s Inner City is Braamfontein. Home to the main campus of the University of Witwatersrand, Braamfontein is where you’ll find Johannesburg’s young, hip and fabulous populations. It has a great selection of shopping and dining options, a well as incredible art galleries and amazing museums.

A haven for hipsters, night owls and party animals, Braamfontein is a neighborhood that comes alive at night and is a popular spot for backpackers visiting South Africa. Always buzzing with excitement, Braamfontein is where you can enjoy a few drinks, listen to great tunes and dance the night away at Johannesburg’s hottest clubs. From historic pubs to sweaty dance halls, Braamfontein is a neighborhood that’s got it all!

braamfontein johannesburg
Photo: South African Tourism (Flickr)

Things to See and Do in Braamfontein

  1. Browse the stalls and shops at the brilliant Neighborgoods Market.
  2. Chill out at the Stanley Beer Yard.
  3. Dance until dawn at Great Dane.
  4. Drink and dance the night away at Kitcheners.
  5. Enjoy an afternoon at 44 Stanley, a great place for shopping, eating and relaxing.
  6. Enjoy sweeping views of Johannesburg from the rooftop terrace of hip Randlords.
  7. Learn about South Africa’s turbulent past at Constitution Hill.
  8. Listen to live jazz at The Orbit.
  9. See more than 11,000 works of African art at the spectacular Wits Art Museum.
  10. Sip cappuccinos at the hip and trendy Father Coffee.

Protea Hotel by Marriott | Best Hotel in Braamfontein

Protea Hotel by Marriott

This centrally located four-star hotel is our pick for where to stay in Braamfontein. It has 300 comfortable rooms outfitted with modern amenities. This hotel comes complete with a rooftop terrace, spectacular views, and a great selection of wellness features, including a swimming pool and a gym.

Bannister Hotel | Best Hotel in Braamfontein

Bannister Hotel

Located at the heart of Braamfontein, this hotel is a great place to make your base in Johannesburg. It’s within walking distance of great bars and eateries, as well as art galleries, museums and tourist attractions. It has wireless internet, laundry facilities, and a wonderful on-site restaurant and stylish lounge bar.

Once in Joburg | Best Hostel in Braamfontein

Once in Joburg

Once in Joburg is a hip and rustic hostel located in bustling Braamfontein. It is within walking distance of restaurants, cafes, shops and clubs. Rooms are clean, comfortable and spacious, and each comes with basic luxuries, like air conditioning. Breakfast and linens are also included with each reservation.

Cute Condo at the Bridgeview | Best Airbnb in Braamfontein

Cute Condo at the Bridgeview

In this home, you get not only the prime location to the party part of town but the amenities like a pool, kitchen, a huge bed that feels like a cloud, and a cute backyard. Stay here, and you’ll be footsteps to shops at Wits University and Braamfontein CBD. Explore all the social spaces this place offers to get an authentic experience in South Africa.

The Future of the SIM Card is HERE!
mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

Grab an eSIM!

4. Rosebank – Coolest place to stay in Johannesburg

Located north of the Inner City is Rosebank. A mixed-use neighborhood, Rosebank has both commercial and residential spaces alongside shops, cafes, bars and clubs. It’s a neighborhood that seamlessly blends the magic of Africa with the trends of Europe, which is why it’s our pick for the coolest neighborhood in Johannesburg.

Love to shop? Well then, Rosebank is for you! This trendy district is home to some of the best shopping in Johannesburg. From local and independent boutiques to high street shops and commercial shopping malls, this central neighborhood is where you can find the latest styles and fashions to fit any budget.

rosebank johannesburg
Photo: Adamina (Flickr)

Things to See and Do in Rosebank

  1. Admire the architecture and the art at Circa Gallery.
  2. Browse the galleries that make up the Keyes Art Mile.
  3. Eat incredible food at Tashas Le Parc.
  4. Enjoy great live music and exquisite food at Katzy’s.
  5. Pick up a gift, a sweet treat and a delicious snack at the Rosebank Sunday Rooftop Market.
  6. Shop for souvenirs at the Rosebank Art & Craft Market.
  7. Shop until you drop at the Rosebank Mall.
  8. Sip a succulent cup of coffee at the Roast Republic.
  9. Take a stroll around lush Zoo Lake.
  10. Tickle your taste buds with a sweet treat from The Patisserie.
  11. Visit Everard Read Gallery, Africa’s oldest commercial art gallery.

Clico Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in Rosebank

Clico Boutique Hotel

Clico Boutique Hotel is a fantastic five-star hotel in Rosebank. It has clean and well-equipped rooms with air-conditioning and modern amenities. You’ll enjoy a variety of features including a swimming pool, an on-site restaurant and a relaxing terrace. There’s also an airport shuttle and cosy lounge bar.

Johannesburg Backpackers | Best Hostel in Rosebank

Johannesburg Backpackers

Johannesburg Backpackers is located in Emmarentia, a trendy and safe neighborhood a short walk from Rosebank. It has a fun, social and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for making friends and unwinding after a day of travelling. This hostel offers dorms and private rooms, and it also has a swimming pool.

Centrally Located Apartment | Best Airbnb in Rosebank

Centrally Located Apartment

This fresh, newly built, fully-furnished apartment with balcony and high-end finishes is just the spot to call home for the weekend. Located in a very safe and convenient neighborhood, you don’t have to worry about traveling in and out of here. Besides all the amenities, everything you want to see or where you want to be is easily accessible — the spot for couples, solo adventurers, and business travelers not looking to have to drive far distances.

Fully Serviced Luxury Apartment | Another Great Airbnb in Rosebank

Fully Serviced Luxury Apartment

If you’re looking for a cheap deal with lots of value and an awesome location in Rosebank, you’ve just found the right spot. This Airbnb is a very modern, kind of minimalistically designed apartment, which is perfect for solo travellers or a couple. There’s a fully equipped kitchen ready to be used and loads of shopping opportunities nearby. During the colder months, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s underfloor heating throughout the whole unit.

5. Melrose – Best neighborhood in Johannesburg for families

The Melrose neighborhood is one of Johannesburg’s best-kept secrets. This stylish and urban area is located north of the Inner City and east of trendy Rosebank and it’s where you’ll find several charming guesthouses in Johannesburg. A stone’s throw from the action, Melrose is perfect for travellers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle, without being too far away from the centre. It’s where you can enjoy a breath of fresh air and it’s our pick for where to stay in Johannesburg for families.

Melrose is also our top pick for outdoor adventurers. This stunning neighborhood is close to a number of lush and expansive parks perfect for walking, biking, hiking or trekking. In Johannesburg, there’s no better place to get back to nature than Melrose.

melrose johannesburg

Things to See and Do in Melrose

  1. Create your own masterpiece at Artjamming.
  2. Dine on delicious food (and enjoy a couple of drinks) at The Griffin.
  3. Enjoy a great cup of coffee at Voodoo Lily Café.
  4. Excite your sense at Moyo Melrose Arch, one of the best-known restaurants in South Africa.
  5. Explore James & Ethel Gray Park, a well-maintained and hilly urban green space.
  6. Fly through the air with the greatest of ease at Acrobranch.
  7. Grab a slice at Piza e Vino.
  8. Laugh your head off at Goliath Comedy Club.
  9. Shop for clothes, accessories, treats and more at Bluebird Shopping Centre.
  10. Wander throughout Melrose Arch, one of the trendiest areas of the Northern Suburbs.

Melrose Place Guest Lodge | Best Hotel in Melrose

Melrose Place Guest Lodge

This Melrose property is the perfect base for families visiting Johannesburg. It is close to well-known attractions and is a short walk from great options for shopping and dining. Its large rooms are individually decorated and each comes with modern amenities. There’s also an outdoor pool and sundeck.

Apartment in the middle of Rosebank | Best Airbnb in Melrose

Apartment in the middle of Rosebank

Just 200m from the Rosebank Mall, Starbucks, and 400m from the Gautrain station is this home that fit for the whole family. The apartment has 24 hr security keeping you with one less worry when you are traveling with kiddos. Brand new and beautifully decorated with access to a washer and dryer to use during your stay.- a gift from god on the road!

Brandnew open-plan Apartment | Another Great Airbnb in Melrose

Brandnew open plan Apartment

Travelling with your family doesn’t have to be stressful. Especially not if you’re staying at this incredible family apartment. The open plan living space is super bright and welcoming and offers plenty of room to socialize. And if that’s not big enough for you, just open the massive glass doors to your private terrace. The whole home offers space for up to 4 guests, however, there’s also one more sleeping option on the comfy sofa for an extra guest. Two parking spots, as well as access to the buildings pool are included in your booking, so you can even bring your car. Public transport options are in walking distance and connect you efficiently with all other parts of the city.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Johannesburg

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Johannesburg and where to stay.

What To Pack For Johannesburg

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Johannesburg

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Johannesburg

Johannesburg is a modern and cosmopolitan city packed with rich history and diverse culture. It is remarkably safer than it once was and boasts an incredible array of restaurants, museums, art galleries and clubs. Whether you’re a culture vulture, party animal, history buff or outdoor adventurer, Johannesburg is a city bursting with fun and excitement for travellers of all ages, styles and budgets.

In this guide, we’ve highlighted the five best neighborhoods to stay in Johanessburg. If you’re still not sure which is right for you, here’s a quick recap.

Rosebank is our pick for the coolest neighborhood in town. Buzzing with excitement and entertainment, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Rosebank. It’s also home to Monarch Hotel, our pick for the best hotel in Johannesburg.

Another great option is Curiosity Backpackers. Spacious, centrally located and impossibly chic, you won’t find a better hostel in Joburg.

Looking for more info on travelling to Johannesburg and South Africa?