Where to Stay in Johannesburg (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

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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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhood 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 neighbourhoods 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.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Johannesburg

  • Where to stay in Johannesburg first time – Newtown
  • Where to stay in Johannesburg on a budget – Maboneng
  • Best area to stay in Johannesburg for nightlife – Braamfontein
  • Coolest place to stay in Johannesburg – Rosebank
  • Best neighbourhood in Johannesburg for families – Melrose

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

Check Top HostelCheck Top Hotel

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
Places to Visit:
  • Explore a world of science, math and technology at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
  • Spend an afternoon people watching in Mary Fitzgerald Square
  • Enjoy a night of drinks and live jazz at Niki’s Oasis

 

Where to Stay in Johannesburg

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

 

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!

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Best Hotel in Johannesburg: Monarch Hotel

This fantastic five-star hotel is located in trendy Rosebank. It is close to dining, shopping and sightseeing options, and is a short walk from public transit. This hotel boasts spacious rooms, spa baths, and a great selection of features and amenities. All of this combined makes it our pick for the best hotel in Johannesburg.

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Johannesburg Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Johannesburg

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood 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!

 

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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. 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 neighbourhoods in Johannesburg.

 

1. Newtown – Where to stay in Johannesburg first time

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. 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 neighbourhood 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 credits: Wildebeast1 – Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in Newtown

– Dine on delicious African fare at Sophiatown.

– Enjoy a night of drinks and live jazz at Niki’s Oasis.

– Explore a world of science, math and technology at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.

– Learn about Johannesburg’s rich and at time tumultuous history at Museum Africa.

– Listen to live music at Bassline.

– Spend an afternoon people watching in Mary Fitzgerald Square.

– Take a guided tour of SAB World of Beer where you’ll discover the rich history of beer in South Africa.

– Visit the Market Theatre, which regularly hosts engaging and bold productions tackling social and racial issues.

– Walk across the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, which spans 295 meters connecting Newtown with Braamfontein.

 

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.

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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 neighbourhood, 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.

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Best Hotel in Newtown: City Lodge Hotel Newtown

A great location, wonderful staff and comfortable rooms – it’s no wonder we love this Newtown Hotel. Situated in Johannesburg city centre, this hotel has dining, shopping and nightlife options on its doorstep. It offers free wifi, an airport shuttle and a great outdoor swimming pool.

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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 neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood is full of cost-conscious options for travellers of all styles and budgets.

maboneng johannesburg

Photo credits: Jules Crinon – Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in Maboneng

– Browse the weekly Market on Main, Johannesburg’s leading food and arts market.

– Catch an art-house flick at The Bioscope.

– Chill out with a few drinks as you listen to DJs spin the latest tunes at Poolside.

– Eat amazing sushi at The Blackanese.

– Enjoy a delicious meal at Canteen.

– Explore Arts on Main, a fantastic space filled with vendors and shops, restaurants, cafes, arts and more!

– Feast on incredible Latin fare at Che Argentine Grill.

– Sample speciality cocktails at Lenin’s Vodka Bar.

– See an incredible collection at the Museum of African Design.

– Sip small batch spirits at Time Anchor Distillery.

– Take in the views from the rooftop lounge at The Living Room.

 

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.

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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.

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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 neighbourhood, this two bedroom flat is close to museums, art galleries and shops. It has a great kitchen, a comfortable seating area and spacious bedrooms.

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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 neighbourhood that comes alive at night. 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 neighbourhood that’s got it all!

braamfontein johannesburg

Photo credits: Heather – Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in Braamfontein

– Browse the stalls and shops at the brilliant Neighbourgoods Market.

– Chill out at the Stanley Beer Yard.

– Dance until dawn at Great Dane.

– Drink and dance the night away at Kitcheners.

– Enjoy an afternoon at 44 Stanley, a great place for shopping, eating and relaxing.

– Enjoy sweeping views of Johannesburg from the rooftop terrace of hip Randlords.

– Learn about South Africa’s turbulent past at Constitution Hill.

– Listen to live jazz at The Orbit.

– See more than 11,000 works of African art at the spectacular Wits Art Museum.

– Sip cappuccinos at the hip and trendy Father Coffee.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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4. Rosebank – Coolest place to stay in Johannesburg

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. It’s a neighbourhood that seamlessly blends the magic of Africa with the trends of Europe, which is why it’s our pick for the coolest neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood is where you can find the latest styles and fashions to fit any budget.

rosebank johannesburg

Photo credits: Philippe Lazaro – Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in Rosebank

– Admire the architecture and the art at Circa Gallery.

– Browse the galleries that make up the Keyes Art Mile.

– Eat incredible food at Tashas Le Parc.

– Enjoy great live music and exquisite food at Katzy’s.

– Pick up a gift, a sweet treat and a delicious snack at the Rosebank Sunday Rooftop Market.

– Shop for souvenirs at the Rosebank Art & Craft Market.

– Shop until you drop at the Rosebank Mall.

– Sip a succulent cup of coffee at the Roast Republic.

– Take a stroll around lush Zoo Lake.

– Tickle your taste buds with a sweet treat from The Patisserie.

– Visit Everard Read Gallery, Africa’s oldest commercial art gallery.

 

Best Hostel in Rosebank: Johannesburg Backpackers

Johannesburg Backpackers is located in Emmarentia, a trendy and safe neighbourhood 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.

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Best Hotel in Rosebank: Monarch Hotel

This fantastic five-star hotel is located in trendy Rosebank. It is close to dining, shopping and sightseeing options, and is a short walk from public transit. This hotel boasts spacious rooms, spa baths, and a great selection of features and amenities. All of this combined makes it our pick for where to stay in Rosebank.

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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.

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5. Melrose – Best neighbourhood in Johannesburg for families

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. 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 neighbourhood 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

image source: Flickr

 

Things to See and Do in Melrose

– Create your own masterpiece at Artjamming.

– Dine on delicious food (and enjoy a couple of drinks) at The Griffin.

– Enjoy a great cup of coffee at Voodoo Lily Café.

– Excite your sense at Moyo Melrose Arch, one of the best-known restaurants in South Africa.

– Explore James & Ethel Gray Park, a well-maintained and hilly urban green space.

– Fly through the air with the greatest of ease at Acrobranch.

– Grab a slice at Piza e Vino.

– Laugh your head off at Goliath Comedy Club.

– Shop for clothes, accessories, treats and more at Bluebird Shopping Centre.

– Wander throughout Melrose Arch, one of the trendiest areas of the Northern Suburbs.

 

Best Hostel in Melrose: The Backpackers Ritz of Johannesburg

This is one of our favourite hotels in Johannesburg. Set in the Northern Suburbs, this hostel is close to trendy Rosebank and relaxing Melrose. This hostel is built in a large mansion and has incredible gardens perfect for enjoying a relaxing stroll. There’s also a pub, pool, and social lounge on-site.

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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.

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Best Hotel in Melrose: Courtyard Hotel Rosebank

The Courtyard Hotel Rosebank is our pick for where to stay in Melrose. Set amongst a variety of restaurants and cafes, this hotel is close to public transit and well-known landmarks. Rooms are large and luxurious. Guest can enjoy a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a terrace and breakfast each morning.

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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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhood 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.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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