A concierge recommends: 24 hours in Johannesburg

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A concierge recommends: 24 hours in Johannesburg
From captivating sights to sidewalk cafes and jazz clubs, this vibrant South African city is bound to leave a lasting impression

Johannesburg is the largest city by population in South Africa. It encompasses a diverse mix of cultures while being one of the most modern and prosperous cities in Africa. Be immersed in the rich history of Johannesburg when you visit Soweto and learn about the apartheid years at Nelson Mandela's former home. Be sure to also stop by the Gold Reef City and learn about the city's gold rush.

It is best to visit the City of Gold during the spring months from August to September, as you can take advantage of the cool and sunny days while you enjoy the abundant offerings this cosmopolitan city has to offer.

Kathleen Hedges, Head Concierge of InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers, shares a 24-hour itinerary for you to get the most out of this dynamic metropolis.

Kathleen Hedges, Head Concierge of InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers

06:30am: Enjoy a 45-minute scenic drive from Johannesburg to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Here, you can explore some of the world's oldest fossils, which date back three and a half million years. To enjoy a breath taking view of the South African landscape, opt for a 45-minute hot air balloon flight, and sip on a cold drink as you ascend into the open skies and enjoy 360 degree views of the heritage site and sweeping landscape. After landing, indulge in a full English breakfast to fuel for the rest of the day's activities. If you are celebrating a special romantic occasion, be sure to arrange for an exclusive balloon ride for two, so you can enjoy your own private tour.

Hot air balloon ride in South Africa

11:00am: After a serene morning of sightseeing, it is time for some action and adventure. Take a 90-minute drive to Mount Mayhem in Boksburg to try one of the most exciting sports in South Africa, sandboarding. Both equipment and lessons are included at the cost of USD 25 per person. Although the highest dune can reach up to two kilometres, there will be dunes to accommodate all levels of experience. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothing and sports shoes.

Sandboarding in South Africa

1:00pm: A quick 30-minute drive will lead you back to Johannesburg's Juta Street — a collection of creative boutique stores as well as bistros and coffee shops where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch. All stores surround a central courtyard, which locals call their "inner city beach". Every Saturday, the courtyard is transformed into a semi-outdoor Neighbourhood's Market. Market-goers can expect to find an assortment of goods from local artisan producers, gourmet merchants, specialty cooks, regional farmers, as well as a  clothes made by local designers.

Juta Street

Must-tries include oysters from Namibia and specialty craft beer from South Africa. If you need a dose of caffeine for that mid-day pick-me-up, try the 'Big Bomber' from local coffee shop, Post. The unique coffee concoction adds a strong shot of espresso to a thick layer of condensed milk.

3:00pm: A trip to South Africa would be incomplete without an up close encounter with wildlife. Take a short stroll or a six minute car ride to Johannesburg Zoo and meet the white lions and the Siberian tigers, one of the rarest species in the world. Be sure to say hello to Wang, the only polar bear in Africa, who is now 30 years old.

Johannesburg Zoo

7:00pm: For dinner, head to the authentically African, Moyo Restaurant, a five-storey establishment situated at Melrose Arch. This fine-dining venue showcases warm African hospitality and serves authentic South African cuisine, which includes a variety of meat, poultry and seafood dishes. Some of our recommendations include Lamb Tagine, Oxtail Amos, Ostrich Berbe and Beef Fillets. The restaurant also hosts a variety of local entertainment like storytelling, live jazz bands, West African folk musicians and country artists.

10:30pm: After dinner, head to Sophiatown Bar Lounge. The retro-chic bar is named after the Johannesburg Township where renowned local musicians Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba honed their craft. The bar invites jazz performers to play for a lively crowd to jive to every Thursday and Saturday.

For more information on suggested activities in Johannesburg, please visit the InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers Concierge Guide

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Text: Kathleen Hedges

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