South Africa's financial capital used to have a reputation for edginess - and not in a good way. In recent years Jo'burg has cleaned up its act, however, and although it remains fast-paced and frenetic, it's now one of the friendliest cities around. And with so much to see and do, it's a shame more visitors don't enjoy the city before setting off on safari or to the winelands.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
With its booming economy, founded on gold, it's no surprise that Johannesburg is South Africa's premier shopping city. In its glittering malls, you'll find international designers from all over the world, as well as some stunning home-grown labels. For big-budget shopping, head for Sandton City or The Mall of Rosebank , or take a more laid-back approach to your retail therapy with a visit to one of the city's craft markets. In the northern suburb of Bryanston there's a charming organic market that has been frequented by locals for decades.
WINING & DINING
Johannesburg's ethnic diversity is reflected in its cuisine. From its early days, the city has been a vibrant melting-pot of cultures, and today you can enjoy everything from Kosher salt beef to Cypriot haloumi; Russian blinis to Malay curries in the city's restaurants. But the South Africa's native culinary traditions are currently enjoying a well deserved resurgence, with high-end restaurants like Lekgotla and Moyo celebrating African cuisine. Or wander off the beaten track and discover the many excellent farm stalls, where you can stock up on chicken pies, succulent fillet steak and home-baked goodies, and the plethora of street-food carts selling snacks to go from all around the world.
Jo'burg has a well earned reputation as a party city, and at township shebeens, murky jazz cafés, late-night coffee shops and glamorous cocktail bars, the action carries on late into the night. For world-class live performances of music, comedy and plays by African and international writers, visit the vibrant Market Theatre ; for West End-style shows, try the glitzy and somewhat mind-boggling Montecasino . If what you're after is a relaxed night out, mingling with the locals, perhaps taking in a few tunes, enjoying a drink or several and refuelling with a midnight snack, head for the bohemian suburbs of Melville and Parkhurst, where you'll find a host of authentic, characterful nightspots.
WORK IT OUT
With all this great eating and drinking on offer, you can be forgiven for over-indulgence - but payback time has to come eventually! Jo'burg's beautiful people spend more than their fair share of time at the gym, and you'll find state-of-the-art, air-conditioned temples to the body beautiful in many of the city's top hotels. City-wide chains include Planet Fitness, Health Connection and Virgin Active. Johannesburg boasts more golf courses per head of population than any other city, so if your idea of exercise and relaxation is smacking a few balls around, you'll have plenty of world-class venues to choose from. Or explore the fascinating township of Soweto on two wheels with Soweto Bicycle Tours - it's a brilliant, eco-friendly way to discover this vibrant part of the metropolis, whilst getting to know and supporting the local community.