The cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in South Africa offer visitors many interesting attractions, adventurous activities, fine restaurants as well as exciting nightlife. Bars, lounges, and nightclubs offer many various music styles ranging from African beats, Jazz music, country music, and modern beats.
For those looking to get out and hit the town while visiting to meet local people as well as other travelers, this guide touches on many of the great places that offer the opportunity to do so. And while this list offers many examples, South Africa offers a little something for everyone, aptly described as “a world in one country.”
For international and local travelers, hotels in Johannesburg as well as hotels in Sandton offer guests the choice of many different accommodation options ranging from budget Guest Houses and B&B’s to the most luxurious and elegant five star hotels.
Johannesburg, South Africa
South Africa’s city of Johannesburg is home to some of the country’s best clubs with live bands and DJ’s offering a whole range of beats, including fusion jazz hip hop, house and R&B. Many clubs which can be found in Johannesburg also cater to more than one musical taste, dedicating different nights to a particular style or genre.
Great places to hang out and enjoy Johannesburg’s nightlife:
The popular Aruba Lounge in Johannesburg offers an evening sushi menu alongside its range of cocktails to get visitors primed for the night. There are several DJs who rotate during the evening playing a selection of modern beats on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Wednesdays nights are more laid-back.
Boasting one of Johannesburg’s best local acts, this rustic bar focuses on alternative Afrikaans bands. There’s not a big choice in terms of food, but drinks are reasonably priced and the live performances are excellent.
Enjoy the best of African music, be it kwaito (South African house music), African jazz, or contemporary rock at the Bassline. Bassline offers live music until late and is definitely the spot to see and be seen
The minimalist decor and relaxed atmosphere of the Beira Alta is reminiscent of its Portuguese roots which come with a lively selection of Portuguese sounds as well as jazz and world music.
The Radium Beer Hall
Opened in 1929, Radium in Johannesburg is one of the oldest pubs in this bustling city, with a well-stocked bar and a wonderful Portuguese-inspired seafood menu. Close to the city centre, the live entertainment and laid-back vibes are a big attraction.
The Voodoo Lounge in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of the most happening nightclubs in town. A big hit with local partygoers, Voodoo features well-known local musicians and DJs playing everything from house to R&B.
Durban, South Africa
Durban is a colorful and culturally diverse city in South Africa which is reflected in the many different languages spoken here, the international cuisine served in restaurants and the various bars and clubs which can be found here.
Great places to hang out and enjoy Durban’s nightlife:
Nestled between two parks in Durban’s prestigious Morningside suburb Harvey’s restaurant is in a landmark building. This popular venue in Durban consists of two dining rooms, a pavement terrace and an open-air cigar/cocktail lounge. It is strikingly decorated as a sort of indefinable retro-quasi-gothic-hunting lodge hodgepodge, complete with mounted buffalo trophies, padded velvet walls, gold ceilings and original oil paintings.
Cubana Latino Cafe
South Africa’s only authentic Latino Social Club and eatery Cubaña offers the services of a cocktail bar and cigar lounge with a unique flavorsome cuisine. The music at Cubaña is authentically Cuban for the most part, of which some gets imported from Cuba, they still play your favorite commercial and Latino music later in the evening, as the customer desires.
The beautiful city of Cape Town offers many bars, clubs and restaurants to choose from creating a vibrant nightlife which caters for a variety of tastes. One can find the popular restaurants and bars at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront as well as in the city center and along the Atlantic Seaboard areas of Clifton and Camps Bay. The V&A Waterfront provides a variety of nightlife and entertainment from pubs and restaurants to jazz and live music in the outdoor amphitheater. Alternatively, head to Grand West Casino for a glitzy night of gambling, wining and dining. The casino offers a host of restaurants and bars as well as cinemas and other entertainment.
Great places to hang out and enjoy Cape Town’s nightlife:
Trendy bars along the Camps Bay strip offer refreshing and exotic cocktails and sundowners and are a place to be seen. Try Caprice for a sundowner drink or Baraza for drinks accompanied by local DJ’s. For a straight-off-the-beach drink and some good music stop in at La Med beach bar in Clifton. Also on the Atlantic Seaboard, Wafu in Mouille Point has a fantastic wooden deck which overlooks the sea – perfect for chilling with a cocktail and some of their specialty Asian tapas.
Long Street in the city center of Cape Town offers an eclectic mix of entertainment and is within walking distance of the many backpackers lodges found in the area. For a trendy hang-out in the city, try Po Na Na Bar on Heritage Square. For a mellow and laid back evening, try Kennedy’s Cigar bar with its plush interior, cigars and bourbon. And, for an ultra-cool experience head for the exclusive Planet Bar which is located at the five star Mount Nelson Hotel for exotic cocktails, champagne, caviar and oysters.
In trendy Kloof Street, Asoka Son of Dharma is a sophisticated lounge and bar with an upmarket yet comfortable feel. One of the most popular clubs is Opium in the vibey Greenpoint area. With a cigar bar, whiskey lounge and regular events and DJ’s it is an extremely popular venue.
Somerset Road towards Greenpoint offers the Budda Bar and the Buena Vista Social Club for a sultry Cuban feel.
The city center of Cape Town is the main hub of clubs and offers a range of venues from ultra-trendy to ultra-laid back. The Fez, Rhodes House, Jet Lounge and The Ivory Room are a few which fit the ultra-trendy profile. In the District Six area The Jam and 206 attract a more relaxed crowd offering a variety of music and live bands
This post was written by Ryan Mackie of www.south-african-hotels.com. Ryan is based in Cape Town and regularly contributes to travel blogs.