Walking in the city – explore Joburg on foot

Making institutional meaning of place

In The Practice of Everyday Life the French scholar De Certeau has a chapter “Walking in the City”.  Here he asserts that the ‘city’ is brought into being by official bodies and large institutions which produce systems like street grids, planned urban spaces, precincts, maps etc. And it is these strategies which organize the city’s spaces into a coherent, intelligible and coherent whole.

Making personal meaning of place

De Certeau argues that, by contrast, the walker moves in ways that are haphazard and irregular, seldom adhering to the plans of organizing bodies. So for example pedestrians might take shortcuts which will ignore the strategic grid of the streets. Or their line of vision (focusing on shop fronts or an interesting activity) will not necessarily cohere with the planned sight line of an urban planner.

The gaze: totalizing versus fragmented

De Certeau contrasts walking in the city to the panoramic totalizing and all-encompassing vistas gained from high vantage points – the ‘all- seeing  gaze’  from the top of Carlton Centre as opposed to the fractured and interrupted sensations of those walking at street level below.

Walking makes a city

Furthermore,  these pedestrians in a city create it through remaking the planned or regulated scheme of the city. In walking in the city, the pedestrian gives new meanings to places and streets which are not the same as those originally assigned to them.  This can be so clearly seen in the way pedestrians (and those who use the city at street level) re-make the inner city of Johannesburg.   So walking the city becomes one of the best ways to not only understand spaces but also to make new meanings of its spaces.

Walking tours of Joburg

So .. put on your walking shoes, pick up the phone and make a booking on a walking tour of Joburg.  There are many excellent ones to choose from:

Sisulu sculpture by Marina Walsh in Diagonal St
Sisulu sculpture by Marina Walsh in Diagonal St Liz at Lancaster
    • Gerald Garner of  Joburg Places has written 3 books on Joburg focusing on the inner city decline and its subsequent regeneration. He’s passionate about Joburg and runs really fascinating informed tours. You can check what is up-coming on
    • Past Experiences run a wider range of excellent tours.  They have run tours as varied as looking at graffiti art under the highways to the more sanitized and controlled space of Lilliesleaf Farm.
    • As well as general walking tours of the inner city, Main Street Walks offer special interest tours such as picnics in the sky, tours of Maboneng precinct and an art and justice tour.
    • And finally the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation runs tours which might not be as critically informed as the ones above, but will give you insights into interesting parts of greater Johannesburg – from the Randlords homes on the Parktown Ridge to the Brixton cemetry and the lives of some who are buried there
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2 thoughts on “Walking in the city – explore Joburg on foot

  1. Hello

    How much per son for this tour and on which days is it available and what times etc

    Please get back to met asap.



  2. Tony Hi
    I’m so so sorry – have only just seen your comment. Here are all the tours and prices
    OUR A: Regenerated inner-city walking tour (6-hours)
    R330 per person
    We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
    * Saturday 14 Dec, 12:00 – 18:00
    * Saturday 21 Dec, 12:00 – 18:00
    * Saturday 15 Feb, 12:00 – 18:00
    * Tuesday 5 March, 12:00 – 18:00
    * Saturday 15 March, 12:00 – 18:00
    Experience the incredibly regenerated Joburg City. This walking tour takes you through Braamfontein, the Retail District, the Historic Core and the Corporate Mining District. The tour recounts the astonishing story of Joburg’s gold-rush birth, its glory days and the impact of apartheid until the eventual decline of the city. Of course the focus is on the current rebirth of downtown Joburg. Get to know the trendiest spots, incredible public art and fall in love with Joburg City!
    Private tours from R3 300 flat fee (1 – 10 people)
    and R330 per person for groups of more than 10
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    0:00 Neighbourgoods/70 Juta, Braamfontein
    0:20 Randlords
    0:50 Narina Trogon
    1:00 The Grove/Hotel Lamunu
    1:20 Rea Vaya Park Station to Rea Vaya Harrison
    1:45 Kerk Street Mall
    2:00 Eloff Street
    2:15 Ernest Oppenheimer Park
    2:25 Historic core at City Hall/Rissik Street Post Office
    2:40 Gandhi Square
    2:55 The Turret
    3:10 Drinks at Goldmine Café or Elevate rooftop @ Reef Hotel
    3:50 Main S-housrtreet Mall
    3:55 Hollard Street (Stamp mill, Cullinan plinth, hanging tower)
    4:10 Main Street Mall/Leaping Impala Sculpture
    4:25 Chancellor House (Mandela & Tambo’s original law office)
    4:40 Sisulu Sculpture
    5:00 Rea Vaya Chancellor House to Braamfontein
    5:30 Parktonian Hotel rooftop
    6:00 Tour complete
    TOUR B: Newtown-to-Maboneng walking tour (6-hours)
    R350 per person
    We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
    * Sunday 15 December, 9:00 – 15:00
    * Sunday 19 January, 9:00 – 15:00
    * Sunday 16 February, 9:00 – 15:00
    * Sunday 16 March, 9:00 – 15:00
    * Sunday 30 March, 9:00 – 15:00
    Explore Newtown – the arts and culture hub of the city, as well as the corporate mining district and Gandhi Square. Visit the Carlton Centre’s Top of Africa observation floor and enjoy sparkling wine in a city penthouse. Next up is a Rea Vaya bus ride to Maboneng’s Market-on- Main. A fantastic and leisurely Sunday in the city!
    Private tours from R3 500 flat fee (1 – 10 people)
    and R330 per person for groups of more than 10
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    9:00 Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown
    9:20 Brenda Fassie Sculpture/Bassline
    9:25 Sci-Bono coffee
    9:45 Sisulu Sculpture
    10:00 Chancellor House
    10:20 Leaping Impala Sculpture
    10:40 Hollard Street (Stamp mill, Cullinan plinth, hanging office tower)
    11:00 Turret (coffee at Reef)
    11:30 Gandhi Square
    11:45 Carlton
    12:00 Walk up Fox
    12:10 Rand Club
    12:25 Corner House & Apprentice rooftop penthouse
    13:00 Walk to Rea Vaya Library Gardens
    13:30 Maboneng – lunch at Market on Main (for your own account)
    14:30 Rea Vaya bus back
    15:00 Back at Chancellor House, walk to cars
    TOUR C: Gandhi to Mandela walking tour (2-hours)
    R200 per person
    We walk
    * Friday 20 December, 15:00 – 17:00
    * Friday 3 January, 12:00 – 14:00
    The incredible stories of Gandhi and Mandela – two world leaders who started their careers as lawyers in Johannesburg. We visit Gandhi Square and Chancellor House (original, 1952 law offices of Mandela & Tambo), as well as Joburg’s outdoor mining museum along Main Street.
    Private tours from R1 800 flat fee (1 – 10 people)
    and R200 per person for groups of more than 10
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    0:00 The Turret, cnr Marshall & Loveday Streets
    0:15 Gandhi Square
    0:30 Cramers Coffee
    0:45 Mapungubwer Rhino
    0:55 Hollard Street (Stamp mill, Cullinan plinth, hanging tower)
    1:10 Headgear and Marshall Square
    1:20 Anglo campus, Leaping Impala
    1:40 Shadow Boxer and Chancellor House
    2:00 Walk back to starting point.
    TOUR D: Pubs, Bars & Rooftops tour (6 ½ hours)
    R660 per person
    We travel by mini-bus
    * Saturday 30 November, 13:30 – 20:00
    * Saturday 1 February, 13:30 – 20:00
    Experience some of Joburg’s most famous drinking spots – from trendy rooftop bars to underground pubs and historic watering holes. Discover a city that is undergoing a remarkable rebirth, a city that offers much more than you would imagine in terms of trendy bars and fantastical entertainment. You are guaranteed an exceptional and memorable Joziburg day! The tour includes stops at six bars, four local drinks and lunch.
    Private tours from R14 000 flat fee (1 – 20 people)
    and R660 per person for groups of more than 20
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    13:30 Depart from Neighbourgoods Market, Braamfontein
    14:00 The Vault @ Mapungubwe Hotel
    14:30 Darkie Cafe
    15:10 Guildhall Pub
    16:15 Apprentice Penthouse
    17:15 Pata-Pata
    18:15 Elevate @ Reef Hotel
    19:30 Depart to drop off guests at Gautrain or starting point
    TOUR E: Fashion District & Little Addis tour (5 hours)
    R400 per person (including lunch)
    We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
    * Saturday 29 March, 9:00 – 14:00
    A walking tour centred on the Fashion Kapitol in the Fashion District. Visit Joburg’s most famous Shweshwe fabric store, do some high-end and bargain fashion shopping, learn about the city’s migrant heritage and visit the mesmerising Ethiopian Quarter, known as Little Addis where you can ‘shop till you drop’. The tour includes lunch and coffee on the balcony of a genuine, authentic Ethiopian Restaurant with a great view of the hustle and bustle of the street below.
    Private tours from R3 000 flat fee (1 – 7 people)
    and R400 per person for groups of more than 8
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    0:00 The Turret, cnr Marshall & Loveday Streets
    0:15 Rand Club
    0:30 City Hall
    0:45 Rea Vaya to Fashion Square
    1:00 Fashion Kapitol & Fashion Shack
    1:30 Fashion District Wholesalers
    1:45 Walkabout to surrounding streets and shops
    2:30 Walk from Fashion Kapitol to Little Addis
    2:45 Joburg Mall
    3:00 Medical Arts Mall
    3:15 Lunch at Ethiopian Restaurant
    4:15 Walk to Fashion Square Rea Vaya
    4:40 Library Gardens Rea Vaya
    5:00 Back at The Turret
    TOUR F: Apprentice Penthouse Food & Wine Pairing, combined with Gandhi-to-Mandela walking tour (6 hours)
    R750 per person (tour, dinner, 4 glasses of wine)
    * Saturday 1 March, 17:00 – 23:00
    Enjoy an evening stroll through the Corporate Mining District, taking in the Gandhi-to-Mandela route. The tour culminates in a fantastic food and wine pairing experience in the city’s most exclusive penthouse – an exquisite evening that you will fondly remember. Guests get to enjoy all the spaces of this penthouse in an informal, but exquisite dining experience.
    Private events from R30 000 (20 people)
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    17:00 Welcome Drinks at Apprentice Penthouse
    17:15 Walking tour
    19:00 Return to penthouse for entrée, starter, main, all paired with wine
    21:30 Talk by Gerald Garner on Joburg history
    22:00 Coffee and dessert
    TOUR G: Stanley Avenue to Constitution Hill – including Childrens Memorial Institute (6 hours)
    R400 per person (tour, coffee and lunch)
    * Saturday 18 January
    This new route includes fantastic coffee and lunch at 44 Stanley Avenue, combined with visits to South Africa’s most significant architectural marvel (the Constitutional Court), as well as the surrounding museums in erstwhile prisons. Constitution Hill is also a treasure trove of art. To add even more meaning to the spiritual journey of this tour, we also visit the neighbouring Childrens Memorial Institute – home to over 20 Joburg-related children’s charities.
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    09:00 Coffee at Bean There, 44 Stanley Avenue
    10:00 Rea Vaya to Constitution Hill
    10:20 Tour of Constitution Court and prison museums
    12:20 Children’s Memorial Institute
    13:20 Rea Vaya back to 44 Stanley Avenue
    13:40 Lunch at Salvation Café, 44 Stanley Avenue
    14:00 Tour ends
    TOUR H: Swimming pools tour (6 hours)
    R400 per person (including lunch)
    We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
    * Saturday 4 January , 12:00 – 18:00
    A fun day out exploring the Joburg inner-city by hanging out at the trendiest swimming pools, including hotel pools, a spectacular rooftop and a public pool.
    Private tours from R3 000 flat fee (1 – 7 people) and R400 per person for groups of more than 8.
    Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
    0:00 Mapungubwe Hotel
    1:00 Rea Vaya to Maboneng
    1:20 Curiocity Backpackers
    2:20 Rea Vaya back to city
    2:40 Lunch at Fashion Shack
    3:40 Rea Vaya to Ellis Park
    4:00 Ellis Park public pool
    4:40 Rea Vaya to Parktonian
    5:00 Parktonian rooftop pool
    JoburgPlaces Tuk-Tuk Tour (8 hours)
    R1500 per tuk-tuk per day (up to three people)
    * Private bookings only – any day
    Book a private, customised tour by Joburg Squirrel tuk –tuk and choose five destinations out of a list of 20 options. Explore the city at your leisure. We organise the itinerary and all bookings, including lunch. The cost per tuk-tuk (max three people per tuk-tuk) to five destinations for full day: R1500 (excluding entrance fees and meals/drinks where applicable). This is a self-guided tour – you are taken through the city by a driver but we provide a customised itinerary with an info guide on all your destinations.
    Pre-booking and payment essential
    Tour starts at the Turret, cnr Loveday & Marshall Streets
    Contact Gerald Garner on 082 894 5216 or e-mail: gerald@joburgplaces.com

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