Google Maps reveals your favourite places in Joburg and Cape Town – the results aren’t what you’d expect…

How often do you hear about somewhere everyone and their uncle seems to be raving about? Are your friends or neighbours always talking about highly recommended local favourites? Or are you seeing pictures of beautiful attractions all over social media and wondering what it’s all about (and why you aren’t in the know)? 

You know you want to go, but you’re not sure how to get there. Google Maps is turning 15 and, to celebrate, Google Maps has revealed its users’ favourite bars, restaurants and tourist attractions in and around Cape Town and Joburg. 

South Africa has an abundance of places to eat, drink and be merry. Tourists flock to our country because there’s so much to see and do, and our exchange rate is favourable for most. Even top restaurants and attractions are relatively affordable with foreign currency (or at least when they’re offering winter specials or discounted rates for us locals!). 

But the places loved by tourists and locals alike aren’t necessarily the places you’d expect. In fact, some of the Google Maps results may surprise you. 

So, what are some of the most highly rated establishments in Joburg and Cape Town right now? 

Joburg 

Restaurants 

Ana-Paula’s Coffee Shop: Topping the Joburg list isn’t a fine dining restaurant, but a coffee shop in Krugersdorp. Serving coffee, cakes and lunches, Ana-Paula’s is loved for its beautiful garden, warm and inviting space, tasteful decor and delicious food.  

The Marabi Club: This vibey restaurant in New Doornfontein serves cocktails, whiskies, fine dining dishes, Sunday lunches, late night pizzas, and more, all accompanied by live jazz in a speakeasy-like setting. The venue is a landmark evoking the area’s vibrant history and taking visitors back to a time when people would escape hardships in the area’s illegal shebeens in the 1920s. 

Ristorante La Trinita: The “best Italian restaurant” in Joburg, located in Kyalami, is a small women-owned and run business serving up home cooked pizzas, pasta and other traditional Italian delicacies. Visitors say they’ve had some of the best meals of their lives there and many feel they are welcomed as warmly as family when they visit. 

Bars 

Sin+Tax: This cocktail bar in Randburg is ranked at number 88 on the World’s 50 Best Bars for 2019 extended list for its beverages, that explore a diverse range of flavours and push boundaries. Some say it feels like they’re in Manhattan, New York, while others liken it to a secret speakeasy. Many reviewers agree that it is the best venue for cocktails and a night out on the town in Johannesburg. 

The Blind Tiger: Located in Parkview, this cafe and bar is a “cosy” neighbourhood spot with an extensive menu of unique and classic cocktails and a wide selection of fine wines. They also serve California-inspired fusion cuisine, if you need something to soak it up. Visitors call it “quaint”, “sophisticated”, “fun”, “trendy” and a “lekka local”. 

Trumps Grillhouse and Butcher: This bar and grill has been on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton since 1994 and is known as a favourite spot for locals, tourists and even celebrities. Whether paired with a superb steak or solo, the venue boasts an extensive wine cellar and selection of “age-old” whiskies. Guests love the ambience and atmosphere for a date night, though some weren’t so sure about visiting because the Trump name has a bit of a bad rep. 

Tourist attractions 

Nizamiye Mosque: Visitors describe this place of worship in Midrand as peaceful, relaxing, beautiful and exquisite. It is based on the 16th-century Ottoman Selimiye Mosque and can hold up to 6000 people per service. The interior is beautifully ornate and boasts 232 stained glass windows. At night, on special occasions at least, it is spectacularly lit up in green and purple. 

Madhya Kailash Temple: Also in Midrand, this Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and serves “hundreds of thousands” of people for worship and public events. People love that it is stunning and serene and, always a bonus when visiting pretty much anywhere, has ample parking. 

Hashtag Escape: The trend of escape room games has taken the world by storm, and Joburg is no exception. A group of friends, family or colleagues (it works well as a team-building exercise) are locked in a room with one hour to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape. Hashtag Escape offers three scenarios, which players have noted are challenging, thought-provoking and well designed. 

Cape Town

Restaurants 

La Petite Colombe: This fine dining restaurant is found at the Le Quartier Français Hotel in Franschhoek (although it is moving to Leeu Estates in May 2020). Guests say that visiting is not just a meal, but an entire exquisite experience around food. 

La Colombe: Sister restaurant, and the original Cape Town fine dining experience, La Colombe is located at Silvermist wine estate in Constantia. It has won many awards locally and internationally and is consistently ranked among the best restaurants in the world. Those who rated it say the food is extraordinary, pure bliss and beyond spectacular. 

Moro Gelato: This cafe, with branches on Long Street and Regent Road, Sea Point, serves traditional Italian Gelato freshly made from an old family recipe. And reviewers can’t seem to help going back for more. Try the highly-recommended pistachio, dark chocolate, rooibos or caramel popcorn flavours. 

Bars 

The Gin Bar: You will find this “secret courtyard” behind Honest Chocolate Cafe on Wale Street in the city centre. And, for gin lovers, it’s worth hunting down for its variety of more than 70 South African gins. According to patrons, the bartenders really know their way around gin and the location makes for a unique experience. 

Cause Effect: The swanky Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen and Cape Brandy bar offers an impressive cocktail menu packed with flavours of the Cape. The bar also offers more than 60 Cape potstill brandies. Many reviewers say you can’t find anything else like it and it is an absolute must-visit in the city. 

The Biggest Little Beer Shop: Part bottle store, part bar, this shop in Willowbridge Shopping Centre, Bellville boasts a large variety of international and local craft beers, ciders and some spirits. Relax and enjoy a draught beer, while perusing for some bottles of something new and different to try at home. If you’re unsure, the knowledgeable staff will help you out. 

Tourist Attractions 

Parapax Paragliding Cape Town: Parapax take thrill-seekers and adventure junkies who “wanna get high” on tandem paragliding flights with day tours in Cape Town, Porterville and Hermanus. The highly experienced crew pride themselves on running a safe and fun experience. Those who have taken to the skies say they felt they were in good hands for the “amazing” experience. 

Muir Street Mosque: One of the oldest mosques in Cape Town is the Muir Street Mosque, located in Zonnebloem in the heart of former District 6. The city landmark, according to one visitor, has a “special spiritual atmosphere”, while another calls it a beacon of living heritage of the area. 

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden: The world-renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is located at the foot of Table Mountain in Newlands. The sprawling gardens, boasting a diverse range of indigenous plants, are a haven for nature enthusiasts, tourists, picnickers, bird watchers, and anyone wishing to find some tranquility in the bustling city of Cape Town.