South Africa offers up great entertainment with urban playgrounds filled with energetic markets, packed restaurants, world-class shopping centres, luxury hotels, and a thumping nightlife with real South African flavour
Moreover, soulful market experiences are thriving in South Africa. Neighbourhood and city markets celebrate artisan and handmade goods, which are wonderful places where you can enjoy a dose of culture, good conversation and true friendly local South African flavour.
Arts and Crafts shops: The first choice would be local arts and crafts. If you are after community arts and crafts, visit the Dube South Craft Route (Kraaifontein, Western Cape, Gauteng and Franschhoek). The site provides a wide-angled view of the arts and crafts available in the country, and is also invaluable in providing information to off-the-beaten track places in South Africa.
Flea markets, factory shops: Almost every town has its little craft markets, with the larger city flea markets selling unique and often handmade clothing, crafts, jewellery, ornaments, collectables and deli foods at cut-rate prices. There is also the Panorama Flea Market in Mulbarton, and B&B’s Hillfox and Rosebank Rooftop Markets, both among the largest and oldest markets in the country. Rosebank in Johannesburg is also home to the African Craft Market, where entrepreneurs from all over the continent sell imported African crafts and fabrics from an innovatively designed indoor market.
Cape Town’s Greenmarket Square is a legend where you will find handmade clothing, shoes, jewellery and much more. Other craft and flea markets in Cape Town include the Khayelitsha Craft Market, Pan African Market, the Milnerton market, the Waterfront Art & Craft Market and the uber-trendy Neighbourgoods market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.
Then there are the speciality centres, a cross between shopping malls and craft markets. Art Africa, in Parkview, is a legendary shop and popular tourist stop that has been selling rare and wonderful African art and crafts for over a decade. There’s also the extraordinary Kim Sacks Gallery in Parkwood, which offers handmade urban and rural objects, ceramics, textiles and other interesting artefacts from across the continent.
If you are after real bargains, though, check out some of the factory shops, found all over the country but particularly popular in Cape Town. Some of them can be difficult to find for the uninitiated, so author Pam Black has compiled a comprehensive list for the savvy shopper.
Here are South Africa’s top shopping experiences
South Africa’s shopping centres provide world-class shopping, plenty of entertainment, the latest movies and delicious food in conveniently situated and safe surroundings. Whether you are looking for something specific, have time on your hands to browse around or just love to shop; the boutiques, chain stores and specialist shops in the country’s malls have it all. Here is a rundown of the best shopping centres
Sandton City: Located in Sandton’s upmarket Centre Business District (city centre), Sandton City in Johannesburg is regarded as one of the most glamorous shopping malls in southern Africa; a veritable melting pot of fascinating cultures, beautiful clothing and high end couture. Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square are home to 400 of the most desirable international and local fashion brands. With an abundance of sophisticated, Afro-cosmopolitan experiences and a plethora of restaurants, Sandton City offers an exciting shopping and leisure experience.
Gateway Theatre of Shopping: One of the biggest malls in the southern hemisphere and one of Durban’s premier entertainment destinations, the Gateway Theatre of Shopping offers an incredible choice with 380 top-notch retailer stores, a wide array of entertainment and fun-filled recreational activities. More than just a mall, Gateway offers visitors a range of entertainment to suit the whole family. Test your skills on the 24m indoor climbing wall (one of the highest in the world), enjoy world-class entertainment at the Barnyard Theatre and catch the perfect wave at the Wavehouse and the 4 000sqm Skate Park designed by the American skateboarding legend, Tony Hawk.
Cape Quarter: The Cape Quarter is more than a shopping centre; this historical area has developed over the years into one of the trendiest places in the Mother City, with beautifully renovated old buildings and upmarket interior design establishments, all within five minutes of the Centre Business District (city centre).
Melrose Arch: The modern and sophisticated Melrose Arch Precinct in Johannesburg is a premier shopping, entertainment and living destination in South Africa. It is a city within a city, an urban space where office, retail, residential and leisure opportunities co-exist. The area encompasses top-class shops and fabulous restaurants surrounding a central piazza. The piazza invites alfresco dining, open-air opera, theatre and music festivals as well as events with celebrities, sports stars and world-class chefs. The area is also home to the 5 star Melrose Arch Hotel, which attracts discerning visitors from South Africa and abroad.
Cavendish Square : This award-winning shopping mall is considered the premier fashion destination in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. With over 250 of the most elite stores in the country, shoppers can spend all day marvelling at the latest fashion inspirations from around the globe. Then take time out to relax at one of the many coffee shops, such as the popular Mugg & Bean, or catch a movie at Cinema Nouveau – the leading independent cinema in South Africa specialising in foreign and art house films.
Fourways Mall: This mall is situated in the trendy suburb of Fourways in Johannesburg, which provides excellent access to Joburg, Pretoria and O.R Tambo International Airport; and is home to luxury hotels and the famous Montecasino entertainment complex. There are over 170 shops to choose from, ranging from South Africa’s favourite chain stores to speciality stores, spas and beauty therapists. For the family, the Magic Company amusement centre offers regular displays. The centre offers free parking, 24 hour security and extended trading hours
Riverside Mall: The Riverside Mall in Nelspruit is the premier shopping centre in Mpumalanga. It is a major attraction for retail tourists from all over Mpumalanga, Mozambique and Swaziland. The centre boasts more than 140 stores, 15 restaurants, and a movie cinema — the only movie theatre in a 200 km radius. The shopping centre is also a gateway to major SA tourist attractions such as the Kruger National Park, the Blyde River Canyon, and neighbouring Swaziland and Mozambique.
The Pavilion: Just five minutes from Durban, with an average of 1.8 million visitors, the Pavilion in Westville remains a premier shopping and entertainment destination in the Kwazulu-Natal province.
The Mall of Africa: The Mall of Africa was incepted to be the centrepiece of Waterfall City, an upcoming mixed-use development located in Midrand, Gauteng between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The shopping mall houses flagship stores in South Africa for international brands and has introduced new brands to South Africa.
The Mall and Waterfall is visited mostly by shoppers from Africa and all over the world.