Golden Hour in Johannesburg
Beyond the bustling cityscape of Johannesburg, a profound bond with nature comes to life. This special bond becomes apparent when you witness the beautiful natural surroundings and the city’s skyline working together to create the perfect setting for some of Africa’s most stunning sunsets. Experiencing a Jozi sunset is undoubtedly one of the most delightful ways to savour the charm of the City of Gold as it bathes the metropolis in a radiant golden hue each evening. Unsurprisingly, one of the city’s primary attractions lies in the sundowner experiences dotted throughout. Join us as we unveil some of Johannesburg’s most enchanting locations to witness the setting sun.
Northcliff Hill – A Natural Haven
Nestled in the heart of Johannesburg, the picturesque Northcliff Hill stands as a testament to the city’s diverse heritage and rich natural landscape. According to archaeological studies, the site was once a settlement for early humanity, dating back 250,000 years to the Stone Age. Some of the remnants of these ancient civilisations can still be found around the area. The elevated vantage point offers hikers and cyclists the reward of breathtaking views once the climb up is conquered.
From the top of South Africa’s second highest point, perched 1807m above sea level, one can expect to see uninterrupted views of Randburg, Rosebank and Sandton and, in clear conditions, as far as the statuesque Magaliesberg mountain range in the distance. The summit is easily accessible by road and foot, and visitors are encouraged to park in the designated spots and challenge it on foot. Here, visitors and nature enthusiasts can escape the bustle of city life and meander along various paved walking paths and perch on the stony outcrops to immerse in a picturesque sunset.
The distinctive Northcliff Water Tower, built in 1939, is a familiar landmark on Northcliff Hill. During the construction of this reservoir, archaeological artefacts were discovered, implying that the hilltop was the site of an ancient human settlement. Today, the landmark attracts various picnic-goers and is a popular destination for hikers, cyclists and families to take a break and enjoy the serene environment with its marked paths and numerous picnic spots.
Alto234 – Africa’s Highest Urban Bar
At the apex of the exclusive and luxurious Leonardo Hotel in the centre of Sandton is Alto234, Africa’s highest urban bar. Alto234 derives its name from ‘alto’, a Latin word that translates to ‘height’ and 234, for how tall the bar stands in metres. From its vantage point, the rooftop bar boasts immersive 360-degree views of the Jo’burg skyline. To the north, the Voortrekker Monument; to the east, the steel birds descending on OR Tambo International Airport; to the west, the Magaliesberg mountains and the splendour of the sunset; and to the south, the famous Soweto township.
The open-air venue is the epitome of luxury. As the daylight gently fades into twilight – a flickering fire, soft lights and plush seating set the tone for an unparalleled sunset experience. Alto234 offers seven seating areas and flutes of chilled champagne on arrival. Guests can indulge in a luxury tapas and sushi menu while appreciating the beauty of Johannesburg. Timing is essential to fully appreciate Alto234’s significance as a sunset spot. Arriving before the golden hour is key, just before the sun paints the sky with gold, amber and rose hues, and the cityscape transforms from day to night.
San Deck Bar – A Sophisticated Retreat
Located in the heart of the Sandton CBD, the San Deck Bar & Restaurant is harboured on the 13th floor of the opulent Sandton Sun hotel, high above the city’s rhythm. Ascending the atrium bedecked with dazzling chandeliers and elevated contemporary décor; one is struck by the sheer luxury and tailored service Sandton Sun offers. The San Deck experience begins upon crossing the threshold of the grand atrium. Stepping off the elevator and onto the rooftop, visitors’ eyes are greeted by the Jozi cityscape, bathed in hues of amber, saffron, and crimson, unfurling before them.
As one of the city’s most popular rooftops, San Deck invites visitors to socialise in unique outdoor spaces, from pergolas and private pods to luxurious seating arranged around stone firepits. This rotunda is reminiscent of a boma, traditionally a meeting place. San Deck seamlessly blends quintessential South African culture, and a casual meets contemporary dining experience. From its all-day dining menu that reflects time-honoured South African flavours to a bar selection that incorporates South African favourites such as ‘witblits’ (a clear brandy made from grapes) and ‘mampoer’ (a smoother fruit brandy distilled primarily from peaches and apricots), the rooftop venue stays true to its South African roots. San Deck invites you to celebrate life, cocktail in hand, as you savour another Jo’burg sunset, serenaded by the Afrocentric sounds of resident DJs.
The Roof Bryanston – Best Seat in the House
Amid Johannesburg’s vibrant urban landscape lies a rooftop cocktail bar that has earned a reputation as a must-see sundowner spot. The Roof Bryanston sets the stage for an unforgettable evening against the backdrop of the setting sun. From signature cocktails to a delightful tapas menu that showcases an unexpectedly wide variety of vegetarian options, such as their famous zucchini fries with rosemary mayo, cauliflower pops with hoisin sauce and aubergine tempura, the venue transforms simply watching a sunset, to a memorable event. More than just a cocktail bar, the ambience at The Roof Bryanston is a blend of modern aesthetics, natural elements, and industrial touches.
From this vantage point, the rooftop offers an exclusive view that captures the city’s dynamism: the glass and concrete spires of the CBD, surrounded by the emerald tops of wooded suburbs. The Roof Bryanston is not just limited to being a cocktail bar but also a hub for entertainment. Whether it’s a soothing live acoustic set or an electric DJ performance, the air is filled with music that enhances the mood, ensuring that every sunset experience at The Roof in Bryanston is an immersive experience.
If you are a sunset lover, you will be thoroughly pleased with these locations, though we can’t promise you will not be charmed and end up wanting to experience all of them in one trip. From these magnificent vantage points, you can identify iconic landmarks such as the panoramic view of Johannesburg CBD, Sandton City, beautiful suburbs, the Magaliesberg mountains, and the ridge of the Witwatersrand. One thing is sure: by adding these exciting experiences to your list, your visit to Johannesburg will leave a lasting memory.