Orlando power station, Soweto. © City of Johannesburg

Known the world over for its role in the struggle for democracy, Soweto hums day and night, and its vibe is electrifying. It’s Gucci and ghetto, Hummers and hip hop, Loxion Kulcha (a sought-after local fashion brand that originated in the townships) and livestock, glamour and gogos (grannies).

Did you know?

Soweto is the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace laureates – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – lived on the same street.

Trend-setting Soweto loves to have a good time, and its suburbs abound with local eateries, shebeens (taverns) music venues and pumping nightclubs. Grab a bite to eat at a shisanyama (hot food) roadside barbeque, and if you’re up for it, try a smiley (boiled sheep’s head), a local delicacy.

Visit Wandie’s Place, a Soweto restaurant institution where celebs from across the globe dine on its local specialities. Booking is essential. Meet the city’s elite at Nambitha or indulge in delicious quantities of food, beer and loads of atmosphere at Sakhumzi’s on Vilakazi Street, across from the Nelson Mandela Family Museum.

Follow the bling and the BEAT – marabi, kwaito, funk and blues all jostle for ear-space on the jam-packed ultra-stylish dance floors of this mega-party town. Jazz has been at the heart of Soweto since the 1960s, and performances happen all the time at local community halls, shebeens or in someone’s backyard, so pull up a chair.

Attend a local football match, the passion with which the beautiful game is worshipped here is infectious, and if you’ve backed the winning team expect things to remain raucous until sunrise. Complete your experience with a night or 3 in a local B&B, you’ll instantly become one of the family, and truly ‘see’ this amazing township.