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TThe transformation of Sandton from a smallholding community to a fully-fledged municipality within greater Johannesburg progressed rapidly when construction work began on the Sandton City shopping centre in the 1970s.
In 2000, when the South African stock exchange changed its name to the JSE Securities Exchange, and relocated to Sandton, after 113 years in central Johannesburg, Sandton’s reputation as Joburg’s new capital of wealth and style was truly established.
Sandton Drive, Katherine Street into Wierda Road East, West Street, Rivonia Road, and Grayston Drive, form the boundary of the Sandton CBD; and beyond it, the prosperous, residential suburbs of Sandown, Parkmore, Benmore Gardens, Wierda Valley, Sandhurst, Inanda, Chishlehurston and Atholl are Johannesburg’s equivalent of Beverly Hills. East, on Sandton’s doorstep by contrast, is the huge, informal, and mostly poor township of Alexandra.
About 20 hotels in the Sandton CBD offer top-notch accommodation, many of them 5-star. The Sandton International Conference Centre, numerous hotel conference venues, and convenient access to banks, internet services, medical facilities, and transport, make Sandton the centre of Johannesburg’s business tourism industry. A number of embassies and consulates are based in, and around, the Sandton CBD.
Shopping is a favourite occupation for Johannesburg’s fashionistas, who flock to Nelson Mandela Square to buy high-end international lifestyle brands, jewellery, art, antiques, and African couture.
Sandton City, one of the largest shopping malls in the Southern Hemisphere, is the grand dame of retail therapy in Sandton, with over 300 stores.
The Marc opened recently in Sandton. The development consists of two office towers, shops and restaurants, ample parking, a hotel and a public art installation.
Next door, on Nelson Mandela Square, a 6m bronze statue of Nelson Mandela watches over Sandton’s most fashionable meeting place. Sporting a fountain, notable steakhouses, a library and a theatre, the outdoor piazza is Jo'burg's answer to St Mark's in Venice.
After dark, Sandton’s moguls shed their jackets and ties, and join Johannesburg’s poshest party animals in Sandton’s upmarket restaurants, bars, coffee shops, clubs, and late-night entertainment venues. At weekends, a European-style street culture of organised buskers, street performers, and outdoor art exhibitions prevails.
Innesfree Park and Mushroom Farm Park are green spaces within walking distance of the CBD, and are ideal places to jog, picnic, or watch the sun sink below Sandton’s iconic skyline.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)11 085 2500
How to get here
From OR Tambo International catch the Gautrain, a high-speed train service to Sandton, a 12 to 15 minute trip. Alternatively, hire a metered taxi at the airport, or arrange for a shuttle pick-up to your hotel.
Best time to visit
Malls, entertainment venues, and most restaurants are open all year round. Sandton businesses elect which national public and religious holidays to observe, and may be closed on those days.
Things to do
From Sandton, it’s a 5-minute drive to the fashionable suburbs of Rivonia, Hyde Park, Rosebank; about a 20-minute drive to Monte Casino and Fourways; and about a 20- to 40-minute drive to trendy Braamfontein, Newtown, Gold Reef City and Soweto.
Do a walking tour of Sandton, or arrange a guided tour of nearby Alexandra township, or Liliesleaf Farm, a Freedom Struggle attraction in nearby Rivonia.
Sandton City hosts an international shopping festival in September. Exhibitions and events take place at the Sandton ICC throughout the year.
What to pack
Only your most stylish clothes!
Where to stay
Accommodation options in the Sandton CBD are mainly upmarket hotels ranging from large, 5-star establishments to boutique hotels. In the suburbs surrounding Sandton there are many B&Bs, guesthouses and self-catering apartments.
What to eat
There are about 50 restaurants within the Sandton CBD, excluding fast-food franchises. French-style fine dining, posh African, and upmarket steakhouses are popular.