The Best Place To Spend Sundays In Johannesburg: Market On Main

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It’s Sunday in Johannesburg, South Africa and my husband (Anders) and wondering where the best place to spend the day is, we decide to go to a local market in town.

After a hearty breakfast at our hotel (The Residence), our driver takes us to the market. It’s just a quick 10 minute drive and there’s hardly any traffic.

On the way there we drive through some rough-looking neighborhoods and then suddenly we arrive to this totally hip area that looks so inviting.

We agree for him to pick us up after a few hours, and off we go. It’s a gorgeous and sunny day, so we start by walking down one side of the street, checking out the merchandise which the local street vendors have arranged beautifully in the sidewalk.

There are lots of handmade “arts and crafts” stuff, jewelry, hats, and other things made from wood or multicolored beads. I see some pretty bracelets and ask the vendor “how much”. They’re 30 Rand each, which is about US$2.25. Not bad. We decide to look further and tell the vendor that we’ll be back.

“I hope so,” she says.

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Market On Main is a weekly Sunday market, located at Arts on Main in Maboneng, downtown Johannesburg (Joburg) – open from 10 am to 3 pm. It’s a neighborhood that has become sort of an urban oasis and a cultural center for artists, small (?) businesses…and tourists. It does seem very touristy, but without the negative connotations that the definition usually implies.

In my opinion, this is the best place to spend Sundays in Johannesburg!

We reach a gate of some sorts and enter into a wonderful little courtyard where lots of people are sitting around and enjoying a meal or a drink – al fresco.

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Heading past the restaurant, we enter a building, which looks like and old warehouse. And this is where the magic happens. It doesn’t take very long before we’re greeted by a myriad of mouthwatering smells from the many food stalls that we encounter inside.

All around the ground floor of the building, people are cooking food. And there’s all kinds of delicious foods to tempt you, but unfortunately for us, we’ve already eaten and we’re still pretty full.

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So we just make our way around to look and smell the food from each stall. Anders is pretty devastated, because he can’t eat anything and everything just looks so unbelievably delicious!

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Upstairs, we find a variety of small boutiques where we buy a few things. There’s also an art gallery with the most gorgeous paintings and one in particular catches our eyes. It’s US$ 1000 for the painting, which isn’t bad considering that it’s a one-of-a-kind, but it’s too big to bring home. So I snap a quick (and hopefully undetected) photo of it instead, which will have to do.

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After browsing several other boutiques, we head back downstairs and out of the building. On the backside there’s a guy grilling big steaks and ribs and it looks and smells incredible. I get a fresh squeezed orange, carrot and ginger juice from a juice vendor and it’s so tasty.

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Further along the street, we stop so I can purchase some bracelets from one of the street vendors. They’re also just 30 Rand each, but I negotiate a small discount for buying several. Anders buys a genuine South African Panama Jack hat from another vendor and negotiates his own discount.

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We decide to take a break at a café called Eat Your Heart Out that serves delicious milkshakes and I just have to try one, so I get one with Nutella and what not. Anders is still a bit moody from not being able to eat any food, so he just has a bottle of water. The waiter isn’t too happy with us, but hey…

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We walk a bit down another street and stick our heads into a few local designer boutiques. There’s one boutique that catches my eye, because it’s so full of colors and curious things, so we take a look. Everything there is really lovely, and I decide to get a small clutch. At least that’s what I think it is or at least what I’m using it as! The lady at the shop is apparently also the owner, and she makes a point of point of telling and showing me that my purchase is locally made.

“See,” she says and shows me the label inside the clutch, “it says ‘made in South Africa’.”

I notice the small table with a sewing machine behind the cash register and ask her if she makes things right here in the store. She does. Everything she sells is handmade – by herself.

I find that pretty cool and knowing that makes my purchase fell a bit more special. It’s nice sometimes to be able to support small businesses instead of the major, international chains.

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We don’t go much further than here because just around the corner, the neighborhood changes completely and looks like someplace you really shouldn’t go, especially if you’re a tourist and unfamiliar with the area.

It’s funny how the streets change character so quickly. So we head back towards the place where our driver dropped us off, and just in time. We actually see him drive past the spot where he’s supposed to pick us up, but a few minutes later he’s back again and we head back to the hotel.

22 Comments

  1. Awesome!
    I was just in South Africa but must’ve missed this!
    I do love markets though – you learn so much about a nations culture there!
    Where was your favourite place in South Africa??:)

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    1. Yes, it was definitely a great place. My absolute favorite part of SA was going on safari, seeing all the beautiful animals and staying at Makanyi Lodge and Londolozi. I’ll be writing about these experiences soon. What was your fav place / experience?

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  2. Shopping, Yes Please! Thanks for the refreshing update on the Sunday market in Maine, the painting looks so stunning! Bargain shopping and delicious food all at the same place now that’s nothing less than heaven 😉

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  3. Oh I just love local markets! I’ve visited many all over the world, such a great way to meet people and try local food. The food looks amazing here! I would love to visit SA one day and visit this market.

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  4. Loved visiting South Africa! Stayed in Capetown for 6 weeks and never made it to Joburg unfortunately! Looks like a great market and boutique shop! I love buying local wherever I go!

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  5. I love visiting markets, especially when they good food selection! The one you went to looks fabulous! I hope I can make it to South Africa soon so I can visit it !

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  6. Yup! Sometimes is really funny how surroundings change from here to there! Nice and funky places in the article!

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  7. I went into this post thinking I was going to learn about the best shopping (just what came into mind when the word ‘market’ came up). YET! I came out of this post craving desserts and paella LOL I’m dying to get down to South Africa and this post isn’t helping! It looks like such a fun day!

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