Johannesburg attracts people from all over the continent with one sole purpose: to shop till they drop. To that end, the city has more than 20 malls to choose from, but the best atmosphere by far is found in the suburb of Rosebank, which has plenty of outdoor areas to break the monotony of the various interlinked malls, as well as a good selection of essentials such as travel agents; music, book, fashion, and craft shops ; and a great arts cinema (www.cinemanouveau.co.za). The rooftop at Rosebank Mall, which is open every Sunday and public holidays from 9:30am to 5pm, hosts the city's best market. If you're not here on Sunday, consider the worthwhile African Craft Market (tel. 011/880-2906; daily 9am-5pm winter, 9am-6pm summer), where you can shop for artifacts and artworks from across the continent.
Milpark's 44 Stanley Avenue complex (tel. 11/482-4444; www.44stanley.co.za) is great for browsing and delightfully free of crowds and hassle; the line-up -- selected for the unique stock they carry -- will keep you engrossed for a few hours, and there are some lovely laid-back places to eat. You'll find whimsical and fantastic garments at Just (tel. 011/072-384-9969), showcasing the work of 30 local designers: handmade toys and collectibles from all over Africa (ethically sourced, of course) at African Toyshop (tel. 011-4826223); great gear in natural fabrics at Lunar (tel. 011/726-5558); and a highly reputable gallery, Art on Paper (tel. 011/726-2234), showcasing contemporary art by both established and young, promising South African artists.
This is another blissfully relaxed place to browse for everything from antiques to Afro-chic housewares; definitely visit amoeba, Shop 2, corner of 4th Avenue and 7th Street (tel. 011/447-5025; www.amoebaconcepts.co.za), for an eclectic range of stylish contemporary local art, decor, and jewelry; look for covetable collectibles by Mark Splendid and Sarah Lovejoy. A few steps away is the other Joburg outlet for the African Toyshop, on the corner of 4th Avenue and 6th Street (tel. 011/4422643), with great gifts from 14 countries around the continent.
Fashion divas looking for distinctive "where did you get that?" designer items need to head straight for the Zone@Rosebank. Start by browsing The Space, lower level (tel. 011/327-3640); next door is Sun Goddess (tel. 011/447-8395; www.sungoddess.co.za), the queen of pre-colonial African fashion, a small boutique for real African goddesses -- all the local celebrities have at least one of her head-turning outfits. If you simply want a few smartish T-shirts emblazoned with retro-style South African icons (such as Mandela) or examples of silly local humor, pop into nearby Big Blue (tel. 011/880-3994), a clothes-shop-cum-novelty-store that's ideal for gifts. Upstairs at Stoned Cherrie, opposite Primi Piatti restaurant (tel. 011/447-9629), you'll find more of the best Afro-chic threads in town. Nearby, at Sowearto (tel. 011/447-7004; www.sowearto.co.za), you can browse through some innovative and funky Afro-chic garments and limited accessories from the studios of happening local designers; the range is funky, while the store branding (it's now a small chain) is based on the eye-catching stripes on the packaging of Chappies bubble gum. Also upstairs at the Zone is Ma Gents (tel. 011/447-0996; www.magents.co.za), which you'll recognize by the adjacent advertising for Y-FM, the country's hippest black urban radio station. It's where you'll find funky street wear worn by Jozi's trendiest young hipsters. Right next door is Musica Megastore (tel. 011/788-1087), where staff can point you to the African music section. Don't blindly trust their suggestions, however; ask to listen to a few selections before you swipe your credit card.