From fine wines to craft beers, from cricket to rugby, South Africans are known for their love of sports and spirits. It is not surprising that they have some of the most vibrant sports bars and pubs in the world where the atmosphere is as dynamic as are the patrons.

Watching a soccer match in a bar.
Watching a soccer match in a bar.

DURBAN

Beach Bums
As a long-established—some might say long-suffering—holiday town, Durban is replete with bars. There are bars on the beachfront where you can watch the passing parade, bars on the beach, trendy suburban bars, and old dockside pubs where the food and the beer is more important than the view. Beach Bums is a groovy weekends-only bar, situated right on Causarina Beach, with tables on the sand as well as a deck and inside area. Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal; 27-32/943-1132

Joe Cools Bar and Grill
Joe Cool’s has been doing a lot of advertising on the radio lately so we reckon something special is happening there. Why not go see for yourself? There’s an upper deck overlooking the sea, a lower deck overlooking the sand and no less than 5 bars! This is an entertainment institution right on North Beach and sounds like the perfect place to sip pina colada in your board shorts. Or ogle at the surfers in their boardshorts. 137 O R Tambo Parade, Durban; 27-82/378-8068

Play pool ball at Paddy’s in Johannesburg.
Play pool at Paddy’s in Johannesburg.

JOHANNESBURG

Radium Beer Hall
Opened by the Khalil family in 1929, the Radium Beer Hall back then was an illicit speakeasy by night, while masquerading as a tea room by day. In 1985, it was bought by Manny Cabeleira who then opened the pub’s doors to women and musicians— much to the horror of their regular clientele at the time. Today, it is among the most popular pubs in the country and a vivid introduction to Johannesburg’s nightlife and live music scene. 282 Louis Botha Ave; 27-11/728-3866

The Jolly Roger
The Jolly Roger in Parkhurst has been a Jo’burg staple for over a decade. There’s large screen TVs, a jukebox and plenty of beer. Cheap and cheerful (and often noisy and boisterous), it’s a fun place to grab a drink and a pizza. 10 4th Ave, Randburg, 2193; 27-11/442-3954

Paddy’s
This popular Irish pub in Randburg not only serves Guinness, it also has a pizza oven, pool tables, dart boards and great tunes on a jukebox. It’s a favourite spot to watch a match and sink a few beers and pool balls. There’ll be a live band and kids eat free. Ferndale, Randburg; 27-11/7816224

 

PRETORIA

Khuwana Tavern
Khuwana is an African word meaning beer pot and one could not hope for a better name for one of South Africa’s biggest outlet of beer (apparently they sell more beer than any other South African pub). The popular Khuwana Tavern just north of Pretoria is as famed for its food as it is for its beer—the Mozambican peri-peri chicken, done over an open flame, is easily the best in the country. Pay them a visit in the Mandela Village settlement and share a quart or two with the locals. Mandela Village Khurwana, Hammanskraal; 27-12/711-1208

 

 CAPE TOWN

The Toad In The Village
‘The Toad’ as it is affectionately known has a solid rugby pedigree with former Springbok Bob Skinstad as one of its founders. The Toad, of course, is a popular hangout come match-day with a number of big screens to make sure you don’t miss a thing. There are also eight different beers on tap to go along with a menu with a variety of food on offer. Noordhoek Main Rd, Noordhoek; 27-21/789-2973

Rafiki’s
A well-loved watering hole with several big screens and one of the largest balconies in Cape Town, this mixture of a pub and beach bar is the kind of place where you’ll find friends regardless of which team you’re supporting. In a nutshell, Rafiki’s is local and laidback, with both indoor and outdoor viewing areas and a great balcony perfect for hanging out at halftime. Prized for its pizzas (they’re half-price on Mondays), tall cocktails, and Mexican food (chilli poppers and soft tacos), this Cape Town institution will keep you properly fed and watered throughout the matches.  13 Kloof Nek Road, Tamboerskloof; 27-21/426-4731

Fireman’s Arms
This legendary, down-to-earth English pub in Cape Town’s De Waterkant area is a go-to venue where you can experience the footie, no matter who is playing. Like its atmosphere, people, steaming pies, and giant Eisbeins, this local haunt is warm and homely. The watering hole has nine large screens spread throughout three different seating areas, and two large projector screens. Please be aware that Fireman’s Arms does not take bookings, so be an (abnormal) Capetonian and arrive early.  25 Mechau Street, City Centre; 27-21/4191513

The Foreign Exchange Bar
Make the trip outside of the CBD to watch a game at this laidback bar in Observatory where college fun meets educated conversation (with a side of craft beer). You can sit on a bean bag for extra comfort and surround yourself with the screams of the youthful fans that congregate here. Foreign Exchange has screens that will show the footie, with the exception of Friday nights when the games will only be shown on the outside deck. The chilled-out watering hole does delicious and very budget-friendly-yet-filling food, like cheese fries and veggie enchiladas. Pull up a comfy couch and grab a few mates to join you. 92-95 Station Road, Observatory; 27-21/448-0083

Forester’s Arms
One of Newland’s most popular pubs, Foresters Arms (lovingly known as Forries) is the kind of place where you will find both young and old cheering side by side. There are comfortable chairs throughout, so you can rest easy as you criticise the refs’ incorrect ruling, and with an expansive outside area, the bar provides plenty of space for you to blow some steam when the ref makes that ruling—again. There are five screens inside and another five in the covered outside area. On Sundays they have their famous carvery (succulent roast lamb and pork, complete with crackling, Yorkshire puddings and roast veg). 52 Newlands Avenue, Newlands; 27-21/ 689-5949