10 free things to do in Johannesburg

Modern abstract building with wood paneling

2.01min read

Published 11 June 2015


Although Johannesburg is known as the city of gold, there are many things to do in and around the city that won’t cost you a cent. Explore one of the many museums, markets, streets or parks and get a real taste of what Jozi has to offer.

Here are 10 free things to do in Johannesburg:

Soak up the views from Northcliff Hill

Northcliff Hill image.png
Northcliff Hill image.png
Northcliff Hill image.png

Johannesburg is hillier than you might imagine, and a drive up to the top of Northcliff Hill offers an incredible view of the city – as well as some much-needed perspective.

Maboneng night market

On the first Thursday of every month, the immensely popular Sunday market at Arts on Main in Maboneng becomes a night-time affair. Although the evenings might be cooling down, the enthusiastic crowds, scrumptious meals and endless glasses of wine are sure to keep you warm. Weekend daytime markets include Neighbourgoods in Braamfontein and the Rosebank and Norwood flea markets.


A walking gallery tour


Johannesburg boasts an exceptional array of art galleries with those in the Rosebank area all within walking distance of one another. Make sure to visit the Goodman Gallery, Circa and Everard Read.


Fourth Avenue window shopping

shop window
Fashion and antiques in Parkhurst. Photo by Sean Mcleod.


Parkhurst’s Fourth Avenue boasts an abundance of antique shops, boutique clothing stores (for child and adult alike) and quaint artsy stores. Of course, if window shopping leads to a cluster of bags around your feet as you relax at one of the street’s many restaurants and bakeries, well, that’s just Parkhurst for you.


Laze around the lake

zoo lake 2
Zoo Lake on a Winter's morning. Photo by Christopher Jensen.


Zoo Lake is one of Johannesburg’s oldest parks and well worth an afternoon layabout. Think leafy trees and green hills begging to be picnicked upon, a lake needing to be strolled around, and basketball courts in need of a good game. Delta Park and Emmarentia Dam offer similar opportunities.

For those interested in uncovering a little more about the remarkable history of South and Southern Africa in the heart of Newtown, Museum Africa demands a visit.


Get in touch with history

Walter Sisulu Square - Soweto
Walter Sisulu Square, Soweto. Photo by ign11.


The Freedom Charter, a cornerstone of the South African constitution, was signed in Kliptown, Soweto, in what is today known as Walter Sisulu Square. A visit to the square offers a browse around the shops and access to the open-air museum and the Freedom Charter Monument. Make sure to have some shisanyama (meat cooked over an open fire) for lunch if you’re hungry.


Transport like you’ve never seen it

Fire engines and bicycle
James Hall Museum of Transport. Photo by Pascal Parent.


A visit to the James Hall Museum of Transport is essential for anyone interested in uncovering the history of transport – from animal-drawn carriages to trams, 200-year-old bicycles and a steam vehicle collection. This museum is also the largest transport museum in South Africa.


Money, money, money

200 rands
Historic South African R200 notes. Photo by Jean.


A visit to the Absa Money Museum offers insights into the history of money as well as an exhibition of the most complete collection of items relating to South African currency in the world.


Get out of town

Afternoon sun, top of Magaliesberg
Hartbeespoort Dam below the Magaliesberg mountains. Photo by flowcomm.


The Magaliesberg mountain range and Hartbeespoort Dam are situated just an hour from Johannesburg. Hop in the car and explore the Magalies Meander, stopping off at lookout points along the way for beautiful views that will help you feel as though you have truly left the city behind.


By Cassidy Parker

Flight Centre

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