Johannesburg is not only one of the three capitals of South Africa, but it’s also known as ‘Egoli’ (City of Gold) due to its extensive gold deposits. From there, a rich and electric city was built and can be thoroughly enjoyed by all those who grace it with a visit. From free and affordable activities like South Africa’s First Thursdays to a once-in-a-lifetime sight of the renowned Big 5.
Most cities around the world have direct flights to Johannesburg, making it rather easy to visit considering its far south location. LIFT has some affordable flights that will allow you to start your holiday and experience all the things to do in Joburg.
What to do in Johannesburg
The fun things to do in Johannesburg are endless. This city is inland, unlike its siblings, Durban and Cape Town. The activities in Johannesburg make up for the lack of beaches with an array of affordable and glamorous pursuits for you to enjoy.
Picture rooftop swimming pools and bars, extravagant clubs, culture and historic venues. You can enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sky turn to fire during sunset or you could take a drive to see the Big 5 in action.
Because there’s so much to do in Johannesburg, we’ve compiled a list of the best free, affordable and lavish things to do in JHB to help plan your stay.
Free things to do in Johannesburg
Having fun in JHB doesn’t mean you need to break the bank, check out our list of some of the coolest activities, and the best part is, they’re completely free!
1. First Thursdays
First Thursdays is a special day in Joburg. On the first Thursday of every month, all the art galleries, cultural attractions and restaurants stay open late to allow the city to experience and view the collection on foot. It has a city-wide interest and can be enjoyed in Rosebank, Braamfontein and Maboneng.
2. Hiking in Johannesburg
You don’t have to be a professional hiker to enjoy the natural world. Joburg offers amazing nature walks and hikes for beginners and seasoned hikers.
Around the city you can find nature reserves with hiking trails for all levels. Melville Koppies Nature Reserve is tucked away in Randburg and is home to the remains of the Kraal Wall from the Iron age and some stunning trails. Rietfontein Nature reserve offers hikers a chance to make their way over the ridges of Johannesburg and witness a spectacular view of Santon.
Cheap Things To Do in Johannesburg
If you’re wondering what to do in Joburg, and have a budget, check out these affordable options. They are guaranteed to bring heaps of fun and make your trip to Johannesburg one to remember.
3. The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
You don’t have to be into science to enjoy this amazing, world-class science centre. For only R45 you can wander around the centre for the entire day, seeing all the weird and interesting displays.
The Sci-Bono Discovery centre showcases over 400 permanent exhibits as well as fresh new travelling exhibits changing all the time. To make this even more fun, the exhibits are interactive and guests are invited to use all their senses in this immersive experience.
4. Picnic at the Vaal Dam
This option might be cheating as it’s not in the city, but totally worth the quick 1-hour drive away. Visiting the Vaal Meander is a chance to escape from the noise and movement of city life and relax surrounded by nature.
The banks of the dam make for the perfect spot for a romantic picnic to watch the sunset below the horizon. Make a homemade picnic basket or bring along some takeaways to make this experience budget-friendly.
The Vaal Meander has more to offer than just the Dam. There is an array of delightful craft stores, outdoor activities, local wildlife to see, boating and water sports and even some local entertainment that will keep you busy for hours.
5. Museums and Art Galleries
Joburg is big on history and remembrance, this makes it a great place to learn about the culture and the city’s life-changing events. Museums and galleries generally have little or no entrance fees, making them an affordable day out.
Whether it’s political, social, cultural or natural, you can find work from local and international artists in some of these amazing galleries.
- Johannesburg Art Gallery
- Gallery Momo
- The Apartheid Museum
- Constitution Hill
- National Museum of Military History
- ABSA Money Museum
6. Catch a Movie at the Cinema
Johannesburg has a movie cinema in almost every mall. Making it an easily accessible activity, no matter where you are staying in the city. You can find the latest blockbusters in 2D, 3D, IMAX and VIP cinemas.
Enjoy a box of popcorn and 2D movies for an affordable night out, or watch in a luxury cinema with sensory action. Alternatively, in Cinema Prestige you can be served your choice of tasty foods like sushi, burgers, gourmet milkshakes and dessert while you relax in leather recliners.
7. Taste of Africa (Food and Beer Tasting)
Head to the suburb of Yeoville, known as an Afro-cosmopolitan for its extensive diversity in a single square kilometre. Here, you can take a guided tour through the tastes of the continent’s finest and most homely foods.
This little suburb and experience will quench your thirst and fill your tummies with the delights of South Africa.
Luxury Joburg Experiences
Joburg has a wide variety of fun, adventurous and cultural experiences that are sure to blow your mind. These things to do are worth every penny and will make you smile every time you think of your trip to Joburg.
8. Orlando Towers – Bungee Jumping
Jump off the colourful African murals of the Orlando Towers in Soweto. A suspension bridge connects the towers and creates a platform to jump off. Being 100m above the city provides you with spectacular city views and gets the adrenaline pumping for just over R600 per person.
9. Gold Reef City
Gold reef city is just 8km from the city centre. For just over R200, you can ride exciting themed rides and rollercoasters, win some cash at the casino and browse through historical exhibitions. As the name suggests, the park is more like a city filled with shops, restaurants, golf and a collection of other excursions and activities.
10. Theatre and Live Performances
Wanting a lavish night out or just a chance to experience the talented actors, dancers and singers of the City of Gold.
You can book shows at the Lyric, Joburg or Market Theatres around the city for some culturally rich, professional performances. The Barnyard Theatre also holds delightful and fun cover shows of iconic eras and artists that make for a great evening out with your friends. You can bring along your own food and drinks or get something from the cafe there.
Johannesburg also has some big artist lines up for 2021. Including the likes of Zeezy, Rob Rodell and Stormzy at the In The City Festival.
11. Nature and Game Reserves
While Johannesburg is an electric cityscape full of high-streets and chic restaurants and clubs, nature and game reserves are only a drive away. Organizing a weekend getaway to the African plains is a great chance to see the famous Big 5. Johannesburg has a collection of wondrous game reserves and wildlife opportunities for you to experience.
Just 11km out of Johannesburg, you can find the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. This game experience hosts biodiversity of indigenous fauna and flora. Here you’ll have the chance to witness some African buck and other animals, like the zebra, blesbok, wildebeest and duiker, in their natural habitat.
MalaMala Game Reserve is known for its exceptional wildlife photo opportunities. This game reserve covers over 30,000 acres of land and shares a 19km border with the iconic Kruger National Park. At both these game reserves, you are able to see the Big 5, amongst other African wildlife like cheetahs, African buck, hippos, giraffes and much more. You can hop on a 1-hour flight to Nelspruit or take a 5-hour drive from Johannesburg city centre.
Getting To and From Johannesburg
SA Airlines has numerous flights from and around South Africa, as well as globally. Mango flights, LIFT, Kulula flights, and FlySafair can provide affordable travel to Johannesburg. Cheap flights to Johannesburg allow you to spend more of your hard-earned money on memories and experiences, making this trip to Johannesburg, the best yet!
If you’re planning on stopping by other cities in South African, Mango airlines and Kulula airlines have some cheap flights to Cape Town, Durban and Gqeberha. From here you can enjoy the rest of the African culture and the breathtaking coast South African has to offer.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Johannesburg Today
Joburg is a must-see, whether you were born in South Africa or just coming for a vacation. From exploring the hot streets of the city centre to playing the night away at Gold Reef City Casino, Johannesburg has something for all budgets.
So don’t be late for this awesome party, book now with SA Airlines for cheap flights to Johannesburg to have an unforgettable experience in Jozi!