Budget friendly things to do in Johannesburg

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

Johannesburg is South Africa’s economic powerhouse and as such is largely geared towards business. However, there are plenty of things for locals and visitors alike to do which won’t break the bank.

Visit a gallery:
If you’re a fan of modern art, the Goodman Gallery at 10 Chester Road in Johannesburg is the place for you. It’s quite possible to spend an afternoon viewing the contemporary artworks which largely stem from South African and African artists. Best of all, it’s free.

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Artists under the Sun also makes for a great outing. Both professional and amateur artists alike gather on the first weekend of every month to display their artworks to the public along the borders of Zoo Lake. Most of the works are affordably priced in keeping with making them accessible. Entry is free.

The Wits Art Museum located on the corner of Jorissen and Jan Smuts Avenue is home to a fantastic collection of African art. Over 10 000 items are on display at the museum which has undergone a revamp in recent times. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Although entry is free, donations are encouraged.

Following major rejuvenation efforts, Braamfontein situated just north of the Johannesburg CBD has become a trendy hotspot. Visitors don’t have to go far to find rooftop bars, cutting edge art galleries, hotels, loft apartments and unique coffee shops.

The area’s ‘Neighbourgoods Market’ which sells all manner of fresh, artisanal fare every Saturday from 9am to 3pm is particularly popular with visitors. Constitution Hill, the Joburg Theatre and the Origins Centre also lie within close reach. Prices vary from place to place and depending on what you want to eat or do. I.e. you can spend as little or as much as you want to.

Braamfontein isn’t just about cultural attractions and trendy eateries though. The area also caters to a wider audience in the form of cyclists. Once a month, large numbers of cyclists gather for ‘Critical Mass’ in Braamfontein to pedal their way through the area’s streets at nightfall. If you don’t have a bicycle, the event organisers will be more than happy to rent one to you for a small fee for the evening.

A walk in the park:
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Roodepoort and Emmarentia Dam in Emmarentia are perennial favourites with outdoor lovers.

The Walter Sisulu Gardens is arguably best known for its beautiful gardens, magnificent waterfall and pair of breeding Verreaux’s Eagles. Antelope, jackal and hundreds of varieties of birds also call the gardens home. Various events happen at the gardens throughout the year and visitors are welcome to bring a picnic. The entrance fee ranges from free to R35 for adults.

Emmarentia Dam is popular with dog and water lovers and those who just want indulge in a lazy picnic. A canoe club trains regularly on the dam and fresh fish can be caught if you have a licence. Entrance is free.

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Melrose House Museum:
Although strictly speaking part of Pretoria, Melrose House Museum lies within easy reach of Johannesburg proper and is well worth a visit. Located at 275 Jacob Mare Street, this grand house was built in 1886 on the instruction of prominent businessman George Jesse Heys. It was named after Melrose Abbey in Scotland and played host to the Heys family for many years. In 1902, the Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the South African war was signed at the house which boasts magnificent Victorian and Edwardian architectural elements. The rooms on display offer a fascinating snapshot into the lives of the people who lived there so long ago. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm and can be viewed for a mere R20 per adult.

Numerous other attractions:
Of course these are but a few of the attractions Johannesburg has to offer. Other budget friendly attractions include, amongst others:

• The Absa Money Museum
• Main Street Walks
• Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour
• Market Theatre
• Museum Africa
• Worker’s Museum
• Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
• Joburg Zoo

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Explore neighbourhoods mentioned in this article

Johannesburg CBD and Bruma
Vibrant big city living
The Johannesburg CBD encompasses a vast area, ranging from the affluent areas like Linksfield, to more affordable areas like Hillbrow and Bruma. After years of being seen as a no-go area by many, the city centre has bounced back to being in demand again. A massive urban regeneration project has seen money pumped into the area and occupancy is up and crime is down - a sure sign that it's working. The Maboneng precinct, for instance, now attracts a hip, arty crowd to its bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries.
Genteel Tranquility
Northcliff is one of the older, more established areas in Johannesburg. It is highly sought-after by those looking for a tranquil and exclusive lifestyle. The properties on Northcliff Hill have large grounds with well established park-like gardens. Newer developments in the extensions to the West cater to the younger generation with a taste for modern architecture. There is a distinct lack of industry and commercial blocks. For those who seek the sparkle of entertainment or the outdoors, it is less than half an hour from top spots like the Lion Park, the Cradle of Humankind and the buzz and dazzle of Monte Casino and Silverstar Casino.