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17 Amazing Places in Johannesburg You Won't Believe Are Free

17 Amazing Places in Johannesburg You Won’t Believe Are Free

Johannesburg is a bustling metropolis that offers diverse attractions. From museums to parks, there’s something for every interest and budget. 

But is it possible to enjoy the city without spending a cent? The answer is yes! 

Explore Johannesburg without spending a dime with our guide to the best free attractions in the city.


Address: Cnr Klein and King George Streets, Joubert Park, Johannesburg, 2044

Phone: 011 725 3130

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

Johannesburg Art Gallery, once called the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, kicked off in one spot and later moved to Joubert Park. The building, crafted by a British architect, is now a big deal and even got some extra wings!

The collection began with avant-garde British and European art. Then they added Dutch paintings, South African art, prints, and a variety of other items like European lace and ceramics.

Pro Tip:
Don’t miss the opportunity to also explore the nearby Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct. It’s only a 10-minute drive or a 30-minute walk from the gallery.

Johannesburg Botanical Garden

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Address: Olifants Rd, Emmarentia, Randburg, 2195, South Africa

Phone: +27 (0)11 782-7064

The Johannesburg Botanical Garden, formerly a sports field, now sprawls as a lush green sanctuary. Dotted with trees, its spacious grounds provide perfect spots for running, picnicking, and leisurely dog walks. 

The garden features themed areas, including the Shakespeare Garden with plants from Shakespeare’s plays and the Rose Garden with over 10,000 roses of different colors and scents. 

Pro Tip:
Join Yoga in the Park for free yoga classes every Saturday morning in the garden.

The Wilds Nature Reserve

Address: Houghton Dr, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, 2198, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 643 2313

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 6 AM to 6 PM

Wilds Nature Reserve near Houghton covers 16 hectares and has pretty gardens on hillsides. It’s a tranquil spot perfect for hosting small work events and for photo shoots for weddings and birthdays.

You’ll find waterfalls and a sundial with an awesome city view, and the scenery stays green even in winter with cool red aloes.

The reserve hosts events that are compatible with its conservation goals and respectful of the flora and fauna. It limits the number and size of these events to minimize the environmental impact and preserve the natural beauty of the place.

Pro Tips:
Bring a book to exchange at the entrance’s pop-up library. You can also treat yourself to a delicious cup of coffee from the Craft Coffee van that sometimes parks there.

Zoo Lake

Address: Corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and West World Street, Parkview, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Zoo Lake, close to Johannesburg Zoo, is a bustling park where people walk dogs, jog, and skate. It’s just a quick 15-minute hop from downtown and offers a serene spot for a stroll, perfect for about one to two hours.

People like to visit it on weekends because it’s safe, and you can even row a boat on the lake or grab a bite at the local restaurant. Moreover, it has a long history since 1904, and it used to be part of a big forest before becoming a recreational space.

Pro Tip:
When you visit the lake in early September, you can catch the lively Jazz on the Lake. It’s a yearly celebration signaling the end of winter and the arrival of warmer spring days with music and dance.


Address: 163 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 788 1113

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Friday – 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Saturday – 9 AM to 4 PM

Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg is a hub for contemporary art. It’s free and features famous artists like David Goldblatt and William Kentridge.

The gallery is a key hub for African contemporary art, featuring established artists alongside emerging voices. For example, it recently exhibited the work of Kudzanai Chiurai, a Zimbabwean artist exploring themes of violence, democracy, and identity.

Pro Tip:
Drop by their coffee shop and bookshop for a cozy study spot with free Wi-Fi, hot beverages, and delicious pastries.

Museum of African Design


Address: Malcolm Rd, Poortview, Roodepoort, 1724, South Africa

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Friday – 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Saturday & Sunday – 10 AM to 6 PM

The Museum of African Design, or MOAD, is Africa’s first museum all about design. It’s not a regular museum; it’s more like a cool spot to explore African design and culture.

It features exhibits such as the Afrofuturism collection and the African Fashion Week.

The museum set up shop in an old car repair place in Johannesburg’s Maboneng area back in 2013. 

Pro Tip:
The Museum of African Design has a Maker Library, where you can learn from local experts in various fields. You can also enjoy a drink or a snack at the bar/café downstairs, which has a cozy atmosphere and friendly staff.

South African National Museum of Military History 

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Address: 22 Erlswold Way, Johannesburg, 2132, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 646 5513

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 9 AM to 4:30 PM

The South African National Museum of Military History houses 44,000 items from both world wars and the Apartheid civil war. It opened in 1947 as the South African National War Museum and later changed to its current name in 1975.

Visitors can explore a vast array of weapons, military aircraft, medals, and uniforms from different wars and eras. They can also browse the library’s rich collection of books on military history, such as The Boer War or The Anglo-Zulu War.

The museum attracts around 80,000 visitors annually who are interested in learning more about South Africa’s military heritage.

Pro Tip:
Nearby the museum, you can also visit The Wilds Nature Reserve or Johannesburg Zoo, which are just a few minutes’ drive away. 

Prison Break Market 


Address: 10 MacMillan Rd, Glenferness AH, Johannesburg, 2191, South Africa

Phone: +27 82 522 1739

Prison Break Market in Glenferness is an exciting escape to shake things up. You’ll find tasty food, fun stuff to do, and a lively vibe.

You can sample dishes at Starfood Market and browse pottery and jewelry and even join painting workshops at Crafters Shed. 

Pro Tip:
The best time to visit the market is during autumn. You can enjoy the fresh produce, crafts, and live music without the crowds or the heat. 

Johannesburg City Library

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Address: Albertina Sisulu Rd &, Pixley Ka Isaka Seme St, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa

The Johannesburg City Library, situated in a historic building crafted by the architect John Perry in 1935, is brimming with over 1.5 million books and various resources. It boasts an extensive membership base, exceeding 250,000 individuals.

The building itself is pretty fancy, with three big arches and cool stone carvings by a renowned sculptor named Peter Kirchhoff. Recently, they renovated the place, adding more space, a coffee shop, and cool spots for meetings, music, and movies.

Pro Tip:
The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, a 2-minute drive from the library, offers engaging science and technology exploration with interactive exhibits and activities. At just R60 for adults, it provides great value for a fun and educational experience.

Bokkie Park

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Address: 38 Southvale Rd, Leeuwpoort 113-Ir, Boksburg, 1459, South Africa

Phone: +27 (0)11 999-5254

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 8 AM to 5:30 PM

At Bokkie Park, families can enjoy the playground and interact with farm animals. They can engage in various activities with their kids such as petting, feeding, and even milking the cows. 

What makes the park extra special are the freely roaming bunny rabbits, which never fail to captivate the little ones. Additionally, on weekends, visitors can enjoy camel and pony rides.

For outdoor dining options, you can either pack a picnic or utilize the park’s barbecue facilities. If you’ve forgotten your lunch, you can grab delicious snacks at the kiosk. 

Pro Tip:

Don’t miss the craft market held on the first and last Saturdays of each month at Bokkie Park. You can browse and buy from a range of creative stalls and enjoy a cup of tea in the garden while the kids have fun in the park.

Wits Art Museum (WAM)


Address: 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein 2000, Johannesburg, South Africa

Phone: +27 (0)11 717 1000

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Saturday – 10 AM to 4 PM

Since the 1920s, Wits University has been collecting art from South Africa and other regions of the continent, such as West and Central Africa. Inside, there are different galleries, like the Gertrude Posel Core Gallery and the Mezzanine Gallery.

Gertrude Posel Core Gallery primarily focuses on contemporary South African art. It includes works that explore socio-political themes and cultural identity.

The Mezzanine Gallery, on the other hand, showcases traditional African crafts and artifacts. This gallery section offers insights into indigenous artistic traditions and cultural practices.

WAM changes things up with 8–10 new exhibitions each year, so there’s always something different to see.

Pro Tip:
There are other things to enjoy at Wits Art Museum such as
Attending events like lectures, film screenings, music shows, or art performances
Trying the monthly drop-in drawing classTaking a break at the WAM café for freshly baked treats and drinks

Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum

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Address: 8287 Khumalo Rd, Orlando West, Johannesburg, 1804, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 536 0611

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

One of the most important sites in Soweto is the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. It honors the brave students who stood up against the oppressive apartheid regime, and it showcases the history and impact of the Soweto uprising.

The most iconic moment from that historic day is captured in the image of Hector Pieterson being carried by a fellow student. This photograph has become a symbol of the fight for freedom in South Africa and is prominently featured in the museum.

Within the museum, there’s also a solemn memorial wall where visitors can leave messages for the heroes of the struggle against apartheid. It’s a space for reflection and paying respects to those who sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom.  

Pro Tip:
If you’re looking for a nearby place to grab a bite, head to Soweto Pizza Company. They have a cosy place where you can enjoy their amazing pizzas with fresh ingredients and unique flavours.

James Hall Museum of Transport 


Address: Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, Pioneers Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

Phone: +27 (0) 11 435-9485/6/7 or +27 (0) 11 435-9821

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday – 9 AM to 4:30 PM

The James Hall Museum of Transport shows the city’s transport history for over 100 years. 

The museum has different sections that focus on different types of vehicles, such as cars, trains, bicycles, and motorcycles. Some of the highlights include a horse-drawn tram, a vintage steam locomotive, and a Mayoral Rolls Royce.

Pro Tip:
You may want to bring some snacks and drinks with you. There are picnic areas around the museum where you can enjoy a relaxing break and admire the historic vehicles on display.

Adler Museum Of Medicine

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Address: York Rd &, Carse O’Gowrie Rd, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 717-2081

Operating Hours:

  • Museum visits by request only

The Adler Museum of Medicine started in 1962 at the South African Institute for Medical Research, Johannesburg, and now it’s at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Medical School Campus. 

The Museum showcases collections detailing the history of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. Visitors can explore the origins and evolution of healthcare practices, along with the challenges and accomplishments of medical pioneers.

One of the museum’s highlights is its library, housing rare books and an extensive history of medicine reference section. Additionally, it boasts an archive detailing the biographies of numerous medical and allied health professionals.

Pro Tip:
Explore the museum’s educational services for a captivating delve into medical history. Their resources include worksheets, tours, educational videos, and career guidance, all designed to align with the Grade 6 and 7 RNCS curriculum. 

Emmarentia Dam

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Address (Main Entrance): Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Phone: +27 (0)11 712-6600

Emmarentia Dam in north Johannesburg is known as the best place for dog walks in the city. Families gather on the peaceful lawns, and there are walkways with benches for quiet moments.

The dam has different sections for dogs to swim, and a canoe club uses the main dam for training. There’s also a tea room known for great scones.

Pro Tip:
There’s nothing like a summer sunset concert at Emmarentia Dam, where you can enjoy the music of local and international artists in a beautiful setting. 

Delta Park

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Address: 77 Craighall Rd, Victory Park, Randburg, 2195, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 888 4831

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 6 AM to 6 PM

Delta Park is one of the largest parks in Johannesburg, covering 104 hectares of land with grassy fields and shady trees. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place to visit with three dams surrounded by trees and many walking trails to explore. 

You can see many different plants along the park’s edge, and enjoy a botanical walk for hours. If you want a longer hike, you can follow the Braamfontein Spruit Trail, which runs along the park’s south side and follows Johannesburg’s mainstream.

The park also has something for everyone, with a sensory trail, bird-viewing hides, and the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary inside it. In the southeast corner, there is a quiet area with picnic spots, where you can relax and escape from the city noise. 

Pro Tip:
The park has an environmental centre that offers educational programmes for kids and adults. You can learn about wildlife, ecology, and conservation while having fun.

Circa On Jellicoe

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Address: 2 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Sandton, Johannesburg

Phone: +27 (0)11 788-4805

Circa stands as a stunning architectural masterpiece, inviting guests to explore three levels of futuristic marvels. Inside, a remarkable art and design gallery offers exhibitions that enchant the eyes and spark creativity. 

Previous exhibits included Bezzy Bailey’s ‘As it is in Heaven,’ highlighting the plight of endangered rhinos, and Angus Taylor’s ‘Past Completion,’ where sculptures naturally decay over time.  

Pro Tip:
Just a few steps away from the gallery, you can find Freshly Ground Coffee, a cozy and friendly spot to enjoy specialty menus like their popular latte butterscotch, refreshing iced vanilla freezo, and delicious daily special toasties. 

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