Budget guide to Johannesburg
In order to prove to you that fun does not have to be expensive, Moneybags did a little investigating. Here’s our list of awesome and original things to do in Johannesburg for under R200.
Johannesburg is famous for its cultural and culinary diversity, and boasts plenty of small, family-run restaurants selling authentic fare at low prices.
For the best budget Chinese food go to China Town in Derrik Avenue, Cyrildene.
Head south to Kensington for some true Portuguese hospitality, or try the Troyeville Hotel in town (Tel: +27 11 402 7709). Renowned for their prawns (1kg of Queen prawns and a bottle of wine for R 219 on a Saturday) and their no-frills, old style decor, they run Happy Hour most evenings from 4pm – 6pm and host a Friday evening Jazz duo.
For little a little piece of Ethiopia, try Netsi’s in Jeppe Street – authentic Pan African food at excellent prices.
And if you’re looking for some real Durban rotis, try Curry ‘n All on the corner of Grayston Drive and Katherine St, Sandton. Get there early on a Saturday – the food sells out fast.
Picnic in the Park
Johannesburg, with its beautiful weather and gorgeous parks, is the perfect place for long, lazy picnics. Try James and Ethel Gray Park on the corner of Atholl Oaklands Road and Melrose Street, or the well preserved Delta Park in Linden. Emmarentia Dam has a dog-friendly area and a magnificent rose garden. Entrance to these parks is free.
For a real treat, drive out to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens – voted the best picnic spot in Gauteng for the past 5 years. Adults pay R 27 to enter, Students R 22 and Scholars R 12. Children under 6 can enter for free.
Johannesburg has a variety of vintage shops brimming with treasures. Fruitcake in Central Johannesburg (130 Pritchard St) stocks vintage clothes and accessories which date right back to the twenties, as well as vintage name-brand pieces by designers such as Valentino and Versace. Reminiscence in little Melville is a lovely vintage clothing and jewellery boutique well worth a visit. Moneybags loves the Hospice Store in Louis Botha Ave, Orange Grove (+2711 483 9100). They sell everything from plants, clothes and furniture to toys, roller skates and handbags. You’ll have to dig through some junk but you’re bound to find something special at a discount, and all for a good cause.
Take a hike
Johannesburg and its surrounding areas have magnificent hiking trails. Mountain Sanctuary Park in the Magaliesburg costs R 50 to enter for the day. Pack a picnic and explore the waterfalls and incredible scenery. Booking is essential: Tel: +27 14 534 0114.
The Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve (Tel: +27 82 458 2816) is just 10km from the centre of Johannesburg, yet you’ll feel as if you’ve left the city miles away. There are plenty of hikes (long and short) which can be done with or without a guide, and entrance is free.
If you’d like to join a hiking group, the Easygoers offer free membership and organised hikes.
And if you want to stay closer to town, try the Melville Koppies. They form both a Nature Reserve and a Johannesburg City Heritage Site. Easy walks and guided tours take place every Sunday, alternating between morning and afternoon. It costs R50 per adult and R25 per child. Enjoy tea and scones at the Melville Mugg & Bean after your walk – they have bottomless coffee and gigantic muffins, and you’ll still come in at less than R 200 for the day’s activities.
The Fordsburg Experience
Mint Street in Fordsburg on a Friday and Saturday night is a truly eclectic experience. Start off at the evening market, which sells anything from cheap Chinese goods, bootlegged DVDs and fake handbags, through to spices and fabrics at nearby stores.
If you’re tempted to buy some junk, make sure you test the products first – especially the DVDs. And don’t be afraid of hard bargaining.
There are a variety of Indian restaurants surrounding the market, most of which offer authentic Indian food at a fraction of the mainstream price. Try Kashiffs in Mint Rd (Tel: +27 11 838 7861) or Dosa Hut in Central Street (Tel: +27 11 4921456) which is famous for its Malabar Fish Curry. The food, atmosphere and music provide a fantastic evening out, and all at an excellent price.
Inner City and Soweto Walking Tours
Past Experiences offer a range of budget tours aimed at locals, exploring historic sites, shops, galleries and restaurants. From inner city walking tours through to shopping tours, prices start at R 50. The Johannesburg CBD or Soweto Tours are a combination of public transport or on foot. Contact Jo Buitendach at email@example.com for more information.
Orlando Towers Adventuring
The disused Orlando cooling towers in Soweto provide an exciting venue for all kinds of crazy adventurers. From rock climbing to abseiling, paintballing to bungee jumping, there’s an option available for any adrenaline junkie. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make inquiries.
The Braamfontein Revival
The Braamfontein revival has created an exciting hub of design, art and fashion, from the Seventy Juta development (70 Juta Street, Braamfontein), through to Co-Op (Tel: +27 11 023 0336) – a multi-room art space which displays visual and installation art by young South Africans.
Explore the galleries, shops and creative hubs, followed by lunch at Post (Tel: +27 72 248 2078) or the famous Narina Trogan (Tel: +27 11 339 6645).
End the day off with a drink at Kitchener’s Carvery Bar in Braamfontein. This spot is over 100 years old with the original fittings and trimmings, local dj’s and well-priced drinks.
Lazily browsing the local markets, drinking and snacking in the sun…a dreamy day of course, but keep your eye on the costs. Markets are popping up all over Johannesburg, and some of them are selling goods at inflated prices. We love the Bryanston Organic Market, which has been running for years and sells good quality food and crafts.
Another market which has stood the test of time is the Rosebank Rooftop Market. Be sure to compare prices and don’t be afraid to haggle. For a full day out, drive to the Irene Craft Market at the Smuts House Museum in Irene, just 40 km north of Johannesburg. They have a huge variety of goods on sale and plenty of stalls selling great lunchtime snacks.
Drinks in the sun
For the number one budget drink and pub-grub venue in town, try the Zoo Lake Bowling Club (Tel: +27 11 646 1131). The venue is perfect for a summer’s day and the kids can play in the park. Get a table on the front deck and prepare to be patient – the service is dubious but the drinks and food are insanely cheap.
Coffee and Cake
Moneybags loves Wolves Café in Illovo (Tel: +27 11 447 2360), not only because the prices are good and the wireless is free, but also because of their red velvet cupcakes.
Indulge on Rivonia Boulevard (Tel: +27 79 507 9469) sells a variety of mouth-watering cakes and runs regular specials, and Nice in Parkhurst (Tel: +27 11 788 6286) has a book store which you can browse whilst waiting for your coffee.
Flowers and lunch
There are plenty of nurseries with lovely coffee shops around the city. Random Harvest in Muldersdrift (Tel: +27 83 553 0598) stocks a wonderful collection of reasonably priced indigenous plants. Their restaurant serves coffee and lunch under the fever trees. For those living closer to the South, try Leeways Nursery off Kliprivier Drive (Tel: +27 11 683 2358).
Main Street Life
A great way to spend your day if the purse strings are a little tight – Arts on Main is a space for creativity and fun (Tel: +27 878 300 440).
Have a drink and a snack at the local restaurant (prices are a little high here so don’t get roped into a 3 course meal), browse the galleries and concept stores or relax with a book in the reading room. Check out ‘The Canteen’ for its exhibitions.
On Sunday, Market on Main takes place – a wonderful opportunity to experience the creativity and crafts of our local artists and foodies. End your day at The Bioscope (email: email@example.com) – an independent cinema showing feature films, series and documentaries.
Chalkboard Collaboration Café (Tel: 010 007 0119), a local eatery just around the corner in Fox St, has chalkboard tables and walls aplenty for you to scribble on. Grab a sandwich for R 35 and draw on your table to your heart’s content.
The Camdeboo Peach Farm in North Riding (Tel: +27 73 410 2712) offers a fabulous day out for under R 200. Boxes are supplied to you on arrival, and you can fill them up for only R 20 a kilo.
After your picking is done, enjoy a peach smoothie or a wood fired pizza at The Peach Café, or laze on a blanket beneath the trees and enjoy your own picnic.
Our local beers are some of the best in the world. For a great day out and a look into beer brewing, visit Gilroy’s Brewery in Muldersdrift on a Saturday. You can book a group beer tasting or enjoy some home brewed beer in Gilroy’s beer garden. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SAB World of Beer in Newtown ((Tel: +27 11 836 4900) also provides you with an overview of the history of brewing in early Johannesburg, and for only R 55 you get the tour and 2 beers.
For the kids
The Johannesburg Zoo consists of 81 hectares of land and boasts a wonderful variety of animals, birds and reptiles. Entrance is R 58 for adults and R 34 for children. There’s a simple restaurant for a quick, cheap lunch and year round events including talks, concerts and night walks. E-mail email@example.com or call +27 11 646 2000.
Johannesburg has some great bars. If you’re looking for something glamorous without burning a hole in your pocket, the elegant Ami Restaurant and Champagne Bar in Craighall Park (Tel: +27 11 447 4648) offers free tequila every Tuesday night and bottomless bubbly every Thursday for R 165 per head.
Another famous watering hole is The Radium Beerhall on Louis Botha Avenue. Renowned for being one of the oldest surviving bars in Johannesburg, it’s casual, cheap and a little musty, but it also attracts a diverse crowd and has live music during the week. They do a half price pizza every Tuesday and 500g of Queen Prawns as a special every Thursday. Call them on +27 11 728- 3866.
Having a good time doesn’t need to be expensive. There are plenty of things to do which don’t require spending more than R 200. Always keep an eye on your budget and make sure you’re in the loop with the latest specials and deals.
And remember: Venues change, prices vary and different specials are constantly popping up. To stay in the loop and make sure you’re catching the latest Entertainment specials, sign up to the Moneybags weekly newsletter here.
*All prices and information correct at time of publication and subject to change thereafter.