FREE things to do in the Bay

  • 18 January 2017 | By Anje Rautenbach

The sun is still out in Nelson Mandela Bay and the one picture-perfect day after the other picture-perfect day is gracing us with its presence; the Bay of plenty waits with a whole lotta adventure, a whole lotta fun and a whole lotta things to do and see.

But let’s be honest.

January is one tough month and pay day is a distant dream hiding somewhere behind a bush, around the corner, a week or two away.

Luckily, the activities in and around our city not only caters for all types of budgets, styles and preferences, it also caters for those who prefer to discover the world-renowned freedom in Nelson Mandela Bay for free!

It will cost you absolutely nothing; niks, nada, zilch, zero! How’s that for a bargain?

There are numerous sights that you can visit while your wallet is neatly tucked away in your pocket, so why not head out, pack a picnic basket or grab a snack from home and experience the Bay inside out; from old historic memorabilia to modern day sights.

Free things to do in the Bay

Get outdoors

The outdoor activities are plenty in and around Nelson Mandela Bay; we have wildlife, marine life, Blue Flag beaches, hiking trails, outdoor parks and more.

  • Visit one of the Bay's prestigious Blue Flag beaches for a stroll, a swim, a sunset or a picnic. But don’t stop there, go to the rock pools of Schoenmakerskop or go snorkeling at Sardinia Bay.
  • Stay fit and healthy by using the outdoor gym facilities at the beach or by hiking/running the promenade. You can also join a Park Run every Saturday, 08:00, at Hobie Beach.
  • Put on your hiking boots and tackle one of the many free hiking trails such as the Grysbok trail, Sacramento trail, Guinea Fowl trail and Humpback Dolphin Trail. Read more about the trails in the Bay on this local blogger’s blog.

A photo posted by Gary Blom (@garyblomphotography) on

Parks, picnics and more

If you want to spend a day in a park, with the option of having a picnic, going for a walk, enjoying birdlife and not going to far from the city centre, then the park-like spots in the Bay got you covered.

  • Visit Settlers Park Nature Reserve for its hiking trail (Guinea Fowl Trail) as well as its abundant bird life plus the fauna and flora.
  • Pack your picnic basket and choose one of the shady spots in St. Georges Park for a picnic while the kids can play, swing and slide. Don’t forget to drop by the 1882 Pearson Conservatory to enjoy a variety of plants such as ferns, a collection of epiphytic bromeliads, and tropical and aquatic plants.
  • Uitenhage’s Willow Dam is another favourite for picnic-lovers and avid birdwatchers. It is also home to Uitenhage’s Market.

A photo posted by Nadeera Van Wyk (@nadeera_vanwyk) on

Visit a Market

Markets are popping up everywhere and whether you are seeking green goods, treats or a craft beer (that will require you to take out your wallet for a while), don’t miss out on the friendly atmosphere and energetic vibe of our markets.


A photo posted by Erenei Louw (@erenei7) on

Be your own tour guide

Thanks to Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism’s nifty app you can now be your own tour guide in the city with the comprehensive audio guides of Route 67, complete with a map and a photo to identify the art installations along the way.

You can also walk the Donkin Heritage Trail that links 51 places of historical interest in the old Hill area of central Port Elizabeth. There is an A4 printable map you can download or you can pick up a booklet from the Donkin Visitor Information Centre.


A photo posted by Clarence Watts (@clarencesdb) on

Experience yesteryear

The number of museums in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch just proves how rich Nelson Mandela Bay is in history. While some of the museums ask a small entrance fee like R10 (VW Autopavillion) or even R5 (Cuyler Manor Museum), other museums are completely free of charge and you may make a contribution to the museum in form of a donation.

Visit South End Museum.

Visit the South African Air Force Museum (Read about this local blogger’s visit to the Aviation Museum).

Visit Despatch Museum.   


Appreciate art

View the works of the modern day Van Goghs or Picassos at one of the Bay’s galleries or museums.

Get out your NMB Pass

While the pass is not entirely free you are still saving some moola (especially if you bought it pre-January-wallet-blues). The NMB Pass gives you free access to a plethora of things to do from FREE game drives to FREE surf lessons.

Don't forget to visit for more information about events, what to do, where to eat and where to go.

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