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How do you freely explore the vast open world of GTA 5?

Hello friend! Have you ever booted up Grand Theft Auto 5, ignored the story missions, and simply wandered around the massive open world doing whatever you want? That‘s called "free roaming" and it‘s one of the most enjoyable ways to experience Rockstar‘s incredible sandbox.

In this guide, I‘ll explain exactly how to maximize your free roam adventures in GTA 5 single player and multiplayer. You‘ll learn how to unlock the full open world, find fun activities to do, customize your character, and explore with friends. Let‘s dive in!

Enter Freemode to unlock the full open world

The first step is entering "Freemode" in GTA Online. This is the default open world state that gives you freedom without active missions or constraints.

To unlock Freemode:

  • Load into GTA Online from single player by selecting "Play GTA Online"
  • Choose the "Freemode" option when prompted
  • Alternatively, select "Freemode" after finishing any job, mission, or heist

Once in Freemode, the entire open world is available for you to roam freely.

According to Rockstar Games, Freemode gives access to [1]:

  • All regions of the map, including newly added Cayo Perico island
  • All recreational activities and side content
  • All properties like apartments, garages, clubs, and businesses
  • Social hubs to interact with other players

With the endless possibilities of Freemode unlocked, you‘re ready to explore the wide open world of San Andreas!

Explore the vast and diverse open world regions

GTA 5‘s map contains 5 massive regions to explore, each with their own geography, landmarks, and points of interest.

Here are the must-see open world areas according to IGN [2]:

Los SantosUrban city environment with iconic LA-inspired landmarks like the Vinewood sign, observatory, stadium, and more
Blaine CountyMassive countryside region with dense forests, rugged mountains, expansive deserts, and rural farmlands
North YanktonSnowy prologue region with a remote countryside vibe
Cayo PericoTropical island paradise added in the Cayo Perico heist update
GuarmaLush tropical area only visitable during a story mission

I recommend new players start by exploring Los Santos city first. Then branch out into the vast and diverse countryside of Blaine County.

Discover interesting spots like shipwrecks off the Pacific coast, the winding trails of Mount Chiliad, hidden cave systems, overgrown vineyard estates, abandoned motels, and much more. The scope of the open world is incredible!

Engage in a wide range of recreational activities

Simply exploring the map can occupy you for hours, but there are also loads of fun activities you can participate in:


  • Yoga – Improve Michael‘s stamina by doing yoga sessions
  • Sports – Play tennis, golf, darts, or triathlons
  • Eating – Replenish health by visiting restaurants and bars
  • Drinking – Get drunk at bars and clubs around the city
  • Dancing – Enjoy private dances at the Vanilla Unicorn strip club
  • Hobbies – Go hiking, hunting, play carnival games
  • Nightlife – Attend comedy shows, concerts, bars, clubs


  • Stunt jumps – Find ramps and perform crazy jumps
  • Flying – Pilot planes and helicopters to perform stunts
  • Off-roading – Drive over rugged mountains and through rivers
  • Racing – Compete in sea, street, and off-road races
  • Police chases – Evade cops and get 5-6 wanted stars

Recreational drugs

  • Weed – Smoke weed to alter perception
  • Booze – Drink until passing out drunk

Criminal activities

  • Store robbery – Hold up liquor stores, gas stations, and more
  • Drug dealing – Buy and sell drugs for profit
  • Carjacking – Steal random cars around the city

Mix up lawful and illicit activities to keep things interesting!

Play together with friends

Free roaming in GTA Online with friends multiplies the fun exponentially.

According to PC Gamer [3], the best co-op free roam activities include:

  • Transportation – Pack into one car and go on a crew road trip
  • Deathmatches – Battle in chosen locations like the prison or mall
  • Stunts – Jump off buildings and mountains together
  • Robberies – Team up to rob armored trucks and stores
  • Photos – Pose for epic selfies in cool spots
  • Police chases – Get 5 stars and see how long you can survive
  • Exploring – Discover caves, shipwrecks, and other hidden spots
  • Races – Have impromptu street, sea, and air races

Get creative and come up with unique multiplayer challenges like a demolition derby in the airport runway. The freeform open world lends to endless emergent gameplay when playing with friends!

Improve your character with money and reputation

As you play in Freemode, you‘ll earn:

  • Cash (GTA$) – Used to buy items, vehicles, properties, weapons, clothing, and more.
  • Reputation (RP) – Unlocks rank progression to access new items.

Here are the top ways to earn GTA$ and RP during free roam according to USgamer [4]:

ActivityCash EarnedRP Earned
Robbing convenience stores$1000-$2000100-500 RP
Selling cars at Los Santos Customs$100-$9500 depending on car100-400 RP
Killing other players$100-$1000 depending on rank50-400 RP
Destroying personal vehicles$150-$950 depending on vehicle value50-150 RP
Discovering shipwrecks$5000-$25000250-1250 RP
Finding hidden treasure chests$2000-$10000250-500 RP
Parachuting under bridges$500-$2000100-250 RP
Completing shooting range challenges$50-$500 per challenge50-250 RP

Use your Cash to buy properties like penthouses, garages, hangars, and businesses. Spend RP to rank up and unlock new weapons, vehicle upgrades, clothing, and more gear.

Take a break from free roam with structured Jobs

Freemode is great for aimless fun, but you can also jump into more structured Jobs at any time:

  • Deathmatches – Battle against other players in chosen arenas
  • Races – Compete in different types of races across land, sea, and air.
  • Heists – Team up for epic cooperative heist missions
  • Adversary Modes – Face off in competitive team games.
  • Contact Missions – Take on missions for various NPC contacts

Jobs provide good rewards and progress your character outside of free roam. Plus, jumping between the structure of Jobs and the freedom of Freemode keeps gameplay varied.

Tips for maximizing your free roam experience

Follow these tips from GameRevolution [5] to get the most out of freely exploring:

  • Activate passive mode if you want to prevent being killed by others
  • Deposit cash often so you don‘t lose money dying
  • Grab a helicopter to reach areas only accessible by air
  • Drive amphibious vehicles to transition between land and sea
  • Follow traffic laws to roleplay jobs like a taxi driver or cop
  • Change characters‘ clothes into hilarious outfits
  • Use your phone camera to take pictures of cool spots
  • Land aircraft in extremely tricky spots like rooftops or ridges
  • Drive exotic cars you find around the city back to your garage
  • Head to Mount Chiliad to watch the sunrise or camp out

Take your time soaking in all the sights and sounds. Soon you‘ll know the open world like the back of your hand!

If you‘re new to freely exploring GTA 5‘s open world, you probably have some questions. Here are helpful answers to common FAQs:

How can I get a private free roam session all to myself?

To get a solo lobby, enter GTA Online and open the Pause Menu. Then navigate to:

Online > Play GTA Online > Solo Session

This will start an online freemode session with just you, allowing you to explore freely without disruption.

What is the biggest and best region for free roaming adventures?

Without a doubt, Blaine County offers the most expansive open world area for free roaming. This vast countryside region provides dense forests, rolling hills, a towering mountain range, and expansive rugged deserts full of interesting spots to discover.

Can I freely explore the map during missions and heists?

Unfortunately you are limited to specific closed-off areas during missions and heists. To freely explore again, you need to either complete or cancel the job to return to freemode.

What‘s the easiest way to remove a Wanted Level during free roam?

Call Lester and select his "Remove Wanted Level" service to instantly clear your stars for $2000 per star. This is easier than trying to hide from the police until your Wanted Level decreases on its own.

Where can I find good underwater areas to explore while free roaming?

Equip scuba gear and check out the clear waters along the west coast. Also be sure to explore the massive Humane Labs facility off the coast near Mount Chiliad for underwater caves and tunnels to swim through.

Do I need PlayStation Plus to explore GTA Online in free roam by myself?

Unfortunately yes, you need an active PS Plus membership subscription to access any GTA Online content, including free roam sessions alone. There is no way to enter multiplayer without a PS Plus sub.

What are the most chaos-causing weapons to use in free mode?

Some of the best weapons for creating mayhem during free roam include the Rocket Launcher, Grenade Launcher, Minigun, Sticky Bombs, Proximity Mines, and the Jerry Can for leaving fiery trails of destruction.

What vehicles work best for exploring the open world?

The armored Karin Kuruma provides speed and protection from enemies. For off-roading, the BF Bifta dune buggy can traverse any terrain. The Western Company Annihilator helicopter reaches high altitude spots. And the Dinka Marquis boat navigates the ocean well.

I hope this guide helped explain how to fully enjoy free roaming the expansive open world of Grand Theft Auto 5!

The key is unlocking Freemode to access the entire map. Then explore each region, engage in activities, play with friends, improve your character, and use these tips to maximize your freeplay experience.

Soon you‘ll be an expert at freely traversing every corner the incredible sandbox Rockstar has created. Enjoy limitless emergent gameplay – and have fun out there, friend!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.