Port Elizabeth, some 763km east from Cape Town, lies on the alluring shoreline of Nelson Mandela Bay, and is the gateway to the Eastern Cape. With 40km of unsurpassed beauty the length of Algoa Bay, scenic nature trails, unique wildlife, a rich historical heritage and near perfect climate, it is forever a popular holiday destination.
The Friendly City started life in 1820, when British settlers landed upon its shores, in turn doubling the English-speaking inhabitants of South Africa. The influence of the British is visible in the architecture around town, the Market Square and Settlers Park. Notable buildings include City Hall and Donkin Houses, scattered along the heritage trail that follows the footsteps of the 4000 settlers.
Today the city is an intriguing blend of industrialism, sweeping townships, breathtaking beaches and fast developing into a water sports hub, offering all range of activities 12 months of the year. As night falls, the beachfront area comes to life, with an array of restaurants and bars lining the streets, providing an idyllic and picturesque setting.
Being a popular tourist destination, the city is served by good transport links for locations throughout the country. Regular flights depart from the local airport to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. From the train station, on the beachfront, services run to the majority of major cities, as is the same for the Greyhound and Translux bus companies. Port Elizabeth is a hilly city therefore walking may become tiring. Fortunately, minibus taxis run all hours of the day to locations around town and are the cheapest form of inner city transport.
The perfect start or finish point on the famous Garden Route and a great pausing spot for game viewing, at the likes of Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth, with stunning scenery and more than its fair share of sunshine, is a must on any South African tour.
Things to do in
Bayworld Museum Complex - Interesting combination of a cultural history museum alongside an oceanarium and snake park. Located in Nelson Mandela Bay, it aims to educate on the conservation of South African heritage.
Cape Recife Nature Reserve - A nature lover’s paradise with a fascinating array of fauna and wealth of birdlife. Within the reserve are an attractive beach, 133-year-old lighthouse and the 9km circle of Roseate Tern hiking trail, allowing visitors to catch a glimpse of all the reserve has to offer.
Donkin Heritage Trail - A must for culture buffs, this 5km trail takes in 47 charming historical sites. Starting from Market Square, the trail traces the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers, and meanders through the city’s streets and up into St Georges Park. Climbing the 204 steps of Campanile (bell tower) leads to breathtaking views of Algoa Bay.
Eastern Cape Beaches - Port Elizabeth is blessed with 40km of unspoilt beaches, offering child and swimmer friendly waters and great surfing opportunities. Hobie and Kings Beach are often thriving with beachgoers and are home to many cafés and restaurants. Maitlands and Seaview are almost untouched and, between May to November, Southern Right whales are often spotted, alongside bottlenose dolphins.
Port Elizabeth Nightlife - With a lively and increasing night scene, the best action takes place around the beachfront and Boardwalk. Barney’s, a lively pub, and Tarantino’s nightclub are favourites at the Boardwalk, along with the casino. Gondwana Café, on Beach Road, has popular jazz nights.
Budget Hotels Port Elizabeth
Kings Beach Backpackers - Welcoming and comfortable hostel. Tel (27) (41) 5858113
Lungile Backpackers - Excellent value, swimming pool and jumping distance to the beach. Tel (27) (41) 5822042.
Midrange Hotels Port Elizabeth
Edward Protea Hotel - Housed in an Edwardian building and offering great ocean views. Tel (27) (41) 5862056.
The Chapman - Excellent rooms in a manor house at Algoa Bay. Tel (27) (41) 5840678.
Luxury Hotel Port Elizabeth