A relatively small city, Pretoria lies about 50km north of Johannesburg and is approximately three degrees warmer than its southern cousin. Although largely a government-based city, it is also a place of culture, with theaters, museums and monuments.
Greater Pretoria is a city of science and technology, knowledge and industry in the true sense of the word.
As the academic, scientific and technological capital of South Africa, the city has the most highly developed technology and research sector in Africa.
Four universities and a number of scientific institutes call Pretoria home, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute, both internationally respected.
Jacarandas throw a blanket of mauve over this somewhat sedate city. Even so, Pretoria boasts superb shopping centers, museums, art galleries and restaurants. There is also an abundance of open spaces – Pretoria has more than 100 parks, including bird sanctuaries and nature reserves.
The center of the city, rich in history and architectural gems, houses the
To the south of the city center up Paul Kruger street – about a 20 minute walk – is the
Close to that is the suburb of Burgers Park, including
A few blocks north of the city center is Marabastad, where you'll experience the colors and hustle and bustel of Africa. There are fascinating shops like the ‘muti' shops of the ‘Sangomas' (traditional healers), cinemas and a mosque recalling the vibrant, cultural and religious life of Marabastad. Famous for its beauty and ingenuity in building construction, the
About five city blocks to the east of Marabastad are the
Sunnyside, Arcadia and Hatfield
Backtrack south to Church Street (the longest urban street in South Africa), then go east and on the left, are the
This is where you'll find the suburbs of Sunnyside, Arcadia and Hatfield – the most popular areas for embassies, shopping centers, pretty lanes, beautiful old homes and the University of Pretoria. In fact, these are the most affluent and interesting suburbs of the city.
Hatfield boasts bars, cafes, boutiques, sidewalk coffee shops and restaurants from which you can soak up the South African sun and watch the passing parade of students, artists, street artists and sidewalk traders selling stuff from all over Africa.
About ten minutes from there, in the suburb of Arcadia, is the
To the south, are the hilly, gracious and large suburbs of Waterkloof Ridge and Waterkloof Glen. It's here that the very wealthy reside, viewing Pretoria from their lofty homes.
To the south of the city, and heading towards Johannesburg is Centurion, of note primarily for the
The entertainment scene in the city is broad and there is always something for everyone to do. There are theaters; galleries; bars & pubs; clubs and many more to choose from.
One of the highlights in Pretoria is the theater scene, which has entertained both locals and international visitors for many years. The State Theatre, one of the biggest theaters in the country, caters for opera, dance and music lovers. In a year, the State Theatre plays host to about more than 100 live performances and festivals, from ballet and opera to traditional African musicals. One of the more renowned theatres to visit is the Unisa Little Theatre, which is mainly used by up and coming artists and directors. Plays at the theatre are very fresh, and not your average fare.
Bars & Pubs
Where to start? The city has a vast selection of bars and pubs, with some of the better ones being part of restaurants or hotels.
For affordable up-market pubs, there is Tings an' Times; Desperado Salon & Diner and Nile Crocodile, which not only offers the best service around but also a relaxed environment. One of the favorites with locals and visitors alike is the fast growing number of cocktail bars. The hottest cocktail bar, which has proved itself throughout the years, is South Beach. The bar never runs out of ideas on how to serve and name some of their more famous drinks. Another cocktail bar, which has an exotic cocktail menu, is Cool Runnings. With its Rastafarian feel it brings customers the flavour of two worlds, Jamaica and Africa. There is no place that serves colourful shooters like this one. If going to a Rastafarian pub or a hectic pub is not the best idea for you, then try the subtle cocktail pubs like Café Amics; Jazz Times and Pierre Café. These pubs also have an interesting menu, with a very cozy environment to go with it.
Sports fanatic? This city also has plenty of sports pubs. South Africa is a sports loving country, with cricket, rugby and soccer being major events on the calendar. To satisfy that sporting thirst, Pretoria has one of the best-equipped sports cultures in the country. There is the London Sports Pub, Red Card Sports Pub, World of Sports Action Bar, Villagers Sportsman Pub and World of Sports Action Bar of Wonder Waters. These pubs are equipped with the best audio and visual material, driving any sports fan crazy. Even though they might not differ that much in size, they all offer the best in sports and leisure enjoyment. Due to its cultural diversity, Pretoria has a wide selection of jazz venues featuring live sessions. Places like Solly's Tavern, Sandy's Tavern, Chilli Boys Jazz Tavern and Mamelodi Tavern play host to local and international jazz musicians. These sessions range from contemporary jazz to a more ethnic variety, and are a feast to all you jazz-fiends out there.
When it comes to nightlife, Pretoria has it all. For hardcore House music, rave and live DJs, The funk, Automatic and Club Evolution are the places to visit. These clubs are all situated in safe areas and their DJs change from time to time. Club Explosion, DropZone, and Times Four play a mixture of house music, Latino sounds, American pop, and music from around the African continent.
Being the capital city of South Africa, Pretoria plays host to festivals to celebrate public holidays and commemorative days. Festivals are held at different venues like the State Theatre, Union Buildings, Loftus Stadium and Church Square.
One of the best and well-known festivals to be held around the city is the Jazz Indaba Festival, which is held four times a year, at the Morula Sun or Moretele Park. Here, jazz fans gather to witness the best of local and international jazz.
Welcome to the beautiful sunny city of Pretoria and all its wonders. Come on, relax and enjoy the Jacaranda trees (they don't call it the Jacaranda City for nothing) and its cultural diversity. First lets start where you are going to stay, anything from expensive, moderate and affordable. With the influx of tourists over recent years, guest houses have started popping up and outnumbering the hotels. At present the city has more than fifty, listed guest houses situated in the city's best suburbs, offering excellent accommodation.
You know that the best things in life don't come cheap, and neither does the accommodation in Arcadia, one of the loveliest suburbs of the city. Lets start with the Sheraton Hotel, which played host to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the country. The hotel has an exclusive pub with a very African feel and a contemporary pub where you can sit and listen to classic music. At the Birdwood Boutique Estate guest house, home-style reception is offered, but at a cost. Like other guest houses in the area, the Birdwood offers luxury, en-suite rooms and personal hospitality.
Hotel 224 is affordable but still maintains quality accommodation. The Arcadia Hotel, Courtyard at Arcadia Hotel, Court Classique, and the Manhattan Hotel all offer comfortable, elegant accommodation with easy access to the city center and with the added bonus of a reasonable price tag.
Brooklyn and Menlo Park
Brooklyn and Menlo Park are some of the best known suburbs of the city, earning their reputation from the class and style they have managed to keep. With most of the new shopping malls in these neighborhoods, they enjoy some of the best accommodation too.
One of the most exclusive places in Menlo Park is the Battiss Guest House, which is run by a well known artist and decorated with some of his great works (you'll think you are in a gallery). Some more costly, but deservedly so, places are Brooklyn Guest House, Anderson House, and Brooks Cottage, which all offer luxurious accommodation.
Avalon, Paula's Place and Rozenhof are moderately priced and are cozy accommodation with en-suite rooms and bathrooms.
This part of the city is moderately priced with limited accommodation close to the city center. Over the past 10 years the area has developed into a real cosmopolitan area and more particularly so for businessmen from West and Central Africa with French as one of the major languages. The best accommodation to visit, billed as reasonable, are Tshwane Guest House and Kosmos Guest House.
Clydesdale is an up market area of Sunnyside and is commonly known as the village of Pretoria. You will find many inexpensive and well-regarded three to four star B&Bs to choose from. This area is a well established, and popular amongst academics from the nearby Pretoria University. It is in close proximately to most of the Embassies in Pretoria as well as hospitals, Union Buildings, the Sheraton Hotel, various shopping centers and the Hatfield area that is well known for its restaurant and night life. Some notable accommodations are That's It!, Oorkant Loftus, Intermezzo and Chancellor's Court.
The best, and most expensive accommodation, in and around the suburb of Waterkloof, are The Belvedere, Marvol Manor House and Annette's Bed and Breakfast. If it is a touch of class you are looking for, these are definitely the places to stay. Apart from their beautifully furnished rooms and surroundings, these guest houses make the best South African breakfast in the country, and don't forget continental and English breakfasts too.
For cheap accommodations, try Ted's Place, where you will sleep on clean sheets in a clean room and have a delicious breakfast.
For the best, don't miss Mutsago and La Maison; they embrace the finest in décor and style. For moderately priced and comfortable accommodation visit Hatfield Manor Hotel, an everyday hotel, simple and plain, nothing fanciful.
The city center is probably the oldest area of Pretoria, and most of the buildings are ancient. However, the Holiday Inn Garden Court, Capital Protea Hotel, Holiday Inn Express and Pretoria Hof, have recently been renovated and some rebuilt to bring back that city feeling. These hotels are famous for accommodating tourists, especially diplomats and ambassadors. They offer the finest cuisine and are constantly changing to keep up with standards.
New Mucleneuk is a new suburb of Pretoria. Being new, most of its places like Brooklyn Lodge and the Bay Tree Guest House offer the best in standards. They provide guests with en-suite rooms bathrooms and beautifully furnished lounges.
Illyria House is reasonably priced and simple, but classically decorated, promising warmth and hospitality to guests.
Pretoria is a city rich in history and cultural attractions. Anyone visiting Pretoria will find an abundance of things to do and see whenever they go out and about including maintained parks, historical museums, and a plethora of animal attractions.
Around the City
In the heart of Pretoria is Church Square, home to former South African President Paul Kruger, which rests on one of the world's longest streets. Church Street is also home to one of Pretoria's most fascinating attractions, Church Street Cemetery, and is surrounded by beautiful Jacaranda trees. The Klapperkop Fort & Military Museum (on Church Street as well) is also an informative and visually interesting display of military history.
Sitting atop Meintjieskop, overlooking Pretoria, are the grandiose Union Buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker. Although guests are not allowed inside the buildings, they are encouraged to enjoy the bountiful and sprawling gardens that surround them.
Three times a week, prepare to be delighted by an educational and entertaining Puppet Theatre Show. Performed by professional puppeteers, their skits are a historical showcase of Voortrekker's ("Pioneers") Monument and Heritage Site and they routinely ask volunteers to help assist and join in the fun.
Take the time to visit the Miriamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Pretoria, dedicated to Miriammen, the goddess who controls smallpox and other infectious diseases. Gaze at the temple's rich and colorful exterior before venturing inside. Over the past few years, however, the Muslim religion has gained immense popularity. So much so, that the Vermeulen Mosque had to be built. The Mosque's intricate and stunning architectural decor will leave spectators breathless.
Day Trips, Zoos & Aquaria
There lies an abundance of natural wildlife and animal sanctuaries to visit in Pretoria. If you enjoy bird watching, go to the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, where over a hundred species can be seen in their natural habitat. Alternatively, if you prefer quadrupeds, take the time to visit the Cheetah Research & Breeding Centre, where visitors can observe scientists' efforts to preserve this beautiful species. There are also numerous reptilian attractions including the Hartebeespoort Dam Snake & Animal Park, and the Thaba Kwena Crocodile Park.
After catching your breath from the intimacy of wildlife, visit Burgers Park, the oldest park in Pretoria. This park is surrounded by trees, flowers and fountains, and resembles something reminiscent of a secret garden.
Maintain the continuity of this theme and visit Fountains Valley, one of the most popular nature reserves in the city featuring two natural springs, a garden, barbecue facilities, a caravan park, two shops and a restaurant. You can also take time to enjoy Moretele Park, one of South Africa's hot spots, which has gained a reputation for its jazz concerts held throughout the year. This park is ideal for picnics, day trips, walks, and a brief escape from the tensions of city.
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