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Pretoria Skyline

Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, part of City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, is in Gauteng.



The area known today as Tshwane Metro Council, with Pretoria (City) at its centre, was allegedly occupied by the Sotho people for many centuries. During the 15th century the Ndebele people also migrated into the area and settled along the banks of what is today called the Apies River. Around 1820 the Matabele under the leadership of Mzilikaza also entered the region, leading to local conflicts between the Matabele newcomers and the already established Sotho and Ndebele tribes as well as the European Voortrekkers who were steadily moving northward through the country. These conflicts came to an end when the Matabele were defeated by the Voortrekkers in 1837 at Mosega.

By 1855 there was no known tribe in what is known as Pretoria area today. Only nomadic groups passed through this area, with a leader/person Tshwane (so it is alleged) one of the them. Pretoria was founded in 1855. Initially the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek was Ohrigstad, but Pretoria became the capital of the then ZAR. Later on Pretoria became the capital of the Transvaal province (old ZAR) after the Anglo-Boer War. The city was named after Andries Pretorius, the boer leader at the Battle of Blood River where the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus under King Dingaan. In 1856 the area today known as Arcadia was acquired in exchange for a pony and added to the town.

In 1899, during the Anglo-Boer War, Winston Churchill was captured and held as a POW in Pretoria until his eventual escape to Mozambique. British forces captured Pretoria in 1900 and held control over the city until the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging treaty in 1902.

When the Union of South Africa was established in 1910, Pretoria was elected the capital and is still the administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa today.


Pretoria is located in a summer rainfall area with hot days regularly followed by short and intense afternoon thunderstorms. The thunderstorms are often accompanied by lightning and occasionally result in hail. Summer temperatures range between 16°C at night to 30°C during the day, with occasionally higher temperatures (up to about 36°C). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging between a minimum of 5°C and a maximum of 20°C. Winter nights and (occasionally winter days) can be surprisingly cold and buildings are generally not well insulated. Bring warm clothes if you're visiting during the winter months.

Get in[edit]

Map-South Africa-Pretoria01.png

By car[edit]

Five highways join in the Gauteng region, making it accessible from all cities in the country. This would include the N1, N3, N4, N12 and N14 national highways.

Most National Routes (N) [1] are now Toll Roads or will be in the not to distant future.

By air[edit]

The closest international airport is O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The Albertina Sisulu Highway or R21 leads from there to Pretoria. Airport shuttles are available on the airport or can be pre-booked:

By bus[edit]

Major bus companies like Greyhound, Translux, Intercape Mainliner and the BazBus offer connections to all big cities in South Africa.

By train[edit]

A convenient high-speed rail link [2] is available between OR Tambo International Airport and Pretoria. Travellers can access this direct link from the arrivals hall in the airport building. Safe, comfortable Gautrain busses serve local routes from the different stops in Pretoria.

The train station is on the corner of Andries and Railway streets, just south of the city centre.

There are frequent commuter trains to Johannesburg, other outlying towns and many suburbs of Pretoria. Metrorail is unreliable and notoriously unsafe, and is best avoided but the long distance Shosholoza meyl trains are safe and a very comfortable way to travel between cites, don't use if in a hurry.

The Shosholoza meyl service runs to Johannesburg (south), Polokwane, Musina (north), Witbank, Nelspruit and the Mozambique border (east).

Get around[edit]

As of January 2011 the Tourist Hop on/Hop Off bus has been suspended. The tourist office had no information on when or if it would return.

Either use a metered taxi, rent a car or use the municipal bus service. There is also a very extensive network of informal, cheap minibus taxis, mostly used by local commuters. These taxis have a reputation for being unsafe, but this has greatly improved in recent years and most taxis are now relatively luxurious and not overcrowded, except during peak times. Accidents are rare. Ask locals waiting at taxi stops about routes and rates.

Walking is a good option during the day, but us unsafe after dark in certain areas, such as central Pretoria.

  • Rixi Taxi +27 12 362-6262. Safe and professional taxi service. Not the cheapest means of getting around.
  • Tshwane Bus Routes. Graphical map of bus routes and timetables and some information on using Minibus Taxis. R10 a journey.
  • Municipal bus routes and timetables. Not extensive coverage or very regular, but is fairly reliable. -Main office at church square. Get time table there. Bus stops have lousy indication of bus, direction. So ask or wait. Bus frequency is during rush hours best. Very old fashioned but good for nostalgists. Price range between R5 to R10 from City to suburbs and R4 for scholars.


Union Buildings
  • Botanical Gardens +27 12 843-5194, e-mail: . Open 8AM to 6PM daily. R15 entrance fee.
  • National Zoological Gardens (The Zoo)232 Boom St (Near the city center),  +27 12 328-3265, e-mail: . Aquarium, reptile park and all the larger mammals. One can also camp within the zoo on Friday and Saturday nights. R10 for secure parking plus R36 entrance fee. For those not inclined to walk, golf carts are available at R80 per hour.
  • The Union Buildings2 Church St +27 12 323-5649. The location of the South African presidency with beautiful gardens. Building designed by sir Herbert Baker.
  • The Wonderboom (Wonder tree)Wonderboom Nature Reserve. A fig tree over 1000 years old

Museums and Galleries[edit]

Voortrekker Monument
Freedom Park



JO-ANNA, Restored and operated by Friends of the Rail
  • Friends of the Rail +27 12 548-4090. Take a step back in time and circle Pretoria on a steam train or visit Cullinan, birth place of the worlds largest diamond.
  •    Klitsgras Drumming CircleTierpoort, Garsfontein Rd (Take the Garsfontein Road (M30) in the eastern direction. 14km after crossing Hans-Strijdom Drive, turn left onto Plot 62. It's right next to the Excel service station.),  +27 83 311-0025. Drumming circle out in the bush. Held every second Friday night.

Performing arts[edit]


  • Groenkloof Nature ReserveFountains Valley Resort (Take exit 335 (M7 (M18) Eeufees Rd) off the N14 and follow the Fountains Resort sign),  +27 12 440-8316, e-mail: . 5:30AM to 7PM in summer and 7AM to 8PM in winter. Walk, mountainbike, go on a 4x4 drive or stay over in the second oldest nature reserve in the world. See giraffe, antelope and many other animals. R15 entrance fee, R35 (with R300 refundable deposit) for an overnight hut (sleeps 12), R50 per day for mountainbike hire, R100 for guided walks, R40 for access to the 4x4 trail (R250 if you get stuck and call for a recovery vehicle).


University of South Africa.


Shopping Malls[edit]

  • Menlyn Park. Located in the East. A large mall, it includes a roof top drive-in theater.
  • Brooklyn Mall. Just East of the city center with its art galleries and movie theaters for both mainstream and independent films.
  • Kolonnade. In the North with its ice rink and other entertainment.
  • Centurion Mall. South of Pretoria, in Centurion.
  • Wonderpark. In the North just as you get onto Brits road off the Mabopani highway, Skatepark and 100's of stores.

Other Shopping[edit]

  • German bakery and Alma German butchery. East of Pretoria, Offramp Rossouw, then turn north, after 200 m. Closed Mondays. Also serves Coffee

There are also many smaller, local shopping centres usually with one of the larger chain stores as an anchor.


This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under R60
Mid-range R60 to R120
Splurge Over R120

The renowned restaurants include Cynthia's, The Hillside Tavern and Pachas. There are also many franchised diners throughout the city.

  • Cool Runnings1071 Burnett St. A cool pub with a earthy rastafarian vibe.


  • Centurion Mall Express Sandwich Baron (, Shop 30A, Cnr Hendrik Verwoerd and Embankment, Centurion Mall, Centurion +27 12 643-1144. Sandwich Baron produces freshly made platters and sandwiches and holds no ready-made products in stock. Also has a catering service.
  • Tings 'n Times065 Arcadia Street, Hatfield +27 12 430-3176/7. Tings an' Times is an establishment inspired by bohemian ideals and permeated by soothing Reggae rhythms, catering to both young and old. Blending African and Mediterranean flavours, our eclectic menu features a variety of culinary delights.


  • Toni's Pizza Toni's is a great place to get the best pizza in town.
  • Panarotti's Panarotti's is a national chain with several Pretoria branches.
  • Spur. Spur a national chain of Native American themed steak-houses. Several branches in Pretoria.


  • Cynthia's Indigo Moon Restaurant283 Dey Street, Nieuwmuckleneuk, Brooklyn +27 12 346-8926. Around R170 per person.
  • Kream Restaurant570 Fehrsen Street, Building 3 Ground Floor, Brooklyn Bridge +27 12 346-4642. This new restaurant has a fresh upmarket urban feel and offers splendid food at very reasonable prices. Around R150 per person.
  • La Pentola5 Riviera Galleries, Well Street, Riviera +27 12 329-4028fax: +27 12 329-5464. Open Mon to Fri from 12PM to 3PM and 6PM to 10PM, Sat from 6PM to 10PM, closed on Sundays. Multi award winning restaurant with excellent food. From around R150 per person.


Both Tings and Zeplin's have moved, please add correct addresses.

  • Pretoria's nightlife is concentrated in Hatfield (near the university), which boasts a number of bars and night clubs. Menlyn Square (just off the Menlyn shopping centre) is also a popular location which contains several venues but caters for the more upmarket crowd.
  • Drop ZoneHatfield Square. Popular night club that stays open until late at night/early morning. Entrance is free.
  • Tings 'n Times065 Arcadia Street, Hatfield +27 12 430 3176/7. In addition to being a great budget restaurant with a Rastafarian feel, Tings offers some great life acts.
  • Zeplin's NightclubWonderwater Centre, Cnr Braam Pretorius & Lavender Annlin, South Africa. Caters for the Pretoria goth/alternative community.
  • Babylon. One of South Africa's biggest nightclubs marketed at gay patrons. Babylon is clean and trendy, although slightly overpriced, and is open every Saturday night.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R500
Mid-range R500 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000

Being the capital, there are many posh hotels (including the Sheraton) and guest houses and all the usual hotel chains have one or more hotels. With so many hotels owned by the same chains, in particularly Southern Sun, and occasional change of ownership (e.g. a Holiday Inn is now a Southern Sun) things can get a bit confusing. Make sure you note the address when booking so you go to the right hotel. When Parliament is in session and when there are other state events it can be almost impossible to find a mid-range or splurge room. Consider nearby Centurion as an alternative if you have to be in Pretoria at those times.



  • Don Arcadia I599 Pretorius Street, Arcadia +27 12 341-0098. Don Arcadia I has 46 hotel suites in total, 4 of which are Studio Suites, 34 are one bedroom Suites and 8 two-bedroom suites.
  • Morning Star Express Hotel327 Visagie St +27 12 442-0600. A/C spacious rooms equipped with TV with cable channels, double bed and bathroom. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, Wi-Fi internet, massage service, and 24-hour front desk. From ZAR 482.46.



Complete GSM coverage with GPRS, 3G and HSDPA and Edge available almost everywhere.

Buy a local simcard for your overseas mobile phone at most supermarkets for 1-5 R. Then let your self get phoned from home ( call by call). Have your own handy with simcard with you in case of emergancies


Always-On, +27 (0)11 575-2505, provides prepaid WiFi access in a number of locations in and around Johannesburg. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. Pricing starts at around R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100 MB.

Coverage areas include:

  • Cafe Dulce. Centurion Mall.
  • City Lodge. Courtyard in Arcadia.
  • Holiday Inn. Arcadia
  • Mugg&Bean. Just about all of them.
  • Villa Sterne Boutique Hotel and Health Spa. Waterkloof Ridge
  • Wimpy. many wimpy branches now offer wi-fi

Stay healthy[edit]


  • Unitas HospitalClifton Avenue, Lyttelton, Centurion +27 12 421-6700. Caters for 24 hour accident and emergency treatment.

Stay safe[edit]

Pretoria is considered to be a relatively safe city by South African standards and violent crime against tourists is somewhat rare. That said, basic common sense should still be used. Avoid walking around after dark, even in a group. The city centre becomes deserted after nightfall, so it would not be wise to hang around at these times. Hatfield Plaza is busy with shoppers, students, tourists, police and car minders there is very little chance of any real trouble happening, but it can be annoying and daunting for tourists as the beggars are quite insistent. That said, the Hatfield area is usually perfectly safe. In case of trouble, here are important telephone numbers.

From a fixed line[edit]

From a mobile phone[edit]


Embassies and High Commissions[edit]

Go next[edit]

A balloon ride from Hartebeespoort Dam
This city travel guide to Pretoria is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page
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