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Africa > Southern Africa > South Africa > Eastern Cape > Sunshine Coast (South Africa) > Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

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Port Elizabeth (Xhosa: iBhayi, Afrikaans: Die Baai) (or just PE if you want to sound South African) is South Africa's fifth largest city. It is located on the Indian Ocean coast half-way between Cape Town and Durban, in the Eastern Cape, about 260 km from Knysna. It lives up to its reputation as the friendly city and the windy city.

Understand[edit]

A perfect complement to the Garden Route, the Friendly City is a major sea port and tourist destination set along the beautiful shores of Nelson Mandela Bay. The centre of the South African motor industry is spoiled by moderate and warm temperatures all year round with scattered rain throughout the year - climatic attributes which contribute to an outstanding quality of life. A popular and significant destination for water sports, Port Elizabeth also offers many historical attractions, such as the Historic Donkin Heritage trail, taking visitors along the footsteps of the 1820 settlers. British heritage is reflected in the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club, and the oldest bowling green in South Africa. Port Elizabeth’s greatest treasures, however, are malaria-free wildlife areas in its vicinity, and clean beaches washed by warm water.

Port Elizabeth was founded by British settlers in 1820 and was named after the wife of Rufane Donkin, Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at that time. The city is located on the Algoa Bay and with the neighbouring towns of Uitenhage and Despatch, it forms the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality. The Algoa Bay is reputed as the Bottlenose dolphin world capital, as pods of thousands of dolphins can be spotted at any given time in this bay. This is also a year-round whale watching destination.

The tourist information centres are in the Donkin Reserve in the town centre, at the Boardwalk (Marine Drive) and at the Airport Arrivals hall. These information centres are managed by the local tourism organisation, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, which also offers tourism passes that you can purchase online or at their tourism information centres. These tour passes give you access to free and discounted activities around Nelson Mandela Bay.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

By train[edit]

2 Port Elizabeth railway station is in the city centre near the harbour.

Shosholoza Meyl operates an overnight train from Johannesburg and Bloemfontein three times a week. You can also get to Cape Town, Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg and Durban (by changing trains in Bloemfontein), to East London (by changing trains in Noupoort, Colesburg or Bloemfontein), to Mthatha (by changing trains in Noupoort and Amabele) or to Grahamstown (by changing trains in Alicedale).

MetroRail operates frequent commuter trains to Uitenhage and the surrounding suburbs during weekdays, with a reduced service over weekends.

The Apple Express is a narrow-gauge (2 feet/610 mm) tourist train that operates from a separate station in Humewood Road near King's Beach. It departs regularly for Thornhill Village via the Van Staden's River bridge, the highest narrow-gauge rail bridge in the world.

By car[edit]

Port Elizabeth is easily accessible by motorways from Cape Town (790 km) via the Garden Route, Bloemfontein and East London (310 km). Of course, you can also drive from Johannesburg.

By bus[edit]

All major South African coach companies offer regular schedules to and from Port Elizabeth. The city is also on the Baz Bus route.

Minibus taxis from Port Elizabeth go from Norwich Minibus rank cnr or Strand Street and Flemming Street. There are minibus taxis going to Knysna and Cape Town.

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

All the national car rental agencies have offices in the city.

Public bus[edit]

There is a public bus transport system within the city. You wait no longer than 15 minutes to get a bus. Use the Algoa Journey Planner to find your bus.

Maybe the buses do not cover the nooks and crannies of the city, but there are many city tours available. In Port Elizabeth, using the public transport has not been a problem - it is used commonly by tourists, students and locals. Remain alert, and be aware of your environment.

By taxi[edit]

The main form of transportation for most people is the (minibus) taxi. Toyota Hiaces or VW Caravelles or the like, modified to cram in as many seats as possible, will take you across town for approximately R7. Some of them are still more a road hazard than anything, but a recent clean-up in the taxi industry means that their standards are improving.

Each taxi operates on a laid-out route. They are more frequent during daytime than at night.

Getting on. Stand on the curve of a trafficked road. When a taxi approaches, it may flash its headlights to 'ask' if you want to go. Just stick your hand out.

Getting off. You might be able to tell the 'bouncer' your desired destination when you pay, but in any case just tell the driver "next stop", in a clear, firm voice, if you can make yourself heard above the music pounding from the sound system.

See[edit]

Live entertainment at the Boardwalk
  • Donkin Reserve. In memory of Rufane Donkin and his wife Elizabeth, after whom the city is named. The lighthouse built in 1861 is open to the public. PE tourism has their office here
  • Townships: organized tours are offered by the Tourist Information. There is a safety concern regarding township tours though.
  • Alexandria Dune Fields. The largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere is located just outside PE at the villages of Colchester and Cannonville.
  • [dead link] Tour Nelson Mandela Bay City, Dickens Street, Central Port Elizabeth, +27 41 373-7758. See Town Hall, Feather Market Hall, the Old Post Office, Fort Frederick, Donkin Reserve, Settlers Park, and the Horse Memorial in one tour.
  • [dead link] Wezandla African Arts and Crafts Gallery, 27 Baakens Str, +27 41 585-1185, fax: +27 41 585-1186. Browse African art

Museums, Galleries and Heritage[edit]

Dolphin Show at the Bayworld
SAAF Museum Oxford restoration project

Do[edit]

Hobie Beach

PE is a wonderful jumping-off spot for game viewing. There are elephants and other birds and animals at Addo Elephant National Park and many privately owned game reserves in the area.

  • African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary, Thornhill, +27 42 2860-710. 9AM-5PM. Offers a selection of birds and wildlife to view including cheetahs and servals. Braai and picnic places available.
  • Beaches. Hobie, Humewood, Kings and Wells Estate Beach are the main swimming beaches. Humewood, Wells, Kings and Hobie have all been awarded Blue Flag status.
  • Algoa Bay Yacht Club. Have a meal and go sailing
  • Apple Express, +27 41 583-2030. A 100-km narrow-gauge classic steam trip with a stop on the Van Stadens River Bridge. R130 for adults and R60 for kids under 13.
  • Boardwalk Casino, +27 41 507-7777, e-mail: .
  • Kragga Kamma Game Park (Follow the M15 west from the city center for about 15 minutes), +27 41 379-4195, e-mail: . Gates are open from 8AM to 5PM. You can either sleep in the camp or take self drives during the day. White rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and others. Excellent value small park. R30 entrance fee.
  • Links Humewood Golf course.
  • Raggy Charters, +27 41 378-2528, e-mail: . Whale watching, Penguin Island cruises and fishing charters.
  • The Mountain Club of South Africa, +27 41 365-5543, e-mail: . Climbs, walks and a rock climbing school.
  • Voetsac Hiking Club, +27 41 581-2109. There are a number of hiking trail, and walks in and around the city: Maitland Nature Reserve, Aloe Hiking Trail and more.
  • The People's Observatory, cnr Westview and Macfarlane, Newton Park, +27 41 363-9040. Meetings every first and third Wednesday of the month at 8PM. View the southern skies.
  • Roseate Tern hiking trial, Next to Pine Lodge Resort off Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 585-9711. 9-km circular trail.
  • Sandboarding, +27 41 586-2276, e-mail: . The Maitland dune mountain is one of the largest in the country and perfect for sand boarding.
  • Surf. The Pipe at Pollok Beach is where you want to go for surfing.
  • 1 Chelsea Mashie Golf Club (follow the M15 west from the city center for about 15 minutes, next to 'Kragga Kamma Game Park'), +27 82 774 7679.
  • Sakhume Museum & Xhosa Culture Centre, Human Dignity Centre (On the road leading from Walmer 10th Ave to Schoenmakerskop (Victoria Drive) Beyond and opposite the Walmer Country Club.), +27 76 978-6627, +27 14 366-2082. 9AM-3PM. The Walmer Township is one of the only areas in South Africa that avoided forced removals Tours leave every hour on the hour Monday to Friday. If you contact them before visiting, they will include a Xhosa Culture presentation. You will also be able to view a children's project, and locals will be available to take you into the township to see shacks and local life first hand. R20 p.p.
  • Pumba Private Game Reserve, +27 46 603-2000. Day guests can experience the day safaris, which are conducted all year round. Each package is tailored to the needs and wants of the individual group, but individual safari times will depend on the season. Visitors can look forward to seeing cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, hippos, lions, buffaloes, White Lions, leopards and a host of other exciting animals.
  • South End Museum, Cnr.Humewood & Walmer Blvd (South End), +27 41 582-3325. 9AM-4PM. The South End Museum offers glimpses of the lost past.From its walk-on map,to historical photographsand displays of the life and times of the people of South End,the Museum provides a living memorial to the victims forcibly removed by the infamous Group Areas Act. donation.

Scuba diving[edit]

Main topic: Diving in Port Elizabeth

There are a number of very good diving locations:

  • Bell Buoy - Depth 12m to 18m. Colorful soft coral and a rocky bottom.
  • Devil's Reef - Depth 7m with pinnacles up to 1m.
  • Evan's Peak - Depth 12m to 40m. Close to St. Croix island.
  • Haerlem Wreck - Depth 21m. Navy vessel sunk in 1987
  • Phillips Reef - Visibility up to 10m.
  • Riy Banks - Depth 18m to 40m. Coral and game fish.
  • Thunderbolt Reef - Depth 15m to 30m. Orange and lilac hard coral.

Dive operators[edit]

Buy[edit]

African Curios for sale
  • Curios can be bought along the beach. Haggle down the prices though.
  • African hides can be purchased by appointment from Ostrich Emporium SA +27 41 5812148.
  • Siyalcha Dolls, +27 41 454-3465. Traditional Xhosa dolls

Shopping malls[edit]

  • The Boardwalk, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 507-777, e-mail: . Offers several shops, fast-food restaurants and a casino.
  • Greenacres Shopping Centre. An excellent place to spend a Saturday at around noon. There are many, many shops and plenty of restaurants. There is a lively vibe over the weekend, and the mall can be reached easily. It is also commonly referred to as "The Bridge", because it is joined to the mall of that name.
  • Walmer Park Shopping Centre. A nice place to eat at, and there are a few nice shops.
  • Bay West Mall (21 km from the city centre). Port Elizabeth's largest mall, with some high-end retails brands that are not found at the other centres. A little further out than the other shopping centres, but trading times are longer. There are arcades, movie theatres, extensive food court with a big screen TV, and an ice rink.

Eat[edit]

Brooke's Pavilion has excellent views over the beaches and ocean. Any one of the restaurants there are a good idea for breakfast with a view.

  • Blue Waters Cafe. Well priced and has an excellent view of the ocean.
  • Fishmonger, The Broadwalk, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-6895. Indulge yourself in succulent prawns, calamari, fish & chips and curries.
  • Leonardo's, The Broadwalk, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-1302, fax: +27 41 583-1304. Fantastic pizza, and has a very pleasant atmosphere.
  • Ocean Grill, Mercado Centre, Corner of Admiralty and Strandfontein Roads, Summerstrand. Seafood restaurant with classy and elegant decor ; serves good sushi and other seafood meals.
  • Old Austria. Just off Cape Road, it is one of the classier restaurants in Port Elizabeth.
  • The Oyster Catcher, +27 41 582-1867, fax: +27 41 582-1869. Located in the harbour. The seafood is particularly tasty. Very popular - if you want to get a table you must make a reservation.
  • Tiffany's, Brookes Hill, Beach Road, Humewood, +27 41 584-0696. Tea, coffee, light meals and fantastic pastries and cakes in a great location looking out over the sea.
  • Ginger Restaurant, Marine Dr, +27415831229. The atmosphere is friendly, airy and chic and the food a combination of the finest, fresh ingredients with an Eastern Cape influence.
  • Fushin Sushi & Eastern Cuisine, Shop 5, Stanley on Bain, Stanley Street, Richmond Hill. Port Elizabeth's most exclusive sushi restaurant, this place is trendy, intimate and friendly. Located in the upmarket, historic area of Richmond Hill and very centrally located.
  • Primi Coastal, Marine Drive, Humewood. A very trendy pizza restaurant ideally located on the beachfront.

Drink[edit]

  • Barney's Tavarn, At the Boardwalk, +27 41 583-4500. Lively pub. It overlooks Algoa Bay and is a stone's throw away from the water's edge. The pub has a great balcony, with good draughts and food. A local favorite, many Johannesburg travellers' first stop is at this watering hole to catch up with friends. Live music is available most weekend nights.
  • Ekhaya Pub, +27 41 586-1156. For African Jazz
  • Ibhayi Brewery Tours, 47 Kohler St, +27 41 404-3527, e-mail: . Tour the beer brewery and have a couple of pints at the Bay and Barrel afterwards.
  • News Cafe. It is at the Boardwalk and is always lively and full. They serve good food, and it is a nice place to catch a drink.
  • Blackbeards Tavern, Within The Chapman Hotel. Does a splendid Seafood Extravaganza.
  • Rasoi, 79 Heugh Road, Walmer, +27 41-581-0333. This is an excellent place for Indian food. The ambiance is nice, and the staff is extremely friendly. It is a great idea to catch a dinner at Rasoi when in PE.
  • Cubana - Port Elizabeth, Marine Drive, Humewood, +27 41 582 5258. Port Elizabeth's most exclusive nightspot - definitely not to be missed!

Coffee[edit]

Port Elizabeth offers coffees on par with the best the world has to offer. It is a city with a handful of baristas that are competitive in their inclination to produce the perfect brew.

Vovo Telo Corner Raleigh and Irvine Street, Richmond Hill. Phone: +27 41 585-5606 Hours: M-F 7:15AM to 3PM. This artisan bakery is the pride of locals who flock to get their fix. The food is wholesome and moreish. The Vovo almond croissant (when you can get one) is a firm favourite and the breakfasts, especially the creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or bacon on Ciabatta are cornerstone meals. Samora and Xolani will fix you a coffee that caters exactly to your taste. Enjoy the old part of PE and listen in on the locals doing their business and revelling in an atmosphere that is part African, part Europe.

Brioche 181 Main Rd Walmer. Phone +21 41 581-2136 Hours: M-Sa 7AM to 3:30PM. The coffee is sublime, the Brioche space beautiful. The cinnamon buns are memorable. The menu is simple and taste driven, and the whole shop is filled with the smell of artisan breads. You can come here to experience the coolness of an old South African 'stoep' on a warm day. Hospitable service, too.

Urban Express 25 6th Avenue, Walmer. Phone +21 41 581-3390 Hours: M-Sa 7AM-3PM. Owned by Donovan McLagan, voted South Africa's No. 1 coffee taster - this man knows coffee. Just one sip of the brew served in 175ml cups proves just that. He represented SA at the world Coffee Tasters Competition and came in at 5th place. Port Elizabeth is proud to be a part of the coffee legacy of the nation. Connected to the renowned Pastryworks, Urban delivers on coffee and delicious breads, sandwiches and pastries. The interior is industrial, the service friendly.

Sleep[edit]

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

Accommodation ranges from hostels to more luxury accommodation. Whatever you want, you can find without trouble.

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

The Radisson Blu, Marine Drive and 9th Avenue, +27 41 509 5000, offers the best that Radisson Blu brand has to offer.

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

  • Belgian, 16C Lower Valley Road, Baakens Valley, +27 41 582-2275. M-F 9AM to noon.
  • British, 5th Floor, First Bowring House, 66 Ring Road, Greenacres, +27 41 363-8840, fax: +27 41 363-8842. M-F 9AM to 12:30PM.
  • Danish, 3 Fearick Street, Sidwell, +27 41 453-2696. M-F 8AM-5PM; F 8AM-noon.
  • French, 3 Digby Road, Framesby, +27 41 360-2730. M-F 8AM-4:30PM.
  • 1 German, 1 Circular Drive / The Fig Tree, +27 41 397-4721, fax: +27 41 397-4730. M-F 8:30AM-12:30PM.
  • Italian, 16 Dyason Street, Mount Croix, +27 41 373-6443. M W 10:30AM-12:30PM; Tu F 8:30AM-10:30PM.

Go next[edit]

Local parks[edit]

There are many local safari and nature parks within easy reach of PE:

  • Visit Addo Elephant National Park.
  • Kariega Game Reserve (90 minutes outside PE), +27 46 636-7904.
  • Shamwari Game Reserve (45 minutes outside PE), +27 42 203-1111, fax: +27 42 235-1224.
  • Pumba Private Game Reserve (60 minutes outside PE (transfers available)), +27 46 603-2000, fax: +27 46 603-2001, e-mail: . Discover wildest Africa in true luxury at the Pumba Private Game Reserve in South Africa. This Eastern Cape safari lodge has achieved a 5-star rating for its unrivalled beauty, world-class service and the abundance of wild animals on its doorstep. In addition to the famous Big 5 (lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos and elephants), guests of the game reserve have the rare opportunity of seeing the magnificent White Lion, stalking prey and lazing under the trees in its natural environment.
  • Visit Mountain Zebra National Park.
  • Visit Tsitsikamma National Park.


This city travel guide to Port Elizabeth 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.