City Guide Port Elizabeth, South Africa

City Guide Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Eating Out
Things To See
General Info

Visiting Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth, South Africa’s ‘Windy City’ is a beautiful seaside city in the Eastern Cape. The city’s friendly reputation, interesting attractions and excellent nightlife are major draws and bring large numbers of visitors to the city each and every year.

PortElizabeth_cityinfoPort Elizabeth, South Africa’s ‘Windy City’ is a beautiful seaside city in the Eastern Cape. The city’s friendly reputation, interesting attractions and excellent nightlife are major draws and bring large numbers of visitors to the city each and every year.

Port Elizabeth, or PE as it’s also known, is a part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality which is home to around one a half million people. Founded as Port Elizabeth in 1820, the town was named Elizabeth after the late wife of one of the founders, Sir Rufane Donkin. Famous explorer Bartolomeu Dias visited the Eastern Cape in 1488, while the ancestors of the Xhosa people settled here many years before.

Home to some of the best beaches in the Eastern Cape, PE is a favourite with sun seekers and also with those looking to sample some of the aquatic activities available in the Algoa Bay area including surfing, snorkelling, fishing and more.

South Africa’s diverse natural beauty is well-represented in the area too, especially at places like the Addo Elephant National Park and Schotia Safaris. At Addo you’ll see huge numbers of elephants and other creatures, while Schotia is home to many species including lions aplenty plus giraffe, rhino and crocodile.

For more cultural attractions, there’s the Donkin Heritage Trail, the PE Museum and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum.

Shopaholics are well catered for too, with the King’s Beach Flea Market, the Boardwalk, Greenacres shopping centre, Surf Centre and plenty more providing a mix of everything from clothing to curios.

At night, you won’t be short of things to do either as PE boasts a wonderful choice of restaurants and bars, plus there’s a casino at the Boardwalk if that’s more your thing.

Eight 2010 FIFA World Cup matches will be held in Port Elizabeth’s hugely impressive Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, including one of the quarter finals and the match to determine third place.

PortElizabeth_eatingPE, as Port Elizabeth is also known, is home to a host of different eateries, from restaurants to cafés. These are liberally sprinkled throughout the city, and offer a great selection of both national and international favourites.

At the Boardwalk, you’ll find a large number of places to eat in a small area, from restaurants where you can linger over a meal to fast food joints offering speedier satisfaction. Some of the top places to check out here include Leonardos, which serves up delicious Italian dishes, and Dulcé Café, which serves up everything from mouth-watering breakfasts to amazing pizzas.

Speaking of breakfasts, the Flaming Arrow Spur which is part of a wide-reaching South African chain of restaurants offers a delicious selection of food to start of your day. They also serve up steaks, burgers and plenty more, all at incredibly affordable prices.

Plenty of food stalls appear at the King’s Beach flea market on Sundays, while Sunday entertainment in George’s Park can sometimes include a number of stalls selling tasty snacks. Some of the city’s top bars including Barneys and the Gondwana Jazz Café also serve a great selection of filling foods to set you up for a night of partying.

Restaurants in Port Elizabeth

  • Flaming Arrow Spur,

    Holiday Inn Garden Court, La Roche Drive, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Part of a wide-ranging South African chain of Spur restaurants, the Flaming Arrow prides itself on serving up delicious food at incredibly affordable prices. On the menu here you’ll find everything from steaks to toasted sandwiches and plenty more.

    Open daily, 9am-11pm.

  • The Oystercatcher

    Pier 14, Port Elizabeth Harbour, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Fresh seafood is the main event here at the Oystercatcher, which isn’t surprising given this restaurant and bar’s location at the heart of PE’s bustling harbour. Succulent strips of calamari, queen prawns and cooked oysters are just some of the fishy delights you can sample.

    Open Mon 5pm-10pm, Tues-Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-4pm.

  • The Island Seafood Grill & Bar

    Marine Drive, Humewood, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    The Island’s name is pretty spot on and a theme is definitely noticeable thanks to the abundance of bamboo, large aquarium and laid back atmosphere. Dishes include steaks, seafood, sandwiches and sundaes, while the best place to enjoy these is out on the deck where the tables have a stunning view of the ocean.

    Open Mon-Sat 11am-12pm, closed Sundays.

  • Leonardo’s

    The Boardwalk, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    This pizza and pasta workshop specialises in delivering tasty Italian dishes, both traditional favourites such as lasagne and dishes with a more modern twist, including using ingredients like banana as a pizza topping. Portions are more than generous and easy on the pocket too!

    Open Mon-Thurs 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-3pm & 6pm-9.30pm.

PortElizabeth_transportGetting There

By air: PE does have its own airport, the Port Elizabeth Airport, which is located close to the Walmer neighbourhood and is a short drive from the city centre. It is served by domestic flights from numerous destinations in South Africa including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. These flights are offered by a number of South Africa’s top discount airlines including 1Time, Kulula and South African Airways.

By train: Port Elizabeth’s central train station can be found just off Strand Street. Intercity trains from Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and more all arrive here.

By bus: PE is serviced by a number of South Africa’s major bus companies including Baz Bus, Intercape and Greyhound which connect the city with plenty of South African destinations.

Getting Around

On foot: Though the city has been going through a period of expansion, you’ll still be able to get to many of the main sights on foot. Walking around during the day is safe, just take the same precautions as you would in any other city. At night, it’s better to walk in a group.

By taxi: For a quick and easy way to get around the city take one of the many private taxis which are a very affordable way of travelling here.

By car: Having a car is really handy for getting to attractions outside the city such as the Addo Elephant National Park or for checking out neighbourhoods like Sardinia Bay. Many of the major car hire agencies operate in Port Elizabeth.

PortElizabeth_attractionsNo matter what you’re into be that visiting art galleries, catching the best waves or taking a million pictures of elephants, you’ll find something do here in PE. A seaside city, it’s rightly renowned for its beautiful beaches and aquatic activities, however, there’s plenty more on offer here too.

Some of the beaches to check out include Hobie Beach, King’s Beach and the beautiful white sand beaches out in Sardinia Bay, a short drive from the city centre. Here you can sunbathe or go for a swim. Other activities like surfing, fishing, snorkelling and kite surfing are also popular.

To learn a bit more about the area, head to the PE Museum. Your ticket here will also give you access to Bayworld, but really the main attraction in the complex is definitely the museum. Filled with interesting finds from Algoa Bay, you’ll see canons and more here, along with other exhibits covering PE’s history. Other popular museums in the city include the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, the South End Museum and the No. 7 Castle Hill Museum.

Those more interested in shopping will find plenty of places to check out too. The Boardwalk is a great spot to pick up interesting gift items, curios and more, while these can also be found at the King’s Beach Flea Market which takes place each Sunday. Shopping centres including Greenacres provide numerous stores for you to wander around and sell everything from clothing to electronics.

Attractions in Port Elizabeth

  • Port Elizabeth Museum

    Beach Road, Humewood, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Full of fascinating finds including a 15m skeleton of a Southern right whale, the PE Museum is well-worth a look. Along with its natural history exhibits, the museums also features artefacts recovered from the waters off PE, old guns, clothing, beadwork and plenty more.

    Open daily, 9am-4.30pm; admission R40 includes snake park and aquarium.

  • Addo Elephant National Park

    off the R342, Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Home to over 450 elephants, Addo provides visitors with some spectacular sightings of these powerful pachyderms. From little to large, you see them feeding, bathing, playing and getting on with the day to day of elephant life. Other animals also call Addo home including the fascinating dung beetle.

    Main entrance open daily 6am-6.30pm, main game area gate times vary with season; self-drive admission R130.

  • King’s Beach

    Humewood, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    A great spot for swimming, sunbathing and surfing, King’s Beach is well-loved by both locals and visitors. Stretching along for almost 2km, this golden beach also sports a number of facilities including changing rooms and ample parking.

  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum

    1 Park Drive, Central, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Housed in two buildings, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum features both permanent and temporary exhibits of African and international works of art. One of the most interesting pieces here is the lobster coffin from Ghana, while the gallery also boasts a Picasso.

    Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun 1pm-5pm, 1st Sun of month 9am-2pm; admission free.

  • Zulu Beads

    The Craft Workshop, The Boardwalk, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    One of the 20 or so excellent stalls in the Craft Workshop, Zulu Beads is especially captivating thanks to its range of colourful and meaningful jewellery. Speak to the lady at the stall who makes all these amazing pieces and she’ll tell your their traditional meanings such as their part of weddings and so on.

    Open Sun-Thurs 10am-7am, Fri 10am-10pm.

  • Kings Beach Flea Market

    Kings Beach Promenade, Humewood, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Stalls aplenty line the promenade at Kings Beach each and every Sunday. They offer a wide range of items to tempt the money from your wallet from bags to books and curios to clothes. There’s no shortage of choice here and the prices are right, which is why it’s such a well-attended event.

    Open Sundays 7am-4.30pm/5pm.

  • Walmer Park

    Cnr 16th & 17th Avenues, Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    This sprawling shopping centre is home to more than 100 stores. From funky clothes to great-value gifts, you’ll find all you need here. There are a couple of large department stores here too, as well as electronics stores, bookshops and more besides.

    Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 9am-2pm.

  • Surf Centre

    Shop B1 Dolphins Leap, Beach Road, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Surfers, from beginners to more experienced wave riders, will find all the equipment they need here at the Surf Centre. Part of a successful chain of stores, this shop offers wetsuits, surf boards and plenty more. Surf lessons are also available to purchase.

    Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sun 9am-3pm.

  • Greenacres Shopping Centre

    Ring Road, Greenacres, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    A short drive from the town centre, Greenacres is the largest shopping centre in PE. Spead out over a couple of floors, it features clothing stores like Legit and Truworths, department stores like Ackermans and Clicks, a selection of first-rate jewellery stores and many, many more.

    Open Mon-Thurs 9am-6pm, Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sun 9am-2pm.

  • Hobie Beach

    , Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Awarded a Blue Flag, Hobie Beach is one of the city’s most-visited sandy stretches and is frequented by both locals and visitors. Swimmers enjoy the waters under the watchful eye of lifeguards, while sunbathers top up their tans on the golden sand.

  • Donkin memorial

    , Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Part of the historically important Donkin Reserve, this pyramid-shaped memorial was built to honour Elizabeth, the late wife of Sir Rufane Donkin who was a governor of the Cape Province. There’s a touching plaque inscribed on the memorial, and once you’ve had a look don’t forget to check out the cool views of the bay you get from this part of the Reserve.

  • Sardinia Bay Beach

    , Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    The slog up the golden sand dunes is totally worth it when you get to the top and see Sardinia Bay’s stunning beach stretched out beneath you. While you’re here you’re bound to see a good smattering of locals walking their dogs, enjoying the waves or even horse riding along the strand.

  • St. George’s Park

    , Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    This is a beautiful expanse of green spaces, colourful flowerbeds and plenty more. It’s the city’s oldest park and today includes cricket grounds and swimming baths. On warm and sunny days the park is especially busy with people turning out for a walk or to sit under the trees and savour the shade.

    Open daily Sept-Mar 6am-7pm, Apr-Aug 7am-5pm.

  • Shark Rock Pier

    , Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Built in the late 90s to stop beach erosion, Shark Rock Pier is a great place for a stroll, especially at night when you can watch the sunset over the city and turn the sky a series of striking colours. If you’re lucky or if it’s the right season, you might be able to spot dolphins or even whales from the end of the pier.

PortElizabeth_entertainmentWhether you’re looking for a heaving dance floor, excellent live music or somewhere you can bet a few Rand, you’ll find something to suit thanks to PE’s pulsating social scene.

Heading to the Boardwalk will throw up numerous opportunities. Along with a number of places where you can enjoy a cocktail or a beer, there’s also the Boardwalk Casino where you can check out the slot machines or try your luck at games like roulette and blackjack.

Out in Walmer, you’ll find some of the city’s most happening nightspots including the ever-popular Balizza bar and club which is often jam-packed with young revellers enjoying the cheap drinks and loud music.

Parliament Street in Port Elizabeth’s Central neighbourhood has been revamped and is becoming one of the city’s party hotspots. Bars and clubs line both sides of the street including places like El Dorado, gay-friendly Dayzees and plenty more.

Entertainments in Port Elizabeth

  • Barney’s Tavern

    Shop 6, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Drinks specials aplenty are just one of the reasons why Barneys is such a popular spot with a young crowd. It draws plenty of after work drinkers too so there’s a good mix of clientele there to sample the drinks menu, watch sports on the big screens or hear some live music.

    Open Sat-Thurs 8am-12am/1am, Fri 8am-2am.

  • Gondwana Café

    2 Dolphins Leap, Beach Road, Humewood, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    One of PE’s live music stalwarts, Gondwana hosts incredibly enjoyable live jazz nights. While you listen to the music or sit at one of the balcony tables looking out towards the sea, you can sip on any number of reasonably priced beers or spirits.

    Open Wed-Sun 10.30am-4.30am, closed Mon-Tues; admission on show nights approx R60.

  • Parliament Street

    Central, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Thanks to its recent renovation, Parliament Street now has a new look and is set to become the life of the party in PE’s city centre. Here you’ll find a number of bars including two very enjoyable spots located on top of each other at 123 Parliament. Gay-friendly DayZees (open Fri-Sat 6pm-4am) is an up and coming club with a cheap and cheerful selection of shooters, beers, cocktails and more, plus a large dance floor and plenty of comfy couches. Underneath, you’ll find El Dorado (open daily 9am-late), a comfy bar known for its deep house nights among many other things!

  • Balizza

    Shop 10-12, Times Square Centre, Heugh Rd, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Initially opened in 2007, Balizza is one of PE’s most popular nightspots which is pretty apparent when you see the crowds milling around both inside and outside. And what draws these crowds? Well, that’d be the hopping dance floor, the various bar areas and, of course, the prospect of meeting fellow rowdy revellers.

    Open Mon-wed 11am-2am, Thurs-Sat 11am-4am; dance floor admission R20.

  • The Boardwalk Casino

    2nd Avenue, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    If you’re feeling lucky why not check out the Boardwalk’s popular casino. Home to over 800 slot machines of varying payouts, it also boasts 21 casino tables where you can place your bets on blackjack, poker and more.

    Open daily, 24 hours; tables operate from 12pm until morning.

All that EU, US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand nationals require to stay as a tourist in Port Elizabeth for a period of up to ninety days is a valid passport. In order to receive the required stamp on your passport, it must have two free pages and must be valid for 6 months beyond your date of departure from South Africa. Citizens of all other countries should check with their South African embassy to see what the visa requirements are for their particular nationality.

The currency used in South Africa is the Rand which is made up of 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100, R200 and the coins in use are R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.

South Africa has 11 official languages and of these 11, some of the main languages spoken in Port Elizabeth are Xhosa, English and Afrikaans.

Port Elizabeth has what is known as a subtropical climate. Summers here are quite warm with average temperatures for January and February reaching 21ºC. July is the city’s coldest month and temperatures for this time of year usually hover around 13ºC. Port Elizabeth doesn’t tend to see a huge amount of rain, however, on average May is the wettest month with around 61mm of rainfall. Port Elizabeth sees a lot of windy conditions too, which is unsurprising given the city’s nickname is the ‘Windy City’.

Time Zone
Port Elizabeth is located in the South African Standard Time (SAST) zone which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Opening Hours
Shops in Port Elizabeth are generally opened from 9.00am until 5.00pm from Monday to Friday. At weekends, smaller shops may only be open in the morning while the larger malls have longer weekend opening hours.

Tourist Office
The main tourist office in the city is located at the Donkin Reserve lighthouse but as this lighthouse is currently under renovation check out the tourist office in The Boardwalk on the corner of Marine Drive and 2nd Avenue.

Currency Exchange
Banks throughout the city offer currency exchange services. There are also a large number of ATMs throughout Port Elizabeth, from which you can withdraw local currency.

Electricity in PE is 200/250V, 50 Hz which is slightly different from the rest of South Africa. In Port Elizabeth you’ll need to use a round 3-pin plug.

To call Port Elizabeth from abroad you first dial 00, followed by 27 which is the country code for South Africa, the local area code 041 and the local number, but don’t forget to drop the 0 on the area code.

If you wish to call abroad from Port Elizabeth, dial 00, followed by the international calling code for the country you are calling, the area code (without the 0) and then the local number.

Post Office
The main post office in Port Elizabeth is at 259 Govan Mbeki Avenue.

While a service charge tends to be included in restaurant bills, it is still customary to leave a tip if the service was good. This tip usually amounts to 10%. Café employees, taxi drivers and tour guides should also receive a small tip.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In South Africa they are New Years Day (January 1st), Human Rights Day (March 21st), Good Friday and Easter Monday (March/April), Freedom Day (April 27th), Workers Day (May 1st), Youth Day (June 16th), National Women’s Day (August 9th), Heritage Day (September 24th), Day of Reconciliation (December 16th), Christmas Day (December 25th) and Day of Goodwill (December 26th).


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