Hostelworld Guide for Port Elizabeth

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You'll find Port Elizabeth, South Africa's 'Windy City', beside the sea in the Eastern Cape. Aquatic activities including swimming, snorkelling and surfing are incredibly popular in PE's Algoa Bay, while the beautiful beaches themselves including Hobie Beach and Kings Beach are a favourite with sun seekers who come here to top up their tans. The country's diverse natural beauty is well-represented in the area too, with the Addo Elephant National Park just a short drive from PE. Cultural attractions and plenty of shopping opportunities round off the city's appeal, with a lively nightlife of first-rate restaurants, bars and clubs aplenty also making an important contribution. Thanks to PE's welcoming atmosphere, beautiful beaches, interesting attractions and plenty more, it's not hard to see why the city is one of South Africa's most popular destinations.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By air: PE does have its own airport, the Port Elizabeth Airport, which is located close to the Walmer neighbourhood just 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 in most areas, 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.

 Port Elizabeth facts

Name: When locals refer to Port Elizabeth, they'll generally shorten the name to PE. The city also has a couple of nicknames, 'The Windy City' and 'The Friendly City'.
Population: In excess of 1 million people now live in Port Elizabeth and its surrounds.
Founded: The city was founded in 1820.
Area: Port Elizabeth covers an approximate area of 1,845 km2.

Port Elizabeth has what is known as a subtropical climate. Summers here are quite warm with average temperatures for January and February reaching 21ºC and upwards. 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. The city sees frequent windy conditions, which is unsurprising given its 'Windy City' nickname.

 Good to know...

Languages: Xhosa, English and Afrikaans.
Currency: Rand.
Electricity: 200/250V, 50 Hz.
Area code: +27 (South Africa), 041 (Port Elizabeth).
Emergency codes: Ambulance/Fire 10177, Police 10111.
Time zone: South African Standard Time (GMT +2).
Central Post Office: 259 Govan Mbeki Avenue.
Main Tourist Office: Eastern Cape Tourism Board, The Boardwalk, corner of Marine Drive and 2nd Avenue.
Price of a meal: R60.
Price of a beer: R15.
Price of a coffee: R15.

Embassies and Consulates

USA: +27 (0)12 4314000*
Canada: +27 (0)21 4235240**
Australia: +27 (0)12 4236000***
New Zealand: +27 (0)21 6968561**
UK: +27 (0)41 3638841****
Germany: +27 (0)12 4278900*
Spain: +27 (0)21 4222415**
France: +27 (0)21 4231575**
Italy: +27 (0)21 4873903**
Ireland: +27 (0)12 3425062*

*Embassy in Pretoria
**Consulate in Cape Town
***High Commission in Pretoria
****Consulate in Port Elizabeth

Hostelworld Guide for Port Elizabeth

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Flaming Arrow Spur, Holiday Inn Garden Court, La Roche Drive, Humewood 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 Fresh seafood is the main event here at the Oystercatcher, which isn't surprising given its 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 to be sampled. Open Mon 5pm-10pm, Tues-Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-4pm.

 Café comfort eating

Dulcé Café, The Boardwalk, Summerstrand The mouth-watering French toast pictured here is just one of the delicious all-day breakfasts served up at Dulcés. Burgers, pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches are also offered throughout the day. Open Mon-Thurs 9am-10pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm.

The Island Seafood Grill & Bar, off Marine Drive, Pine Lodge, Summerstrand 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. Open Mon-Sat 11am-12am, closed Sundays.

Leonardo's, The Boardwalk, Summerstrand This restaurant specialises in delivering tasty Italian dishes, both traditional favourites and dishes with a more modern twist. 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.

Barney's Tavern, Shop 6, Marine Drive, Summerstrand 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 people who are here to imbibe, 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 One of PE's live music stalwarts, Gondwana hosts enjoyable live jazz sessions. Sip your drink while listening to the music or sitting at one of the balcony tables looking out towards the sea. Open Wed-Sun 10.30am-4.30am, closed Mon-Tues; admission on show nights approx R60.

Parliament Street, Central Thanks to its recent renovation, Parliament Street is becoming the life of the party. Two of its great bars can be found at 123 Parliament. Gay-friendly DayZees (open Fri-Sat 6pm-4am) is an up and coming club with a large dance floor, while El Dorado (open daily 9am-late) is known for its deep house nights and more.

 Roll the dice

The Boardwalk Casino, 2nd Avenue, Summerstrand 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 play blackjack, poker and more. Open daily, 24 hours; tables operate from 12pm.

Balizza, Shop 10-12, Times Square Centre, Heugh Rd, Walmer Balizza is one of PE's most popular nightspots which is pretty apparent when you see the crowds milling around. And what draws them? Well, that'd be the dance floor, cheap drinks and the prospect of meeting fellow rowdy revellers. Open Mon-wed 11am-2am, Thurs-Sat 11am-4am; dance floor admission R20.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

Port Elizabeth Museum, Beach Road, Humewood 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 museum 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.

 Lions, hippos and crocs...oh my!

Schotia Safaris, off the N10, Paterson Family-owned and run, Schotia Safaris is a private game reserve 35 minutes from PE. The lions are the stars of the show, but on the 4-hour game drive you'll also see warthog, rhino, giraffe, antelope and more. 'Tooth & Claw' game drive from 4pm-10pm; admission R660.

Addo Elephant National Park, off the R342, Eastern Cape 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 day to day elephant life. Main entrance open daily 6am-6.30pm, main game area gate times vary with season; self-drive admission R130.

Kings Beach, Humewood A great spot for swimming, sunbathing and surfing, Kings 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 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 a lobster coffin from Ghana. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun 1pm-5pm, 1st Sun of month 9am-2pm; admission free.

February - Chilli Festival Port Elizabeth's Chilli Festival takes place at the Parsons Hill Primary School. The event focuses on food with some chilli plants and collectables also featured.

February - Prickly Pear Festival This popular festival is held at the Cuyler Hofstede Farm in Uitenhage, not far from PE. Celebrating the unusual looking prickly pear, the event features a selection of pear-related activities, plus an abundance of traditional foods and plenty more.

April - Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival Taking place over four days, this festival promises fun for all the family and features aquatic events, beach volleyball, live music, and a food market.

April - Ironman South Africa This annual competition sees athletes competing in a variety of different contests, including a swimming leg, a bike leg and a foot race. Spectators are kept amused by both the competitors and live entertainment.

June - Kirkwood Wildlife Festival Held close to Addo and within driving distance of PE, this festival takes place over a weekend. It includes wine, food and car shows, plus live music and lots of wildlife-themed craft stalls.

July - Billabong Pro Surfing Competition Jeffreys Bay, just an hour's drive from PE, hosts this internationally renowned surfing competition. During this event, the best surfers from all around the world compete for the top prize.

August - Citrus Carnival This festival is held at the Sundays River Primary School in Addo. Visitors can check out the entertainment organised for the event while sampling some of the citrusy delights on offer at the various stalls.

September - Northern Arts Festival The annual Northern Arts Festival gives local musical acts the chance to shine. Held in Van der Kemp's Kloof, this event is becoming increasingly popular.

November - Toy Run The Port Elizabeth Toy Run is a long-running charity event. As part of the Toy Run, motorbike enthusiasts deliver toys to large numbers of children around Nelson Mandela Bay.

December - Pringles Beach Festival Taking place on Hobie Beach, this popular summer event features DJs, beach volleyball and treasure hunts. Budding creative talents can try their hand at the sand castle contest.

Hostelworld Guide for Port Elizabeth

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Summerstrand One of PE's more popular suburbs, this beachfront area has many attractions to recommend it. Aquatic enthusiasts and beach bunnies flock to Hobie Beach, which has been awarded a Blue Flag. Here you'll also find the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex complete with bars, restaurants and shops aplenty.

Humewood Kings Beach, another one of the city's beautiful beaches, is a very popular Humewood attraction, and it's here that you'll find the Kings Beach Flea Market. If you're in the mood for something a bit more educational, why not stop in at the PE Museum. The social scene in Humewood is pretty impressive too thanks to a number of top-notch restaurants and bars.

Walmer Shopaholics will definitely enjoy themselves in this area close to the Port Elizabeth Airport as it's here that you'll find the large Walmer Park shopping centre. This suburb is also one of the city's party hotspots, with large crowds flocking here to the excellent clubs and bars, most noticeably those at the Times Square Centre.

 A hidden gem

Sardinia Bay A mere 10-minute drive from PE's city centre, Sardinia Bay or Sards as it's also known is home to a stunning beach which is very popular with locals. Sards is also close to the Chelsea Downs Nature Reserve, a protected area filled with great examples of local plants and wildlife plus a number of hiking and horse riding trails.

Central Becoming an increasingly trendy place to head on a night out, Central's Parliament Street boasts bars and restaurants aplenty. Attractions aren't in short supply either, as Port Elizabeth's city centre is home to St. George's Park, the Donkin Reserve and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum among others.

Kings Beach Flea Market, Kings Beach Promenade, Humewood Stalls aplenty line the promenade at Kings Beach every Sunday. These stalls offer a wide range of tempting items including bags, books, curios and clothes. There's no shortage of choice and the prices are right, which is why this market is so well-attended. Open Sundays 7am-4.30pm/5pm.

 Brilliant beadwork

Zulu Beads, The Craft Workshop, The Boardwalk, Summerstrand 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. Make sure to ask about the stories and traditions behind these amazing pieces. Open Sun-Thurs 10am-7am, Fri 10am-10pm.

Walmer Park, Cnr 16th & 17th Avenues, Walmer 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 too, as well as bookshops and more. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 9am-2pm.

Surf Centre, Shop B1 Dolphins Leap, Beach Road, Humewood Surfers, from beginners on up, 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. Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sun 9am-3pm.

Greenacres Shopping Centre, Ring Road, Greenacres A short drive from the town centre, Greenacres is the largest shopping centre in PE. Spread out over a couple of floors, it features clothes shops, department stores, and much more. Open Mon-Thurs 9am-6pm, Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sun 9am-2pm.

 Port Elizabeth for Free

 A Day in Port Elizabeth...

Check out PE's popular Hobie Beach 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.

Take a look at the Donkin memorial 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 while you're here, check out the cool views of the bay you get from this part of the Reserve.

 Walk in the park

Stroll through St. George's Park This, the city's oldest park, is a beautiful expanse of green spaces, colourful flowerbeds and plenty more. The park also includes cricket grounds and swimming baths. On warm and sunny days St. George's 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.

Visit beautiful Sardinia Bay Beach 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, having a 'braai' (BBQ) or even horse riding along the strand.

Wander out to the end of Shark Rock Pier Built in the late 90s to stop beach erosion, Shark Rock Pier is a great place for a stroll, especially at dusk when you can watch the sun set 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.

Begin the day in Humewood with a reasonably priced breakfast at the Flaming Arrow Spur.

Head to the PE Museum to learn a bit more about the city and check out the interesting artefacts and natural history exhibits.

kings beach

Have a wander along Kings Beach (above), a popular spot with swimmers, sunbathers and body surfers.

Walk along the beachfront towards Summerstrand where you'll find the Boardwalk which is filled with lunch places.

Explore Port Elizabeth's city centre area, making sure to visit George's Park, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and the Donkin Reserve.

Make the short trip out to Walmer to visit Walmer Park, an expansive shopping centre boasting 100+ stores.

Once you've spent some money, make the short trip out to Sardinia Bay beach for a tranquil stroll along the shore or some exciting sand boarding.

On the way back to the city centre, stop off at The Island Seafood Grill and Bar off Marine Drive for a bit of dinner.

Sample a selection of PE's great nightspots including the bars lining Parliament Street, Gondwana Café in Humewood and Barney's Tavern in Summerstrand.

End the night back out in Walmer where you can dance the night away in popular club Balizza.

Hostelworld Guide for Port Elizabeth