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Port Elizabeth City Guide
Port Elizabeth Essentials:
- How big is Port Elizabeth?
- Port Elizabeth, or PE as it's called by the locals, covers an area of around 335km2.
- How many people inhabit it?
- Almost a quarter of a million people live within Port Elizabeth.
- What are the language and the currency?
- Overall, South Africa has 11 official languages. The main ones spoken here in Port Elizabeth are Xhosa, English and Afrikaans. The currency is the South African Rand (ZAR).
- The Boardwalk Port Elizabeth
Things to see in Port Elizabeth
- What's the top attraction in Port Elizabeth?
- That would be the Addo Elephant National Park. The park is about 40 minutes' drive from PE and attracts huge numbers of visitors each year. Addo is home to more than 450 elephants and if you visit the park you'll usually get some pretty spectacular sights of these elephants going about their daily lives. Many of the best sightings usually take place around the waterholes where you'll see these playful creatures bathing and socialising in large groups.
- What else should I see and do while I'm there?
- For even more animal adventures, check out Schotia Safaris. Not far from Addo, Schotia is a family owned and run private game reserve. Their 'Tooth & Claw' package is a pretty good deal as it includes a four-hour game drive, a buffet dinner and a night drive. Here you'll see plenty of animals, including the impressive Schotia lions as well as rhinos, giraffes, antelope and plenty more. If you'd like to learn more about PE you can pay a visit to the Port Elizabeth Museum down on Beach Road. Inside you'll find a number of fascinating exhibits from old guns and canons to natural history exhibits, including a large skeleton of a southern right whale. PE is a seaside city and boasts some awesome beaches for you to check out whether you're in the mood for a dip, a stroll along the shore or you just want to lie on the sand and soak up some sun. Hobie Beach is PE's Blue Flag beach, while Kings Beach is another popular spot with large numbers of both locals and visitors. For some great views of the beaches and of the city itself especially at dusk, head out to the end of Shark Rock Pier. If you're visiting in the right season, you might even be lucky enough to spot some whales out in the ocean from the end of the pier.
- Is there anywhere I can visit for free?
- There are lots of great things you can see and do for free in PE including a visit to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. This gallery is housed in two different buildings and features an interesting selection of artworks by artists from around the world. While you're here, make sure to have a look at the colourful lobster-shaped coffin (yes, you read right) which came from Ghana. If you want to take a break from the city, why not go for a wander through St. George's Park. PE's oldest park, it is home to cricket grounds and swimming baths. Especially popular on sunny days, the park is often full with people walking along the numerous paths or taking a break in the shade of the tall trees.
- If I want to shop where should I go?
- For beautiful handmade jewellery head to Zulu Beads, one of the 20 or so stalls that make up the Craft Workshop in The Boardwalk. The lady who runs the stall makes the jewellery herself and is more than happy to tell you about the traditional meaning behind many of these colourful pieces. Meanwhile, the Kings Beach Flea Market takes place every Sunday. With a large number of stalls lining Kings Beach promenade, here you'll find everything from books to curios and plenty more. There are a couple of big shopping centres in Port Elizabeth filled with plenty of stores. Out at Walmer Park you'll find in excess of 100 shops offering up electronics, shoes, clothing and much more. For even more stores under one roof, check out Greenacres Shopping Centre, which is the largest shopping centre in PE and is just a short drive from the city centre. From department stores to designer gear, it's all here.
Going out in Port Elizabeth
- Where are most of the bars found?
- You'll find plenty of bars in the Summerstand area, on Marine Drive and at The Boardwalk. Some of the city's most popular bars can be found out in Walmer, a suburb near the airport and not very far from the city centre. If you're sticking to Port Elizabeth Central, make sure you head to Parliament Street. Recent renovations of this area have turned it into an entertainment hotspot with bars and clubs lining each side of the street.
- Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
- Chances are you won't be asked for ID but if you're heading out it's always a good idea to bring some with you if you can.
- Where would you recommend?
- It all depends what you're looking for! If you want to hang out with a younger crowd, then head to Barney's Tavern on Marine Drive. Drinks specials are offered on a regular basis, big-screen TVs show lots of the top sporting events and you'll often hear live music here. With all this, is it any wonder that it's such a popular spot? If dancing the night away is more your scene then you can join the crowds heading to Balizza out in Walmer. This is one of the most popular nightspots in PE and here you'll see lots of people hanging out in and around the various bar areas or out shaking a leg on the dance floor. Keep in mind that while there's no cover charge into the bar itself, you will have to pay a small admission fee to get onto the dance floor. To hear excellent live jazz music, check out Gondwana Café on Beach Road. This long-running spot is one of the cornerstones of PE nightlife and attracts a great mix of locals and visitors. People pop in here to listen to jazz and sip some drinks while looking out at the sea from the balcony tables.
- Anything else I should know?
- Well, if you fancy your luck you can head to The Boardwalk Casino in Summerstrand. Open 24 hours a day, this casino sports over 800 slot machines as well as blackjack tables, poker tables and plenty more. If you're not in the mood for gambling or bar hopping, you could head to a movie. There's a great cinema in The Boardwalk with various screens showing lots of new releases.
Eating Out in Port Elizabeth
- Is it expensive to eat out in Port Elizabeth?
- Nope! You'll find that you'll be able to get a reasonably priced meal to suit your tastes at any time of day.
- Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
- Well, you'll definitely be spoiled for choice at The Boardwalk where you'll find a large selection of eateries serving everything from Italian cuisine to fast food. If you have a look around though, you'll find top-notch places for breakfast, lunch or dinner throughout the city.
- Any places you'd recommend?
- There are so many! If you've been out the night before, head to Dulcé Café at The Boardwalk. Here they serve up a number of delicious all-day breakfasts including French toast, perfect for soaking up the booze. The menu here is pretty varied and also includes a selection of reasonably priced burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes and plenty more. Over at the Holiday Inn Garden Court, you'll find the Flaming Arrow Spur which is part of a South African chain of Spur restaurants. The food here is filling and seriously affordable so it's definitely a great place to check out if you're on a budget. From toasted sandwiches to steaks, you'll find it all on the menu here. If you're in the mood for seafood head on down to the Port Elizabeth Harbour, home to The Oystercatcher. On the menu here you'll find calamari, oysters, prawns, line-caught fish and plenty more. Prices are reasonable and the bar area serves up some really killer cocktails. In the Cape Receiffe neighbourhood just a short drive from the city centre, The Island Seafood Grill & Bar serves up everything from steaks to sundaes. There's a pretty noticeable theme going on inside here, what with the abundance of bamboo and the giant aquarium. Service is laid-back but efficient and the food is both delicious and affordable.
Transport in Port Elizabeth
- What's the best way to get around Port Elizabeth?
- A large number of private taxis operate in PE and these are a quick, easy and reasonably priced way to get around at any time of day or night.
- Can I walk around the city?
- You can walk around many parts of the city. It's safe to walk around during the day - just make sure to take the same precautions you would in any other city. At night, avoid walking alone.