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Pretoria City Guide
- How big is Pretoria?
- Pretoria, a city in the northern Gauteng Province of South Africa, covers an approximate area of 514km2.
- How many people inhabit it?
- At present, just over half-a-million people live in and around Pretoria.
- What are the language and the currency?
- South Africa has 11 official languages altogether. Of these, the most prominent languages spoken in Pretoria are Tswana, English, Afrikaans and Northern Sotho. The currency used here is the South African Rand (ZAR).
- Central Pretoria
Things to see in Pretoria
- Tell me about one of Pretoria's tops attractions.
- The Union Buildings are one of Pretoria's most historically important attractions as they're the place where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the South African President in 1994. You can't go inside the Union Buildings yet but they're still a location you should definitely visit while in town. From Government Avenue, which runs in front of the Union Buildings, you'll see great views of the city spread out before you.
- Anything else I should see while I'm there?
- Pretoria has lots of other attractions you should try to check out while you're in town, including Freedom Park. Freedom Park is an incredibly important attraction as its mission is to educate people about South Africa's often troubled history and to look towards a better future. Some of the most poignant memorials here include the Wall of Names and the Eternal Flame. The Voortrekker Monument, which overlooks Pretoria from one of the hills surrounding the city, was built to honour the Voortrekker pioneers who left South Africa's Cape and settled in other areas of the country. Construction on this giant grey monument began in 1937 and took 11 years. Inside the monument, you'll find a museum area and lots of striking friezes. Elsewhere, for a mere R20, you can visit the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria Central. This interesting natural history museum is across the road from Pretoria's City Hall and houses a huge collection of stuffed animals, fossils and plenty more. Just a short drive from Pretoria's city centre, you'll find the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre. In operation since 1968, this centre breeds the endangered cheetah while also attempting to educate the public about these beautiful animals. Three-hour game drives around the centre are offered and on these trips you'll see cheetahs, African wild dogs, ostriches and many other animals.
- If I'm trying to save some cash, is there anywhere I can visit for free?
- There are some great attractions around the city that won't cost you a penny to enjoy. If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while, head to Burgers Park. This beautiful park is the oldest in the city and covers around four hectares. Inside you'll find a relaxing array of tall trees, colourful flowerbeds and fountains. Also check out Church Square in Pretoria Central. Frequented by locals, this pretty square boasts a number of impressive buildings including the Ou Raadsaal and the Palace of Justice. At the centre of the square you'll find a statue of former South African President Paul Kruger.
- Say I want to hit the shops. Where should I go?
- Menlyn Park Mall sports three floors filled with a huge selection of stores selling everything from designer clothes to books and plenty more besides. Another popular shopping centre is Brooklyn Mall. Home to over 170 different shops, this mall is a popular spot with shoppers looking for everything from electronics to shoes. The weekly Hatfield Flea Market, which is held every Sunday, hosts over 200 stalls selling everything from handcrafted gifts to trendy clothing.
Going out in Pretoria
- Where are most of the bars found?
- As with Pretoria's restaurants, the city's bars are spread out around the city but you will find concentrations in certain areas. For example, thanks to its large student population, Hatfield boasts a huge number of bars and clubs and Hatfield Square is where you'll find what's probably the largest concentration of bars and clubs in the area. These include DropZone, Cheeky Monkey, Herr Gunters and Oppi Square.
- Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
- You probably won't need it but it's best to have some form of ID with you when you go out.
- Where would you recommend?
- Another Hatfield club, Zanzú has three dance floors where people dance the night away to the sound of house, hip-hop and R&B. Drinks specials are regularly offered here and there's a ladies' night. With all this on offer it's not surprising that this spot is incredibly popular. Over in Arcadia, Eastwoods Tavern is a large bar with lots of seats both inside and outside. Inside, the walls are covered in memorabilia including sports jerseys, Marilyn Monroe prints and plenty more. Operating as both a bar and a restaurant, Eastwoods offers you the chance to have a few drinks in a laid-back environment. Regular drinks offers are also available and the music pumped through the bar is of the rock and pop persuasion. If you're into live music, check out Tings an' Times on Arcadia Street. Through this animated bar has a real reggae vibe it's not just reggae acts that perform here.
- Anything to do that doesn't involve alcohol?
- Sure! The South Africa State Theatre in Pretoria Central is a good option if you're not in the mood for bars and clubs. Here you can laugh at a comedy show, watch a play and much more.
Eating Out in Pretoria
- Is it expensive to eat out in Pretoria?
- Usually, it's not that expensive to eat out in Pretoria at all. In lots of places, you'll be able to get a good meal for about R60 ($8).
- Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
- There's a good mix of restaurants spread throughout the city but a couple of places do stand out. Hatfield, which is a very popular area with Pretoria's large student population, has quite a few restaurants and cafés offering good deals on breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pretoria's shopping malls also boast plenty of eateries. Menlyn Park Mall is one such location, and here you'll find everything from African fusion cuisine to fast food.
- Any places you'd recommend?
- Plenty! For starters, check out Baobab in the aforementioned Menlyn Park Mall. On the menu of this trendy spot you'll find a large selection of African dishes including vetkoek (pictured here), a traditional Afrikaner pastry made with a variety of fillings. From the balcony seating area you'll get a great view of the Menlyn area, service is friendly and the prices are definitely right. Harrie's Pancakes in the Eastwood shopping village in Arcadia offers up a delicious selection of savoury pancakes. Fillings here include everything from chicken livers to mince to butternut squash, plus lots more. You'll also find some sweet pancakes on this reasonably priced menu. Hatfield's News Café, which is part of a popular South African chain, is a well-loved spot thanks to its affordable array of dishes, including the all-day breakfast. Sandwiches, salads and burgers are also on the menu here, along with a lip-smacking selection of milkshakes and smoothies. Just around the corner from the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, which was one of the 2010 World Cup venues, Trademarx serves up a large selection of dishes including everything from pizza to ribs. Big portions, affordable prices, and numerous TVs showing sports and more are all part of what makes this such a popular spot. Co.fi is both restaurant and bar, boasting a chic interior and a hip crowd who come for the great food, the lively atmosphere and the loud music. Gourmet sandwiches, steaks and burgers are just some of the delicious dishes you'll be able to sample while you're here.
Transport in Pretoria
- What's the best way to get around Pretoria?
- To get from place to place in Pretoria it's probably best to use one of the many private taxis operating throughout the city. These are a quick and efficient way to get around and they're pretty affordable too.
- Can I walk around the city?
- You can walk around neighbourhoods like Hatfield, Brooklyn and Menlyn, as well as in and around Church Square and many other parts of the city. Don't flash your cash around, and it's best not to walk around after dark.