Jo’burg’s OR Tambo International Airport, 48km south of Pretoria, is South Africa’s international hub, accepting flights from across the globe. Get You There Transfers operates shuttle buses between OR Tambo and Pretoria. They can pick you up from the airport and deposit you in Pretoria for about R700. Airport Shuttle offers the same service. The Gautrain is a reliable and fairly fast way to get to the airport (you’ll need to change at Marlboro). A one-way ticket is R174.
Lanseria Airport is 61km southwest of Pretoria. Many of the same shuttle bus companies that serve OR Tambo International Airport also offer transfers to the city from here. You can also rent cars here.
If you call ahead, most hostels, and many hotels, offer free pick-up.
When to go
You should visit Pretoria in South Africa’s Spring (September – November) if you want to enjoy the gorgeous Jacaranda tree-lined streets, which come into full bloom in during the season. Spring is the best time to go to Pretoria in terms of the best weather.
English is widely spoken as is Afrikaans – one of South Africa’s 11 official languages.
Currency & Costs
The currency is the rand. Daily costs range between R1000 and R3000 depending on your spending and budget. There are banks with ATMs and forex facilities widely available.
We recommend reading this list of safety tips from the Gauteng Tourism Authority when planning to visit Pretoria
Many larger local and international car-hire companies are represented in Pretoria. The Gautrain service offers regular high-speed connections with Hatfield, Johannesburg (Park Station, Rosebank and Sandton) and onwards to the airport. The fare from Pretoria to Sandton is R57. Locals tend to opt for Uber when ordering a taxi service.
Most places to stay offer free internet facilities.
Where to eat
Up the winding stairs, an exotic journey awaits you at La Terrasse Rooftop Café inside Moroccan House. The North African-inspired seasonal menu includes mouth-watering and fabulously presented tagines, platters and vegetarian options. A variety of aromatic teas, coffees and cordials are on offer and you can purchase stunning Moroccan objects. 435 Atterbury Rd. Tel: +27 (0)12 346 5713.
Rocket 88 is a quirky bar and grill restaurant with yummy boerekos. Create your own platter from a selection that may include steak, lamb, potato bake and pumpkin fritters. For breakfast, try the pap and kaiings (traditional fried pork belly served with tomato relish). The unusual decor includes a mural of an Oldsmobile and a bright yellow vintage Fiat parked inside. Lynnwood Rd. Tel: +27 (0)12 348 1558.
Love is always in the air at Huckleberry’s. You and your significant other can secure a padlock on the love bridge across the stream at the weeping willow trees, declaring your undying love, before digging into a delectable meal on the outside patio of this café, situated in lovely Magnolia Dell Park. It offers a diverse menu and live music ensures a festive mood on Fridays and Sundays. Florence Ribeiro St. Tel: -27 (0)12 346 4588.
The Pretoria Country Club is home to the Blu Saffron restaurant. The golf course provides an unrivalled setting for this upmarket establishment with its innovative menu. A favourite is the fresh Norwegian salmon, pan-seared and served on rocket with a teriyaki sauce. Relax and enjoy the scenery on the patio overlooking the first tee or book a private dining room. 241 Sidney Ave. Tel: 012 346 0223/4.
Where to shop
Brooklyn Design Square (Veale St, Brooklyn) houses a good range of interior design shops (including well-known brands such as Weylandts and Loads of Living), but it also offers a number of speciality shops within a cosmopolitan restaurant setting. For tropical decor and furniture sourced from Bali, India, Africa and Indonesia, pop into Sotran +27 (0)12 346 3923. Algoa Bay Coffee Co +27 (0)12 460 1795) stocks a phenomenal range of coffees, teas and any accessory you can think of, from Jura coffee machines to stove-top espresso pots and exquisite imported ceramics.
Winding lanes, nooks and crannies in a charming old-world setting entice shoppers to Duncan Yard shopping centre (Prospect St, Hatfield). Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Pop into Garden Bleu +27 (0)12 362 1664 for tempting garden and home pieces, Le Chat Noir (082) 813 9931 for antiques and MG Design Box +27 (0)12 460 1965 for unusual gifts – and don’t forget to buy fresh flowers on your way out.
Hazel Food Market, bustling under the trees at Greenlyn Village Centre (Thomas Edison St), is open every Saturday. Over 70 stalls offer delights such as goat’s cheese, pitas, cakes, spices, veggies and pancakes. Bring your basket, fill it to the brim with goodies and grab a seat under the trees. It’s a popular meeting place for friends, families and the occasional pooch (on a leash, of course).
A drawcard for Banters is the once-a-month Pretoria Banting Market (2 Cussonia Ave), situated at the National Botanical Gardens. Dedicated to the sale of low-carb, high-fat meals and local produce, this outdoor market caters for every whim of those health-conscious foodies, from delicious sosaties to ice cream and waffles.
Where to stay
Menlyn Boutique Hotel has an arty ambience of luxury and tranquility. You’ll enjoy South African hospitality at its best. Striking original works by renowned South African sculptors Anton Smit and Angus Taylor grace the premises. Reserve your table at the onsite Black Bamboo restaurant, which offers a fine dining experience featuring international delicacies with a South African flavour. 207 Tugela Rd. Tel: +27 (0)12 425 9580.
If you’re into angels, this is the place for you. The Angel’s Place Boutique Guest House has an eye-popping blue exterior and an enchanting interior. Angels in all shapes and sizes abound, and romance is afoot. However, business travellers will also appreciate the satin gown and silver tea set in their room, as well as white-gloved butler service. For dose of heavenly comfort and a glorious view over Pretoria, look no further. 610 Rubenstein Drive. Tel: 012 997 7018.
Part of the prestigious Mantis Collection, 131 on Herbert Baker Boutique Hotel is situated on one of the most beautiful streets in Pretoria. Time your visit for spring, when the famous white and mauve jacarandas lining Pretoria’s streets are in bloom. Located high up in leafy Groenkloof, an incredible 180-degree view of the city sets the scene for a superb stay. Ristorante Grissini will take care of your culinary needs and, weather permitting, extravagant high teas are served on the front lawn. This hotel is a rare find. 131 Herbert Baker St. Tel: 012 751 2070.
Where to go
Where else would you find a game reserve in a city? Groenkloof Nature Reserve was established by Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek President Paul Kruger in 1895 to protect the area from poachers. You won’t hear the roar of lions, but you’ll see zebra, antelope and a profusion of birdlife, whether you’re on horseback or on a game drive. For those driven by the exercise devil, mountain-biking, overnight hikes and guided horse-trails await. Oh, and don’t forget to say “hello” to the five gorgeous giraffes, all batting the longest eyelashes! Tel: +27 (0)12 440 8316.
For history buffs, the Union Buildings are a must-see. The imposing Sir Herbert Baker-designed building (opened in 1913) houses the executive seat of government and the offices of the President. At the time of going to press, moves were also afoot to make Pretoria the only seat of Parliament in the country. Enjoy the gardens and grand views of the city.
Freedom Park and the Voortrekker Monument are two heritage symbols honouring heroes from very different periods of SA’s history, but they’re united and adjacent to each other on a hill overlooking the city.
The dining room at Melrose House Museum, an elegant Victorian mansion dating from 1886, is where the Peace Treaty of Vereeniging, which ended the Second Anglo-Boer War, was signed on 31 May 1902.
The 35-year-old State Theatre complex offers a rich diversity of performances. Dine at the Black restaurant on the piazza with its lovely view of the water fountain and sculpture of applauding hands.
Church Square, in the heart of the city, is surrounded by historic buildings such as the old Council Chamber, the Palace of Justice and Tudor Chambers, with a statue of Kruger in the centre. Grab a bite to eat at Pretoria’s oldest bistro, Cafe Riche.
National Botanical Gardens: With masses of flowering species and half the country’s tree species, this 76-hectare urban oasis, established in 1946, offers a tranquil botanical refuge with beautiful picnic spots.
by Madi Hanekom