Port Elizabeth

Located in the Eastern Cape Province and one of South Africa’s major seaports, Port Elizabeth is one of the few areas in the country capable of staying in touch with and celebrating its past while also modernising for the sake of its one million plus population and visitors.

Although the Algoa Bay that Port Elizabeth is now set along was first discovered by Bartholomew Diaz in 1488, the city itself was only founded in 1820 by the Cape’s acting governor, Sir Rufane Donkin, as a tribute to his wife. Capitalising on the new lands opened up by Donkin, thousands of British settlers populated the nascent city and encouraged further expansion throughout the 19th century. Indeed, the construction of the railways from 1873 onwards brought great prosperity through trade, leading some to call Port Elizabeth the ‘Liverpool of South Africa’.

This association with transportation continues today, as the city is the home of South Africa’s car industry. However, Port Elizabeth is so much more and, thanks to the forthcoming 2010 World Cup, is continually improving. With its great climate, wonderful beaches, cosmopolitan peoples and fascinating past, ‘the friendly city’ is truly one of South Africa’s brightest spots.


A further dedication to his wife, the Donkin Reserve Park overlooks the city’s central district and the waterfront. As well as providing marvellous vistas, the Reserve also contains a lighthouse and a small pyramid.

For a further insight into the city’s past, be sure to check out Fort Frederick. Built in 1799 by British troops for protection against potential French landings, it is a true monument to South Africa’s colonial history.

Port Elizabeth houses a number of museums scattered across the city. Among these, the St. Croix Motor Museum (exhibiting a number of vintage cars) and the Wezlandia African Arts And Crafts Gallery (containing indigenous art, jewellery and even musical instruments) are both worth a look. If you only choose one museum to visit though, be sure to search out the No. 7 Castle Hill Museum. The oldest Settler cottage in the city, dating back to 1827, it’s a beautifully preserved tribute to the mid-Victorian period and 19th century South African life.

Bayworld, with its museum, snake park and ocean-arium, and the Sea View Lion Park (home to the famous white lions) are two of the city’s major attractions. If that’s not enough, you can also travel out of the city and see the regional parks like the Addo Elephant, Mountain Zebra and Tsitsikamma National Parks (the latter being notable for whale-watching).

Similarly, if the picturesque St. George’s Park in the city is insufficient, why not check out the beautiful Garden Route of the Eastern Cape region?

Sport is a major part of Port Elizabeth. The local golf courses like Humewood are some of the finest in South Africa, while the St. George’s Park Cricket Ground has been a venue for Test and one day international cricket matches since 1889, as well as being the home of the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club.

With roughly 40 km of coastline and the warm Indian Ocean, Port Elizabeth’s beaches are some of the best in the country and perfect for all kinds of water-sports.


Both the Boardwalk and Marine Drive have a selection of shops, while the Greenacres and Walmer Park shopping centres have a great choice of department stores. If you’re looking for bargains, the beaches have local vendors galore.

Following Jetty Street down to the market square will take you to the market buildings, where the fruit, wool and feather markets take place.


Among the many restaurants and eateries in Port Elizabeth, expect a mix of local and foreign cuisine, with seafood naturally a speciality due to the harbour. Try Leonardo’s on the Boardwalk for great pizza, or The Oyster Catcher at the harbour for fresh seafood, or even Asian and Mediterranean dishes at The Crest Restaurant on Marine Drive.

The Boardwalk is the entertainment hub of the city, thanks to the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World complex, as well as a number of bars. There are alternatives though, such as the English-styled pub The Blinking Owl on Cape Road.

Tourist Information

Nelson Mandela Bay Information OfficeLighthouse BuildingDonkin ReserveCentralPort ElizabethTel: +27 (0)41 585 8884info@nmbt.co.za


Port Elizabeth is served by Port Elizabeth Airport. However, as Port Elizabeth Airport only accepts domestic flights, international visitors are required to fly to either Cape Town or Johannesburg and then take a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth.

The airport itself is just a few kilometres from the city proper. Taxis and buses do operate from the airport, but they are not incredibly reliable.

All car hire locations in South Africa