Things to see and do in Pretoria, South Africa
Pretoria is the Administrative capital of South Africa and is located in the northern part of Gauteng Province. The other capitals are Cape Town (Legislative) and Bloemfontein (Judicial) with over 700 000 inhabitants, but this number increases to over 2 million if you include the surrounding suburbs.
Afrikaans is by far the most widely-spoken language in Pretoria, although most people have English as a second language.
The city has many universities, museums and government buildings and the Office of the President of South Africa is housed in Pretoria’s Union Buildings. Interestingly, Pretoria has the second highest number of foreign embassies in the world, after Washington DC.
The main industries in Pretoria are manufacturing in automobile, railroads and machinery as well as steel casting and the city is considered a major industrial and commercial center in Africa.
Onderstepoort Veterinary Centre near Pretoria is an established and esteemed center for veterinary research in Africa.
History of Pretoria
The southern Transvaal Ndebele who arrived around 1600 were the first inhabitants of the river valley that is Pretoria today. They were displaced by marauding Zulus in 1832, and 8 years later the Voortrekker arrived to settle in Fountains Valley.
After independence in 1852, Fountains Valley became a major center of religious rites such as weddings, baptisms and communions.
In 1855, Marthinus Pretorius officially founded the city of Pretoria. Originally the city had only 300 citizens, but this increased dramatically after the British annexed the area in 1900.
In 1931, when South Africa achieved republic status, Pretoria was officially declared the administrative capital of the country.
Despite its academic and governmental aura, Pretoria has a laid-back fun vibe thanks to its youthful student population. It is a popular choice for tourists wanting to explore the history of South Africa and the attractions that the highveld has to offer.
The nearest international airport is OR Tambo, outside Johannesburg, while Lanseria is the closest airport serving domestic arrivals.
Pretoria offers an excellent variety of accommodation options, from high-class hotels to camps sites and everything in between.
The city is also home to some exceptional restaurants offering traditional Afrikaner food, international eats and haute cuisine. Naturally, there are a large number of fast food outlets to feed hungry students too.
Pretoria boasts many malls and shopping centers along with local markets and quaint craft shops. You’ll find all the major banks in town along with top-class medical facilities and hospitals.
Things to See and Do in Pretoria
Pretoria is an interesting city to visit and a hub for onward travel to the game parks of the lowveld.
Some of the main attractions in Pretoria include”
- Union Buildings
- Voortrekker Monument
- The National Zoo, Aquarium and Reptile Park
- Freedom Park
- Church Square
- Rietvlei Nature Reserve
- Pretoria National Botanical Gardens
- Fort Schanskop
- Sammy Marks Museum
- The National Cultural Museum
- The Pretoria Art Museum
- South African State Theatre
The city has a large number of beautifully preserved historic buildings to admire on walking tours.
Nearby you’ll find a host of game reserves, namely:
- Mabula Game Lodge
- Wonderboom Nature Reserve
- Dinokeng Game Reserves
- Groenkloof Nature Reserve
- Mongena Game Lodge
Some of the fun activities you can enjoy in Pretoria and surrounds include horse riding, hiking, biking, abseiling, paintball, golf and wake-boarding. Nightlife is vibrant with a range of clubs and pubs to choose from.
Pretoria attracts almost 800 000 tourists a year. If you’d like to include this interesting city on your South African agenda, get in touch and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.