Port Elizabeth

PE Beaches

Port Elizabeth (or just PE if you want to sound South African) is South Africa's fifth largest city and is located on the Indian Ocean coast half-way between Cape Town and Durban, in the Eastern Cape, about 260 km from Knysna. Also known as the friendly city and the windy city, it tends to live up to both names.


A perfect complement to the Garden Route, the Friendly City is a major sea port and tourist destination set along the beautiful shores of Nelson Mandela Bay. The centre of the South African motor industry is spoiled by moderate and warm temperatures all year round with scattered rain throughout the year - climatic attributes which contribute to an outstanding quality of life. A popular and significant destination for water sports, Port Elizabeth also offers many historical attractions, such as the Historic Donkin Heritage trail, taking visitors along the footsteps of the 1820 settlers. British heritage is reflected in the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club, and the Oldest Bowling Green in South Africa. Port Elizabeth’s greatest treasures, however, are malaria-free wildlife areas in its vicinity, and clean beaches washed by warm water.

Port Elizabeth was founded by British settlers in 1820 and was named after the wife of Rufane Donkin, Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at that time. The city is located on the Algoa Bay and forms together with the neighboring towns of Uitenhage and Despatch the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality.

The tourist information centres are in the Donkin Reserve in the town center, at The Boardwalk (Marine Drive) and at the Airport Arrivals hall. See for more information and all other tourism related products.

Get in

By plane

Port Elizabeth Airport ((IATA: PLZ)) is located approximately two miles south of the city's central business district. This has earned it the name "Ten minute airport" because it is said to be less than ten minutes' drive from most major areas of the city. out of the city and has regular flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and other South African airports. See also Discount airlines in Africa.

By train

The central train station is in the city centre near the harbour.

Shosholoza Meyl operates daily inter-city trains to Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. You can also get to Cape Town, Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg and Durban (by changing trains in Bloemfontein), to East London (by changing trains in Noupoort, Colesburg or Bloemfontein), to Mthatha (by changing trains in Noupoort and Amabele) or to Grahamstown (by changing trains in Alicedale).

Premier Classe operates twice-weekly luxury trains to Cape Town via George and Oudtshoorn.

MetroRail operates frequent commuter trains to Uitenhage and the surrounding suburbs during weekdays, with a reduced service over weekends.

The Apple Express is a narrow-gauge (2 feet/610 mm) tourist train that operates from a separate station in Humewood Road near King's Beach. It departs regularly for Thornhill Village via the Van Staden's River bridge, the highest narrow-gauge rail bridge in the world.

By car

Port Elizabeth is easily accessible by motorways from Cape Town (790 km) via the Garden Route, Bloemfontein and East London (310 km). Of course, you can also drive from Johannesburg.

By bus

All major South African coach companies offer regular schedules to and from Port Elizabeth. The city is also on the Baz Bus route .

Minibus taxis from Port Elizabeth go from Norwich Minibus rank cnr or strand street and Flemming street. there are Minibus taxis going to Knysna and Cape town.

Get around

By car

All the national car rental agencies have offices in the city.

Public bus

There is a public bus transport system within the city. For the world cup 2010, the system has gone a major renovation with new buses and you wait no longer than 15 minutes to get a bus. Schedules can be obtained online on http://www.algoabus.co.za/port-elizabeth-bus-routes/route_list/schedule.aspx. Maybe the buses do not cover the nooks and crannys of the city, but then why not hop on one of the many city tours available? In Port Elizabeth, using the Public transport has not been a problem - this is used commonly by tourists, students and locals. Yes in South Africa, like in many countries in Africa and other continents, tourists should remain alert, aware of their environment and use common sense.

Metered Taxi


The main form of transportation for most people is the (minibus) taxi. Toyota Hiaces or VW Caravelles or the like, modified to cram in as many seats as possible, will take you across town for approximately R7.00. Some of them are still more a road hazard than anything, but a recent clean-up in the taxi industry means that their standards are improving.

Each taxi operates on a laid-out route. They are more frequent during daytime than at night.

How to get on. Stand on the curve of a trafficked road. When a taxi approaches, it may flash its headlights to 'ask' if you want to go. Just stick your hand out.

How to get off. You might be able to tell the 'bouncer' your desired destination when you pay, but in any case just tell the driver "next stop", in a clear, firm voice, if you can make yourself heard above the music pounding from the sound system.

Note that this is not always a safe way to travel.


Live entertainment at the Boardwalk

Museums, Galleries and Heritage

Dolphin Show at the Bayworld
SAAF Museum Oxford restoration project


Hobie Beach

PE is a wonderful jumping-off spot for game viewing. There are elephants and other birds and animals at Addo Elephant National Park and many privately owned game reserves in the area.

Scuba diving

There are a number of very good diving locations:

Dive operators


African Curios for sale

Shopping Malls


Brooke's Pavilion has excellent views over the beaches and ocean. Any one of the restaurants there are a good idea for breakfast with a view.



Port Elizabeth offers coffees on par with the best the world has to offer. It is a city with a handful of baristas that are competitive in their inclination to produce the perfect brew.

Vovo Telo Corner Raleigh and Irvine Street, Richmond Hill. Phone: +27 41 585-5606 Hours: Monday to Friday from 07h15 to 15h00. This artisan bakery is the pride of locals who flock to get their fix. The food is wholesome and moreish. The Vovo almond croissant (when you can get one) is a firm favourite and the breakfasts, especially the creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or bacon on Ciabatta are cornerstone meals. Samora and Xolani will fix you a coffee that caters exactly to your taste. Enjoy the old part of PE and listen in on the locals doing their business and revelling in an atmosphere that is part African, part Europe.

Brioche 181 Main Rd Walmer. Phone +21 41 581-2136 Hours: Mon to Sat 7h00 to 15h30 The coffee is sublime, the Brioche space beautiful. The cinnamon buns are memorable. The menu is simple and taste driven, and the whole shop is filled with the smell of artisan breads. You can come here to experience the coolness of an old South African 'stoep' on a warm day. Hospitable service, too.

Urban Express 25 6th Avenue, Walmer. Phone +21 41 581-3390 Hours: Mon to Sat 7h00 to 15h00. Owned by Donovan McLagan, voted South Africa's No,1 coffee taster - this man knows coffee. Just one sip of the brew served in 175ml cups proves just that. He represented SA at the world Coffee Tasters Compettition and came in at 5th place. Port Elizabeth is proud to be a part of the coffee legacy of the nation. Connected to the renowned Pastryworks, Urban delivers on coffee and delicious breads, sandwiches and pastries. The interior is industrial, the service friendly.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R500
Mid-range R500 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000

Accommodation ranges from hostels to more luxury accommodation. Whatever you want, you can find without trouble.



The Radisson Blu, Marine Drive and 9th Avenue, 041 509 5000, Opened in 2009 and offers the best that Radisson Blu brand has to offer.



Go next

Local parks

There are many local safari and nature parks within easy reach of PE:

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 24, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.