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Content and photos courtesy of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

Basic information

  • Area: 251 km² (97 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: 041
  • Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Population (EST): 312,392
  • Official language: Afrikaans, English, Xhosa
  • Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2

10 Reasons to Visit Port Elizabeth

1. Often nicknamed the ‘friendly city’ or the ‘windy city’ (due to its coastal proximity), Port Elizabeth stretches for 16kilometers along Algoa Bay and is located in the Eastern Cape Province.
One of South Africa’s largest cities, Port Elizabeth forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality with a population of approximately 1.3 million.
With its location in the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth boasts of having 300 out of 365 days a year of sunshine – more than any other province in South Africa with the result that a large range of outdoor activities are possible, regardless of when you visit.

2. Home of the South African Motor Industry, Port Elizabeth boasts a large number of vehicle assembly plants with industry giants including General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford represented.

The area is developing its potential in such areas as chemicals and petrochemicals, agriculture, agro processing, capital goods and in green industries

3. With a major sea port the city has arguably the most significant ore loading facilities in the southern hemisphere. As part of the ongoing development, a new Industrial Development Zone with expanding port facilities is being built in Coega.

Art Rate 67 is a new Port Elizabeth development that is bringing new life to the central area of the city.

4. Located at one end of the picturest Garden Route, many come to explore the many beaches in and near the city. The Eastern Cape encapsulates all the very best that South Africa has to offer – deserted beaches, authentic cultural experiences, historic settler towns, the wide open plains of the Karoo, soaring mountains and superb wildlife; all coupled with world-class accommodation.
With miles of pristine beaches, secluded lagoons, rocky coves and cliffs, the Eastern Cape’s most important natural feature is its spectacular coastline. Humewood Beach in Port Elizabeth is just 1 of the 36 Blue Flag beaches in the Eastern Cape.

5. The centrally situated Port Elizabeth Airport provides easy access to all parts of the city. Taxis offer reliable, convenient and courteous service (as throughout South Africa, you are advised to telephone for a taxi in advance). Municipal buses travel to all parts of the city and residential areas with most departing from the Market Square Bus Station.

Driving is easy, with well-maintained roads and freeways. Port Elizabeth is known as the 15minute city! There is a plentiful supply of car hire companies.

A well-developed railway infrastructure links Port Elizabeth to most major South African cities. Nelson Mandela Bay is also included in the routes of the Shosholoza Meyl holiday train as well as the famous Blue Train which is rated as one of the most luxurious trains in the world.

Scenic helicopter flights are available for those who want a bird’s eye view of the area. Another popular and unique mode of transport in Nelson Mandela Bay is water cruising – an ideal way of seeing the marine life.

6. The Eastern Cape has benefited in recent times from increased exposure gained from being the birthplace and now the final resting place of the nation’s father figure, Nelson Mandela. The recent release of the Long Walk to Freedom film will also serve to highlight the area in the visitors mind.

7. Whilst in Port Elizabeth, why not explore the Donkin Heritage Trail, a 5kilometer trail that follows in the footsteps of the settlers.

Looking for an adrenaline rush, why not conquer the Maitland Sand Dunes. Other places to explore include the historic Fort Frederick and the Penguin Rehabilitation Centre.

Feel the heat of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which was built specifically for the World Cup in 2010. It now hosts a variety of sporting events including the IRB Sevens Rugby World Series. Stadium tours are available.

8. An ever increasing number and diversity of restaurants give both residents and visitors alike a vast variety of cuisine to choose from. South African recipes vary from simple traditional dishes to spicy curries and rich puddings. Fish restaurants naturally abound. Examples of South Africa’s most popular and better known dishes include Biltong and Bobotie, a delicious curry meat loaf.

9. After sunset, people often head for the beachfront where clubs, bars and restaurants light up the night sky. Humewood is the perfect place for a sundowner before a brilliant night out. There are a variety of bars and clubs scattered across the city, each offering something a little different – you can be sure of finding something to suit your taste!

10. The malaria-free East Cape is one of the few places in the world where visitors can get up close to not just the Big Five but the Big Seven in real life! These include the Great White Shark and the Southern Right Wale. The city also provides for easy access to the great reserves of the region including Shamwari, Samara and Addo.
Short day trips from Port Elizabeth can include river excursions and fishing opportunities. Golf enthusiasts will also find plenty of first class facilities to enjoy.

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