city in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Gqeberha (formerly and commonly Port Elizabeth) (Xhosa: iBhayi, Afrikaans: Die Baai) (or just PE if you want to sound South African) is South Africa's fifth largest city. It is on the Indian Ocean coast half-way between Cape Town and Durban, in the Eastern Cape, about 260 km from Knysna. It lives up to its reputation as the friendly city and the windy city.

PE Beaches

UnderstandEdit

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.

 
City Hall, front view

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 sits on shore of the Algoa Bay and with the neighbouring towns of Kariega/Uitenhage and Despatch, it forms the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality. The Algoa Bay is reputed as the Bottlenose dolphin world capital, as pods of thousands of dolphins can be spotted at any given time in this bay. This is also a year-round whale watching destination.

The tourist information centres are in the Donkin Reserve in the town centre, at the Boardwalk (Marine Drive) and at the Airport Arrivals hall. These information centres are managed by the local tourism organisation, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, which also offers tourism passes that you can purchase online or at their tourism information centres. These tour passes give you access to free and discounted activities around Nelson Mandela Bay.

Port Elizabeth was renamed Gqeberha on 21 February 2021, a change that is opposed by many of its residents. Gqeberha is pronounced with a tongue click, i.e., "Click bear gha."

Get inEdit

By planeEdit

  • 1 Chief Dawid Stuurman Airport (formerly Port Elizabeth Airport PLZ IATA) (about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the city's central business district, it is often called the "ten-minute airport" because it is said to be less than ten minutes' drive from most major areas of the city). It has regular flights to Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg with Airlink, British Airways (Comair), Cemair, FlySafair, and Mango.    

By trainEdit

Shosholoza Meyl operates an overnight train from Johannesburg and Bloemfontein three times a week. 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).

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.

  • 2 Port Elizabeth railway station (in city centre, near the harbour).    

By carEdit

Gqeberha/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 busEdit

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

Minibus taxis from Gqeberha/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 aroundEdit

By carEdit

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

Public busEdit

There is a public bus transport system within the city. You wait no longer than 15 minutes to get a bus. Use the Algoa Journey Planner [dead link] to find your bus.

Maybe the buses do not cover the nooks and crannies of the city, but there are many city tours available. In Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth, using the public transport has not been a problem; it is used commonly by tourists, students and locals. Remain alert, and be aware of your environment.

By taxiEdit

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 R10 (as of May 2020). Some of them are still more a road hazard than anything, but a 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.

Getting 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.

Getting off. You might be able to tell the 'bouncer' (kondi)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.

SeeEdit

 
Live entertainment at the Boardwalk
  • 1 Donkin Reserve. In memory of Rufane Donkin and his wife Elizabeth, after whom the city is named. The lighthouse built in 1861 is open to the public. PE tourism has their office here  
  • Townships: organized tours are offered by the Tourist Information. There is a safety concern regarding township tours though.
  • Alexandria Dune Fields. The largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere is located just outside PE at the villages of Colchester and Cannonville.
  • Tour Nelson Mandela Bay City, Central Port Elizabeth, +27 82 930 0768, . See Town Hall, Feather Market Hall, the Old Post Office, Fort Frederick, Donkin Reserve, Settlers Park, and the Horse Memorial in one tour.

Museums, galleries and heritageEdit

 
Dolphin Show at the Bayworld
 
SAAF Museum Oxford restoration project
  • South Africa Airforce Museum, +27 41 505-1295, fax: +27 41 505-1403. M-F 8AM-3:30PM; Su 10AM-6PM. free.
  • Bayworld, Marine Drive, Humewood, +27 41 584-0650. Daily 9AM-4:30PM. Has a museum, oceanarium and snake park. It no longer offers dolphin performances.
  • 2 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, 1 Park Drive, Central (St George's Park entrance), +27 41 506-2000. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 2PM-5PM. A selection of South African art, especially from the Eastern Cape.    
  • No 7 Castle Hill Museum, +27 41 582-2515. M 2PM-5PM; Tu-F 10AM-1PM and 2PM-5PM; Sa 10AM-1PM. Dating back to 1827, it is the oldest Settler cottage in PE. R6.
  • 3 South End Museum, Cnr.Humewood & Walmer Blvd (South End), +27 41 582-3325. 9AM-4PM. The South End Museum offers glimpses of the lost past.From its walk-on map,to historical photographsand displays of the life and times of the people of South End,the Museum provides a living memorial to the victims forcibly removed by the infamous Group Areas Act. donation.  

DoEdit

 
Hobie Beach

Gqeberha 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.

  • African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary, Thornhill, +27 42 2860-710. 9AM-5PM. Offers a selection of birds and wildlife to view including cheetahs and servals. Braai and picnic places available.
  • Beaches. Hobie, Humewood, Kings and Wells Estate Beach are the main swimming beaches. Humewood, Wells, Kings and Hobie have all been awarded Blue Flag status.
  • Algoa Bay Yacht Club. Have a meal and go sailing
  • Apple Express, Pommern St, +27 729319813. A 100-km narrow-gauge classic steam trip with a stop on the Van Stadens River Bridge. R130 for adults and R60 for kids under 13.
  • Boardwalk Casino, +27 41 507-7777, .
  • 1 Kragga Kamma Game Park (follow the M15 west from the city centre for about 15 minutes), +27 41 379-4195, . Gates are open from 8AM to 5PM. You can either sleep in the camp or take self drives during the day. White rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and others. Excellent value small park. R30 entrance fee.    
  • Links Humewood Golf course.
  • Raggy Charters, +27 41 378-2528, . Whale watching, Penguin Island cruises and fishing charters.
  • The Mountain Club of South Africa, +27 (21) 465 3412, . Climbs, walks and a rock climbing school.
  • Voetsac Hiking Club, +27 41 581-2109. There are a number of hiking trail, and walks in and around the city: Maitland Nature Reserve, Aloe Hiking Trail and more.
  • The People's Observatory, cnr Westview and Macfarlane, Newton Park, +27 41 363-9040. Meetings every first and third Wednesday of the month at 8PM. View the southern skies.
  • Roseate Tern hiking trial, Next to Pine Lodge Resort off Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 585-9711. 9-km circular trail.
  • Sandboarding, +27 41 586-2276, . The Maitland dune mountain is one of the largest in the country and perfect for sand boarding.
  • Surf. The Pipe at Pollok Beach is where you want to go for surfing.
  • 2 Chelsea Mashie Golf Club (follow the M15 west from the city center for about 15 minutes, next to 'Kragga Kamma Game Park'), +27 82 774 7679.
  • Sakhume Museum & Xhosa Culture Centre, Human Dignity Centre (On the road leading from Walmer 10th Ave to Schoenmakerskop (Victoria Drive) Beyond and opposite the Walmer Country Club.), +27 76 978-6627, +27 14 366-2082. 9AM-3PM. The Walmer Township is one of the only areas in South Africa that avoided forced removals Tours leave every hour on the hour Monday to Friday. If you contact them before visiting, they will include a Xhosa Culture presentation. You will also be able to view a children's project, and locals will be available to take you into the township to see shacks and local life first hand. R20 p.p.
  • Pumba Private Game Reserve, +27 46 603-2000. Day guests can experience the day safaris, which are conducted all year round. Each package is tailored to the needs and wants of the individual group, but individual safari times will depend on the season. Visitors can look forward to seeing cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, hippos, lions, buffaloes, White Lions, leopards and a host of other exciting animals.

Scuba divingEdit

Main topic: Diving in Port Elizabeth

There are a number of very good diving locations:

  • Bell Buoy - Depth 12m to 18m. Colorful soft coral and a rocky bottom.
  • Devil's Reef - Depth 7m with pinnacles up to 1m.
  • Evan's Peak - Depth 12m to 40m. Close to St. Croix island.
  • Haerlem Wreck - Depth 21m. Navy vessel sunk in 1987
  • Phillips Reef - Visibility up to 10m.
  • Riy Banks - Depth 18m to 40m. Coral and game fish.
  • Thunderbolt Reef - Depth 15m to 30m. Orange and lilac hard coral.

Dive operatorsEdit

BuyEdit

 
African Curios for sale
  • Curios can be bought along the beach. Haggle down the prices though.
  • African hides can be purchased by appointment from Ostrich Emporium SA +27 41 5812148.
  • Siyalcha Dolls, +27 41 454-3465. Traditional Xhosa dolls
  • Wezandla African Craft Traders, 37 Parliament St, +27 41 585 1185, fax: +27 41 585-1186. Browse African art

Shopping mallsEdit

  • The Boardwalk, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 507-777, . Offers several shops, arcade, movie theater, fast-food restaurants, hotel and a casino.
  • Greenacres Shopping Centre. An excellent place to spend a Saturday at around noon. There are many, many shops and plenty of restaurants. There is a lively vibe over the weekend, and the mall can be reached easily. It is also commonly referred to as "The Bridge", because it is joined to the mall of that name.
  • Walmer Park Shopping Centre. A nice place to eat at, and there are a few nice shops.
  • Bay West Mall, 100 Baywest Boulevard, Hunters Retreat (15 km from the city centre), +27 41 492 0326. Port Elizabeth's largest mall, with some high-end retails brands that are not found at the other centres. A little further out than the other shopping centres, but trading times are longer. There are arcades, movie theatres, extensive food court with a big screen TV, and an ice rink.

EatEdit

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.

  • Blue Waters Cafe. Well priced and has an excellent view of the ocean.
  • Fishmonger, The Broadwalk, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-6895. Indulge yourself in succulent prawns, calamari, fish & chips and curries.
  • Leonardo's, The Broadwalk, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-1302, fax: +27 41 583-1304. Fantastic pizza, and has a very pleasant atmosphere.
  • Ocean Grill, Mercado Centre, Corner of Admiralty and Strandfontein Roads, Summerstrand. Seafood restaurant with classy and elegant decor ; serves good sushi and other seafood meals.
  • Old Austria. Just off Cape Road, it is one of the classier restaurants in Port Elizabeth.
  • The Oyster Catcher, +27 41 582-1867, fax: +27 41 582-1869. Located in the harbour. The seafood is particularly tasty. Very popular - if you want to get a table you must make a reservation.
  • Tiffany's, Brookes Hill, Beach Road, Humewood, +27 41 584-0696. Tea, coffee, light meals and fantastic pastries and cakes in a great location looking out over the sea.
  • Ginger Restaurant, Marine Dr, +27415831229. The atmosphere is friendly, airy and chic and the food a combination of the finest, fresh ingredients with an Eastern Cape influence.
  • Fushin Sushi & Eastern Cuisine, Shop 5, Stanley on Bain, Stanley Street, Richmond Hill. Port Elizabeth's most exclusive sushi restaurant, this place is trendy, intimate and friendly. Located in the upmarket, historic area of Richmond Hill and very centrally located.
  • Primi Coastal, Marine Drive, Humewood. A very trendy pizza restaurant ideally located on the beachfront.

DrinkEdit

  • Barney's Tavarn, At the Boardwalk, +27 41 583-4500. Lively pub. It overlooks Algoa Bay and is a stone's throw away from the water's edge. The pub has a great balcony, with good draughts and food. A local favorite, many Johannesburg travellers' first stop is at this watering hole to catch up with friends. Live music is available most weekend nights.
  • Ekhaya Pub, +27 41 586-1156. For African Jazz
  • Ibhayi Brewery Tours, 47 Kohler St, +27 41 404-3527, . Tour the beer brewery and have a couple of pints at the Bay and Barrel afterwards.
  • News Cafe. It is at the Boardwalk and is always lively and full. They serve good food, and it is a nice place to catch a drink.
  • Blackbeards Tavern, Within The Chapman Hotel. Does a splendid Seafood Extravaganza.
  • Rasoi, 79 Heugh Road, Walmer, +27 41-581-0333. This is an excellent place for Indian food. The ambiance is nice, and the staff is extremely friendly. It is a great idea to catch a dinner at Rasoi when in PE.
  • Cubana - Port Elizabeth, Marine Drive, Humewood, +27 41 582 5258. Port Elizabeth's most exclusive nightspot - definitely not to be missed!

CoffeeEdit

Gqeberha/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: M-F 7:15AM to 3PM. 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: M-Sa 7AM to 3:30PM. 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: M-Sa 7AM-3PM. 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 Competition 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.

SleepEdit

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.

BudgetEdit

  • Kings Beach Backpackers, 41 Windermere Road, Humewood, +27 41 585-8113, fax: +27 41 585-1693, . Cool little backpackers with friendly staff. The staff can arrange safari trips to Addo and Schotia Safari Parks for around R1000 (this is R200 more expensive than doing it yourself, but it does include travel to and from the parks, which are approx 30 miles away. Dorm R140 pp.
  • Lungile Backpackers, 12 La Roche Drive, Humewood, +27 41 585-2042, fax: +27 41 585-2083, . Offers private single and double rooms, dorms and a pool. Dorm R140.
  • Port Elizabeth Backpackers, 7 Prospect Hill, Central, +27 41 586-0697, . Dorms R120. Doubles R280, singles R180pn.
  • Jikeleza Lodge Backpackers, 44 Cuyler Street, Central, +27 41-5863721. 6 to 8 beds per dorm. R120.
  • Helichar Backpackers, 23 Windermere Road Humewood, +27 41-5822597. 8 bed dorms. Dorm R110.
  • Island Vibe Backpackers, 4 Jenvey Street, +27 41-5831256. 6 bed dorm. Dorm R150.

Mid-rangeEdit

  • Algoa Guest House, 87 Brighton Drive, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-3511. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. In the upmarket seaside suburb of Summerstrand - 200 m from the beach and in close proximity to the airport, university, golf course, restaurants and casino. Tourists and business people alike enjoy a relaxing stay at Algoa Guest House. All suites are private and comfortable with a mini kitchenette and their own entrances and patios. Suites are serviced daily and have free internet access, TVs and DVD facilities. from R320 per person sharing.
  • The Admiralty Beach House, 9 Admiralty Way, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-1271, fax: +27 41 583-3720, . 100 m from Summerstrands Beach, near Marine Drive. It features a wonderful garden and some rooms have sea-view. ADSL is available in all rooms From R340.
  • Alcyone Accommodation, 29 Admiralty Way, Summerstrand, +27 84 693-1483. Offers you self-catering accommodation in private en-suite units that sleep 2, family unit sleeping 4-5, and a 1 bedroom apartment with views sleeping max 3; 500 m from the beach, close to the Humewood Golf course and Hobbie Beach; self-contained, fully equipped and with complimentary Wi-Fi From R400.
  • At Sta-Plus Guest House, 11A 10th Avenue, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-34112, . Large sheltered swimming pool, BBQ facilities, off-street parking, laundry service. 150 m from Pollock Beach, 5 min from golf course, university, or boardwalk casino.
  • Beachwalk B&B, 1 Second Ave, Summerstrand, +27 41 583-3594, . 60 m from the beach and 400 m from the Boardwalk. 4 star. From R250 pp sharing.
  • 1 Bishops Inn, 14 Killarney Rd, +27 41 585-6828, fax: +27 41 585-6850, . Check-in: 2:30PM, check-out: 10:30AM. Bishops Inn offers superior rooms and 1&2-bedroom self-catering suites opposite Kings Beach. All rooms have Wi-Fi access. From R540 to R1200 per unit per night.
  • Conifer Beach House, 39 Windermere Road, Humewood, +27 41 585-5959, . 4-star accommodation. Saltwater swimming pool, 2 minutes walk from Kings Beach, off-street parking, laundry service, WiFi. Close to golf course, university and boardwalk casino.
  • Edward Protea Hotel, Belmont Terrace, +27 41 586-2056, fax: +27 41 586-4925. On the northern end of the Donkin Reserve. May have seen better times but still offers Edwardian style and wonderful views over the Donkin Reserve to the Ocean.
  • Holiday Inn, La Roche Drive, Humewood. Close to King's Beach. The hotel is a short walk away from Bayworld Aquarium.
  • Kragga Kamma Game Park (Follow the M15 west from the city center for about 15 minutes), +27 41 379-4195, . Luxury tents, thatched chalets, log cabins and thatched lodges. Book for two nights or more and get a free game drive From R150 to R300 per person per night.
  • Pine Lodge Resort, Marine Drive, Cape Recife, +27 41 583-4004, . 3 star log cabins in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve From R300 to R1000 per unit per night.
  • Casa Seaviews, 9 Chapman Rd, Seaview, +27 82 651 0805, . Build in 1935.
  • Sir Roys at the Sea, Cnr Perrot and Newcon roads, Humerail, +27 41 582-2377, . From R350 pp sharing.
  • Treetops Guest House, 44 Albert road, Walmer, +27 41 581-0147, fax: +27 41 581-5525, . Free transfers to and from the airport
  • The Beach Hotel, Marine Dr, +27 41 583-2161, fax: +27 41 583-6220, . The four-star hotel offers homely comfort in its 58 spacious, en-suite bedrooms with all modern amenities, a stunning pool deck and three superb restaurants.
  • Hacklewood Hill Country House, Prospect Road, Walmer, +27 41 581-1300, . Luxury five-star hotel in the classic country house tradition. Imagine a bygone era of colonial charm, good conversation and the fine dining.

The Radisson Blu, Marine Drive and 9th Avenue, +27 41 509 5000, offers the best that Radisson Blu brand has to offer.

CopeEdit

ConsulatesEdit

  • Belgian, 16C Lower Valley Road, Baakens Valley, +27 41 582-2275. M-F 9AM to noon.
  • British, 5th Floor, First Bowring House, 66 Ring Road, Greenacres, +27 41 363-8840, fax: +27 41 363-8842. M-F 9AM to 12:30PM.
  • Danish, 3 Fearick Street, Sidwell, +27 41 453-2696. M-F 8AM-5PM; F 8AM-noon.
  • French, 3 Digby Road, Framesby, +27 41 360-2730. M-F 8AM-4:30PM.
  • 1 German, 1 Circular Drive / The Fig Tree, +27 41 397-4721, fax: +27 41 397-4730. M-F 8:30AM-12:30PM.
  • Italian, 16 Dyason Street, Mount Croix, +27 41 373-6443. M W 10:30AM-12:30PM; Tu F 8:30AM-10:30PM.

Go nextEdit

Local parksEdit

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


This city travel guide to Port Elizabeth is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.