Pretoria, the city of Jacaranda and the administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa. It is a peaceful city situated amidst the valleys of the Magaliesberg range with river Apies flowing through its south.
The streets in Pretoria blossoms with a dense avenue of Jacaranda trees and turns into a purple wonderland during the months of September and November. Moreover, the CNN travel featured the Herbert Baker Street of Pretoria in the ‘most beautiful streets of the world’ list.
Whether it be food, history, culture, or experiences, there are a lot of things to explore in Pretoria. We have handpicked a list of must-to-do things that will make you feel like coming to this city again and again.
Here is the list of 8 best things to do in Pretoria you can’t miss:
1. Unfold the historic significance of the Apartheid Museum
Be ready to uncover the in-depth insights of apartheid racial policy and the 20th-century history of Africa from tip to toe at the Apartheid Museum. This museum portrays a state-of-the-art South African infrastructure on a 7-hectare land.
As you head to the entrance, the Pillars of the Constitution will greet you. These pillars represent the seven values of the African constitution i.e. democracy, equality, reconciliation, diversity, responsibility, respect, and freedom.
Attend the permanent exhibition, temporary exhibition, permanent exhibition to know about the contributions of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s 40 years struggle against the Apartheid policy.
ZAR 250.00 is the per-person cost for a guided tour in the Apartheid museum.
2. Explore the rich African biodiversity at Pretoria National Botanical Garden
Pretoria National Botanical Garden is a one-stop place to admire the incredible biodiversity of South Africa. Nestled on a 76-hectare natural grassland amidst the heart of Pretoria, it is one of the ninth Botanical gardens in South Africa.
It is a must-visit place for nature enthusiasts seeking escapades from the bustling city life. Here, you’ll get to see over 220 bird species that include Verreaux’s eagle, hawks, falcons, kestrels, etc.
Moreover, you’ll also get to spot various reptiles, mammals like yellow-throated lizards, rock monitors, 50 species of butterflies, and a lot more. You can also register for a guided tour to learn more about the natural abundance of this botanical garden.
3. Capture panoramic city views from the Union Buildings
The visit to Pretoria is always complete without visiting the Union Building. Towering over the center of Pretoria city, this national heritage site is one of the famous landmarks in Pretoria that offer 360-degree views of whopping skyscrapers and beautiful streets lined with Jacaranda trees.
Being the legislative center of the South African Government, these buildings house the offices of the South African President and also host various national events. Here you’ll also get to see the 9-meter tall bronze statue of Mandela that symbolizes the unity of South Africa.
Visitors cannot take a tour inside Union buildings but they can stroll around the terrace garden that features numerous monuments of South African figures.
4. Voortrekker Monument
Situated above 299 steps amidst a nature reserve, Voortrekker Monument is a 40-meter high enormous granite structure that memorializes the history of Southern Africa and Afrikaner.
This tourist attraction resembles Egyptian and European architecture. Although, there are various artifacts inside the building but the Historical Frieze and the Cenotaph
have a meticulous significance.
Historical Frieze is the largest marble frieze in the world that comprises 27 bas-relief panels, these panels describe the historical events of Voortrekkers. Cenotaph is another attraction inside this monument, that commemorates the Battle of Blood River.
Visitors can also visit the outside amphitheater which is an excellent photography spot to capture the serenity of the surrounding nature reserve.
5. Experience the adrenaline rush at Groenkloof Nature Reserve
Famous as the gate to Pretoria, nestled in the southern region of the city, Groenkloof is South Africa’s first nature reserve. This nature reserve lies in the spectacular part of the fountains valley and is also known as a games sanctuary.
Coming to the experience, this game sanctuary has a lot to offer, visitors can take a 6 km drive through bike, and one can also opt for the 20 km mountains bike route known as sad road criss-cross which is very famous among cyclists. Moreover, there are various off-beat trails inside the sanctuary where you can enjoy horse riding activities.
Spot endangered wildlife species at Rietvlei Nature Reserve
Cocooned on 4000-hectare grassland, one of the world’s largest urban nature reserves, the
6. Rietvlei Nature Reserve surrounds a school of running slopes with indigenous and exotic flora.
This wildlife reserve features a peat wetland, an ancient lava stream, and the Rietvlei dam. Every year, a large number of visitors flock to this nature reserve to witness 272 birds and 530 rare plant species. Here, bird watchers can also spot various migratory bird species during the summer months.
Rietvlei dam is another attraction of this nature reserve that offers boating and fishing activity amidst the natural habitat of various wild animals. There is also a separate bird hide and picnic spot upstream of the Marais Dam. Moreover, visitors can also indulge in camping and hiking activities at this nature reserve.
7. Know about the daily life of Paul Kruger at the Kruger Museum
The Kruger Museum was the residence of South African president Paul Kruger from 1883 to 1900. Architect Tom Claridge and builder Charles Clark built this marvelous house in 1884.
The Kruger Museum boasts a very interesting insight, during the construction of this villa, instead of water, milk was used for mixing the cement because at that time the cement was not available in standard quality.
Moreover, this was the first house with electricity in Pretoria. In 1936, it was declared a museum that preserves the various artifacts of Paul Kruger such as period furniture, Kruger’s personal Knick-Knack, many gifts, and much more.
8. See various wildlife sections at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
National Zoological Gardens is the largest and only zoo in South Africa that is situated on both sides of the Apies River. This Pretoria Zoo covers a total area of 32 hectares and features the largest collection of antelope in the world.
This place attracts a lot of animal lovers every year. African wildlife is the main highlight of National Zoological Gardens. Here, you can witness various breeds of apes like chimpanzees, baboons, and monkeys.
Inside the Pretoria zoo, there is a separate section for every wildlife species like an Australian section for kangaroos, emus, and ostriches, reptiles, cheetahs, and a lot more. Furthermore, visitors can also take a cable car ride to enjoy the aerial views of the zoo.
Pretoria is a very beautiful city with an amalgam of nature and the feel of an urban metropolis. There are various entertainment opportunities in Pretoria that you cannot experience anywhere on earth. Here you can plunge on a picnic tour, take a stroll with a lion or either enjoy watersports at the waterpark.
Love this? All of the above places are easily reachable via any mode of public and private transportation. Pretoria may look like a small city but it has a very massive travel itinerary. However, if you’re on a budget then it is better to prefer local transportation.