Port Elizabeth, also known as the “Windy City”, the “Friendly City” or simply PE, was established in 1799, but construction of the city as we know it today only began in 1815. It is one of South Africa’s oldest cities, and is steeped in rich history and cultural heritage.
There is always something for travellers to do in PE, which sits on the picturesque Eastern Cape coastline, and boasts great restaurants, an airport that is a mere 10-minute drive from the city centre, stunning beaches and easy access to incredible wildlife.
Here are a few things to do in the Friendly City ...
For a great Nelson Mandela Bay dining experience, a visit to Stanley Street in Richmond Hill is a must – it’s Port Elizabeth’s answer to Jozi’s Maboneng and Cape Town’s Bree Street. With more than a dozen excellent restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries to choose from, Stanley Street is the ideal retreat for romantic dinners, relaxed drinks with friends and top-class culinary experiences.
Restaurants such as Salt, Muse, Two Olives and others offer fine dining, sushi, cocktails, dim sum and tapas in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Visit the VW factory and museum in Uitenhage
For car fans, a trip to the VW AutoPavilion museum, located in Uitenhage near Port Elizabeth, is a must-do. The AutoPavilion offers walk-in and pre-booked educational tours through an on-site automotive museum and expo centre.
The AutoPavilion showcases the evolution of the Volkswagen Group South Africa. Tours are tailored for family outings, school trips and car enthusiasts, and you can discover more about the iconic film-star car, Herbie, created in 1963.
Tours feature experiential displays, as well as driving simulators that demonstrate aspects such as GPS, fuel-saving technologies, solar power and vehicle safety features. During the one-hour guided tour, you will also get an opportunity to see first-hand how the new Polo and Polo Vivo vehicles are made, from a special viewing area within the museum.
There is also a gift shop on-site where visitors can purchase a variety of gifts, collectables and branded VW merchandise.
Enjoy delicious food and live entertainment at PE’s markets
Port Elizabeth also hosts popular monthly markets. Try the Locally Yours Market, which takes place on the first Saturday of the month, or the Goodnight Market, which takes place on the last Thursday of each month. Both markets sell local artisanal food and craft products from the historic Tramways Building.
The Locally Yours Market is a popular hangout that focuses on fresh produce, a variety of breakfast options and lunches supplied by local vendors, and generally has a great vibe. The Goodnight Market, which is open in the evening from 5pm to 9pm, is a “monthly gathering of PE’s top artisanal food vendors”.
Take a trip to Bayworld for some lessons in the history of the bay
Bayworld is a world-class visitor attraction in the heart of Port Elizabeth offering an oceanarium, museum and snake/reptile park.
For more culturally inclined visitors, Bayworld has historical and cultural exhibitions, including the First People of the Bay Exhibition, which uncovers the origins, lifestyles and cultural practices of the San and the Khoekhoen, the first indigenous people of Nelson Mandela Bay. Other interesting exhibits include the skeleton of one of the last southern right whales to be harpooned in the bay, a Dinosaur Hall, fossils, dioramas and life-sized models of prehistoric reptiles from 300-million years ago.
Also visit the oceanarium, where you can meet some of the marine mammals that live in Nelson Mandela Bay.
See the Big Five (and more) at Addo Elephant National Park
If you’re looking for a place where you can be at one with nature and marvel at the country’s Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros), then visit the Addo Elephant National Park. This reserve is the country’s third largest national park and was proclaimed in 1931 to protect 11 remaining elephants in the area. Today, the park, which is only a 40km drive from Port Elizabeth, is home to over 600 elephants.
Visitors can look forward to game drives, horse-riding trails, 4x4 trails and birdwatching. If you’re lucky, you may also see the Big Seven (the Big Five plus the southern right whale and great white shark). You can also expect to see many other animals, including eland, kudu, red hartebeest, cheetah, hyena and wild dog, which all play a role in balancing the natural ecosystem of the park.
Mango offers regular flights form OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. Be sure to be on the lookout for specials and deals by searching for the "1 month low rate" when booking your ticket on our website.