The Eastern Cape is a destination of many facets, ideal for families, couples, groups of friends and lone explorers alike. Like any other tourist hub, there are ways to get the most out of Port Elizabeth (the Friendly City), and we want to share these tips with you so that Nelson Mandela Bay is showcased at its best.
Cheat Codes for exploring the Friendly City – Getting the most out of your stay in Port Elizabeth …
December may be the most popular tourist time in Port Elizabeth, but it is also a particularly windy and drizzly month compared to the rest of summer. For hot, sunny summers, visitors are advised to visit in January, which is sunnier and less windy than its preceding month.
For mild, cooler days, April, May and September are ideal. In general, the mornings are mild, and the breeze picks up in the afternoon. While consistent, this breeze is not often very strong. However, to be on the safe side, beach outings should be done early on in the day.
Unlike most major cities in South Africa, there is plenty of free parking close to / in all major shopping centres in Port Elizabeth. Unless it is necessary to have shaded or undercover parking, opt for the free parking outdoors.
For a one-stop family outing, go to the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex on the beachfront. There are hosts of shops, restaurants, an entertainment centre for children (including carousels and water rides), casino, movie theatres, go-kart course, and putt-putt green.
The beach is a two-minute walk from the complex, and there is plenty of free parking that is protected by security guards and booms.
Port Elizabeth boasts plenty of beaches from which to choose, but always pick one at which there are lifeguards on duty and other bathers. It is essential to follow the advice and instructions of the lifeguards, although the main beaches are all considered to be safe swimming beaches.
Beaches like Sardinia Bay and Schoenmakerskop are stunning, but beware of dangerous currents and do not go alone, as they are rather isolated.
Stanley Street is a diner’s delight and must not be missed by those wanting to experience the nightlife and culinary treats of the Friendly City. Restaurants range from family-friendly pizza and pasta options to top-notch sushi and fine dining eateries.
For families on a budget, St George’s Park is a gorgeous, free place to enjoy the verdant greenery and fresh air. There is plenty of space for picnics, as well as a large play area for little ones, a recently renovated greenhouse that is full of magnificent orchids, and scenic trails through the park.
Govan Mbeki (the city centre) is full of historical and cultural attractions, almost all of which are free (while the others are very reasonably priced). It is best to have a knowledgeable guide to point them out and reveal insights into their history and inspiration, so that you do not miss out on a lot of fascinating information.
As with any other popular destination, the usual cautions should be exercised when exploring the city in terms of keeping alert and not carrying too much cash or valuable items on your person.
Useful pages for planning a trip to Port Elizabeth
- Port Elizabeth Attractions
- Port Elizabeth Hotels
- Accommodation in Port Elizabeth
- Things to do in Port Elizabeth