Pretoria has become one of my favourite cities to visit. I often fly up for work but this time, it was a nice change to go sightseeing and on adventures instead. Below are some of my favourite things to do, some places I have visited before and some first time visits. For me, organising the trips we go on, is the first and exciting part of my travels. Usually I love spending hours doing research and websites such as Travelstart make searching and booking flights a lot easier. As I have all the available options at a glance, it leaves me more time to look up new places to visit. View Travelstart for Flights to Johannesburg.
The Voortrekker Monument:
This was my first time to the Voortrekker monument, which was designed by Gerard Moerdijk. The monument describes the history behind the 19th century Afrikaans settlers and their culture. Marble frieze bands inside the monument provides insight into the Great Trek, depicting everything from everyday life, religion and work on their journey from Cape Town. The heritage site and grand architectural site, also happens to be one of the most visited museums in South Africa.
The building is designed with an opening in the arch of the roof. It has been designed so that on the 16th of December, at twelve o’clock each year, the sun shines down through this opening onto a Cenograph and highlights the words “We for thee, South Africa”. Entry into the grounds and monument is only R70 and there is a on site restaurant. The gardens are perfect for romantic picnics.
You can view the iconic Union buildings from the roof terrace.
This architectural masterpiece and iconic landmark, was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. It houses the offices of the President and is the official seat of Parliament in South African. It now houses a nine metre statue of the late Nelson Mandela. The Union buildings offers panoramic views over the city and the gardens are spectacular. If you have extra time, do visit Soweto, which you can read about here.
Pretoria’s Purple streets:
Pretoria is also known as Jacaranda City. If you visit between September and November, when the Jacaranda’s are blooming, you can take a walk down one of the many streets/avenues lined by purple trees and it makes for lots of Instagram worthy photographs.
I found this exotic gem when looking for unusual eateries or rooftop bars with a view. This award winning everyday eatery offers open air dining with delectable Moroccan cuisine. We had lunch at the rooftop deli and after this taste of authentic Moroccan cuisine, it makes me want to visit Morocco even more. And the sweet treats were delicious!
This is an unexpected oasis in Pretoria offers accommodation and beautiful indoor-outdoor courtyards to host functions in. Even though we did not stay there, the manager showed us around some of the beautifully decorated rooms.
The on-site shop offers authentic goods, from tagines to carpets, imported from Morocco. It is located next to a road lined with Jacaranda trees, so if you visit during the months the Jacaranda’s are blooming, you also get to see them in full bloom.
Jasmyn Farm stall:
Located in Hartbeespoort area, this distinctive landmark, a Dutch Windmill is worth a visit, and caters for various age groups. They offer fresh produce sourced from local farmers and some speciality Dutch and German treats. If you want to grab a bite to eat, there are two restaurants, a small outdoor market and the farm store to choose from. The bookshop sells books and some childrens stories which took me back to my childhood. Think Dawie die Kabouter, Liewe Heksie, etcetera.
Maropeng: Cradle of Humankind:
So where did it all begin? This palaeoanthropological site is the birthplace of humanity and means “return to the place of origin” in the Setswana language, the local language in this area. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is located about an hours drive from Pretoria. If you are interested in where it all began, and want to do something different, this is the place to go.
The Tumulus building and visitors centre, designed by GAPP and Mphethi Morejele Architects, is designed so that it sits unobtrusively in the landscape. There is a fun boat ride inside the centre, which takes you on a journey starting at present time and takes you back to the start of time. It is both an architectural and anthropological delight.
Visit Hartbeespoort Dam:
Visiting Harties is one of my favourite things to do in Pretoria. You can rent holiday accommodation overlooking the water, go water skiing or just relax. One of the newer attractions, is an aerial cable way, which is on my list the next time I am in the area. There are a wide variety of activities for all age groups and tastes in this area. I flew over the dam and the view was magnificent.
Outdoor adventures in Pretoria:
Pretoria has various cycling trails and reserves, such as Groenkloof, where you can cycle amongst a few roaming and mostly harmless wildlife, like giraffes and zebras. Miracle waters, close to Hartbeespoort Dam offers scuba diving with various objects. Submerged buses and helicopters make the dive more interesting.
Looking for a walk on the wild side? Try a tandem paraglide or trike flight. You can read about my tandem trike flight over Hartbeespoort Dam in my next post.
This was one memorable trip and I will definitely be trying some more adventurous sports as I travel, to push myself out of my comfort zone. On that note, off to look for some more flights for my next trip! Until then. Totsiens!
Disclosure: This post is a collaboration with Travelstart.