Travel Tips: 12 hours in Port Elizabeth

discoverafrica 27 June 2018
Part of the South Africa Safari Collection
Back to the Our Blog

Whether you’re coming from the stunning Garden Route, or heading for the nearest city from the Addo Elephant National Park or the starkly beautiful Karoo, chances are you’ll end up in the friendliest of South Africa’s cities; Port Elizabeth.

The Volkswagen factory plant helped to transform this Eastern Cape town into a thriving economy. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1990sl, many factory workers were retrenched to free up more jobs for German citizens in their homeland. Driving through the city centre, one can see how the urbanisation of the city came to an abrupt halt since the heyday of the Volkswagen plant. While economic development has been slow, the city offers many wholesome activities to enjoy, as well as a budding creative scene and emerging world-class eateries.

The weather in Port Elizabeth is mild throughout the year, with February being one of the hottest months. The winter season between June to August sees more rainfall than most other months, but the highest average temperature sits at about 21℃, with much less wind than the notoriously fierce gusts in summer.

Port Elizabeth may be small, but worth visiting for a few days. If you’re just stopping by, let us guide you with some top travel tips from our South Africa safari experts:

What to do in the day:

Kyle Reuben from the Billabong Madibaz team in the University Sport South Africa surfing championships in Port Elizabeth | Credit:


With three of South Africa’s Blue Flag beaches in Port Elizabeth, one doesn’t need to look far to enjoy a relaxing day under the sun. Humewood, Hobie and Kings beaches are the most popular beaches for tourists. If you’re looking for something a little bit quieter, especially during the summer months, then Beachview about 30 minutes from the city centre is ideal.

Try your hand at surfing the waves with Learn2Surf, the oldest and most established school in the city. With favourable rates, learning this awesome skill is easy and plenty of fun for the whole family. You can choose between individual lessons or group lessons, with the latter being a more affordable option. Best to experience during the summer months.

What to do at night:

Port Elizabeth has a much less vibrant nightlife than bigger cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, but the quieter atmosphere allows you to really connect with others and take things easy during your stay.

We recommend a night out at the Music Kitchen, a rather quirky, live music venue that offers up a variety of local and international performers that cover a wide range of music styles including acoustics, folk music and some sleek jazz. In fact, there’s something for everyone at the Music Kitchen, including music trivia nights and comedy specials for a look at the lighter side of South Africa. If you’re hungry there is a restaurant with well-priced food and a pub.

Where to eat:


Credit: An Exploring South African

Grass Roof Farm Stall is perfect for a healthy breakfast with heart. The perfect morning outing for families, this local eatery is all about hand crafted fare, favouring artisanal breads and homemade pastries and cakes.

If you’re impressed with their offerings, you can visit the accompanying stall where a smorgasbord of Port Elizabeth’s best food produce is available. Try their locally made olive oil, cheese and organic fresh produce among other tasty treats.

During the winter months, toast yourself next to the blazing fireplace while you experience the laid-back lifestyle that Port Elizabeth is known for. Children are most welcome here.


Credit: Dining-Out

For a feel of a Port Elizabeth of old, lunch at Something Good Roadhouse, a relic from the 1950s that has recently been renovated while retaining the relaxed ‘surfer-vibe’ atmosphere it is known for.

Beloved by locals, the restaurant serves simple pub-style food. Don’t expect anything fancy here, just simple yet delicious wraps, burgers and pizzas. Do try their amazing milkshakes and frolic on their sandy backyard which happens to be Pollock beach. This is a great place to cool down after some epic surf.


Hearty, authentic African flavours and style at Shisa | Credit: Your Neighbourhood

Give your tastebuds a sample of traditional African food at Shisa African Restaurant located in the Baakens River precinct. Not only is their food delicious, they have arguably the best views over the waterfront in Port Elizabeth.

Keeping things simple, Shisa is all about the South African ‘braai’ (barbeque). Choose your protein (beef, chicken, lamb or pork) which is the weighed and onto the fire for a perfectly seared piece of meat; the South African way. Choose from sides of dumplings, samp and beans, salad, ‘pap’ (traditional maize meal), creamed spinach and steamed butternut; the choice really is yours.

Lively and upbeat, Shisa also hosts music sets from some of South Africa’s most talented underground artists. Expect fun for all at Shisa.

Where to shop:

If you’re looking for some souvenirs to take home with you, visit Wezandla African Craft Traders. Far removed from what the tacky wares that you may have seen elsewhere, Wezandla is a community of craftsmen and women from South Africa and Zimbabwe who put their skills to good use in creating beautiful artwork, woven baskets, patterned fabrics, sculptures and artwork that would look beautiful in any home around the world.

Go on for a look around and a friendly chat with the artists; you won’t leave empty handed. Shops close at 16h45 daily and are only open until 12h45 on Saturdays.

Travel tips:

- Port Elizabeth can get very windy. Consider the weather forecast if you’re planning to do adventure activities such as surfing or cycling along the pavillion; the wind can get rather extreme.

- Kragga Kamma Game Park is only 12 kms from the city centre. This quiet park is home to a cheetah camp and entry is extremely affordable for families.

- If you have a bit more time, visit the old frontier town of Grahamstown for the day.

- Despite having pristine beaches, the currents can be treacherous, so stick to a beach where there is an on-duty lifeguard rather than brave a cross-current.

- Whales can be spotted between August and September. Take a boat trip to see some of the usual suspects; Bryde whales, Southern rights, Humpbacks and Minkes.

Some related info

Four awe-inspiring videos of a Kruger safari

The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest game reserve and with good reason too - it’s the home of over 500 bird species, 100 reptiles, close to 160 mammals,  many archaeological sites and a diversity of flora. It’s these statistics that make a Kruger safari such an attractive choice for wildlife enthusiasts from all over the globe. If a South African safari is on your travel…

Go fly-fishing in the Dullstroom

For all those wonderful men and women whose passion for trout fly-fishing is fed by spending countless days in the outdoors patiently waiting for the fish to bite, Dullstroom in Mpumalanga is the fly-fishing Mecca of South Africa. Comprised of many man-made dams, stocked with both Brown and Rainbow trout species, Dullstroom offers camping facilities and affordable South African getaway…

A short guide to Addo Elephant National Park

Conveniently located an hour from the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park should not be missed on a safari in South Africa. As the third largest park in the country, it’s well known for, you guessed it, the 600 elephants who reside in the park. Established in 1931 as a safe haven for the last remaining elephants in the area,…

10 reasons why you should visit Tembe Elephant Park

Tembe Elephant park where the wild elephants still roam is situated between the Zululand and Mozambique. Tembe Elephant park is home to Africa’s largest elephants as well as the smallest antelope - such as the suni. The park is a Big Five reserve, with definite elephant and buffalo sighting. However, Tembe Elephant Park is also habitat to many different types of other animals such as the…

Best safari and beach holiday destinations in Africa

A holiday to Africa offers so much more than just wildlife - the continent is blessed with luxurious white-sand beaches for travellers looking to spend some time in the sun. Here are a few of the best safari and beach holiday destinations in Africa. South Africa Best safari destination - Kruger National Park   When dreams become reality. A male #cheetah looking for his next meal…

Five Reasons why you Should Visit the Manyeleti Game Reserve

Situated on the South West part of the famous Kruger Park, Manyeleti is a unique safari destination off the beaten path. Officially opened in 1967, the park offers you magnificent wildlife experiences. The following are the top five reasons to visit this game reserve African park. Play your South African safari to experience this incredible destination.  Great wildlife…

You Might Also Like

 | Kruger to the Mozambican coast

Kruger to the Mozambican coast

Combining the bush and the wildlife found in the famous Sabi Sand in the Kruger National Park with a tropical stay in one of the sublime lodges of Mozambique's Ponta Mamoli...

 | Luxury South Africa to Zimbabwe safari

Luxury South Africa to Zimbabwe safari

Spot the Big Five in Thornybush Private Game Reserve and enjoy the majesty of Zimbabwe's roaring Victoria Falls ...

 | Blissful 4-day Kruger Safari

Blissful 4-day Kruger Safari

Experience luxury in the Kruger Park ...

 | Luxury Cape Town and Kruger Safari

Luxury Cape Town and Kruger Safari

Explore two of South Africa's most desirable locations in this whirlwind safari tour...