There’s more to the capital city of South Africa than meets the eye. Easily overlooked for other destinations in South Africa like Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Pretoria humbly awaits visitors to showcase its plethora of activities and wonders. At the pinnacle point of South Africa’s history, Pretoria is home to many national landmarks - remnants of its post-colonial struggle, which shaped South Africa and the city.
Apart from its colonial significance, Pretoria is teeming with picturesque scenery and breathtaking architecture. During the spring, the streets are lined with blossoming lavender coloured Jacaranda trees, dubbing Pretoria as the “Jacaranda City”. Pretoria, also known as Tshwane, is a host to a myriad of natural, cultural and historical attractions. Here’s your guide to some of Pretoria’s main attractions.
1. Sammy Marks Museum
Walk the hallways of the Victorian mansion called Zwartkoppies Hall, which is now a museum paying tribute to the life of its owner, Sammy Mark. The museum grants visitors a look into the opulent lifestyle and elegance of a prosperous colonial household. The old-world charm has been preserved to reflect Victorian living, providing visitors with an authentic experience. The exquisite furniture, porcelain artefacts and refined paintings create the relaxed ambience of a family home.
The museum features a well-stocked library, large kitchen and a billiards rooms, with a painting of the Marks family. Apart from exploring the 48 rooms of the mansion, visitors can enjoy the lingering perfumes of the roses in the handsomely groomed gardens. Decadent living awaits you.
Sammy Marks Museum
Address: Bronkhorstspruit Rd, Savannah Country Estate, Pretoria, 0184
2. Union Buildings
Arguably the most iconic and famous buildings in South Africa, a trip to Pretoria will not be complete without a visit to this beautiful landmark. The magnificent Union Buildings tower over the city centre and from this vantage point visitors can soak in the views of the city skyscrapers and other attractions, like Freedom Park.
The Union Buildings are a national heritage site and serve as the offices of the President of South Africa. Although visitors aren’t granted access into the buildings themselves, you can explore the terraced gardens and take pictures at the Mandela Statue, a tribute to the life and legacy of the Father of South Africa. Watch the sunset and the city come alive with a hike or drive up to the Union Buildings at night.
Address: Government Ave, Elandspoort 357-Jr, Pretoria, 0002
3. Voortrekker Monument
Situated in the Voortrekker Monument National Park, the Voortrekker Monument commemorates the history of the Afrikaners and the great journey across the country taken by pioneering Boer families. The 40-meter (131.2 foot) granite monument features five massive statues of Boer leaders and you will also see indigenous gardens and an open-air amphitheatre here. Visitors can climb to any one of the lookout spots to enjoy views of the city or admire the intricacies and tapestry of the interior design. Grab a bite at the Monument Restaurant or sip on tea in the traditional tea garden.
Address: Eeufees Rd, Groenkloof 358-Jr, Pretoria, 0027
4. Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre
For a uniquely wild encounter, visit the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre. The centre is a breeding sanctuary for cheetahs and other endangered species in the hopes of protecting these beautiful creatures and contributing to the rich wildlife that makes South Africa such a sought-after destination. Visitors can get up close and personal with these wild cats, as well African wild dogs, hyenas, serval, Suni antelope, riverine rabbits and vultures.
As the fastest animals on earth, be sure to inquire about the cheetah run, where three times a week, visitors are invited to see cheetahs exercise, as they run after a high-speed lure. Take a tour around the centre facilities and visit the cheetah enclosures.
Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre
Address: R513, Brits, 0251
5. President Paul Kruger House
The Kruger House is a museum commemorating the life and struggle of Paul Kruger, who was State President of South Africa. The Victorian house has been refurbished to reflect a 19th-century lifestyle, from the old wagons in the backyard to the furniture of the interior. The Kruger House was one of the first establishments to have a telephone connection and electricity.
Visitors who would like to gain an insight into the Anglo-Boer War can view the exhibition at the house and even the knife, which Kruger used to cut off his wounded finger, during the war. This is the perfect spot to appreciate this great leader, who helped shape the fabric of South Africa.
President Paul Kruger House
Address: 59 WF Nkomo St, Pretoria Central, Pretoria, 0002
For travellers in search of an adventure or who want to get their adrenaline pumping, book an Acrobranch Adventure Course. This action-packed course caters to visitors of varying adrenaline levels. Thrill seekers can feel the wind in their hair on the 300-meter (984.3-foot) long zipline and for the less adventurous, the treetop adventure offers obstacles like wobbly bridges, high up in the trees.
Fear not, Acrobranch is equipped with state of the art safety harnesses and gear. Slip, balance, slide, crawl, dash and stroll your way to an unforgettable adventure.
7. Wonderboom Nature Reserve
Named after the wild fig tree, the Wonderboom, which is indigenous to the area, the Wonderboom Nature Reserve is a 200-hectare (494.2-acre) natural beauty, boasting scenic views. Be sure to keep an eye out for the local small antelope, monkeys, dassies and an array of bird species.
The nature reserve is best experienced on foot or on a bike, to truly soak in the beauty of the area. Carry a picnic bag, as there are picnic spots along the path. Don’t miss an opportunity to experience history at the Iron Age or the Stone Age fort, situated at the foot of the hill, near Wonderboom.
Wonderboom Nature Reserve
Address: Wonderboom, Pretoria, 0182
8. Pretoria Art Museum
South Africa is known for boasting some of the most vibrant and colourful artwork in the world. Appreciate the splendour and handiwork of South African art at the Pretoria Art Museum, featuring local art, like sculptures, tapestries, paintings, photographic prints, ceramics, urban and rural art, as well as graphics.
Pretoria Art Museum
Address: Francis Baard St & Wessels St, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0007
9. Groenkloof Nature Reserve
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and become one with nature, at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve. The reserve offers visitors a unique experience of enjoying the wildlife and all the natural splendour the park has to offer. With routes that cater to varying degrees of endurance, Groenkloof is the perfect spot for mountain biking or taking a guided tour around the park.
Enjoy the kisses of the morning African sun on a morning hike or pack a picnic bag to enjoy at one of the picnic spots. Fancy something a little different? Hop onto the back of a horse and ride through the reserve, as you spot the rich wildlife, like zebras, giraffes, kudu, ostriches and an array of birdlife.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve
Address: 335/M7 Eeufees Rd, Groenkloof 358-Jr, Pretoria, 0027
10. National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
Hear the roars of the lions, admire the gracefulness of the giraffes or adopt a penguin at the National Zoological Gardens. The zoo is the largest in the country and one of the most beautiful in the world. For a small donation, you can adopt any of the animals in the zoo, which includes free entrance to the zoo, a certificate of adoption and continuous updates.
The setting sun does not end the fun at the zoo, as visitors can get guided tours at night, to watch the nocturnal animals during their evening activities.
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
Address: 232 Boom St, Daspoort 319-Jr, Pretoria, 0001
Website: Pretoria Zoo
Fall in love with Pretoria
Pretoria is the perfect starting point in your trip to South Africa to truly experience the essence of the nation, the diversity of its people and to learn about the history that contributed to the very fabric that makes up this colourful country.
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