Travel

Tshepiso Makhele
6 minute read
6 Nov 2017
3:38 pm

11 great things to do in Pretoria

Tshepiso Makhele

Take a short left and see this city for the remarkable place it actually is.

City of Pretoria skyline. Picture Thinkstock

Though many view Pretoria as a place that only prides itself as a jacaranda city, walking or driving around Tshwane tells an utterly different story to those that are willing to check this homely city out.

You need to appreciate the many amazing, extremely fun, historical and modern places it has.

This laid-back city is home to not only the beautiful Blue Train and the historical Union Buildings, but refreshing pop-up markets, a diamond mine, tasty craft beers and free Zulu lessons.

Before mocking Pretoria, you need to experience it. Pay this lively city a visit and then arrive at an informed decision.

1. Show up at the lively Market-at-the-Sheds

Grab a few friends or family and pay a visit to this social market that celebrates great food, creativity, wonderful music and bubbly people who enjoy having a good time and investing in a few handmade products while engaging in intriguing conversations.

This popular market is organised with the intention of reviving Pretoria’s central city, creating an atmosphere where everyone feels at home. It takes place on the last Saturday of the month with date changes in between to accommodate holidays and long weekends.

It is open from 11am to 6pm (sometimes later). Find this market at 012 Central in Pretoria, with sufficient safe parking available at 216 Sisulu Street and the State Theatre.

2. Increase your awareness at the Voortrekker Monument

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Voortrekker Monument. Picture: Flickr

For a bit of a history lesson, and to ensure that you stay informed, pay this monument a visit.

This unique monument, which commemorates the pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner, is situated in a stunning location.

It is safe to say that today it is the most visited heritage site of its kind in Gauteng, and one of the top 10 cultural and historical visitor attractions in the country. Go and witness it and tick it off your list of historical sites to visit.

3. Get free Zulu Lessons at Grounded at Echo Café

Grounded at Echo is a place for fresh thoughts, community and enjoyable coffee.

Located on corner of Pierneef Street and 24th Avenue, The Moot, Grounded at Echo also holds free, informal and fun i n t r o d u c t o r y Zulu lessons with Mthokozisi Mthethwa from 9am- 10am, while enjoying a fresh slice of cake or sandwich.

4. Take the kids to Pretoria Zoo

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A crowned crane which can be found at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa situated in Pretoria. Photo: National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.

The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is the largest zoo in the country. An aquarium and reptile park also form part of the zoo facility in Tshwane.

Besides the diverse range of animals that regard the zoo as their home, the kids will love the cafeteria, which has a wide variety of delicious goodies and food kiosks offering snacks.

For a more relaxed feasting, the restaurant also provides sit-down meals and numerous picnic spots located throughout the zoo allowing you to relax in the shade of giant trees, or have a braai in the picnic area located next to the Apies River.

5. Allow the kids to enjoy acrobatics

Acrobranch is a treetop experience devoted to offering children and adults an exceptional adventure as they move from tree to tree in the beautiful green forests.

There are different obstacle courses for different groups, some for kids and some adults and teenagers, with spectacular zip lines on offer, just to put a cherry on top of the massive fun, which can take about two hours.

Swinging through trees, hanging from branches, balancing in the air, can end up as one of your favourite fun activities. Why not bring out your inner child?

6. Grab a cold beer at Capital Craft

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Craft beer fanatics will have a field day at this restaurant and probably take a few beautiful pictures of the food and new craft drinks for social media, as the restaurant adds recent beers to its collection regularly.

Try their Big Mama platter, which has Panko crumbed chicken breast stuffed with baby spinach, feta, roasted macadamia nuts and black pepper. It is finished off with a creamy Danish feta and basil sauce.

You will come back for more at Shop 20 in Greenlyn Village Centre on the corner of 12th Street East and Thomas Edison, right in Menlo Park, Pretoria.

7. Have a picnic in front of the Union Buildings

Truth be told, Pretoria weather tends to be way better than that in Joburg on most days, and planning a picnic in Tshwane can be ideal, more especially in front of the beautiful Union Buildings.

So pack some picnic goodies and head to the greens of the most famous buildings in Mzansi. Make sure you visit the 9m statue of the late president Nelson Mandela, take in the splendour and snap a picture or two.

8. Cullinan Diamond Mine

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Cullinan Diamond Mine. Photo: Gallo Images / Lawrette McFarlane

Cullinan Diamond Mine was originally owned by and named after one of the town’s most famous locals, Sir Thomas Cullinan.

The underrated mine has given the world some of the most extraordinary stones ever mined and remains the world’s main source for rare blue diamonds.

If you are a lover of all things sparkling, Cullinan will be a worthwhile 25-minute drive from Pretoria, with a showroom that will leave you amazed, and expert cutters and polishers working their arts on each rough diamond, release the exquisite gemstone buried within.

9. Cheer at Loftus

The home of the famous Blue Bulls and a space every Mzansi resident needs to visit and witness, especially if there is a game of rugby taking place.

There is nothing like excitement in the air, the wild cheers of motivated fans and the smell of sizzling meat when watching a team play at a stadium.

10. Take a ride on the Blue Train

Don’t let people lie to you. This train is not simply just a train but a mixture of the luxury of the world’s top hotels with the appeal of train travel.

It’s more than just an opportunity to see Mzansi’s enormous landscapes and beautiful tourism sites; it is a comfortable lavish rail cruise. Try this ride, sit back and enjoy the comfort and the splendid views.

11. Be captivated by the jacaranda trees

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Jacaranda trees in bloom in Pretoria on 13 October 2013. Picture: Christine Vermooten

There is more to Pretoria than the lovely purple trees that line the streets beautifully in the city.

After all, it is no crime when one appreciates nature. Admire the trees that make for a magnificent background for a perfect picture, and take a few snaps as a reminder of time spent in this city.

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