Travel to Pretoria, the Jacaranda City

  • The former South African capital of Transvaal is rather touristy. Pretoria is a lively city that knows how to make the most of its assets.
    John Lambert TIPS RF / age fotostock
    Holidaying in Pretoria

    The former South African capital of Transvaal is rather touristy. Pretoria is a lively city that knows how to make the most of its assets.

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination South Africa

?Praestantia Praevaleat Pretoria? (meaning, "May Pretoria Be Pre-eminent In Excellence"). Such is the motto of what is also called Jacaranda City, in reference to the hundreds of thousands of trees of the same name which blossom during the southern spring (between October and November) and give the city an indigo hue. Moreover, this is the best period during which to visit the city. Visitors looking for a complete change of scenery won't be disappointed. Located some 1,500m above sea level, Pretoria truly has plenty to offer its tourists, including many monuments and historical places known around the world. Church Street is one of the city's main streets and most of the sites and statues are found here. Among them we can name the statue of Paul Kruger, a true symbol for South Africans, City Hall, known for its 32 tower bells, and Melrose House, which is now a museum. In terms of gastronomy, it's probably like nothing you are used to. If you appreciate innovation, the mix of sweet and savoury, spicy tropical, etc., South Africa is the place for you! Beyond its traditional tropical cuisine, Pretoria is home to the largest university for distance learning in the world, boasting a total of 130,000 students, and is also one of the biggest universities in the country. Every year, 30,000 students enrol here. Finally, if you travel to Pretoria and get the urge to discover as much of South Africa as possible, and in record time, do so with the Blue Train, the most luxurious train in the world that will take you to four South African cities.

Pretoria: what to do?

The Groenkloof Nature Reserve
On foot, by bicycle, or even at the wheel of a 4x4? come and discover the animals at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve, the second oldest reserve in the world. Giraffes, antelopes, and zebras are just some of the many animals to be spotted here. A whole array of wildlife is here take you on a discovery of the country and its treasures.

The house of Paul Kruger
Old furniture, antique crockery, a royal style? Visit South Africa's most famous house, that of Paul Kruger, a former president of the country and a true Afrikaner icon. The man is still so important to South Africans today that his house has become a museum, baptised Kruger House Museum. Moreover, it is located just opposite the Reformed Paul Kruger Church.
The Union Buildings
The Union Buildings represent the official seat of South Africa. These majestic buildings are found in Pretoria. Although they are not in the city centre, the Union Buildings stand at the summit of Pretoria and constitute a South African national monument. The buildings constitute part of the core of the country's political life and the symbol of Pretoria and South Africa. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and a symbol of African democracy.

  • The tropical cuisine.
  • The local handicrafts.
  • The lack of security.

Pretoria: what to visit?


Parks and reserves


Are you on a tour of the country and want to go to Cape Town? Opt for excellence by choosing The Blue Train, the first-class means of transport with four itineraries. The Blue Train, already dubbed one of the most luxurious train rides in the world, takes you on a journey through the most beautiful landscapes. The rooms are refined and luxurious and the cuisine, featuring all of the local specialities, is quite simply divine.

To avoid

Like most South African cities (and in particular in the north-east), Pretoria is not entirely safe. It's not as dangerous as Johannesburg, but all the same try to avoid solitary moonlight walks. If you have items of value, leave them at the hotel.

Pretoria: what to eat?

A traditional and nicely copious dish which will titillate your taste buds. A sort of beef curry (but a mix of meats is possible, such as with lamb), bobotie is an absolutely exquisite sweet and savoury dish. The blend of the many ingredients making up this speciality is perfect as it offers a taste of all of the flavours of the African continent in one dish.
Bredie with tomatoes
Ideal to finish off those harsh winter days. Bredie originates from Cape Town. It is made of meat and vegetables cooked together for a delicious blend, then served with a thick gravy made from the bones and the fat of the meat which is rolled in flour before being cooked. The resulting ragout is even better the following day as the flavours really have time to settle in.
This is a bit to South Africa what the hamburger is to the United States and pizza to Italy? Biltong is a kind of cured meat made from, for example, beef or ostrich, and is very popular in South Africa. Very adapted to the country's climate, the meat is dipped into a marinade and then dried in the sun. This low-calorie dried meat can be found everywhere and the locals eat it at all hours of the day. It is the archetypal snack here!

Pretoria: what to buy?

Embroidery, small pearl objects, vases, baskets, etc.: on every street corner you will find stands selling these hand-crafted or traditionally South African objects which adorn the houses of the locals.

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