Port Elizabeth, often referred to as “PE” by locals, is South Africa’s third-largest port and home to some of the country’s cleanest metropolitan beaches. Water sports, such as surfing, sailing, swimming, and fishing, as well as windsurfing, kiteboarding, and scuba diving, are popular on the Eastern Cape’s more than 40 kilometres of coastline, which is lapped by the pristine seas of scenic Algoa Bay. There are plenty of tourist attractions in Port Elizabeth you can visit.
Those who want to keep dry can take a harbour tour, where they may be able to see whales such as humpbacks, Southern right whales, and Bryde’s whales, depending on the season.
But it’s not all about the sea in Port Elizabeth. Route 67, the city’s art and heritage route, showcases the intriguing and often stormy history of this pleasant colonial city in the city’s historic heart. Private game reserves and the famed Addo Elephant National Park in the neighbouring area also entice wildlife enthusiasts with low-cost DIY and guided safaris.
Discover more tourist attractions in Port Elizabeth you can visit alone or with the family.
Tourist Attractions In Port Elizabeth
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa’s third largest national park, is 72 kilometres north of Port Elizabeth and provides nature lovers a taste of a true African safari. The park covers about 444,000 acres and stretches from the Karoo in the north to the coast, passing via the Zuurberg range. Offshore islands with important breeding populations of Cape gannets and African penguins are also included.
The park was founded in 1931 to save South Africa’s last eleven bush elephants from extinction. More than 600 of these beautiful beasts, as well as Cape buffalo, black rhinos, lions, leopards, zebras, spotted hyenas, various antelope, and over 185 kinds of birds, wander the park today.
Night game drives, horseback riding, and hiking trails are among the other activities available. Travelers can pick from a variety of lodging alternatives to fit their budget, including cottages, chalets, and a camp site, all of which include access to a restaurant and shop. Day visits are welcome, and they can either drive around the park alone or join a guided tour.
The Boardwalk is a slickly packaged recreational resort and convention centre on an artificial lake in Summerstrand, a 12-minute walk from the beach. There is lots to do here for both tourists and residents. Enjoy the entertainment venues, which include a five-screen cinema, an amphitheatre holding live concerts, an amusement arcade, bowling alley, and adventure golf. Two pools are available at the fitness centre, and a full-service spa is available for those who want to unwind.
The facility comes alive at night with a musical fountain performance. More than 100 separate jets blast water up to 60 metres into the air, while a water screen presents multimedia programmes. There’s something exciting to see and do for adults and children of all ages here, and it’s a terrific alternative to the beach on rainy days.
Kragga Kamma Game Park
Kragga Kamma Game Park, located less than 30 minutes from Port Elizabeth, accepts day visitors for self-directed or guided safaris. The park is less expensive than other game-viewing alternatives, and it has a diverse range of species for its size, including white rhinos, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and monkeys. The cheetahs, who have their own enclosure with a catwalk above for greater viewing, are a favourite. All of the other animals are free to roam.
Visitors can easily tour the park in two to three hours, making it a fantastic option for people who don’t have time for a lengthier safari at a national park. The park’s tracks are suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles, but guided trips in open Land Rovers are also available.
Holmeleigh Farmyard, about a 10-minute drive from Kragga Kamma Game Park, is another critter-filled family destination. Kwantu Private Game Reserve, around 85 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, and Shamwari Game Reserve, 75 kilometres south of town, provide more expensive and luxurious safari experiences with a variety of sumptuous accommodations.
Port Elizabeth Beaches
Port Elizabeth has some of South Africa’s cleanest and safest metropolitan beaches. The coast of Algoa Bay is surrounded by more than 40 kilometres of sun-drenched sand. Wells Estate Beach, which has a paddling pool and water slides, Humewood Beach, which is well-shaded, and popular Kings Beach, which has kiosks, restaurants, a skate park, and other entertainment facilities nearby, are the greatest places to go swimming. All of these beaches have been awarded the coveted Blue Flag distinction, which is given to beaches that have excellent water quality, safety, and environmental management.
Hobie Beach, located near the Boardwalk entertainment area, has sheltered rock pools and is ideal for swimming and windsurfing. Pollock Beach is an excellent place to go surfing, and pristine Sardinia Bay, which is part of a marine reserve, is great for snorkelling and scuba diving, though fishing is prohibited. The northern beaches, such as New Brighton Beach and Bluewater Bay, are ideal for serious anglers.
Red Location Museum
The Red Location Museum, a symbol of South African freedom and struggle, gives a rich history about its people. Red Location is one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s oldest townships, named after the corrugated iron barrack structures that have rusted to a deep red colour.
It would be a crime if you did not pay a visit to the Red Location Museum while in South Africa. It depicts both the atrocities of institutionalised racism and the anti-apartheid movement’s valiant achievements. The Museum is one of the best tourist attractions in Port Elizabeth.
Bayworld Museum Complex
The Museum, Oceanarium, Snake Park, and Number 7 Castle Hill Museum are all part of the Bayworld Museum Complex, which is located along Marine Drive on the seaside near Humewood and is one of Port Elizabeth’s most popular tourist attractions. The central focus of Bayworld is public education, with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of protecting our natural and cultural heritage.
Bayworld’s Main Museum combines cultural and ecological history. Take a thrilling voyage through time and through the interesting world we live in. Admire the variety of museum exhibits, which include anything from prehistoric dinosaurs to ethnic beadwork, as well as a selection of historical artefacts that will captivate you for hours.
The 15-meter skeleton of the last southern right whale harpooned in Algoa Bay, a life-size reconstruction of the giant prehistoric dinosaur known as Algoasaurus, a replica of the Dias Cross, and a 5-meter bronze cannon recovered from a Portuguese galleon wrecked near Port Elizabeth are among the highlights.
Bird Island Marine Protected Area
Just off the shore of Port Elizabeth is the Bird Island Marine Protected Area. It is a series of islands (Bird Island, Stag Island, Seal Island, and Black Rocks) that are home to a number of red-data listed seabirds, as well as a huge abalone population (perlemoen) and a mostly undisturbed environment for linefish.
When rising poaching became an issue, the islands were designated as a Marine Protected Area and given immediate protection. The park comprised the marine protected region, which is close to the Addo Elephant National Park’s Woody Cape Section. As a result, Addo is the only park in the world that can claim all seven of the world’s natural wonders (the Big 5 plus the great white shark and southern right whale; both of which frequent the waters off Algoa Bay).
Birdlife has designated the islands as Important Bird Areas because they are the only significant seabird islands between Dyer Island and Hermanus.
Maitland Nature Reserve
The Maitland Nature Reserve, located near Port Elizabeth, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and diversity. It is home to a diverse coastal forest, breathtaking vistas of the Indian Ocean, and massive sand dunes.
The Maitland Nature Reserve is on the fringes of Port Elizabeth’s residential zones, with a number of farms and smallholdings nearby. This reserve is full of natural beauty as well as a diverse range of animals and flora. It was founded in 1975 and has built a name for itself in the Port Elizabeth community as well as among visitors from other countries who enjoy the outdoors.
The Maitland Reserve is approximately 250 hectares and is home to a stunning indigenous coastal forest with its own unique plant and animal life. Animals found here include antelope (such as the Blue Duiker), small mammals (such as wild bush pigs), and reptiles, in addition to the many diverse bird species. Binoculars are recommended for those who want to see some of the amazing avian species swooping overhead.
Fort Frederick, like many national monuments, looks to be nothing more than a few brick walls, although old brick walls with little importance or attraction for tourists. It is only through understanding the history of a structure that it takes on its own importance, however the views across Algoa Bay alone make it worthwhile to see.
Fort Frederick, built in 1799 to guard the mouth of the Baakens River, stands commanding the harbour in Port Elizabeth, South Africa’s ‘windy’ or ‘friendly’ metropolis.
During the Napoloeonic wars, when the colony was first occupied by the British, Fort Frederick functioned as a deterrent against a prospective landing of French forces in the harbour. By the time the 1820 settlers arrived, the fort had not fired a shot in retaliation (as it still does today), and a few buildings had grown up around it to house the small population of 35 people.
Donkin Heritage Trail
The Donkin Heritage Trail in Port Elizabeth is a 5-kilometer trail that follows in the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers, linking 47 historical sites in central Port Elizabeth. Anyone who enjoys historical tours, and even those who don’t, will enjoy the Donkin Heritage Trail, as the rich history is not only charming but fascinating. Donkin Is one of the top tourist attractions in Port Elizabeth.
The Donkin Heritage Trail is named after Sir Rufane Donkin, the Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at the time. South Africans are well-versed in the history of the 4000 British immigrants who arrived by ship, and visitors can follow in their footsteps at Port Elizabeth’s Old Hill neighbourhood. It is not even necessary to hire a tour guide to walk the trail because the route is well-marked, allowing for self-guided excursions.
The route begins with a walk around the central city market Square, which has the 1858 City Hall as its focal point. In the square, there is also a replica of the Diaz Cross, which commemorates Bartholomew Diaz, the first European to come into Algoa Bay in 1488.
St George’s Park
This verdant and leafy recreational and sporting facility is more than just a park; it is the world’s sixth-oldest cricket pitch, including a cricket stadium, swimming pool, strolling paths to meander through, and a good scattering of hungry ducks. It also boasts the Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial and the magnificent Victorian Pearson Conservatory, which was erected in 1882 for the cultivation of exotic plants. Bring a picnic and sit on the lawn as the youngsters burn off energy in the playground, or watch a thrilling cricket match.
Locals call this immaculate stretch of beach ‘Sards,’ and it takes a little effort to get there, but once you’re there, you’ll see why the effort was well worth it. Sardinia Bay is a peaceful and frequently deserted marine reserve with seas popular with scuba divers and large sections of sandy beach popular with horseback riders, dog walkers, and kite surfers. This is one area to share with your honey for romantic early morning strolls or sunset embraces on the beach dunes.
On the first Saturday of every month, the buzzy Valley Market serves up platefuls of gourmet food and drink options, giving foodies a reason to celebrate. It is housed in an ancient industrial tramway building that comes alive with intriguing fragrances and vibrant food, luring tourists to eat till they are satisfied. Grab some dim sum, a gourmet burger, or hot seafood paella, and finish it off with home-made gelato, which is an interesting alternative to regular restaurants. The market is one of the top tourist attractions in Port Elizabeth for people traveling on business.
St Augustine’s Catholic Cathedral
St. Augustine’s Cathedral, commonly known as the Catholic Cathedral of Port Elizabeth, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is located on Prospect Hill in the city of Port Elizabeth, which is part of the Eastern Cape Province on the African continent’s coast. The first stone of the current Gothic edifice was laid in 1861 on Father Thomas Murphy’s initiative, and the church was completed and consecrated in 1866. The cathedral is the mother church of the diocese of Port Elizabeth, which was given its current name in 1939 and was elevated to the status of diocese in 1951 by Pope Pius XII’s bull Supreme Nobis. Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu is in charge of the pastoral care.
South End Museum
South End Museum, located on the oceanfront in Port Elizabeth, tells the narrative of the forcible relocation of previous residents during the apartheid era. Photos, newspaper clippings, and recreations of living spaces bring human stories of the time to life, emphasising not only the tragedies but also the achievements. The museum documents an essential part of the city’s history, despite its basic displays. Although admission is free, visitors are invited to make a donation.