Pretoria is Johannesburg’s milder cousin. The administrative capital of South Africa, it is home to about 1.6 million people and is one of the main hubs in South Africa. It is locally known as the “Jacaranda City” because of the numerous jacaranda trees that adorn the city’s streets with thousands of purple flowers around the month of October. Many people working in Johannesburg prefer living in Pretoria because it’s generally known to be more peaceful and less fast-paced. While Pretoria is not as urban as many other cities, it still offers a good deal to see and do and the choice of restaurants definitely won’t disappoint!
WHERE TO EAT
If you’ll be in town on the last Saturday on the month, Market @ the Sheds is a must! Hosted in the trendy 012Central Precinct in Pretoria’s central business district (CBD), this monthly market is part of a city rejuvenation project that draws people from all walks of life into the city’s inner city: food lovers, musicians, fashionistas, the artsy, hipsters, and general cool people in search of a great vibe, good music, and gourmet coffees, delightful drinks, and delicious food! The market has been described as an African urban experience and provides a platform for South Africa’s capital city to showcase its talent and creativity. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. so you can spend anything from a few hours to most of the day soaking in the vibe, sights, and sounds.
If you happen to be in Pretoria on any other Saturday other than the last Saturday of the month, Hazelwood Food Market will leave you spoilt for choice. This weekly food market is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and has grown very popular among the city’s local inhabitants. You can buy fresh flowers and home-made produce filled with goodness and nature but odds are you’ll be wandering from stall to stall trying to figure out what to eat. Traditional South African options as well as foods from far corners of the globe such as China, the Mediterranean, and Spain will have you leaving satisfied and content. I prefer to go with at least one other person in order to buy different dishes and share. Many stalls offer samples which in itself is a delight!
For general breakfast, lunch, or dinner options, The Village in Hazelwood located on 16th Street is a charming, leafy street lined with fantastic restaurants. The beauty of streets such as this is the abundance of choice. SALT Eatery is renowned for its delectable cheese boards. Alfie’s restaurant serves great pizzas and Pride of India will cook up the most flavoursome curries for those with a taste for the spice of life. Burger Bistro has won the trust of many residents who swear that they serve the best burgers Pretoria has to offer. A deli, gelato stop, and juice and smoothie bar will keep you happy if you’re looking for a mid-day break in the sun or under the shade of the trees during hot summer days. Pop around the corner and you’ll find 23 on Hazelwood which serves one of the best cappuccinos I have ever had in Pretoria. Artisan breads, cakes, snacks, and gourmet food are perfect for a lovely breakfast or lunch.
Gourmet burgers and craft beer spots have popped up around the city. Micro-breweries have become a popular trend and serve up some pretty good brews, all of which are available either on tap or bottled, depending on the popularity. One such restaurant renowned for its local and international beers and mouth-watering burgers is Capital Craft located in Greenlyn Village. Closed on Mondays but open every other day of the week, Capital Craft has a great informal vibe and is best enjoyed from the afternoon into the evening.
For a more refined albeit somewhat budget-stress-inducing dining experience, Kream restaurant in Brooklyn will provide you with a fine dining experience of note! You can expect fabulous décor, impeccable service, and top quality food prepared to perfection and served in style.
For the wine lovers, an equally enjoyable experience awaits at Brasserie de Paris in Waterkloof. French fine dining at its best, including palate cleaners between each of your five courses, can be coupled with a wine pairing experience which will have you surprised and intrigued with each new serving. The best local and international wines are selected depending on the dish you’re being served. Located in an intimate and beautiful setting, this is a great idea for a special date night or simply a night to spoil yourself.
WHERE TO HANG
Park Acoustics is a day-long music event that takes place on the last Sunday of every month. It starts in the morning from around 10 a.m. and runs into the night. A long list of bands is scheduled to play throughout the day and there will always be a more well-known headliner. I’ve found it to be quite a fun event for scouting out new music talent, though. Most people spend the entire day and come prepared with blankets, sunblock, cooler bags filled with their drinks of choice, and picnic baskets brimming with delicious goodies. If you prefer you can buy drinks at bars scattered around the venue and food from a good variety of food vendors. If you do decide to spend a day at Park Acoustics, the view from the top offers a panoramic of the entire city.
Another option for good views over the city from a different angle is the Union Buildings where South Africa’s presidential executive is located. As one of the oldest buildings in the country, it’s one of the most well-known landmarks in Pretoria. A nine-metre tall statue of Nelson Mandela stands with arms outstretched over the city at the foot of the Union Buildings. A beautiful reminder of the man and leader, it stands as a tribute to Mandela’s values of reconciliation and compassion. If you’re looking to document your trip on Instagram, a picture with Tata Madiba will be one of your most memorable!
+27 Café is a great option for breakfast, lunch, or just a cup of coffee, but stick around on a Friday night and you’re likely to be entertained with live music. Some Friday evenings they host a jazz evening. Grab a bite, join in the conversation over a glass of wine, and enjoy the great music and good vibrations.
During a casual weeknight, a drink or two at Lucky Rodrigo’s is always a good idea. Usually busy until around 2 a.m. and serving a selection of burgers, platters, and bar food, Lucky’s is great for a round or two with friends spent chatting and chilling.
For a more typical experience of a student’s night out, head over to Jo Public in Hatfield. Bustling mostly over weekends but open during the week as well, Jo’s is a great venue to get down to some hip hop or house.
Arcade Empire is a club and live music venue. More suited for alternative fans, Arcade is known to host some of Pretoria’s biggest parties during holidays like Halloween or New Year’s Eve. The main indoor area where the headlining bands usually play can become occasionally stuffy, but smaller stages in the venue where you can dance to electronic music can be less overcrowded. A large deck outside offers fresh air and an opportunity to have a few drinks with friends.
WHERE TO SHOP
Irene Village Market, open on the first and last Saturday of every month, boasts 250 unique arts and crafts stalls, an antiques and collectables section, as well as a deli and food stall section. This market is unique in the sense that each stall is individually selected to participate at the market and each of the 250 stalls sells something different. This is a great option for buying beautiful, bespoke, and locally-crafted gifts or simply browsing and spending a few hours walking around. It gets quite busy so try to go during the morning.
If you do drop by Hazelwood food market you will find the Greenlyn Goods, Arts & Crafts stalls as you walk further into the complex. Once you’ve gotten your fill, explore the small but growing for South African-inspired souvenirs, quirky innovative products, and jewellery. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Every Saturday morning you can find a flea market located in the Hatfield Plaza parking lot. Great for stunning clothing pieces, second hand books and vinyl, you can find some good bargains. The flea market is not very big so you won’t need too much time to browse around. If you’re in the area, it might be worth your while.
WHERE TO STAY
Pretoria is bursting with guest houses, some quaint and cosy and others more luxurious. A personal favourite is Moroccan House – a charming guest house with a Moroccan influence. On the second floor, you will find a showroom filled with beautiful imported hand-crafted Moroccan goods and further up the stairs a rooftop café awaits. Here you will be served breakfast after an evening spent in a beautifully decorated room. Fresh flowers, refreshing mint tea, and striking details will leave quite an imprint on you long after your stay. Moroccan House is located centrally and close to many great restaurants.
Airbnb is another option when planning your stay in Pretoria. With a website that provides pictures, descriptions, and reviews, you can find accommodation in the area of your choice – sometimes quite luxurious but at a very affordable price close to what you would like to experience.
Have you been to Pretoria (or do you live there)? What else would you add? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in contributing to a “24 Hours” Guide!