It doesn’t take too long to get a sense of what Port Elizabeth is all about and 24 hours should just do the trick. While three or four days would leave more time to explore, it is possible to get a feel of the vibe and spirit of this great little city on a quick whirlwind tour. Here are a few things that people popping into the Friendly City should simply not miss out on.
The best way to start off a day in the bay of Port Elizabeth is with the sand between your toes and the lapping waves of the ocean as your companion. Nothing beats a sunrise walk on the beach accompanied by the salty smell of fresh sea air and the feeling of freedom that an empty beach affords.
An invigorating walk on the beach should also build up a good appetite and once you have dusted the sand off your feet take a short stroll to the many restaurants, cafes and coffee shops that are strewn along the beachfront. Whether it’s just a strong morning espresso that you need or a full English breakfast, the beachfront promenade offers a huge variety of options. Most are casual and relaxed – and eating eggs in your flip flops and shorts is perfectly acceptable.
Next on the agenda should be a trip to Baywest Mall, Port Elizabeth’s largest one-stop shopping and entertainment venue. Designer clothing labels, bespoke jewellery, digital gadgets and all sorts of other stores fill the spacious two-story mall that also offers entertainment in the form of movie houses, an ice rink and a kids gaming room. The airy mall is almost never overcrowded, making leisurely browsing a complete pleasure. Linger a while and grab some lunch at one of the many restaurants before you leave.
Follow your shopping extravaganza with a game drive in the Kragga Kamma Game Park. This little wildlife gem is situated on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, offering the perfect place for a wildlife fix without the hassle of a long drive to get there. It is not often that one finds so much wildlife so close to a city, so take the opportunity while it is there. Two hours is all you will need to see giraffe, zebra, rhino, cheetah, buffalo and so much more – so don’t forget to pack your camera.
Kragga Kamma Game Park, Kragga Kamma Rd, Port Elizabeth +27 41 379 4195
As the afternoon draws to a close go back to where you started and complete your day with a sunset dinner overlooking the blue water of the Indian Ocean. Seafood is always fresh and a good choice in the Bay and tastes even better when accompanied by an excellent bottle of South African wine. A crisp and fruity chardonnay makes a fabulous companion to buttery, garlic-laden prawns.
After a tasty meal, and with the moon high in the sky, head off to the inner city and the vibey suburb of Richmond Hill. Here, night-owls sip on port and cognac until the early hours of dawn while the young and trendy of Port Elizabeth boogie the night away. Many of the wine bars, coffee shops and restaurants in Richmond Hill only close their doors in the wee hours of the morning and you can sip on a nightcap as you stare at the twinkling stars – or throw yourself into the nightlife of the city.
When the gentle arms of sleep arrive to embrace you, Uber it back home, and allow the sights and sounds of Port Elizabeth to slip you soundly into dream land.