P is for Port Elizabeth

This entry is part 18 of the series Out of Africa



When my husband and I retired to Port Elizabeth, we knew little about the city. We did know that this, the 5th biggest city in South Africa, was also known as The Friendly City, or The Windy City. It didn’t take long to learn the reason for the latter!


Situated on the Sunshine Coast of Mandela Bay, the city is steeped in history, of particular interest to British visitors.

In 1492, the then-known Algoa Bay was the first port of call for ships en route for Goa, India. Then in 1795, the British captured the Cape, and in 1820 the British Settlers established a settlement which became known as Port Elizabeth.PE_Donkin

The Donkin Reserve was erected by PE’s founder, Sir Rufane Donkin, in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth, after whom the city was named. Market square is dominated by the beautiful 150-year-old colonial City Hall.

The Edward Hotel and many other historic buildings have retained the olde worlde atmosphere. The beautiful library, built in 1835, is an excellent example of Victorian Gothic architecture. Its terra-cotta façade was manufactured in England.


A terrace of Victorian houses, built during 1860-1870, are now national monuments.

Parliament Street, one of the oldest streets in Port Elizabeth, is a riot of colour and activity. Sidewalk cafes and businesses thrive during the day and well into the night.

Curved lamp poles and decorative balls add to the picturesque appearance of this entertainment hub.

PE_OperaHouseThe lovely old Opera House is the oldest theatre on the continent of Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. It is also the only Victorian Theatre still standing in Africa.

Live entertainment is performed there on a regular basis.


About 1 km (0.6 mile) from the beachfront, the 48,000-seater Nelson Mandela stadium rises on the banks of the sparkling North End Lake like a giant sea urchin.

This magnificent 40-metre high structure was built especially for the 2010 Fifa World Cup at a cost of 1.7 billion rand.

PE_BeachPort Elizabeth boasts some of the best beaches in the world, with several of them holding the coveted international “Blue Flag” status. Even in winter, the temperate waters make the city ideal for water sports, sailing and surfing.

Day cruises can be arranged on various types of seagoing vessels, and the busy harbour with its constant traffic of container ships and vehicle transporters and luxury liners, is worth a visit.

Elephant family smA mere 30-minute drive takes the tourist to a number of five-star game lodges, and the famous Addo Elephant Park is only an hour away.

Port Elizabeth also boasts world-class golf courses and numerous other forms of entertainment both day and night.

On the beachfront in the suburb of Summerstrand, just a few streets from where I live, is the popular Boardwalk. This picturesque waterfront hosts hotels, several restaurants, a 24-hour casino, a cinema, an amphitheatre with live entertainment, and a children’s entertainment area. The multimedia musical fountain spectacular continues to wow visitors and locals alike.

Unfortunately, there are no videos available on Youtube for legal posting here but do go to this link and spend less than 90 seconds watching this incredible display.