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As the de facto national capital of the Republic of South Africa (though technically, only the executive capital), Pretoria is far from the first place most visitors think of when it comes to holiday time in the venerable country. Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Durban, uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park and untold other national parks and conservation reserves tend to dominate tourism to South Africa. The phenomenal success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, however, was a public relations boon for the nation as a whole, with considerable spillover for Pretoria.
Pretoria is part of a massive urban area in the province of Gauteng that includes Johannesburg, a mere 65 km to the south. More than 10.5 million people live in the province, which equals roughly 10% of the population of South Africa. Incredibly, however, Gauteng represents less than 1.5% of the country’s land mass. As a result, visitors to Pretoria can expect a dense and vibrant city, though certainly not on the level of Jo’burg. The extraordinary Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is 50 km west of Pretoria and massive Kruger National Park is 400 km to the east. Within the city, worthwhile points of interest include the National Zoological Gardens, National Cultural History Museum, Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum and South African Police Museum.
- Union Buildings – This historic icon houses the Pretoria offices of the president.
- Voortrekker Monument – This massive granite structure has become the shrine of Africanerdom.
- Melrose House – The historic house in which the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in1902, which ended the Boer War.
- The Pretoria Forts – Forts built before the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War.
- Café Riche – The oldest bistro in the city was built in 1905.
Pretoria Art & Culture
- Pretoria Art Museum – The only fine arts museum in the city, conserving examples of SA art.
- Ditsong National Museum of Natural History – Large collections of fossils, mammals, birds and reptiles on display.
- National Cultural History Museum – Permanent displays and continuous new exhibits attract many visitors.
- South African State Theatre – The theatre is the heart of the performing arts in Pretoria.
- Oppikoppi August Festival – This festival is a hilarious showcase of African talent with a difference.
- Menlyn Park Shopping Centre – This Pretoria shopping centre houses hundreds of shops, restaurants and many entertainment venues.
- Brooklyn Mall – Stylish shopping venues on main street offer all the right labels.
- Woodlands Boulevard – An elegant centre with fashion, shoes, curios, food markets and entertainment venues is popular with the middle class.
- Irene Village Market – The market sells handmade merchandise and is only open on Saturdays.
- The Kolonnade – The shopping mall on the north side of town has shops galore and an ice rink.
Gay and Lesbian Pretoria
- Detour Gay Lounge Bar – Located in Rubenstein Street, it is the gayest spot in town.
- Sauna Boyz Steam and Leisure – This venue is still as steamy as ever, open seven days a week in Lynnwood Road.
- The Q-Bar & Lounge – Find the place to be seen in Olympus Street.
- Legends – In the heart of Pretoria, find this great meeting place for the gay community.
- Lounge Maximus – Gay-run music bars and pubs in the suburbs.
- Groenkloof Nature Reserve – You can enjoy walks or drive in your 4x4 vehicle and look out for various species of antelope on the way.
- Wonderboom Nature Reserve – The reserve is centred round a wild, willow-leaf fig tree over a thousand years old.
- National Botanical Garden – View all the indigenous plants in the heart of Pretoria.
- Fountains Valley Resort – A popular recreational resort for young people.
- National Zoological Gardens – Explore one of the best zoos in the world.
- Watch a rugby or football match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
- Cycle along the Pilditch Cycling Track.
- Participate or watch the Springbok Vasbyt, the popular road race for runners and walkers, which starts from the Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site.
- See the Pretoria Marathon, which is organised regular marathons in and around the city.
- Play a game of paintball, which has almost become a national sport.
- Voortrekker Monument
- National Cultural History Museum
- Fort Scanskop
- Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum
- South African Police Museum
- Pretoria National Zoological Gardens
- Groenkloof Nature Reserve
- Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
- Wonderboom Nature Reserve
- Freedom Park
- La Pentola
- Cynthia’s Indigo Moon
- Meat Company
- Geet Indian Restaurant
- Taste Restaurant
- Eastwoods Tavern
- Tings an’ Times
- Drop Zone
Pretoria has a humid subtropical climate, with four distinct seasons.
- Winter (June to August) 5-22°C
- Spring (September to November) 12-27°C
- Summer (December to March) 16-29°C
- Fall (April to May) 8-24°C
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