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Should You Add Pretoria To Your South Africa Travel Itinerary?

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, may not be as popular a tourist spot as Cape Town or Johannesburg. However, at just over an hour drive from Joburg, it might be worth taking a day trip to explore this historical city and take in some of these highlights.

Museums

The Kruger Museum, Museum of Natural History, and the Pretoria Art Museum all offer a variety of art, history, and culture specific to South Africa’s land and people. The Kruger Museum consists of the original house in which S.J.P. Kruger, President of the old Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), and his family lived during the last years of the 19th century. The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History formerly known as the Transvaal Museum, is one of the largest natural history museums in South Africa and home to thousands of fossils, skeletons, skins, and mounted specimens. Occupying an entire city block, the Pretoria Art Museum features both classic and contemporary art in various mediums. 

RELATED: Afrikaans Dropped As Primary Language At The University Of Pretoria

Nature Reserves

TheWonderboom Nature Reserve offers some of the most memorable hiking trails in the area. Expect to see wildlife, waterfalls, and one of the best stone age sites at the foot of the mountain. The park is known for its magnificent fig tree, called the Wonderboom, that is said to have once been large enough to provide shade for up to a 1,000 people. 

Groenkloof Nature Reserve is another favorite among tourists and locals. The oldest nature reserve in Africa, this game sanctuary offers the space for outdoor activities including hiking, mountain-biking, game drives, and horseback riding. 

Food

A stop in Pretoria means you must grab a bite of braai, the Afrikaans word for barbecue. BBQ has become such a deep part of the culture in Pretoria that National Heritage day has been renamed National Braai Day, a day when the scent of bbq takes over every corner of the city. Expect to find some of the best meats cooked for hours over coals at some of Pretoria’s most popular braai spots including Rock288, LaK’s Braai, Food & Lounge, and Brewers BBQ


RELATED: 5 Things To Know Before You Go To Johannesburg, South Africa

Landmarks

Get some more culture and history in while visiting the Nelson Mandela Statue at the Union Buildings. The massive, bronze-plated statue honoring the Father of the Nation has been declared a South African national heritage site. Freedom Park was established to be “a leading national and international icon of humanity and freedom.” The breathtaking park serves as a monument to what South Africa has achieved in its history. Guided tours are available daily.

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