Free things to do in Port Elizabeth
1Hit the beach
Enjoy swimming and maritime heritage along Nelson Mandela Bay's 80km of beautiful beaches. Humewood is a Blue Flag beach, internationally recognised for the high environmental standards it maintains. Hobie Beach is a popular swimming spot. It has its own pier and is close to an entertainment complex, a lifeguard clubhouse and various other amenities.
2Art Route 67
This public art route will eventually comprise 67 different pieces of public art that celebrate Nelson Mandela's 67 years in the service of South African politics. While the route is a work in progress, there are already several pieces of art to see.
3Port Elizabeth Public Library
You will find the Port Elizabeth Public Library, officially opened in 1902, on the north-western corner of Market Square. The building is a fine example of Victorian Gothic architecture. It is also the only historic building in South Africa that was built as a Public Library and still operates as such.
4The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Gallery
This art gallery is home to works by some of South Africa's best artists, including Berni Searle, Conrad Botes, Diane Victor and Nicholas Hlobo. While the gallery's permanent collection is mainly retrospective, regular temporary exhibitions often feature contemporary art.
5Picnic in St. George's Park
This urban park is spread over 73ha and is adjacent to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. As well as being a popular spot for picnics, it is home to South Africa's oldest cricket club. Other sporting facilities in the park include the oldest bowling green in South Africa and the St. George's Park Swimming Pool.
6The South African Airforce Museum
This satellite branch of the South African Airforce Museum is home to a small but significant collection of military aviation history. Most of the collection is housed in the original Air School Gunnery Training Centre, which dates back to World War II.
This urban park lies along the banks of the Baakens River and is easily accessible from How Avenue, Chelmsford Avenue and Third Avenue. There are a number of short walks through the area, as well as an 8km hiking trail, a flower display house and various historic statues.
8Donkin Heritage Trail
This 5km, self-guided walking trail links 47 places of historical interest in central Port Elizabeth. It begins at the city market square and takes you past significant architectural sites, like the historic Donkin houses. Other buildings and monuments of interest that you can see on the trail include an open-air theatre, a conservatory, numerous churches and an opera house.
9Cape Recife Hiking Trail
The 9km Cape Recife trail starts at the entrance gate to the nature reserve and is free so long as you leave your car at the information centre. The route takes you from the beach inland towards a bird hide, before returning to the beach and passing an historic lighthouse, rock pools and a penguin sanctuary.
10The Van Staden Wild Flower Reserve
This 450ha reserve is just 40km from Port Elizabeth on the N2 toward Cape Town. With 170 recorded species this is an excellent birdwatching spot. It is also the best place near Port Elizabeth to see fynbos and proteas.