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NNelson Mandela Bay Metro, fondly referred to as ‘the friendly city’, is a family oriented metropolitan hub that offers an alluring combination of beautiful, protected beaches and luxury bush getaways. It’s considered the gateway to the Eastern Cape and a good base from which to explore the province.
Nelson Mandela Bay Metro's location on South Africa's south-eastern coast has earned it the reputation of being a coastal city with a superb climate. This, combined with its 40-kilometre Indian Ocean beachfront and expanses of malaria-free bush, makes the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro tourism proposition a very attractive one for the Eastern Cape province.
Named after Nelson Mandela, the renowned freedom struggle icon and South Africa's former President, the metro is the only one in the Eastern Cape and incorporates Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch. The city was also called home by Govan Mbeki, political activist and father of former President Thabo Mbeki; Oliver Tambo, political activist and ally of Nelson Mandela; Athol Fugard, actor and playwright, and Olive Schreiner, author of South African classic, The story of an African Farm.
Nelson Mandela Bay Metro attractions are plenty, with the warm waters of Algoa Bay providing perfect swimming, angling, kite- and wind-surfing, snorkelling and canoeing conditions. The bay's numerous reefs and shipwrecks make it popular with scuba divers.
The region is a delight for sportsmen and -women with the St George's stadium used for rugby, cricket and soccer games, as well as music festivals.
Architecture buffs will be spoilt for choice with the metro's wide range of architectural profiles, including Victorian, art nouveau and art deco buildings. Port Elizabeth's city centre contains one of the largest clusters of art deco buildings in the country.
The metro also features numerous museums, detailing the histories of local people and early European pioneers, as well as several art galleries. The Donkin Reserve is home to items of public art that form part of a collection of 67 pieces of art throughout the city. The Route 67 arts journey celebrates the 67 years of Nelson Mandela’s political life through the creations of local artists. Port Elizabeth also houses a unique aviation art gallery, which is reputed to be among the best in the world.
There's no shortage of cultural experiences in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro – a number of African craft markets are available, as well as tours into the area's townships, which showcase traditional dancing, singing, food and a visit to a local shebeen (traditional tavern).
For the kiddies, Holmeleigh Farmyard off the Kragga Kamma Road is a popular animal touch farm.
A number of flora and fauna destinations lie within commuting distance of the city. These include: Settler's Park, Van Staden's Wild Flower Reserve, The Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Maitlands Nature Reserve, The Island Nature Reserve, Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area and Groendal Wilderness Area. Further inland, the cityscape gives way to open plains and pockets of African bush that offer Big Five game viewing in a malaria-free setting. Bush walks and game drives are available at the various reserves, which include the world famous Shamwari Game Reserve.
From beachcombing and historical tours to cultural experiences and 'bundu bashing' – there's never a dull moment in South Africa's ‘friendly city'.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency
Tel: +27 (0)43 492 0881
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)41 582 2573/5
How to get here
Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities to Port Elizabeth International Airport. If you’re driving from Johannesburg take the N1 south and then the N9 after Colesberg. Pick up the N10 at Middleburg to Port Elizabeth. From Cape Town and Durban, take the N2 north and south respectively to Port Elizabeth.
Best time to visit
Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is an all-year-round destination due to its sunny weather and warm climate.
Tours to do
A city tour, heritage and historical tour, township tour, wildlife tour or ghost tour of the metro’s Central Hill suburb, which is believed to be haunted.
Where to stay
Take your pick from 5-star hotels and game reserves, B&Bs or self-catering apartments.
What to pack
Sunhat, sunblock, swimming costume, snorkelling gear, walking and hiking shoes, game viewing gear including binoculars and field guide, and your camera.
What to eat
Home-grown oysters and citrus fruits, seafood and traditional African cuisine.