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Thinking about doing something different for your next vacation? Why not head to the Eastern Cape and see what the city of Port Elizabeth has to offer.

Many may know PE as that town you stop at along the Garden Route. That said, there is much more to Port Elizabeth than what meets the eye.

Located in the Eastern Cape Province, Port Elizabeth is a city on Algoa Bay, which forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. With a population of approximately 1.3 million, PE is one of South Africa’s biggest cities.

Famous for its picturesque beaches, historic settler towns and some of the best wildlife; Port Elizabeth is a place like no other. Known as the windy city, (this is true) as well as the friendly city, (this is also true) you’ll have plenty of reasons to return.

What to do in the city of Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth is known to be a rather quiet town, and many may think that there is not much to do. However, if you know where to go you will never be disappointed.

Port Elizabeth boasts a large range of outdoor activities, regardless of when you visit. So if you ever find yourself lucky enough to be in little ol’ PE, be sure to visit the following places to get a real taste of the Port Elizabeth hospitality and lifestyle.

Here is just a mere taste of local tourist attractions and activities to give you some idea of where to explore upon your PE adventure.

The Boardwalk Casino and Hotel

Famous for being the only licensed casino in Port Elizabeth, The Boardwalk Casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering around-the-clock entertainment for all ages. Not only popular for its 5-star hotel, The Boardwalk is also a unique entertainment, dining and conference venue. This one-stop spot is also a great shopping destination and has something the whole family will enjoy.

Grass Roof Café

Located just minutes away from the beach, the grass-roofed café boasts a diverse menu to suit all tastes. From fresh fruit juice to homemade peanut butter gelato, there is something for both the health nut and those with a sweet tooth. The out-of-the-way eatery also has a small farm stall a few steps away from the restaurant. Here you can buy various kombucha teas, fresh bread and even jars of olives the size of your head!

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Jeffreys Bay

With miles of pristine beaches, it is no wonder why the Eastern Cape is known for its spectacular coastline. Why not come and explore the many beaches in and near the city – namely Jeffreys Bay. There are all sorts of things to do in Jeffreys Bay and in the area around JBay, including the Jeffreys Bay Surf Museum, Supertubes, and Dolphin Beach. This gem of a town is situated just off the N2 Highway, about 75 km southwest of Port Elizabeth.  It will take you approximately 40 minutes from PE to Jeffreys Bay where you can enjoy loads of sun, sand, and surfing. If you are a bit of a shopaholic, you can spend your time visiting the various factory shops where all merchandise is sold at a very low price.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Built specifically for the World Cup in 2010, the stadium now hosts a variety of sporting events. This includes the IRB Sevens Rugby World Series and Chippa United soccer games. For those unable to attend a match, there are stadium tours also available.

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For those who prefer it wild

PE is not just well-known for its beaches, it can be a rather wild place too if you know what I mean…

For those who enjoy living on the wild side of life, there are wildlife reserves outside the metropolitan area. These reserves are home to elephants, rhinos, and other big game. The best part? The malaria-free Eastern Cape is one of the very few places in the world where visitors can get up close and personal to the Big Five all-year-round. The city of Port Elizabeth also provides for easy access to the great reserves of the region including Shamwari, Seaview Game Park, and Addo.

Some historic landmarks you need to make time to see include the historic Fort Frederick, the Donkin Memorial, the Campanile Tower, and the Horse Memorial.

Still not sold on this vacation destination?

Port Elizabeth is known as the 15-minute city! You can get from- one side of this town to the other in no time at all – another reason this small town is a great getaway spot.

This gorgeous coastal town is steeped in history. A definite must-visit for all, as the Eastern Cape captures all the very best that South Africa has to offer. For the tourist wanting a total South African experience, Port Elizabeth is it…

*All photographs by Kerry-lynn Hawes

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