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Your guide to Pretoria
All About Pretoria
Pretoria is one of three capital cities in South Africa, stretching over the Apies River and eastward into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range. The city forms a cluster with Johannesburg in the northeast, between the plateaus of Highveld in the south and Bushveld in the north.
Known as an academic city and a center of scientific research, Pretoria is sometimes called the Jacaranda City because of the nearly 50,000 lilac jacaranda trees that adorn its parks, gardens, and the streets — you’ll find white ones lining Herbert Baker Street in Groenkloof. The blooms are a feature of the annual Jacaranda Carnival, which includes a colorful march and the crowning of the Jacaranda Queen.
There are an abundance of parks and green spaces throughout Pretoria, including the National Botanical Gardens, and Burgers Park, which is the oldest in the city and a designated South African National Monument.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Pretoria
South Africa’s spring season runs from August to mid-October with mild to warm temperatures. Summer in Pretoria is moderately warm, but there may also be rain and thunderstorms during the afternoon, which keep the city’s beautiful gardens lush. This is the perfect time of the year to walk the Dassie Trail, an easy, flat trail when you’re likely to spot rock hyrax (small rabbit-like mammals) and apricot trees. October is marked by the Jacaranda Festival, when locals gather to admire the blossom and browse flea markets and food stalls.
Autumn runs from mid-February to April, and temperatures drop a few degrees, but it’s still pleasantly warm and the beautiful orange tinge of crocosmia and crimson geraniums are a sight to behold. You can expect warm winter days, but the nights are cold, so make sure you pack warm layers.
Top things to do in Pretoria
National Botanical Gardens
In the eastern suburb of Brummeria, less than 10 minutes from central Pretoria, this quiet oasis spanning around 188 acres is where you can see more than half of the country’s tree species, along with aloes, cycads, and other native plants. The gardens include the National Herbarium, which houses the largest collection of plant specimens in South Africa, and a botanical library.
The Voortrekker Monument sits on a hilltop in the south of the city center and is a South African National Heritage site. This 40-meter granite structure is one of the country’s most visited historical monuments. You might find classical music performances and museum exhibits in the hall; grab a bite to eat at the rooftop restaurant and marvel at the stunning panoramic views.
Pretoria’s historic Union Buildings are located at the highest point of the city on Meintjieskop. These neo-classical Italian Renaissance-style buildings are the official headquarters of the South African government and the office of the president. While the buildings themselves are off-limits, you can wander through beautiful terraced gardens peppered with monuments to prominent South African figures and look out across the city.