Known as The Jacaranda City for the beautiful purple-blossomed trees that line its streets, Pretoria is a peaceful, attractive city that serves as the executive and administrative capital of South Africa. Lying in a sheltered valley and surrounded by the Magaliesberg mountains, Pretoria may be physically close to Johannesburg but it has a completely different atmosphere to the country’s commercial capital. It’s a quieter, calmer place where people stop to chat in its wide avenues lined by grand buildings that lend the city an unexpectedly dignified and stately presence.
In fact, with the introduction of the rapid Gautrain rail service that links Pretoria with Johannesburg’s business centre in less than half an hour, more and more people are choosing to live in Pretoria and make the daily commute into Johannesburg.
To gain an insight into Pretoria’s fascinating heritage, pay a visit to one of the city’s museums and be sure to take a wander through the Pretoria Botanical Gardens, especially during spring (September to November) when the entire city is in bloom. The city centre boasts several modern shopping malls, art galleries and restaurants, while for those who prefer the outdoors there are several nature reserves around Pretoria as well as a bird sanctuary, all of which makes for a surprisingly diverse Pretoria holiday.
The valley that the city lies in acts as a heat trap so despite its elevated position, Pretoria enjoys a year-round moderate sub-tropical climate with warm rainy summers and cool dry winters.
At a Glance
South Africa's capital city lacks the dynamism of next-door Johannesburg but its tree-lined streets and unhurried atmosphere conspire to create an old-fashioned welcome.