Port Elizabeth – more than just a stopover

You are planning a trip to South Africa and you have a stopover in Port Elizabeth? Maybe you spend a night there to drive to the Addo National Park the next day. Or for some reason you are staying in the city for several days and you are now wondering what to see in Port Elizabeth. If you don't have much time and want to check off the most important points, we recommend you read through our blogpost on the top 10 things to do in Port Elizabeth. But if you're a little more interested in the city and possibly want to get involved with Port Elizabeth for a longer period of time like we did, here's a little overview of the main neighborhoods and recommendations.

PE – How our journey began

As big PE-fans we have to tell you a few lines about our back story beforehand. What brought us to PE? We first got to know and love Port Elizabeth in 2017, when Max and I spent half a year there. While I was busy in the lecture halls of Nelson Mandela University, Max was doing his Dive Master at Pro Dive and pursuing his favorite hobby: scuba diving! I only had the pleasure to jump into the water on weekends and admire the colorful coral reefs and the nice sand tiger sharks. Anyway, at the end of the semester, we didn't feel like we had gotten enough of PE and knew we would be back one day. In 2021, exactly four years later, we set off to spend our parental leave in this tranquil little town.

Port Elizabeth is now called Gqeberha

So let's start our eulogy and start first with the Key Facts, which can't be missing at this point: Port Elizabeth – or "PE" as the locals say – is a coastal city in the Eastern Cape and, with 300K inhabitants, the third largest city in South Africa. Strictly speaking we should not talk about Port Elizabeth now, but about Gqeberha. In February 2021, the South African government decided to rename the cities that have old colonial names. Since Port Elizabeth contains the name of a British governor's wife, our favorite city should also get a new place name in the future: Gqeberha! If you're wondering how to pronounce it, you're not the only ones. Even locals have some difficulties with the pronunciation of the new place name. This is due to the fact that the name originates from the Xhosa language, which brings a certain challenge for the pronunciation due to its clicking sounds. Nevertheless, the new names are meant to reflect the identity of the country and the cultural heritage of the people of South Africa. However, since many tourists are not yet familiar with the new place name, we will continue to write Port Elizabeth or PE for this reason and also for the sake of simplicity.

Which neighborhoods are worth visiting in Port Elizabeth?

To understand Port Elizabeth, you have to know the different parts of the city. Where to book your accommodation and which districts you should rather avoid? And what can you do in each district and which restaurants can we recommend??


The most touristy and therefore probably the most famous area in PE is definitely the cute suburb Summerstrand. In this coastal district we also had our accommodation during our parental leave and spent most of our time there. Summerstrand has theoretically everything to offer, so that you basically would not have to move out of the district. A real highlight are the beautiful beaches. Here we recommend Pollok Beach, which is a bit quieter and also popular with surfers.

Besides the most beautiful beaches of PE, Summerstrand also has some nice restaurants with the best view of the sea. A classic supermarket or stores for daily use can be found, for example, in Summerstrand Village.

In the past, the Boardwalk was a typical tourist attraction: a hotel complex with a casino, a small amusement park, souvenir stores, restaurants, etc. In theory, this place had everything to make a tourist's heart beat faster. But in practice, everything around the Boardwalk seemed desolate and abandoned. That's why we were not disappointed when it was completely closed during our stay and not accessible anymore. Currently, the village is being renovated into a shopping mall, which will certainly enhance Summerstrand even further. Opposite the Boardwalk is the Sharkrock Pier, a 137m long jetty and is also a popular spot as it offers an excellent view of Algoa Bay. So this is not to be missed.

If you can't get enough of nature, you should not miss a visit to Cape Recife. Cape Recife is a nature reserve, located at the southeasternmost point of Port Elizabeth, and offers stunning panoramic views of the beach, beautiful dune vegetation and rock formations along its 9km hiking trail, paired with a lighthouse as a photo backdrop. Animals may not be missing here of course. Cape Recife is also well known for its variety of bird species. A pro pos birds, also penguins are at home in Algoa Bay. The island of St. Crox is home to the largest penguin colony in Africa and can be reached by speedboat from Port Elizabeth. From the land one sees penguins therefore rather rarely. For those who can't or don't want to take a boat tour, there is an alternative. Directly at Cape Recife is the SANCCOB Seabird Rehabilitation and Education Center, where penguins can be seen up close. This penguin station has been.A. dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of penguins and other bird species. If you are in Port Elizabeth at the right time, you can even witness the release of recovered penguins into the sea. The station itself is also worth a visit, especially with children.

Our Top 3 Restaurants in Summerstrand:

  • Blue Waters Cafe
  • Something Good beach bar
  • Charlie's Pizza& Pasta

Humewood& South End

Adjacent to Summerstrand there are the districts of Humewood and the South End behind it, where just like in Summerstrand a lot of gastronomy and nightlife is offered, as well as smaller souvenir markets and food markets. In Humewood you can also take a long walk in the Happy Valley, which will make you forget that you are in Port Elizabeth. The small valley exudes a certain tropical atmosphere and offers a quiet refuge when the neighboring Humewood Beach is too crowded. There you can linger by a lily pond, listen to the trickle of a freshwater river and forget the hustle and bustle next door. In Humewood itself there is also an Oceanarium (Bay World) and a water amusement park (Mac Arthur swimming pool), but we only saw them from the outside.

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