30 Fun Things to Do in Pretoria on A Budget

[Updated July 2020]

Pretoria holds its own with an amazing mix of cultural, outdoor and foodie experiences on offer. We discover 30 affordable, free and fun things to do in Pretoria and prove why it is a city that should be known for more than just jacaranda blossoms and the blue train. With monthly pop-up markets, free Zulu lessons, the longest urban street in South Africa, and some of the best mountain bike tracks, there are so many things to do in Pretoria. So, in no particular order:

1. Attend the vibey Market @ The Sheds

markets in pretoria

Photo credit: @marketatthesheds via Facebook

weekend markets in pretoria

Photo credit: @marketatthesheds via Facebook

Visit this social market celebrating good vibes with tunes, people and sassy food like tacos in a kombi. It’s organised by the Capital Collective with the aim of rejuvenating Pretoria’s inner city and creating a space where everyone feels welcome.

The Market @ The Sheds takes place on the last Saturday of the month from 11:00 to 20:00. There are date changes in between to accommodate long weekends and holidays. For updates about the next pop-up market check out the Market @ The Sheds calendar.

Where: 012 Central, 381 Helen Joseph Street, Arcadia

Please note: The market has been cancelled until further notice.

2. Tall Stories and Agatha Panther

Tall Stories and Agatha Panther

Photo credit: @TallStoriesBooks via Facebook

Just 20 minutes from Pretoria central is this haven for bibliophiles. They sell well-priced new books and very affordable second-hand ones on a wide range of topics. If you’re lucky, handsome feline, Agatha Panther, will be there to greet you.

Where: Irene Village Mall, Cnr. Nellmapius & Pierre Van Reyneveld Roads

3. Join a drumming circle at Klitsgras

drumming pretoria

Photo credit: @klitsgras via Facebook

Klitsgras Drumming hosts drumming sessions around a fire that is all about good vibes and good music. Try your hand at drumming or simply chill out with pizza and a cold one while watching fire dancers dance to a didgeridoo and local musicians do their thing around a fire pit.

Where: Garsfontein Road

4. Take in the whole town with a camera obscura

camera obscura

Photo credit: @marikapret via Instagram

The Camera Obscura (precursor to the modern camera) at Pretoria University is a marvellous invention allowing you to view the whole of Pretoria as you change the direction of the lenses and the view is projected in a darkened room. You’ll even be able to see birds and people scurrying around. It’s recommended that you visit in the mornings to see the best view of the city centre when it’s illuminated by the sunlight from the east.

Camera Obscura Tours are hosted at Sci-Enza, the oldest interactive Science Centre in Africa. Groups must be four or more people at a time and bookings are essential.

Where: Roper Street

5. Free Zulu lessons at Grounded at Echo Café on Saturdays

grounded Cafe

Photo credit: @groundedatecho via Facebook

Grounded at Echo is a place for new ideas, community, and delicious coffee. They also hold free introductory Zulu lessons from 9:00 to 10:00 weekly.

Where: Cnr. 24th Avene & Pierneef Street

6. Afro Boer

afro boer cafe pretoria

Photo credit: @AfroBoer via Facebook

This unique restaurant is chock full of attitude and delicious food. Enjoy the garden setting, breakfast, light or serious lunches, and of course, their incredible cakes. They change things up in the kitchen “to keep kitchen, ooms, tannies, and copy-cats on their toes”.

Where: Cnr. Lynwood & Meerlust Roads, Equestria

7. Acrobatics in the trees with Acrobranch

acrobranch

Photo credit: @Acrobranch via Facebook

The Pretoria North park consists of eight adrenaline-packed obstacles, including Tarzan swings and a 300-metre-long zip line taking you on an amazing aerial adventure. Kids need to be 9 years and older.

8. Visit the Wonderboom fig tree

wonderboom nature reserve

Photo credit: @your_captain via Instagram

The Wonderboom is a fig tree over 1,000 years old which grew in such a way that 13 daughter trees sprung up around it forming a massive shaded area that spans 50 metres and can shelter up to 1,000 people. It’s 23 metres high and a nature reserve has been built around it to protect it. There were also interesting Iron Age discoveries made near the tree and a fort built for protection against the British. Views from the Fort of Pretoria are exceptional.

Where: Lavender Road, Wonderboom

9. Best Italian at Alfie’s

italian restaurant pretoria

Photo credit: @Alfiespizzeria via Facebook

For authentic Italian, head to Alfie’s. Locals rave about Alfredo Fiachetti’s traditional Italian restaurant – the proof is that it’s always full, so remember to make a reservation. You can’t go wrong with bruschetta, fresh pasta, or a rack of lamb.

Where: 11 Hazelwood Road, Hazelwood

10. Park Acoustics

park acoustics pretoria

Photo credit: @iamdebbiedeb via Instagram

The perfect way to outrazzle the Sunday blues. Park Acoustics is a monthly outdoor music festival that happens at the Voortrekker Monument and features some of the best local musicians.

Park Acoustics is currently hosting free virtual events! View the schedule on their website.

11. Have a cold one at Capital Craft

Capital-Craft, Pretoria

Photo credit: @CapitalCraftFestival via Facebook

Craft beer fans will be in heaven, as they add new beers to their collection regularly. Try their new black mushroom and white cheddar burger for vegetarians, or add a beef patty if you’re not. Their Van Coke Smoke burger is a winner, as is their BBQ pulled pork sandwich.

Where: Shop 20, Greenlyn Village Centre, Cnr. 12th Street East & Thomas Edison, Menlo Park

12. Picnic at the Union Buildings

union buildings pretoria

Photo credit: Wikipedia Republished

It’s practically always picnic weather in Pretoria, so pack some picnic goodies and head to the gardens of the most famous buildings in South Africa. Be sure to visit the 9-metre statue of Mandela and take in the view.

13. Visit the Boeremark for the best pancakes in the world!

farmers market pretoria

Photo credit: @pikluvscupcakes via Instagram

Pretoria’s best kept secret and worth an early Saturday morning start.

Where: Moreleta Street, Silverton

14. Visit Mrs Ples

mrs ples

Photo credit: @liliyapoludnenko via Instagram

Pay a visit to Mrs or indeed Mr Ples, one of the most complete examples of a pre-human skull ever found. Mrs Ples is a mighty 2,3 million-year-old skull you can visit at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (formerly the Transvaal Museum).

The museum is open every day, except Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Where: 432 Paul Kruger Street

15. Challenge yourself at the Climbing Barn

the climbing barn

Photo credit: @_dan_cloete_ via Instagram

The Climbing barn is a well-established climbing facility with over 450m squared of climbing walls.

Where: Plot 210, Korhaan Road, Mooiplaats

Please note: the Climbing Barn is temporarily closed.

16. Blue Crane Restaurant

Blue Crane Restaurant Panoramio

Photo credit: @bluecranerestaurantandbar via Instagram

The Blue Crane is a thatched restaurant that has an unbeatable setting with a sun deck by a lake in a bird reserve. Perfect for a lazy weekend lunch. The lunch buffet menu changes every week, so give them a call to find out what’s on offer.

Where: 156 Melk Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk

17. Take a drive down the longest street in South Africa

church street pretoria

Photo credit: @khutazzo via Instagram

Pretoria boasts the longest urban street in South Africa and one of the straightest urban streets in the world. Stanza Bopape, Helen Joseph, WF Nkomo and Elias Motsoaledi streets (formerly all known as Church Street) are worth a drive to take in the buzz of the nerve centre of Pretoria, check out the historical buildings, and to reflect on the anti-apartheid struggle.

18. Go mountain biking in Groenkloof Park

groenkloof nature reserve

Photo credit: @chrslet via Instagram

Groenkloof Nature Reserve is the first and oldest game sanctuary in Africa. There’s a 20km mountain bike trail to explore and you might pass some curious giraffes and zebra as you navigate the reserve. Various guided horse trails are also available. Though generally safe, exercise caution when running or cycling alone and don’t leave valuables in your car.

Where: Christina De Wit Avenue, Groenkloof

19. Hazel Food Market, Menlo Park

hazel food market

Photo credit: @claire_hilliar via Instagram

Hazelwood Market

Photo credit: @hazelfoodmarket via Facebook

This Saturday market is a staple at Greenlyn Village Centre. Nammie’s mini cakes are a must eat with a bullet-proof coffee. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try a jar of Stanley’s snails in French burgundy butter, parsley and garlic.

Where: Cnr. Thomas Edison and Mackenzie Streets, Menlo Park

20. Seek out the Urban Being Sculpture and Spirit of Tshwane

pretoria art

Photo credit: @gingersoo via Instagram

There is interesting outdoor art to be experienced, if only you know where to look. Marco Cianfanelli is the acclaimed sculptor responsible for the outstanding Mandela Capture Site monument. His Urban Being Sculpture stands at nearly 12 metres high, weighs 8,2 tons and can be found at the front of the Pretoria City Lodge.

The Spirit of Tshwane by Anton Smit can be found at Aramist Avenue, Menlyn Maine. The sculpture is designed to represent the spirit of the local Apies River (known as the Tshwane). The river is symbolised by flowing elements attached to the heads, but Tshwane also means ‘we live together, therefore, we are interdependent” which the sculptor asserts is symbolised by the two main heads growing from each other.

21. Enjoy the Jacaranda trees in full bloom

jacaranda trees

Photo credit: @nollanmoosa via Instagram

Yes, there is more to Pretoria than the beautiful purple aliens that line the streets giving hope to frantically cramming students each time a bud falls on their heads (legend has it that when the jacaranda blossom strikes, you’re sure to pass). But these iconic trees are in danger as they have been infected with a fungal condition, also because they are classified as aliens, no more can be planted to replace the diseased trees. So enjoy the jacarandas while they last. Nelson Mandela wrote about sitting under the jacarandas at lunch during the Treason Trial, “those moments under the shade of the jacaranda trees on the vicarage lawn were the most pleasant of the trial.”

22. Spoil yourself with a gourmet milkshake at Mustang Sally’s

milkshakes pretoria

Photo credit: @charlizeey_ via Instagram

Mustang Sally’s is an all American style diner that will make you feel as though you’ve just stepped into the 1950s. It is a feast for the eyes and a great place to kick back with a burger and pretend you’re on a great cross-country road trip, but the most special thing about this place is definitely the milkshakes. We recommend the Candy Floss or Nutella shake.

Where: 1319 Pretorius Street, Hatfield

23. Attend the “Not a Dead Poetry Society”

live entertainment pretoria

Photo credit: @diedowedigters via Facebook

Die Dowe Digters was established four years ago by Andries De Beer as an informal platform for creative writers, poets, musicians, composers and songwriters to perform and network. It is now an important part of the Pretoria social fabric. Visit the Facebook page for updates on their events.

Where: The Blue Crane Restaurant and Bar

24. Beautiful Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens Pretoria Old Mutual Concerts

Photo credit: @ToTheRoots via Facebook

Formerly known as Old Mutual Music in the Gardens and now To The Roots, this is a Pretoria music staple. Take a picnic blanket, some snacks and have a laid back afternoon enjoying the festive atmosphere and top South African music acts. You can find information about upcoming gigs and events on the Facebook page.

Where: Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden or Pretoria Botanical Gardens

25. Go on a game drive at Rietvlei Game Reserve

rietvlei game reserve

Photo credit: @b33brenda via Instagram

Home to protected rhinos, this is the best bush break in a city (the largest game reserve within city borders in the world). Make use of the riverside picnic area, the bird hide and have breakfast or lunch at the café. It is interesting to note that the dam at Rietvlei supplies Pretoria with 15 per cent of its water supply.

Where: Nelmapious Drive, Centurion, Pretoria.

26. Meet on Milner, Waterkloof

meet on milner

Photo credit: @pdsmit via Instagram

Meet on Milner is great for adults and kids alike. Adults can wind down with a glass of wine, excellent fillet steak, live music, and convivial atmosphere while kids are entertained.

Where: Cnr. Long & Milner, Waterkloof

27. Take on Pretoria by bike

cycle tour pretoria

Photo credit: @capitalcollectivepretoria via Facebook

Capital Collective (ever active in revitalising Pretoria’s inner city) are involved with the City of Tshwane in creating a new cycling route that stretches from Brooklyn Mall to the Botanical Precinct along the Walkerspruit river.

Let us know what your favourite things to do in Pretoria are in the comments.

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All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Our Readers Comments

  1. The Wonderboom fig tree entrance is completely closed and looks like no-one has been there for years. Wasted trip going there, didn’t see anything.

    • Hi Ian,

      At the time of writing this blog 2018 things must have since changed. What a shame.

      Thanks for sharing your feedback.

  2. Hi Tessa
    I grew up in PTA but I havent done modt of the thi gs on your list
    Thanks for sharing and helping me see this city at a different lense.
    8 Aug 2020

  3. There is also a nice climbing gym in Centurion. Rock Vallei Climbing. They have specials for the holiday.
    December school holidays are here!

    Extended hours starting from next week!

    Mon – wed 9am to 1pm, 2:30pm to 8pm
    Fri 9am to 1pm, 2:30pm to 6pm
    Sat 9am to 4pm

    Climbing at your doorstep!
    Rock Valley Climbing

    • Hi everyone. There is a lovely crystal shop with a big variety of crystals and minerals in Faerie glen Pretoria, Cliffendale road at Gariep plants nursery.
      For gardeners and crystal collectors it’s an amazing place!

  4. Thank you, what a great article.

    May I just add that the CowHouse Market has become a favourite in Pretoria East. Many regulars visit this food and drinks market every Saturday and Sunday to relax and enjoy the farm environment. Although it is not classified as a farmers market, the venue is an old gigantic diary shed, and many mountain bikers kick off their morning ride from there.

    Have a look at this venue and see if it fits your list!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for the tip. We will be sure to take a look. And should we write another Blog could add it to the list.

  5. Nice list.. I finally found where I can celebrate my partner’s birthday. Thanks

  6. I also enjoyed your shared these all most exciting things during my last journey and came back with unforgeable memories. I would love to go there again if I get any chance.

  7. Yes, great list. You could also ad Die Plasie kids venue for outdoor and animal lovers. Under R50.00 per person, Picnic and petting Zoo!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for the tip Tessa. Will definitely remember this for our next blog.

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