Young heart of the old city
Image by Mike Prins under Creative Commons License.

South Africa, Pretoria Guide (A): Young heart of the old city

Pretoria might have a reputation as the chilled-out neighbor of dazzling Johannesburg, but savvy travelers know that heaps of fun and entertainment lurk behind the historic exterior, especially around the University of Pretoria. The area has everything for the young and the young at heart; from quirky restaurants and hot nightclubs to tantalizing bookshops and lush parks.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Young heart of the old city
Guide Location: South Africa » Pretoria
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 3.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km
Author: Petro Kotze
Author Bio: Petro Kotzé is a freelance journalist specializing in travel, science and the environment. She has lived and worked in Europe for two years, keeping herself busy with anything from pouring pints in Edinburgh to tagging sheep in the Shetland Islands. She has also worked as a journalist, layout artist and photographer in the newspaper industry. Currently she is based, for the most part, back in her home country, South Africa.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • University of Pretoria
  • Protea Boekhuis
  • Stone Lion Café
  • Hatfield Square
  • Tings an’ Times
  • Springbok Park
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University of Pretoria

1) University of Pretoria

The main campus of the University of Pretoria, or in short, Tukkies, is situated in Hatfield. A hub of activity that caters for every whim and fancy has sprouted up and around it. Over 39 000 students call themselves a tukkie, at least for the time being, so it’s only fitting that you put your student cap on and explore the campus itself first – it is known as one of the prettiest in the country. The Old Arts Building’s, built in 1911 is a national monument and you’ll recognize it by the clock tower. The fountain outside is a popular target for students to take a dip in on a hot day – but be very aware of the security guards if you are feeling adventurous. However, more treasures wait inside. The Mapungubwe museum is home to amazing archeological finds. They say it could change your perspective of Africa forever. Just along the road you’ll find the auditorium, or Aula, where you can catch some of the best local and international choirs, orchestras, singers and more. The campus is host to three more museums: The Anton van Wouw Museum, the Eduardo Villa Museum and the JA van Tilburg Museum. Alternatively, just stroll around and appreciate this modern day combination of historical significance and youthful aspirations.
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Protea Boekhuis

2) Protea Boekhuis

If your life was a story, and you had to choose to spend it somewhere, you’d have a tough time finding better company than here. Boekhuis translates to “the house of books” and it’s an apt name. This bookshop is a gem to every booklover, history buff and visitor alike. The top storey stocks academic material aimed at students, but the bottom storey is sure to tickle everybody’s fancy. Immerse yourself in an extensive range of South African literature, or an excellent array of imported books and authors. Everything from children’s books to fiction, poetry and biographies are present on the neatly lined shelves. It’s not a bad stop to look for gifts for friends and family back home. What about a special coffee table book or leather bound diary? You’re sure to need something to jot down recollections of your time spent in South Africa, and even the administrative capital, Pretoria.
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Stone Lion Café

3) Stone Lion Café

Life is irie at this joint. Indeed, it’s tough to chill out more than the mood at Stone Lion Café. Maybe it’s the Black Label on tap, or the island-style cocktails, or even the delish munchies on offer. Maybe it’s just the Rasta vibe that rubs off on any punter that enters through the palm leaf covered door. In fact, looking for the reason is way too much effort when your beer is getting cold right in front of you. If you must, give the foosball a go, or just soak up the atmosphere at any of the three bars. Alternatively, enjoy the vibey tunes and the bands that liven things up over some weekends.
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Hatfield Square

4) Hatfield Square

For many, this is where the tour should start and end. Hatfield Square is a renowned party spot for students and non-students alike. A range of pubs, clubs and restaurants line the square and offer the thirsty or hungry traveler something from morning to night (or more likely, the next morning). Some establishments tend to come and go, but a couple of old favorites have stuck it out through the years. Even though Herr Gunter’s is an old favorite for a pint, any of the wooden benches on the square should quench your thirst for fun. Try News Café for a tad more sophistication, or head to Aandklas for a spot of live bands. Climb the stairs to Drop Zone, usually the club to end all clubbing for the night with a range of DJ’s keeping the crowd on their feet. Opposite the square is the Hatfield Shopping Centre, which hosts a flea market on the parking lot on Sundays. If it all gets a tad to much, catch a movie inside the centre.
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Tings an’ Times

5) Tings an’ Times

Tings, as it’s popularly known, offers a more bohemian feel than close by Hatfield Square. This is not the place to head to if you’re into pop or fancy a good sokkie (a type of Afrikaner dance) on a Saturday night. According to their website, and definitely their clientele, they offer a “100% attitude free zone”. They also make a pretty darn good pita, and sticking around for lunch or dinner would be more than worth your while. It’s also a well known spot for live music acts, and you’ll find someone jamming at least two or three times a week. Some Monday nights are also free movie nights, with cheap popcorn to sweeten the deal. Remember, no under 21’s allowed here.
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Springbok Park

6) Springbok Park

Springbok Park is one of the many green spots scattered around the city. At this one, however, you can relax after enjoying lunch at the Dros Restaurant. This eatery is part of a national franchise and at the top of what’s on offer on the menu is a South African favorite: big pieces of meat. Smoked Eisbein or a 500g sirloin, grilled and smothered in a red wine sauce should still the hunger pains. Seafood, pancakes, salads and pizzas are also on offer. Throw in a South African wine or beer and you’re sure to be motivated to tackle the rest of your walk with gusto. The park is named after the South African national buck, and was declared a national monument in the 1970’s. It envelopes about 3 hectares indigenous woods – perfect for an afternoon stroll.