Welcome to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa!
Pietermaritzburg is the capital of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The area is famous for its history and architecture. As a worldwide local those things are important, but when it comes to exploring new cities the things that really stand out, are what you’ll want to experience. Pietermaritzburg has a large amount of nature and animals that are easily seen in the city.
Pietermaritzburg is a young, thriving, and beautiful South African city. The student population is what keeps it going through all hours of the night, but the nature that surrounds the city is what makes it truly unique. If you’re visiting Pietermaritzburg, make sure to check out some of these amazing places.
Worldwide Local Tip: Private transport is the best way to get around the city. Car rental is even better. There are a lot of places in the city center that are walkable, but if you’re going to explore the outer areas of the city (which you should), the best way to get there would be by car. Minibus taxis are cheap but can be unsafe at times.
Get a Lesson in the Local Culture
As a worldwide local, when you arrive in Pietermaritzburg you’ll want to get a little sense of the local culture. Pietermaritzburg is rich with history and the Voortrekker is the perfect place to learn about the locals. Literally meaning “those who trek ahead,” the Voortrekkers were the first Dutch/Afrikaaners to explore and settle the interior of South Africa, in 1839. The museum is not only part of Pietermaritzburg history, but South African history as well. The exhibitions are full of authentic pieces, such as the Great Trek, art, sculptures, and collages, depicting moments from Pietermaritzburg and South African History.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Voortrekker, while a prominent cultural and historic landmark in Pietermaritzburg, does get a little busy with other tourists. If you’re looking to experience the history of Pietermaritzburg from a more low-key place, the Macrorie House is a good option. This Victorian home is open to the public and everything inside is a replica of a Pietermaritzburg home, from the 1870s. The museum has many cool artifacts from that era, and some even say it’s haunted.
“Garden City” Greenery
Pietermaritzburg is known as the “Garden City,” and once you visit you’ll know why. The city is covered with many parks and gardens that essentially everywhere you go, you’ll have a garden nearby. Try to attend one of the Pietermaritzburg Botanical Garden events, which are numerous and varied. Another of the places around town where you’ll find a lot of locals hanging out is Alexandra Park. Named after the wife of Edward VII, Alexandra Park was established in 1860 and includes over 65 hectares of nature. The park is a favorite place today for artists to sell their works, and on Sundays, there is a popular flower market. During the holiday season, the area lights up at night for the Christmas market season. Browse the local wares or watch a game of cricket and mingle with the locals.
Worldwide Local Tip: Many locals visit Alexandra Park, but a location a little less known is the Rosehurst Garden. Live out your fantasies of being an upper-class Victorian Brit at Rosehurst, as you’ll stroll through the Victorian gardens marvel at nature and enjoy afternoon tea and scones. Influenced by Sissinghurst Castle in England the gardens here are inspired by color schemes, so make sure to check them all out.
For the Animal Lover
It wouldn’t be a trip to the midlands without a little nature sightseeing. For those interested in getting a little close to nature, visit the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. Pietermaritzburg’s sanctuary is a fantastic place to learn about local wildlife and conservation projects, and best of all, it’s usually relatively quiet, so it’ll almost be like a private tour of the grounds. Make sure to stop by weekdays around 10:30 am during the flying display times.
Worldwide Local Tip: For those into a gentler species of animal, the Butterflies for Africa sanctuary is home to thousands of different kinds of butterflies from across the world. Housing some of the most beautiful and exotic species, the sanctuary is also in a gorgeous and lush environment where guests can wander around and marvel at all the different species of butterflies. What better way to spend an afternoon?
Enjoy Your Visit!
Pietermaritzburg might not be a coastal beach city on the water, but it doesn’t need to be. A worldwide local knows that there is always a lot to discover in other, more central cities, and, as it’s easy to access by convenient flights from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg, there’s no excuse not to visit. Pietermaritzburg has plenty of history and natural beauty, especially in the city’s gardens and parks.