Pietermaritzburg, set amidst forested hills and the rolling countryside of the Natal-Midlands, is one of the best-preserved Victorian cities in the world. The city is the administrative capital of the province and is centrally situated between Durban, the Drakensberg and KwaZulu-Natal's game reserves on the main N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban; Pietermaritzburg is approximately 80km north of Durban by road.
Pietermaritzburg is the gateway between Johannesburg and Durban and many bus services, rail services and taxis are available on a daily basis.
The passenger rail system in Pietermaritzburg is not used between suburbs but only between our towns along the N3 highway towards Johannesburg, so remember it is not regarded as city transportation.
The city offers an airport known as Oribi Airport. This airstrip is not an international airport but offers excellent national destinations and inter-city flights.
The bus services are outstanding as you could choose from many different routes and with all the companies providing a great service.
Taxis are plentiful and provide helpful information and useful trips around the city and suburbs. Metered taxicabs operate in all major cities and towns. You will find taxi ranks at transport terminals, major hotels or shopping centers or you can hail taxis in the street.
butterflies for africa
A complex housing a butterfly craft shop, art gallery, coffee bar, African art & craft centre and a garden planted with a large range of butterfly food plants. The prime attraction is an impressive walk through the butterfly house where visitors can come into close contact with butterflies from around the world as they fly freely in a lush environment. An outdoor butterfly garden complements the enclosed house, enabling guests to observe these magnificent jewels of the air in their natural habitat.
A butterfly nursery, where gardeners are able to buy plants specifically suited to butterflies, is soon to open. A butterfly museum houses bright, attractive displays, taking the visitor into the butterfly's world and encouraging them to spend time exploring and learning. Additionally, a high impact audio-visual presentation enhances the entertainment value of the experience whilst encouraging visitors to take a pro-active stance in butterfly conservation.
Butterflies for Africa aims to be one of the finest facilities of its kind worldwide, spreading its conservation message whilst at the same time providing a world-class attraction in Pietermaritzburg.
golden horse casino
There's a million reasons to visit the Golden Horse Casino! Not only is the Golden Horse the ultimate casino and entertainment experience, with R1 000 000 minimum jackpot on our Maximillion slot machine, 450 slot machines and 18 gaming tables, its also an ideal venue for your next business conference.
The Golden Horse boasts state-of-the-art conference facilities, equipped with ultra-modern audio and visual facilities, so you can be sure your conference will run smoothly. When business is over, invite your colleagues to stay in the luxurious Golden Horse Casino Hotel. Or treat them to a delectable meal at the renowned Boston BBQ, then spend the night playing everything from Blackjack through to Roulette.
Come spring, a number of the gardeners of Pietermaritzburg and Hilton open their horticultural treasure chests to the public. Although concentrated in a relatively small area, there is a great variety of gardens to be seen, ranging in size from neat townhouse plots to rambling two acre smallholdings.
The Hilton gardens with their misty, hilly conditions are filled with azaleas, trees, exotics and some of the finest roses to be found in South Africa. Among the many beautiful garden in the central city is a recreation of a formal Victorian garden, complete with statues and gazebos. A must for garden lovers is the Natal Witness Garden and Leisure Show which often coincides with the Open Gardens season, usually at the end of September or in early October.
national botanical gardens
Pietermaritzburg is justifiably known as the City of Flowers, with private gardens and public parks aglow with lush foliage and seasonal blooms, such as bougainvilleas and azaleas.
The National Botanical Gardens, one of eight in the country, is situated on an ancient floodplain and a hillside at the foot of a mist belt. Established in 1870, the garden concentrates on the conservation and propagation of rare and endangered indigenous plants as well as the cultivation of east coast grassland plants.
Being an all-season garden, it is a birding paradise for more than a 100 species, and home to a variety of small game.
At the end of a long avenue of plane trees, planted in 1908, stands the bell-tower which houses the well-known ship bell. The bell itself comes from the HMS Princess, on which King George V crossed the channel after inspecting troops at the close of the Great War in 1918.
There is a mysterious Muthi garden, a fig tree in a most unusual place and fever trees whose medicine is legend.
Guided tours of the National Botanical Garden, which range from an informative walk through the Muthi garden to an inspection of the spider species, can be arranged.
Azaleas and proteas are a feature of Wylie Park which, with its beautifully landscaped gardens, offers a tranquil retreat from the rigors of city life. For the energetic there is a hiking trail which leads from the gardens to World's View.
Comprising 86.5ha, Alexandra Park was established in 1863 and named after Princess Alexandra of Denmark who later became Queen Alexandra of Great Britain. It features the picturesque cricket Pavilion built in 1898 to commemorate 50 years of British history in Pietermaritzburg. Today it houses a restaurant. There is also a charming Chinoiserie-style bandstand, recently renovated to its former glory, which is the venue of regular concerts. Alexandra Park is a centre for international sports fixtures and the venue for monthly craft markets.
ferncliff and bisley nature reserve
The Green Belt at Ferncliff and World's View, and Savannah at Bisley Nature Reserve, offer walking trails with opportunities to enjoy a selection of wild flowers, animals and bird life on the fringe of the city.
queen elizabeth park
The headquarters of the KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife are situated a short drive from Pietermaritzburg in a small nature reserve known as Queen Elizabeth Park. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided trail, picnic sites and a viewing hide at the rhino boma. A model for an eco-friendly bird garden is on view and the reserve is open daily.
tatham art gallery
Situated in the handsome Old Supreme Court building, which was built in 1871 as a post office, this massive red brick building is today one of the country's top seven art museums. The gallery is named after Mrs Ada Tatham, who was instrumental in obtaining artworks for the city in the early days.
Spend a few hours among beautiful beadwork and intricate basketry, wood and bronze sculptures as well as powerful lino-cuts and oil paintings. There's also an impressive collection of British and French 19th and early 20th century English and French paintings, including Degas, Picasso, Matisse, Hockney and Renoir, as well as a Henry Moore maquette and china and glassware.
Visitors to the city in November will have a once-a-year opportunity to view and purchase indigenous art and crafts, courtesy of the Ngezandla Zethu (with our hands) exhibition that sources quality works by emerging artists throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
Having fed the soul, refresh the body in the Gallery coffee shop, which offers an interesting and unusual menu and decor - and discover that even the chairs are works of art! The Tatham Art Gallery is open daily (except Mondays) from 10:00 to 18:00, admission if free.
kzn railway museum
In 1999 the three railway preservation bodies operating in KwaZulu-Natal amalgamated to form the KwaZulu-Natal Railway Museum. The main depot is at Mason's Mill, with all excursions departing from the Pietermaritzburg station, which is a national monument. As the lines branch out in five directions from Pietermaritzburg, passengers will be offered a variety of trips, using vintage coaches and steam. In addition to at least one excursion per month, charter trips will be a promotional feature. A dining car is normally attached to the train, where tea and scones are served.
The entire operation of the KZN Railway Museum is run by volunteer enthusiasts. One of the main activities at the Mason's Mill facility is the restoration of locomotives and coaches. Currently being restored are five coaches dating from 1907 to 1915. The facility also boasts 29 steam locomotives and one diesel locomotive, the oldest of which was built in 1888.
One of the more interesting attractions in the museum is a coach that had been converted to serve as a bullion carrier and which was used for the run from Rhodesia to Johannesburg during the early part of the 20th century.
The Natal Museum was part of the Natal Society from its inception in 1851. In 1902, the Museum was established as a separate institution and a new building was erected at the present site. The Natal Museum opened its doors on 30 November 1904 and it is now home to several of South Africa's most important heritage collections.
The Museum is the largest national museum in KwaZulu-Natal and is dedicated to the collection, preservation, study and exhibition of objects of cultural and scientific value, concentrating on both the Natural and Human Sciences. The exhibition galleries are continually being upgraded to make the museum even more efficient and enjoyable.
What used to be the Longmarket Girls' School, until 1972, is now the main building for the Voortrekker Museum. The Church of the Vow, Andries Pretorius House, E.G. Jansen Extension, an old ox wagon and a double storey house, furnished as a period house, on 333 Boom Street make up the entire Voortrekker Museum.
A splendid Victorian museum reflecting early British settler life is housed in Macrorie House, the former residence of William Macrorie who served as bishop of Pietermaritzburg from 1869 to 1891. One of the highlights is the bishop's miniature chapel complete with altar and ornamental screen.
comrades marathon house
A museum of much more recent origin is located in Comrades Marathon House, the headquarters of this road race. This Museum houses the official trophies, photographic and press releases and histories of the Comrades Marathon as well as a route model and audio visual presentation.
half day walking tour
Depart from Publicity House which is opposite one of South Africa's best galleries - The Tatham Art Gallery. Thereafter, stroll past the impressive Legislative Building which typifies the colonial heritage of a past era.
Then experience the Natal Museum and the famous Imperial Hotel and South Africa's oldest public swimming bath, the glorious St Peter's Cathedral and the charming lanes and byways of South Africa's largest pedestrianised heritage retail area - the Church Street Mall.
In savouring the uniqueness of this area, one takes in the significance of this high character city and its captivating past.
The Mahatma Gandhi statue is visited outside the Colonial Building - where he targeted many of his concerns about human rights issues. Visit the outstanding City Hall and Carbineer Gardens, which commemorate those who fell in South African and World conflicts.
After the tour ends at the City Hall, visitors are encouraged to visit the Tatham Art Gallery and coffee shop.
half & full day driving tours
These tours are flexible and depend on what the visitor would like to do. Attractions include:
the National Botanical Gardens and Zulu Muthi Garden
the Hilton Forests and spectacular views over the Umgeni River
Indian temples and mosques
the Railway Station
Mahatma Gandhi Statue
the Premier's House and Maritzburg College
the Weeping Cross of War
Comrades Marathon House and Scottsville Race Course
WW2 Italian Church and century buildings of Alexandra Road Police Station and many more.
Pietermaritzburg is one of South Africa's most historical places. Founded in 1838, the Dutch-speaking Voortrekkers moved into Natal from the Cape and laid out a town between the Umsunduzi River and the Dorp Spruit (stream). They named it after their leader, Pieter Mauritz Retief... There are hundreds of historical site to visit.
Pietermaritzburg boasts a wide variety of flea markets throughout the month. Some markets are on certain days only and some are daily. There's always a flea market when there's a special event on...
maritzburg oval arts & crafts market
A real family flea market with jumping castles, pony rides and much more kids entertainment as well as plenty to look at and lots of delicious snacks. Held on the first Sunday of each month at Alexandra Park.
Over 180 stalls and a great atmosphere. Tons of hand made arts and crafts and plenty tasty foods. Held on the last Sundays of every month at Alexandra Park.
Get the freshest fruit and vegetables in Pietermaritzburg, as well as homemade goodies from jamsand cheese to fresh bread andandevery Saturday at the Bird Sanctuary in Armitage Rd.
One of the most attractive aspects of Pietermaritzburg is that it's a city in the country and you have wildlife all around. Game Parks and Nature Reserves are close by and are well stocked with a wide variety of game, ranging from different species of buck, bird and monkeys as well as giraffe, zebra, rhino, wildebeest and much more. A visit to one of these parks is worth the while. There are four game and nature reserves within easy drive from the centre of Pietermaritzburg.
umgeni valley nature reserve
One of South Africa's leading environmental education centers is to be found at the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, which offers superb low-cost conference facilities, with catering. The reserve, which particularly welcomes schools and educational groups, boasts 260 species of birds, while the game portfolio includes giraffe, wildebeest and kudu. There are six trails with picnic sites. Accommodation is either in self-catering cottages set on the cliff-line, offering the most stunning views, or in rustic camps near the river.
For a close-up of some of Africa's larger game, including two of the Big Five, head for the Lion Park, some 10kms from the city, where you can view lion, antelope, rhino and zebra from the comfort and safety of your car. The park is open 7 days a week from 09:00 to 16:00.
tala game reserve
A 5 000 acre game sanctuary hidden amidst rolling hills, Tala Game Reserve offers magnificent opportunities for game and wildlife photography. A 20 minute drive from the city of Pietermaritzburg, it is a birders' paradise, with over 280 recorded species. The mix of thornveld and open plains in the reserve provides unrivalled game viewing, with rhino, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippo and a wide variety of antelope roaming free in the natural habitat. There is an a-la-carte restaurant offering a variety of cuisines, including local dishes, as well as traditional bush braais under the stars and a Sunday buffet feast.
albert falls nature reserve
Half and hour from Pietermaritzburg, this peaceful reserve offers visitors a wide variety of activities from water sports on the dam to game drives and camping. Zebra, giraffe, antelope, python and rhino are some of the game at the reserve.