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12 Best Things to Do in Pretoria for Students That’ll Make Your Semester Epic!

Ever had that moment when you walk out of an exam and your brain feels like it’s been through a blender? And you’re like, “I need a treat, stat!” Well, you’re not alone.

We’ve all been there, standing at the crossroads of Exhaustion and Treat Yo’ Self Avenue. So, I took a little adventure around Pretoria to find the ultimate chill spots for the brain-fried student populace.

And hey, I didn’t put together this survival guide just because I was procrastinating on another paper (okay, maybe a little). I did it to help you navigate the wilds of student life with a little more chill and a lot more fun because Pretoria has your back.

Observe the city’s best views with Camera Obscura


Address: University of Pretoria, Lynnwood Rd, Hatfield

Phone: +27 (012) 420 3767

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 2 PM & 3 PM

The Camera Obscura at the University of Pretoria offers a unique and educational experience. When you step into the dark room, you’ll see an instrument with lenses and mirrors that project an upside-down image of the outside world onto a screen.

It’s fascinating to watch clear images of people, cars, and birds moving. The adjustable mirror can turn 360°, giving you different views of Pretoria.

I was amazed by the sharpness and detail, especially the colours on the flags at the Union Buildings. This mix of old technology and modern precision makes the Camera Obscura a must-visit for students.

Pro Tip:
For the sharpest image and most detailed view, plan your visit on a day with clear skies. Clear days enhance the visibility range, allowing you to spot distant objects, such as vehicles traversing the Magaliesberg pass towards Pretoria North.

Capture a memorable selfie with the ancient Wonderboom fig tree

Address: Wonderboom Nature Reserve, 1 Lavender Rd, Annlin West

Phone: +27 12 358 1792

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 7 AM to 6 PM

The Wonderboom fig tree is a 1,000-year-old wild fig tree located on the northern slopes of Magaliesberg, near the Apies River. The tree has a central trunk over 5 metres thick and has grown to form 13 trunks, covering nearly 50 metres in diameter.

When I visited, I was amazed by its massive size and how its branches create a cool, shaded area underneath.

It’s the perfect spot to take a selfie with friends, capturing the impressive structure in the background. You’ll get a unique and memorable photo that stands out.

Pro Tip:
Take a short hike up to the nearby Wonderboom Fort remains. Though little of the fort is left, the panoramic view of the city from the hilltop is breathtaking.

Head to the Union Buildings’ gardens for a serene picnic spot

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Address: Meintjieskop, off, Government Ave, Arcadia

Phone: +27 12 300 5200

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Friday  – 7 AM to 6 PM

Union Buildings offers a sight of the magnificent government headquarters set against a backdrop of lush greenery. The meticulously maintained gardens are a great spot for a tranquil escape from the city buzz. 

One of the highlights is definitely the huge 9-metre statue of Mandela. Additionally, the building’s architecture is really impressive with its grand columns and detailed designs. 

And if you need food for a picnic, there are stalls selling snacks and drinks.

Pro Tip:
Late afternoons offer a tranquil experience, with the golden hour providing a perfect backdrop for the gardens’ impressive architecture.

View the works of renowned artists at the Pretoria Art Museum

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Address: Cnr Francis Baard and Wessels Street, Arcadia Park

Phone: 012 358 6750

Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

Pretoria Art Museum is a hub of local creativity, showcasing artworks that tell the story of our nation’s history and culture.

As someone who frequents the museum, I can attest to the mesmerising power of its exhibitions. Walking through the halls, you’ll come across familiar names like Gerard Sekoto and Henk Pierneef, whose works capture the beauty of our landscapes and the spirit of our people. 

Pro Tip:
Complement your cultural outing with a leisurely walk around Arcadia to admire the area’s charming historic architecture.

Walk with your furry friend at Wolwespruit MTB & Trail Park


Address: 501 Jochemus St, Erasmuskloof

Phone: +27 12 054 5448

Operating Hours:

  • Monday, Wednesday to Friday – 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM
  • Tuesday – 5:30 AM to 9 PM
  • Saturday & Sunday – 6 AM to 6 PM

Wolwespruit MTB & Trail Park is where I often spend my weekends. The trails are awesome for hiking or biking, and I always take my dog along. She loves it there!

After you’re done, there are cool places nearby to grab a bite and chill. Plus, the bathrooms are pretty clean and tidy, and there are even showers.

One of my favourite things is setting up a picnic with my buddies in the grassy area. It’s a laid-back way to end the day, just hanging out and enjoying the outdoors. 

Pro Tip:
Double-check the trail maps and markers against your planned route to avoid any confusion and ensure you complete your intended trail.

Attend a Bulls rugby match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium


Address: 416 Kirkness St, Arcadia

Phone: +27 12 420 0700

Loftus Versfeld Stadium feels like home to me. I’ve spent many Saturdays cheering for the Bulls amidst the atmosphere of passionate fans.

With a capacity of over 50,000, it frequently hosts major rugby and soccer matches, including games for the Blue Bulls and Mamelodi Sundowns. The 2010 FIFA World Cup renovations have made it even more impressive, with upgraded seating and facilities.

One unforgettable moment I had here was a concert by Robbie Williams. The acoustics were fantastic, and the stadium was buzzing with energy. 

Pro Tip:
Grab a bite to eat before heading in. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby where you can fuel up on snacks or grab a hearty meal. 

Take a leisurely walk under jacaranda-lined streets 

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In Pretoria, jacaranda trees are so popular, especially around exam time. You’ll see them everywhere, lining the streets with their purple blooms.

Legend says if a jacaranda blossom falls on your head, you’re likely to pass your exams. Nelson Mandela even mentioned chilling under these trees during his trial.

If you want to see unique jacarandas, go to Groenkloof where the streets slope. Additionally, a short drive to Fort Klapperkop offers amazing vistas of the city’s southern suburbs, all covered in jacarandas during spring.

Pro Tip:
Early morning or late afternoon light provides the best illumination for photographs of the jacaranda-lined streets.

Explore the extensive collections of original fossils at the DITSONG Museum


Address: City Hall, 432 Paul Kruger St, Pretoria Central, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa

Phone: +27 12 492 5744

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 7:30 AM to 4 PM

The DITSONG: National Museum of Natural History, established in 1892, is a great place to learn about South Africa’s natural heritage.

When I visited, the highlight for me was seeing the hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind, especially the famous Mrs. Ples. It’s amazing to see such an important part of our history up close

The museum has a wide range of collections, including skeletons and specimens of different animals.

Pro Tip:
Plan your museum day to coincide with talks from scientists and researchers for an enriching experience. Just email [email protected] to join the activities.

Unwind with rhythmic beats at Klitsgras Drumming’s lively sessions


Address: C/O Garsfontein rd and Tierpoort road across Q4 Garage

Phone: +27 83 311 0025

Klitsgras Drumming offers an energetic and welcoming environment with vibrant drumming sessions around a crackling fire. When I attended, the air was filled with rhythmic beats and the delicious scent of freshly baked pizza.

I joined the drumming circle and was soon lost in the music, surrounded by the mesmerising performances of fire dancers and local musicians.

If you’re not into drumming, you can simply relax with some pizza and a drink while soaking up the lively atmosphere. The event, held every second Saturday starting at 4:00 PM, is perfect for unwinding and connecting with others.

Pro Tip:
Check out Sights & Sounds for drum rental options. They offer a variety of drums that can enhance your drumming.

Savour quirky food offerings at Market @ The Sheds

Address: 387 Helen Joseph St, Arcadia

Phone: +27 60 858 8607

Operating Hours:

  • Saturday – 11 AM to 11:55 PM

The Market @ The Sheds is a vibrant social market that celebrates good vibes. It features live music, a diverse crowd, and delicious food. 

When we visited, we were captivated by the eclectic mix of stalls offering everything from handmade crafts to unique fashion pieces.

One highlight was the taco stand, where we tried their famous tacos and were blown away by the fresh, zesty flavours and the novelty of ordering from a retro kombi.

Pro Tip:
Arriving before 2:00 PM is a good idea to save on the entrance fee, which is R50 before and R100 afterwards. Kids, Vespa riders, and cyclists can enter for free.

Relax with a hearty burger at Mustang Sally’s


Address: 1319 Pretorius St, Hatfield

Phone: +27 83 535 4797

Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday to Friday – 11 AM to 9 PM
  • Saturday – 10 AM to 9 PM
  • Sunday – 10 AM to 3 PM

Mustang Sally’s is an all-American style diner that instantly transports you to the 1950s. This nostalgic eatery is a visual delight, perfect for kicking back with a hearty burger while imagining a classic cross-country road trip.

When I visited, I couldn’t resist the allure of their famous milkshakes, especially the Candy Floss and Nutella varieties. Watching them make these shakes was amazing. They’re huge and packed with toppings.

The staff were super friendly, and their cheerful smiles made us feel right at home. The music was pleasantly soft, so we could easily chat and enjoy our time. 

Pro Tip:
Make your Tuesdays terrific with Mustang Sally’s Pub & Diner’s Schnitzel special—two plates for just R139.90!

Unwind in the tranquillity of Magnolia Dell Park

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Address: Queen Wilhelmina Drive & University Rd, Bailey’s Muckleneuk

Phone: +27 12 358 0495

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 6:30 AM to 6 PM

Magnolia Dell Park is like a green oasis in the city, filled with trees and flowers everywhere you look. I’ve spent countless mornings jogging along its winding paths, enjoying the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere.

The magnolia trees are really something to see, especially when they’re in full bloom. It’s like the whole park is covered in a blanket of white and pink petals. And if you’re into photography, there are plenty of picture-perfect spots to capture the beauty of nature.

After a leisurely walk, I usually head over to Huckleberry’s for a quick bite or stop by the tea garden for a relaxing cuppa. 

Pro Tip:
Visit Magnolia Dell Park during the Magnolia Flea Market, held on the first Sunday of each month. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy local arts and crafts and live entertainment under the open sky.

Observe a variety of bird species at Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary

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Address: Corner of and, Roper St & Boshoff St, Muckleneuk

Phone: +27 12 440 8316

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday – 7 AM to 6 PM 

The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, named after the renowned South African bird expert J. Austin Roberts, is a cherished nature reserve in Muckleneuk. This sanctuary is a fantastic spot for afternoon picnics, often bustling with families and bird enthusiasts.

When I visited, I was amazed by the variety of birds I saw. The blue cranes and grey crowned cranes were particularly striking, and I even spotted a few Egyptian geese by the water.

The bird hide is a great place to sit quietly and watch the birds up close. I also joined a guided walk, which was really informative and added to the experience. 

Pro Tip:
Dine at the Blue Crane restaurant located within the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Enjoy the harmonious blend of delectable cuisine and the tranquil beauty of nature, all at an affordable price.

Spend a moment of quiet reflection at Freedom Park Heritage Site & Museum


Address: Corner Koch and 7th Avenue, Salvokop

Phone: +27 12 336 4020 

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily – 8 AM to 4:30 PM

Freedom Park Heritage Site & Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in South Africa’s history. 

I was particularly moved by the Isivivane spiritual area. It’s a quiet, solemn space where you can pay your respects to those who fought for our liberation. 

Another highlight was the S’khumbuto, the park’s centrepiece, where I learned about our most important historical conflicts. I highly recommend this experience to all students, as it deepens your understanding of our heritage and our people’s resilience.

Pro Tip:
Don’t miss the Ungasali storytelling festival at Freedom Park. It’s a celebration of South African heritage through stories told in the many languages that make up our nation’s rich diversity.

Encounter over 300 species of animals at Pretoria Zoo


Address: 32 Boom St, Daspoort 319-Jr

Phone: +27(0) 12 339 2700

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Sunday – 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM 

Pretoria Zoo, covering 210 acres, is the biggest zoo in South Africa and perfect for a student day out. It houses around 9,000 animals from over 700 species, offering a great mix of local and exotic wildlife.

When my friends and I last visited, seeing the Bengal tigers up close was thrilling. They’re truly magnificent. Taking the cable car was a highlight. It gave amazing views of the zoo and its many enclosures.

We brought a picnic and enjoyed it by the riverbank, which was a nice, relaxing spot after all the walking. We also checked out the Komodo dragons and koalas. They’re really fascinating to watch.

Pro Tip:
Consider renting a golf cart for the day. It’s a game-changer for comfort and convenience. Just remember, they’re popular and limited, so get there early to secure one!
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