Where to Stay - South Africa

Pietermaritzburg Travel Guide (KwaZulu-Natal)

Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal

Pietermaritzburg with its red-brick buildings and green parks will remind you of many an English provincial city. Named after the Voortrekker leaders Piet Retief and Gert Maritz this city, which is the joint capital with Ulundi of KwaZulu-Natal is a wonderfully pleasant place to stroll around and enjoy the sights. During term time this city comes alive with with the many students from the KwaZulu-Natal University and other technical colleges situated here creating a lively nightlife.
You can find wonderful Victorian buildings in the heart of the city along with civic gardens and war memorials. The climate here is warm and dry but more pleasant than Durban where the humidity can drain you. Please note that you can expect heavy rainfall here from December to February though.

There are many places to visit here including the old Colonial Building dating back to 1899 which also has a statue of Gandhi situated outside commemorating his first visit to South Africa in 1893. There is also a network of alleyways between Longmarket Street and Church Street, called The Lanes, where you can find many small shops and cafes.


Pietermaritzburg is well known for being either the start or finish of the famous Comrades Marathon which takes place annually between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The start and finish alternates each year which is why some years the Comrades is an Uphill Run and others a Downhill Run.


Pietermaritzburg is also the starting point of the Dusi Canoe Marathon the biggest canoeing event in the African continent. The race attracts up to 2000 paddlers racing over a distance of 120km all the way down the the finish point at the Blue Lagoon in Durban. The race takes place in February each year to coincide with the summer rains. The Dusi Canoe Race takes place over three stages with two overnight stops along the way. 

One of the biggest events to take place in Pietermaritzburg is the annual Royal Show which takes place towards the end of May and beginning of June each year at the Royal Showgrounds. From humble beginnings as an agricultural show it is now much more with live music, stalls and entertainment throughout the duration of the show.
There is an airport at Pietermaritzburg affectionately known as ORIBI airport which has regular flights to Johannesburg via Airlink and SAA.
Places to visit in Pietermaritzburg
Msunduzi Museum - situated in an old red-brick building that was once the Longmarket Girls School this is now home to a cultural-history museum. There are exhibitions on the Struggle for Democracy and the Birth of Democracy. The museum, which forms part of the Voortrekker Complex, is located at 351 Langalibalele Street, Pietermaritzburg and is open Monday to Friday: 09h00 to 16h00 and Saturday: 09h00 to 13h00. Contact Tel: +27 (0)33 394 6834