Once considered one of South Africa’s more sedate and conservative cities, Pretoria, thanks to Hatfield, is now a destination for anyone who loves good food, a vibrant atmosphere, great shopping and a buzzing nightlife.
Home to the sprawling multi-campus University of Pretoria, founded in 1908 and today one of Africa’s top internationally recognised teaching and research universities, Hatfield is Pretoria’s hippest and most lively suburb because of its big student population.
Hatfield Square, for decades its much-loved traditional student hang-out and party place, is now being renovated as a new precinct for the student community with convenience stores, restaurants and coffee shops, alongside the suburb’s existing variety of good restaurants, funky clubs and lively bars.
The University of Pretoria, affectionately known as “Tukkies”, is the home of the Mapungubwe Collection, housed in the Old Arts Building. Mapungubwe, a World Heritage Site, is a 13th-century Iron Age site situated in the far north of South Africa on the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe, where a thriving African trade kingdom once flourished.
This unique collection of rare national treasures includes ivory, bone, copper and iron artefacts, indigenous and glass trade beads, clay figurines and gold ornaments, and the largest ancient gold collection in Southern Africa, including the famous figurine of a gold rhinoceros, a replica of which stands in Johannesburg’s Main Street.
As well as its vibrant café and restaurant scene, Hatfield is a great shopping destination. Duncan Yard, in Hatfield’s heart, is a cleverly designed unique shopping yard of paved streets, twisting alleyways and wrought-iron staircases chock-a-block with individual shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
Here you can discover bric-a-brac, antiques, designer and vintage clothing, handmade jewellery, fabric, leather and beaded items made by local communities, pottery, decor and interior design, delis, cafés, a florist, handmade furniture, a glass lamp workshop and teaching studio, a DJ studio and live music. And because it’s also a venue for live concerts and interesting events, it’s always pumping with people.
But the whole of Hatfield is always busy with parties, concerts, meets, music shows, live performances, jams, competitions and exhibitions – you’ll never run out of things to see and do. And you’ll find plenty of accommodation available in Hatfield’s jacaranda-lined streets, from friendly guest houses and B&Bs to sophisticated hotels.
There’s easy access to Hatfield from OR Tambo International Airport, Sandton or downtown Johannesburg because one of the main stations for the Gautrain, South Africa’s high-speed rail transport system, is situated here.