What to do and see in Grahamstown, South Africa: The Best Places and Tips

September 17, 2017 Darwin Bolte

Grahamstown (Afrikaans: Grahamstad, Xhosa: iRhini) is a town of about 70,000 people in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated about 110 kilometres (70 mi) northeast of Port Elizabeth and 130 kilometres (80 mi) southwest of East London. Grahamstown is the largest town in the Makana Local Municipality, and the seat of the municipal council. It also hosts Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court, and a diocese of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and 6 South African Infantry Battalion.
Restaurants in Grahamstown

1. Cathedral of St Michael and St George

High and Hill Streets, Grahamstown, South Africa +27 46 622 2445
Excellent
43%
Good
48%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 51 reviews

Cathedral of St Michael and St George

This stately cathedral’s prominent tower dominates High Street.

Reviewed By 365giannad - Port Elizabeth, South Africa

What a peaceful and spiritual place. We attended a fabulous service last Sunday morning. The Cathedral was gentle and lovely. The service was elegant and beautiful. The Cathedral is full of glorious stained glass and is a lovely place to visit

2. 1820 Settlers National Monument

Grahamstown, South Africa
Excellent
32%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
22%
Poor
9%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 53 reviews

1820 Settlers National Monument

This memorial on Gunfire Hill is dominated by the stunning Settlers Garden.

Reviewed By CJ-what - Mpumalanga, South Africa

The VIEW is Amazing...but! Been visiting Grahamstown for some years, sad to see and from our own experience the monument and around, a blur of trashcan decay.
The staff at the monument is too busy with their personal phones or more interested in chatting away with their colleagues, than paying attention to enquiring visitors, wonder if they have any self pride or interest of this once ICONIC landmark.

3. Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary

Adjacent to N2 on the way to Grahamstown, Grahamstown, South Africa +27 42 203 1400
Excellent
72%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
4%
Terrible
8%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 25 reviews

Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary

Reviewed By LLCLars - Canton of Zurich, Switzerland

after the elephants performed some sort of show, we had the chance to feed them and take a photo. for a surcharge you're also allowed to ride them. absolutely fantastic and an awesome experience!

4. Observatory Museum

10 Bathurst Street, Grahamstown 6139, South Africa +27 46 622 2312
Excellent
30%
Good
55%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
9%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 43 reviews

Observatory Museum

This odd house is an eclectic melange of architectural styles, the whimsy of amateur astronomer Henry Carter Galpin. Locals would set their watches by the time on Galpin’s clock tower.

Reviewed By Greenhatgirl - Grahamstown, South Africa

I've visited this museum as a child and an adult. I think it's very special.
It contains the only traditional camera obscura in the Southern Hemisphere in the home of the man who made it. The house is decorated as it would have been at the time the camera was built - in the style of a 19th century settler home. Once you have walked through the rooms you climb up a narrow turreted stairway to see the camera at the top. With amazing clarity you see the world outside reflected on the table. You can spot people you know in town, familiar buildings and vehicles ... You get a mini history lesson at the same time. The talk HAS been adapted since the 80s!
Go on a clear day in order to see more.
Definitely worth the tiny entrance fee - especially for children. However, most people will enjoy their visit, no matter their age.

5. St Patrick's Catholic Church

47 Hill Street, Grahamstown 6139, South Africa
Excellent
50%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
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0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 12 reviews

St Patrick's Catholic Church

Reviewed By MervynGatcke - East London, South Africa

When celebrating mass here one cannot but be impressed by this magnificent building itself. Here is something about the history of the Church from Ancestry24:
"A Gothic Revival building in Grahamstown, probably designed by Maj. Charles Jasper Selwyn of the Royal Engineers. The priest in charge, who superintended its building, was Father Thomas Murphy. The church was erected between 1839 and 1844. The officers and men of the 27th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and other Roman Catholic soldiers quartered in Grahamstown assisted in the building work. The church, which is the oldest existing Roman Catholic church in South Africa, is built in a coarse-stoned Tudor style, with battlemented roof and towers. In 1961 it was re-roofed and the original yellow-wood floor replaced."

6. Oldest letterbox in South Africa

Corner of Worcester Street and Somerset Street, Grahamstown, South Africa
Excellent
41%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
20%
Poor
0%
Terrible
6%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 15 reviews

Oldest letterbox in South Africa

Reviewed By Jilldutoit - Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Sadly, time is running out for the continued use of this letterbox, as the postal service has all but ground to a halt.
I am sure that this letterbox has been well used over the years, its elegant fluted cylindrical shape disguising an almost indestructable design. The typical British letterbox has withstood all manner of assault - IRA bombs failed to shatter these hardy receptacles!
I trust that this particular letterbox will long continue to stand in its current position. It is easy to locate and a tidy flower bed is close by, not obstructing its accessibility or visibility in any way.

7. National English Literary Museum

87 Beaufort Street, Grahamstown 6139, South Africa +27 46 622 7042
Excellent
76%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
12%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 8 reviews

National English Literary Museum

Reviewed By John W R - East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

The new National English Literacy Museum is built in Worcester Street in Grahamstown and has been certified by the Green Building Council of South Africa as the first (5 Star) Green Star certified project in the category Public & Education Buildings in South Africa. It is also the first (5 Star) Green Star certified project in the Eastern Cape Province in all Categories. There are numerous display areas as well as humidity controlled sealed archives and a small lecture theater. A modern building with energy saving measures installed and there is even a green garden area at the back of the building on the first level. Will be worth visiting during Arts Festival week or when passing through Grahamstown.

8. Albany Museum-Provost Prison

Grahamstown, South Africa +27 46 622 2312
Excellent
12%
Good
63%
Satisfactory
25%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 8 reviews

Albany Museum-Provost Prison

Reviewed By Lu-Gerda - Mossel Bay, South Africa

The prison was designed in 1835 by the Royal Engineers. The cells are arranged in a semicircle and has a guard-house overlooking the cells. It is part of the Albany Museum Complex but is only open by appointment. We did not make an appointment and had to settle for pictures of the outside. The building was declared a National Monument on 9 September 1937.

9. Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery and Guesthouse

Off N2 7Km South of Grahamstown, Grahamstown, South Africa +27 46 622 8111
Excellent
50%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery and Guesthouse

Reviewed By Barrie T - Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

We have just spent three days/2 nights at this pictureaque, tranquil friendly place. They offer accomkmodation to all in comfortable but basic private rooms - single and double. Only one has ensuite so be prepared to share a bathroom with a few other guests. This is a place of tranquility much favoured by artists and writers. Only 7 Km from Grahamstown on the PE side and just off the N2. There are wonderful walks but the ground is on a hill and there are megalithic-like rock slabs and mature trees all around. The approach is by a dirt road -so dont go there with your McLaren or Ferrari, but the average family car will be perfectly OK. Breakfast can be taken two ways 1) with the monks at 7.15 IN SILENCE!! or 2) at 8.00 and you can chat all you like. Breakfast is usually continental, but on ocassions they do cook. You can attend services at any time with the monks in the chapel. It is an American-based, Anglican Benedictine order. From vigils at 6.00 a.m. Lauds and communion at 8.00 a.m. Mid-day prayers, vesters at 17.30 . OR you can do nothing but relax in the Gardens and enjoy the peace and beauty! You will not regret a visit to this magic place, even if you decide not to repeat the experience! Not the sort of B&B to take young children to!

10. The Methodist Cathedral

Grahamstown, South Africa
Excellent
0%
Good
84%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 6 reviews

The Methodist Cathedral

Reviewed By Jilldutoit - Port Elizabeth, South Africa

There is a highly ornate street facade to this church, yet the other 3 exterior walls remain unadorned, but the exposed stone work is beautiful.
What immediately struck me on entering the church is that the original family pews have been retained, each with its own separate gate! So every family had their own designated place to sit - no doubt a bit problematic for an outsider who wanted to attend a service. Nowadays, folk can sit in any of the pews.
The Seating in the gallery, used by generations of schoolchildren, is probably the same as it was a hundred years ago, only with an increased inscription of more names on both seats and backrests of the pews.
This church has been lovingly cared for andhopefully will continue to meet the spiritual needs of the community it serves.

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