There can be a tendency to regard smaller cities which act as national capitals in spite of their size as dry, bureaucratic dots on the map, only concerned with government business in grand office buildings. Canberra has this problem in Australia; Brasilia in Brazil. Pretoria suffers the same fate. It is an image problem. Why would you visit a place that is only interested in work when you are away on your holiday and only want to play?
But Pretoria is a more interesting place than people assume. It is certainly bigger than you think – South Africa’s fourth largest city, home to 2.5 million residents.
This means it is big enough to sustain a Super Rugby team (the Vodacom Bulls) – and diverse enough to entertain visitors who make the short 35-mile journey north from Johannesburg. There are first-rate museums – Pretoria Art Museum has a fine collection of South African art; the National Cultural History Museum traces the country’s tale back to the Iron Age. There is history – the huge Voortrekker Monument recalls the city’s 19th century founders.
There are spaces for hiking and biking – such as Groenkloof Nature Reserve. And there is a lively, youthful vibe in the bars and restaurants of Hatfield - thanks to the city’s big university population, certainly making it worth a visit.