East London Travel Guide

If you're planning to visit East London, our comprehensive guide has everything you need to know. From must-visit spots to where to stay and what to eat, read our guide to have the best time in this beautiful city.

Introduction to East London

East London is a beautiful coastal city located in the heart of Wild Coast, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and natural beauty, East London is a popular destination for tourists visiting Southern Africa. The city is also an important commercial hub, with a thriving port and bustling downtown area. In this guide, we’ll explore the best of East London, from the top attractions to the best places to stay and eat.

List of Places to Visit in East London

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

East London has a rich history that can be explored through its many museums and historical sites. Here are some of the top places to visit:

  • Ann Bryant Art Gallery: This museum houses an impressive collection of 19th- and 20th-century South African artwork, as well as historical artifacts and cultural items.
  • East London Museum: This museum has a diverse collection of exhibits, including displays on the city’s natural history, cultural heritage, and maritime history.
  • The Dassie Trail: This is a self-guided walking tour that takes you through the historic sites of East London, including monuments, statues, and buildings that showcase the city’s history.

Natural Attractions of East London: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

East London is blessed with natural beauty and offers a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors. Here are some of the top natural attractions:

  • Eastern Beach: This stunning beach offers beautiful views, gentle waves, and a relaxing atmosphere. Perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
  • Emerald Vale Brewery: Take a tour of this local brewery that offers beautiful views of the countryside and a chance to learn about the beer-making process.
  • Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve: This reserve offers hiking and biking trails, beautiful views of the estuary, and opportunities to spot wildlife, including birds and small mammals.

Hiking/Biking Routes of East London

For outdoor enthusiasts, East London has several popular hiking and biking trails. Here are some of the best options:

  • Nahoon Point Nature Reserve Hike: This is an easy hike that offers beautiful views of the coastline, estuary, and dunes. The hike takes approximately two hours to complete.
  • Sandy’s Beach Trail: This moderate hike takes you through beautiful beaches and is suitable for families with children. The hike takes approximately three hours to complete.
  • Yellowwood Forest Hike: This challenging hike takes you through the beautiful Yellowwood forest and offers stunning views of the surroundings. The hike takes approximately four hours to complete.

Best Things to Do in East London: Activities and Tours

East London offers a wide range of activities and tours, from cultural experiences to outdoor adventures. Here are some of the best things to do:

  • Shark Cage Diving: One of the most thrilling experiences in East London is to go shark cage diving. This unique activity allows you to see great white sharks up close and in their natural habitat.
  • Township Tour: Take a guided tour of East London’s townships and learn about the city’s history, culture, and daily life of the locals.
  • Sunrise Boat Cruise: Watch the sunrise over the Indian Ocean on this relaxing boat cruise that offers beautiful views of the city’s skyline.

Week-Long Itinerary for East London

Here’s a sample week-long itinerary for visitors to East London:

Day 1: Arrival and Relaxation

Check into your hotel or guesthouse and spend the day relaxing on Eastern Beach, one of the city’s most popular beaches.

Day 2: Museum Tour

Take a tour of the city’s museums, including the East London Museum and the Ann Bryant Art Gallery.

Day 3: Outdoor Adventure

Explore the natural beauty of East London by hiking in the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve or biking through Yellowwood Forest.

Day 4: Shark Cage Diving

Experience the thrilling activity of shark cage diving and see great white sharks up close.

Day 5: Township Tour

Take a guided tour of the city’s townships and learn about the culture and history of East London.

Day 6: Beach Day

Spend the day at one of the city’s beautiful beaches, such as Nahoon Beach or Gonubie Beach.

Day 7: Farewell and Departure

Say farewell to East London and take a flight from East London Airport to your next destination.

Food and Drink Scene of East London

East London has a thriving food and drink scene, with a variety of dishes and drinks to try. Here are some of the must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Bunny Chow: This is a traditional South African dish made with a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry.
  • Braaivleis: This is South Africa’s version of barbecue, consisting of grilled meats, usually served with a side of pap, a type of maize porridge.
  • Biltong: This is dried and seasoned meat typically made from beef or game, and is a popular snack in South Africa.

Local Beverages

  • Castle Lager: This is a popular South African beer that is brewed in East London.
  • Amarula Cream: This is a sweet cream liqueur made from the fruit of the marula tree, which is native to Southern Africa.
  • Rooibos Tea: This is a caffeine-free herbal tea made from the Rooibos plant and is a popular drink in South Africa.

Where to Stay in East London: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

East London offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Here are some of the best places to stay:

  • Crawford’s Beach Lodge & Cabins: This lodge offers beautiful ocean views, a private beach, and comfortable accommodation.
  • Premier Hotel Regent: This hotel is located in the heart of the city and offers modern amenities and comfortable rooms.
  • Selborne Bed and Breakfast: This guesthouse offers comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and a peaceful garden.

What to Buy in East London: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

If you’re looking for souvenirs or local products to bring home, consider the following options:

  • Xhosa Beadwork: This traditional beadwork is made by the Xhosa people and features intricate patterns and bright colors.
  • Khaya Bags: These bags are made by a local company and are crafted from recycled billboards, making them both unique and eco-friendly.
  • Wild Coast Honey: This is a locally produced honey made from the flowers and plants of the Wild Coast and makes for a delicious and unique souvenir.

Local Culture and Customs of East London

East London has a diverse population and a rich cultural heritage. The Xhosa people are one of the most prominent cultural groups in the city and have a significant influence on the city’s art, music, and traditions.

Best Time to Visit East London

The best time to visit East London is during the summer months from December to February when the weather is warm and sunny. However, keep in mind that this is also the high season, and prices may be higher.

Do’s and Don’ts of East London


  • Respect the local culture and customs.
  • Try the local food and drink.
  • Practice sunscreen when spending time outdoors.


  • Travel alone at night.
  • Leave valuable items unattended.
  • Disrespect the wildlife and natural environment.

Safety and Health

East London is generally a safe destination for tourists, but it’s important to take precautions to stay safe. Here are some safety and health tips to keep in mind:

Safety in East London

  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight and locked away in your accommodation.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.

Health in East London

  • Make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations before traveling to South Africa.
  • Practice safe sex and use protection.
  • Always carry a supply of bottled water to stay hydrated.

Getting to East London: Transportation Options and Logistics

East London is easily accessible by air, road, and rail.

Airports Near East London

  • East London Airport is the closest airport to the city and offers flights from major cities in South Africa.

Bus Stations Near East London

  • Intercape Mainliner has a bus station in East London.

Other Options

  • Private taxis and car rental options are also available.

How to Get Around in East London

A rental car is the best way to get around East London, but there are also public transportation options available, including buses and taxis.

Where to Go Next from East London: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

East London is well-connected to surrounding areas and offers easy access to several exciting destinations, including:

  • Addo Elephant National Park: This park is the third-largest national park in South Africa and is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
  • Sibuya Game Reserve: This reserve is located on the banks of the Kariega River and offers the chance to see the Big Five.
  • Coffee Bay: This is a stunning coastal town located on the Wild Coast and is known for its beautiful beaches and unique rock formations.


East London is a beautiful and exciting city that offers something for everyone. From its stunning beaches to its rich cultural heritage, there’s always something new to discover. Use this guide to plan your trip and have the best possible experience in this amazing destination.