Known as the 'Jacaranda City' due to the many jacaranda trees lining its streets, Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, is a tidy and pleasant city. From Pretoria, it is convenient to make numerous day trips and get those all-important visas for onward travels. Home to a number of universities, including the University of Pretoria, the city has a relaxed, campus feel about it. For that reason, many travelers prefer to stay in a hostel here rather than in the hustle of neighboring Johannesburg, which makes a fun day trip from Pretoria. The transportation system around the city and to Johannesburg is excellent, with the Gautrain, metro buses, and minibuses doing the 60-kilometer trip to Jo'Burg all day long. Although it doesn't have the high profile tourist sights that Jo'Burg does, Pretoria does boast the magnificent Union Buildings with a huge statue of Nelson Mandela in the gardens, the Palace of Justice and the Voortrekker monument. There are a handful of museums here also: the Natural History Museum, Pretoria Art Museum, Cultural History Museum and the Kruger Museum. A number of parks and gardens are scattered around the city as well so that you're never far from a green space. Pretoria also houses most of the world's countries' embassies, which is convenient for visa collectors and world travelers.
Tourists looking for hostels in Pretoria should head for the eastern suburb of Hatfield. Gautrain has a station in Hatfield while the metro has its Hartbeesspruit station there, so it's very easy to get to and from the centre and Jo'Burg. Buses and minibuses trundle the streets as well. There are a lot of budget accommodations in this area as it is close to the University of Pretoria. Arcadia Street has international-standard hostels that serve backpackers all year long. They are of a high caliber with excellent facilities. There are also many student hostels in this area that have beds available for international travelers during the school holidays. Arcadia Street is close to Hatfield and The Fields shopping malls that offer supermarkets, international bank ATMs, restaurants and fast food outlets. As the hostels are self-catering, it is convenient to have these commercial options available within 10 to 15 minutes' walking distance. The hostels provide a comfortable haven, a meeting point for travelers, useful information centers, as well as the opportunity to organize trips to some of the country's national parks.
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