East London

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Eastern Cape East London



East London is a city on the southeast coast of South Africa, set in the Eastern Cape and situated in between Port Elizabeth and Durban. Despite new development in recent years, the city is not the most exciting place to visit, but it does provide a good base from which to explore some of the more beautiful parts of the Wild Coast.

It is the main city in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, which includes East London, Bhisho and King William's Town. East London is home to Mdantsane township, once considered to be the second largest township in the country. It has an airport, a deep water port, and a railway link to the national rail network. It is widely held that this area was where the African buffalo was first spotted in the country, hence the name Buffalo City. The name "East London" is an old colonial name, and there is an ongoing debate about finding a suitable name change for the city.

East London has an estimated population of 810,000. It includes extensive tracts of land suitable for grazing and horticulture and is one of the major tomato-growing areas in the country because of its good climate throughout the year. Known for its beautiful beaches, it also boasts great game reserves where the Big Five can be found, including a lion park close to the city. In the sporting world, East London is also known as a boxing hub due to the number of world champion boxers it has produced and continues to produce.

In 1938 the then-curator of the town museum found an unusual fish in the catch of a local fishing vessel. The fish turned out to be a prehistoric coelacanth, long thought to be extinct.



Sights and Activities

The beachfront is the place to check out if you are in town, with restaurants, hotels and of course some nice sandy beaches. Surfers, windsurfers and kite-surfers are advised to hit Nahoon Beach which lies north east of the main city area.



Events and Festivals

Beacon Bay, East London

Beacon Bay, East London

© mim



Getting There

By Plane

There is an airport to the west of the city connecting East London to all the major urban centres in the country.

By Train

The central train station is in the city centre, on the corner of Station and Terminus streets.

Shosholoza Meyl operates regular inter-city trains to Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. You can also get to Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg and Durban (by changing trains in Bloemfontein), Port Elizabeth (by changing trains in Noupoort or Colesburg) and Mthatha (by changing trains in Amabele). the train fare from East London to Johannesburg is R540 in Sleeper class.

The Eastern Cape Department of Transport runs a daily train to Mthatha (previously called Umtata) via Amabele, this service is called "Kei Rail". Passengers are conveyed from East London station to Amabele (76 km north of East London) by bus. Trains leave early in the morning and the trip takes about 12 hours.

MetroRail operates commuter trains to some outlying suburbs of East London, with a reduced service over weekends.

By Car

Visitors coming from Port Elizabeth or Cape Town take the N2, as should those coming from Durban. Travellers coming inland from Bloemfontein and the north should take the N6.

By Bus

Translux and Greyhound operate regular bus services to all bigger South African cities. on the corner of Buffalo and College streets are Minibus taxis going to port Elizabeth for R100. 6 hours. Eldo Coaches have buses to Johannesburg for R300.



Getting Around

East London, like most South African towns, lacks a public transport system, so getting around is difficult if you do not have a car. There are many car rental companies available in South Africa, of which, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar and First Car Rental have branches at the East London Airport.

Taxis are the best way of getting around East London and the suburbs of the city. They can be pre-booked and are quite cost-effective.

To get from the Airport to any address in East London, the "Little Red Bus" offers a safe, reliable and good value link. They can be pre-booked by phone or email and will wait at the airport with your name on a sign. There may be other people sharing the bus with you, but the fee is per passenger. The bus will leave when all of the booked passengers have been picked up, so there is no worry about over filling the bus. The return journey to the airport or any other journeys in and around East London can be arranged as well.




Cafe Neo, Windmill, 128 Moore Street Quigney (From East London Central drive along Fleet Street, turning left into Fitspatrick Road. Turn right into Moore continue straight ahead until Windmill Park.), ☏ +27 43 722 4531, ✉ info@neocafe.co.za. 7:30AM-10:30PM. Greek cafe, opened in 2017. R28.
Sanook Eatery, 13A, Beacon Bay Crossings, Bonza Bay Rd, Beacon Bay (ravel on the N2 from East London and take exit 1051 for Bonza Bay Road toward M8/Beacon Bay/East London. Turn right onto Bonza Bay Road. At the circle, take the first exit to your left and you will find Beacon Bay Crossing Shopping Centre.), ☏ +27 43 748 2494, ✉ eatery@sanook.co.za. 11AM-10PM. Thai eatery that serves simple, tasty food. R49.
Cantina and Craft, Shop i&j Beacon Bay Crossings Bonza Bay Road Beacon Bay, ☏ +27 43 748 2636. 11AM-10PM. Traditional Mexican food and a lot of craft beer.
Grazia Fine Food and Wine, Upper Esplanade/Beach Front Rd, ☏ +27 43 722 2009, ✉ grazia@graziafinefood.co.za. noon-10:30PM.




The Buccaneers
Mans Tavern
Corner Pocket
Que Bar




Sugarshack Backpackers, 50 Eastern Esplanade Road., ☏ +27 43-7228240. Dorm beds, single/double rooms and camping. a nice clean backpackers overlooking the sea. free tea and coffee. Dorm bed from R100 per person.
Buffalo Backpackers, 79 Moore Street. More like a workers' hostel than a backpackers'. Dorm bed R 95 per person.
The Thatch, 37 Flamingo Crescent, Beacon Bay, ☏ +27 43 748-3672. A very good guesthouse overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is outside town but beautifully situated. From R 400 per person.
Nahoon Eco Lodge (Nahoon Ecolodge) (nahoo). Woodleigh, East London.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Keep Connected


Big cities and most of the popular places in the country usually have an internet café though they are not as abundant as in, for example, Asia or South America. It's also relatively expensive, usually 20-30 rand an hour, sometimes even more. Many of the accommodation options have internet access available, either wireless with your own laptop or by their own computer(s). Wireless access is also available throughout the country in more and more cafes and eateries, sometimes free and sometimes for a small fee. Note that you usually have to login anyway and agree with the terms and conditions. It is cheapest to buy a prepaid cell phone starter pack (less than R10) and access the Internet with GPRS or 3G. Generally R2 per MB for out of bundle data from most providers (50c for Virgin Mobile), but it becomes a lot cheaper if you buy a data bundle. In general coverage is good except the more rural parts of the northern and northwestern parts of the country (especially Northern Cape).


See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.


The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -33.0072
  • Longitude: 27.9136

Accommodation in East London

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in East London searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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This is version 24. Last edited at 15:03 on May 29, 20 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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