Basic Information

  • City Area : 168.86km² (65.20 sq mi)
  • Calling Code : +27 (0) 43
  • Currency : South African Rand (ZAR)
  • (EST) City Population : 267,007
  • Official Languages : Xhosa, English, Afrikaans
  • Time Zone  : UTC/GMT+2
  • Airports: East London Airport

Locals and overseas visitors have a range of airlines offering cheap flights and specials to East London Airport including airlines with affiliates.

Airlines landing at East London Airport include:

  • Flysafair
  • Airlink
  • SA Express
  • South African Airways
  • Kulula
  • British Airways


Five Reasons to Visit East London, South Africa

  • Home to the only river port in the country, East London was founded in 1836 by Lieutenant John Bailie. Located on the Indian Ocean coast, the city lies mainly between the Buffalo and Nahoon Rivers and is often referred to as Buffalo City.
  • Its a great place that offers every individual or family an activity to delight in while visiting. There are golden beaches, great waves, the zoo and aquarium, terrific diving, snorkelling and fishing spots, game parks, museums, galleries, nature reserves, hiking and 4×4 trails, golf courses and more.
  • East London annually hosts numerous sporting competitions that include surfing, running, walking, mountain biking, cycling, motor bike and car racing.
  • There’s a great choice of accommodation in East London that includes backpackers, guest houses, self-catering, B&Bs as well as fabulous top-notch hotels with first-class restaurants and bars, many of which afford spectacular views.


Places to visit in East London, South Africa

  • The East London Museum, besides being one of the city’s oldest buildings (1921), has the only display in the world, of the almost extinct coelacanth fish, a pre-historic fish that lived for 400 million years in the Indian Ocean. The 1938 discovery, in East London’s harbour, of a live coelacanth fish was noted as one of the most significant zoological finds in that century. Due to the importance of this original coelacanth display, the museum is open every day of the year except for Christmas day and Good Friday. The museum is also home to the only existing Dodo egg in the world and displays a reconstruction of this approximate one metre flightless bird that has been extinct since the mid/late 17th
  • Great for families with children is The East London Aquarium, the oldest public aquarium in the country, having opened in December 1931. Although a small aquarium it boasts a range of animals that include fish, marine invertebrates, seals and marine birds but also provides an important conservation role to East London’s estuaries and coastline. The facility affords visitors the opportunity to view, from freshwater tanks, Red Piranha from the Amazon River and for whale watching, offers a wonderful Whale Walk during aquarium hours that is free of charge. The best time for whale watching is from August to November. The aquarium is open daily from 09h00 to 17h00. Fish feeding takes place at 10h30 while the seals are fed at 11h30 and 15h30 with penguin feeding immediately afterwards. Costs for admission are R36 for adults, R22 for children (3 to 18 years) and pensioners and R14 (per student) for school groups. Go to for further information.
  • The Lion Park is another option to keep the young ones enthralled and it’s just 5km from the city centre. Besides lions, there are antelope, giraffe, cheetah, zebra, tigers and White Camels plus plenty of birds. Additional entertainment for children is provided with trampolines, jungle gyms and climbing walls plus the coffee shop provides very reasonably priced tasty meals. Operational hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 09h00 to 17h00 with last admissions at 16h00. For more information or to organise a discounted group booking or school tour, telephone +27 (0) 43 730 7161 or go to
  • For an experience with wildlife and nature the Eastern Cape has a great variety of wildlife options to choose from but while in East London, enjoy a leisurely drive to the 3,500-ha conservancy, Mpongo Game Reserve, located 25km outside East London. Visitors can take a daily game drive, enjoy a scrumptious meal in the restaurant overlooking a watering hole, relax in the bar or cool off in the pool. For an overnight stay, comfortable accommodation is offered in one of two lodges. For further information phone +27 (0) 43 742 9000.
  • Another superb option is the Endalweni Private Game Reserve & Country House located on the Great Kei River, just 45 minutes from East London. In addition to wild grazing animals comprising monkeys, zebra, Red Hartebeest, giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, bushbuck and more. Visitors have magnificent views of landscape including a gorge, the river and flora in the surrounding bushveld that is home to a variety of birdlife, plant species and prehistoric cycads. There’s a host of activities for visitors besides game, bird and flora viewing at Endalweni some of which include mountain biking, swimming, fishing, canoeing and boating. Visitors wanting accommodation in natural bliss have the Country House that comprises two suites and two double rooms with wonderful large verandas to take in natures peace and tranquillity and if theres a celebration to be had, the dining room caters for up to 18 guests. For further information or to book your Endalweni experience, go to
  • To view the Big Five, not far from East London Airport is the Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve that affords visitors an assortment of landscapes guaranteeing an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience from open-topped 4×4 vehicles. To make your booking telephone +27 (0) 43 734 3234 or email [email protected].
  • Nothing beats a day on the beach and East London’s most popular beach is Nahoon Beach, named after a Xhosa chief and home to the East London Surf Life Saving Club. Being kilometres long theres never the problem of overcrowding with solitude easily found. It’s well known for excellent surf and hosts many surfing competitions. Another much frequented beach is Gonubie Beach, 25km north of East London that has achieved Blue Flag status. Orient Beach is located at the southern end of the Esplanade in Quigney, a suburb of East London. Many in-land tourists visit this beach as its close to hotels and shops on the Esplanade, the surf is fairly gentle providing safe bathing and there are two large circular swimming pools with slides that are surrounded by lush green lawns, making it an ideal spot for families and visitors who feel safer swimming in a pool than the sea.
  • Visitors that love playing golf have no shortage of courses to choose from. The East London Golf Club, one of the oldest in the country is recognised as one of the best Championship courses in South Africa and has hosted no less than six SA Opens besides being a regular venue for National and Regional Championships, Nomads and Seniors Tournaments. Its traditional course is set amongst dunes, hills and coastal indigenous bush with the permanent residence of a family of Impala, the Knysna Loerie including other bird species. The West Bank Golf Club founded in 1907 comprises an 18-hole course where golfers can enjoy views of the ocean from every tee while trying to concentrate on their golfing skills on a challenging, but well laid out course.
  • For a night out on the town, go to Hemingway’s Casino where if you’re not keen on trying your luck on the slot machines or tables, you can take in a 2/3D movie or enjoy live music, a concert or an exhibition at The Venue. When you’re hungry choose between Key Largo, Latitudes Action Bar and the Felix bar and Restaurant for sushi addicts and other favourite foods with a rustic ambience and garden views.


Getting Around

The city unfortunately lacks public transportation and unless you’re just visiting for a day or two, your best option to get around is to rent a car. Business people spending a short time in the city for meetings with no plans to travel can make use of their hotels airport/hotel shuttle service. Visitors not wanting to hire a vehicle or travel far can utilise Isobel’s Little Red Bus, the very first shuttle company that began operating in 1995 and the only one that complies with governmental regulations. To book go to  Shout is another shuttle service operating in and around East London city while Eugene’s Executive Airport Shuttle provides transport services including metered taxi operators at the airport.