The University of Pretoria is more than just a collection of buildings in which lectures are conducted. Scattered amongst the academic buildings are some spots which are perfect for a variety of activities, depending on what you are looking for. Read further for a run-down on the best spots on campus for every occasion.

Your everyday hangout

The summer months at UP can be brutal, whether it is the sweltering heat or the February rains you are trying to escape, there are several buildings you can find refuge in. Possibly one of the more important things you should know before braving campus is the air conditioners and their settings in various buildings. Aircon settings can make or break you depending on the season, you do not want to be caught in a room without air conditioning during a 13:30 lecture in the middle of summer. You can usually rely on Thuto, Chancellor’s Building and the Engineering ‘Dungeons’ to keep you well ventilated in 30-degree heat. Venues in the Humanities Building are hit and miss; sometimes you will be freezing, other times the heat is unbearable.

On the other hand, the air cons can sometimes be a little aggressive and you may find yourself shivering during class while it’s 34 degrees outside. In Pretoria, you can be assured of experiencing all four seasons in one day. Unless you are dedicated enough to wear a summer outfit but carry an umbrella and winter coat with you at all times; you’ll simply have to deal with being caught in the rain or getting cold in class once or twice.

When the weather plays along it can be great to find a shady patch of grass to laze around on or gather as a group of friends. The large patch of grass nestled between the Aula Hall, Engineering, Natural Science and the Old Arts Buildings, has enough space for everyone. Whether you need a sunny spot to catch a tan, a grassy patch to take a nap, or enough space for the whole gang to gather in between classes – Aula grass is probably the spot for you. There are quieter spots, off the main paths of the university and away from the crowds; for those who would prefer them. Try the benches on the tree-lined path between the theology building and the amphitheatre; the Botanical Garden behind the Mathematics Building, and the courtyard in Roosmaryn. The lawns behind Thuto also boast some resident cats to help keep students calm.


Days filled with classes, studying, and various social activities which come with being a university student means that you have to keep yourself well-fueled if you hope to survive to your next recess without completely burning out. There is a wealth of options when it comes to grabbing something ready-made or ordering something to eat on campus. The student centre is the hub of campus dining with a wide variety of options, such as toasted sandwiches, muffins and your general selection of snacks at Coffee Buzz and Piazza. If you’re looking for something a little healthier, Torpedoes has a selection of wraps, spuds, paninis and stir fry. The Lucky Bread Company offers excellent options for a caffeine fix, as well as a cabinet stocked with delicious pastries – sweet and savoury.

If you’re a student who’s classes aren’t centred around the student centre, there are other options too. A great way to beat the mid-week slump is by dropping by the Steers to grab a Wacky Wednesday. Right next to Steers is the Cafeteria, which serves, pizzas, hotdogs, and an assortment of sweets and cooldrink, if you want to get something to snack on. Pure Café is ideal for those students who want a sit-down lunch at a restaurant with a wide menu; start your morning off right with their French Toast, Banana Bread, or the Build-Your-Own-Breakfast offerings.

For a number of students, staying well-caffeinated will be an important of their university experience. UP’s very own Vida e Caffè is well stocked with fresh food and serves a variety of coffee. Tucked away next to the Vida is a sit down and take away establishment called Adler’s, their wide menu options ensure you can get pretty much whatever you feel like eating. Try going for a second breakfast – coffee and pancakes – in between morning classes. Haloa down by the Engineering buildings also serves an excellent brew and things to munch on. You can find Haloa in a second location on the Groenkloof Campus, great for those studying education, who need all the coffee they can get.

Places to study

At some point, some work has to get done (if you can fit it in amidst the socialising, that is). Whatever your preference is for a work environment, UP probably has it. Finding an empty lecture venue or sitting in a building corridor is always an option but there are places on campus designed to help you make the most of your time here by attending to your academics. Find yourself a spot in the Merensky Library where you can enjoy a desk space with comfortable chairs, air conditioning, and campus Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you can pull up a chair in any one of the University’s study centres on campus, designed especially for students who need to get their work done. Come October, Pretoria will begin to turn purple as Jacaranda trees begin to bloom; take advantage of the good weather and the beautiful flowers and study under a Jacaranda tree ( it is UP legend that if a Jacaranda flower falls on you while you’re studying you will pass your exam).

Spots for a little romance

University also holds many opportunities for romance, whether it’s keeping a high school relationship going during your university years or maybe starting something new. Figuring out how to spend time together and getting to know one another can be difficult, especially on a student budget. Finding cute and creative date ideas can be tiring and it’s easy to fall into the trap of the classic coffee shop date, which is an effective way to get to know each other but there is a wealth of options on campus when it comes to doing something unique. Turn awkward silences into “intellectually staring at an artwork” silences by taking your date on a walk through the Old Arts Building or the brand new Javett Art Centre. The Old Arts Building is centrally located on campus and offers a number of incredible artefacts to view. Cross the bridge onto south campus and view the exhibitions at the Javett Art Centre, built in 2019. The Javett Art Centre is also home to the Golden Rhinoceros of Mapungubwe, previously housed in Old Arts. There is something incredibly special about seeing someone who loves art light up at the sight of a masterpiece, even if the art is not for you.

Another great option is to squeeze the Lunch Hour Concert into your Thursday. Take your date to listen to the talented artists and students who perform at the Musaion, this is also a sneaky way to get to know your prospective partners taste in music. The Lunch Hour Concert is great for the awkward first interactions as it leaves room for you to sit and enjoy the music without having to make small talk during the whole date.

Stretch your minds and take a visit to the Scienza Centre, located near the AIM computer labs. Scienza is home to a collection of interactive experiments you can participate in. This is a great way to see how you and your partner work together as a team.

Getting physical

If you’re in need of some fresh air or physical activity, head down to UP’s Hillcrest campus sports grounds. Hillcrest is a great place to go for a run or a game of your favourite sport. Physical exercise is a great way to break the monotony of studying and classes. Take a blanket and some snacks for a sunset picnic by the dam.

Throughout the year you will have the opportunity to show your UP pride as our various sports teams take on the competition.. Support the incredible athletic talent we have at the university by attending any one of the sports games and matches available on Hillcrest campus almost all year-round, such as Varsity Cup and Res League games.


Illustration: Leah Rees