Five Cities to Experience in Africa
When one thinks of travelling to Africa, cities are often not the priority, but seen as a necessary stopover to simply accommodate flight schedules. Yet Africa’s cities are buzzing with commercial business, local communities and creative hubs, and are also a great spot to get a real insight into the culture and daily way of life of that country. Whilst we would still advocate for the majority of your time to be spent on safari, or enjoying the exotic beaches, the cities are definitely worth a night or two especially if you are already travelling through. Add just one extra night and reap the rewards. Live like a local and try some of the local food, delve further into the country’s history with privately guided walking tours and museum visits. Get your shopping fix with trips to local markets and craft centres featuring locally made products and wares. Below are our top five cities to experience in Africa to visit and a few reasons why they deserve to be feature in your trip to Africa:
1. Stone Town, Tanzania
Not quite a city but too good to not mention. The perfect sandwich filling between an East African safari and lazy days on the islands beaches, Stone Town is considered the cultural capital of Zanzibar and was classified as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000. The town has an almost mystical air of a bygone time, begging you to explore its winding, cobbled alleyways and streets, with white stone buildings featuring intricately carved wooden Zanzibari doors. As night falls enjoy a sun-downers from a rooftop, watching the dhows sail by before heading to explore the bustling nightly food market.
2. Kigali, Rwanda
The location of a devastating genocide in 1994 but now known as the cleanest city in Africa, Rwanda is thriving economically, particularly in the tech industry. The starting point for all travellers heading up the mountain for a gorilla trek, Kigali is well worth spending a night or two. Visit the genocide museum, which whilst harrowing is incredibly interesting; make time to shop for locally made clothing, crafts and artwork and support the many small local businesses – but remember, leave your plastic bags at home, as Rwanda has long since banned them. If you are there on the last Saturday of each month you will witness “Umuganda” which is a compulsory national clean up day, and has resulted in a beautifully clean and cared for city that Rwandans are proud of.
A city that needs no introduction, Cape Town of course features in our top 5. A stunning city overlooked by Table Mountain, within 15 minutes of the city centre you’ll find white sandy beaches, penguin colonies, and the winding Chapman’s Peak coastal drive. For the first timer or annual return visitor, Cape Town is an awesome playground. From hiking up Lions Head at dawn, timing your visit with the jazz festival, surfing, wining, dining or taking a cooking class, there is something to satisfy everyone’s taste.
4. Maputo, Mozambique
The capital city of Mozambique which is so often overlooked, but is well worth a few nights en route to the private islands where the best beach lodges are located. A cosmopolitan city with a Portuguese influence, visible through its colonial architecture, you will find wide boulevards lined with jacaranda trees, a buzzing cultural vibe with fantastic restaurants (tiger prawns to die for) and exciting music venues.
5. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Translated as “New Flower” the capital city of Ethiopia is large, bustling, and the worlds third highest capital city. This is the starting and ending point of all travel to Ethiopia and definitely deserves a look-a-around. Start with a local coffee, with cafes on every corner selling top quality local Arabica, coffee is essentially a rite of passage here. Then delve into some of Ethiopia’s fascinating history at the National Museum of Ethiopia, where Lucy, the oldest hominid skeleton ever discovered, can be seen. In the evening head to a show featuring local food, dancing, singing and cultural performances – whilst touristy it is a great evening show.