With its eclectic architecture, wide avenues lined with jacarandas, and laid-back culture, Maputo is one of the most charming capital cities in southern Africa. From admiring its historic buildings to dining on seafood and soaking up the vibrant nightlife, here’s how to make the most of three days in the Mozambican capital.
Day 1: City Sights
Get acquainted with Maputo’s main landmarks on a sightseeing tour by van, bike, or on foot. Tours typically visit highlights such as Maputo Fortress, the central market, and the Museum of Natural History, and some also include lunch. Afterward, immerse yourself in local culture by visiting the Chissano Gallery Museum (Museu Galeria Chissano), housed in the family home of renowned sculptor Alberto Chissano. Alternatively, visit the National Art Museum (Museu Nacional de Arte) to see paintings and sculptures by Mozambique’s best contemporary artists or the French-Mozambican Cultural Center (Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano), which hosts art exhibitions, music, dance, theater, and films. Have an early dinner at the cultural center’s café in preparation for an early start tomorrow.
Day 2: Maputo Special Reserve
Swap urbanity for nature on a full-day tour to Maputo Special Reserve, two to three hours southeast of the capital. Recovering from damage it sustained during Mozambique’s late-20th-century civil war, this wilderness area is now home to a growing population of elephants, as well as hippos, giraffes, zebras, and impalas, all of which you can look out for on a game drive. Tours typically include time to relax at Ponta Milibangalala, where you can swim, hang out on the beach, and spot turtles as well as many species of birds. Round off your day with dinner at one of the many restaurants around Avenida Julius Nyerere, where seafood is a specialty.
Day 3: Beach Day
Maputo offers easy access to some wonderful beaches, including Macaneta and Bilene, both of which you can visit on a guided tour from the city. One of the best day trips, however, is to Inhaca Island, which has a diverse landscape that ranges from mangroves and grassy plains to cultivated fields and a lush, subtropical forest. It’s also a great spot for bird-watching, with more than 300 recorded species. Guided tours to the island typically allow you the freedom to spend your time as you wish, whether that’s soaking up the sun on the beach or snorkeling the coral reefs. Back in the city, bid Maputo farewell with a night on the town. Hit the downtown bars and clubs independently, or join an evening tour that includes dinner at a seafood restaurant, visits to bars, and entrance to a nightclub.