Maputo is well-loved among South African travelers as a quick weekend getaway, and it’s slowly getting more popular with overseas visitors as well. The city’s famous for its luminous sunsets, old- world architecture and fantastic dining scene. If you haven’t been to Maputo yet, here are 10 reasons that the city will pull you in.
You can get your shop on at the markets
Maputo is known for its fantastic colorful street markets, where you can find tons of vendors trying to sell their goods. Make time to go to the main market, where you’ll be able to purchase fresh mangoes, local fish, and an assortment of souvenirs. Another good place to shop is the Artist’s Cooperative, featuring plenty of beadwork, fabrics, pottery and paintings.
You can chow down on delicious food
Maputo is without a doubt one of the best food cities in southern Africa, and you’d be sorry if you don’t dive in, mouth first and try the Portuguese-Mozambican fusion the city has to offer. For more information on finding the best foodie hot spots in Maputo, see our article: Pasteis and Piri-Piri, A Guide To Dining In Maputo.
You can marvel at the city’s great architecture
Architecture fanatics will love the mix of styles found throughout the city. The Praça da Independência is known for its incredible design and is near other fine works, like the Governor’s residence and the neoclassical city hall. Visitors shouldn’t leave without stopping by the train station, which was built by an associate of the designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Alexandre Gustav Eiffel. You’ll also find plenty of colonial and art deco architecture without even trying — it’s everywhere.
You can chill out on the beach
Maputo and its surrounding area is some of the most picturesque places to chill on the beach in Africa. Unfortunately, part of Maputo’s beach was destroyed in a 2007 cyclone. For now, it’s better to head just outside the city to Portuguese Island or even down to Ponta do Ouro on the border of Mozambique and South Africa.
You can go back in history at the Old Fort
History and military buffs alike will enjoy wandering around the ground of Maputo’s Old Fort. The fort was designed in the 19th century by the Portuguese and features gardens, memorials, and over a dozen cannons. You’ll also find the carved wooden coffin of Ngungunhane on site, a famous leader who ruled over the kingdom of Gaza.
You can jam out to live music
If you want to experience the sounds of Latin America in Africa, Maputo is your place. One of the most famous local music genres is Marrabenta, a sound that is much like merengue and salsa. You can head to many night clubs and bars after the sun goes down to jam out to the pulsing rhythms.
You can go snorkeling
Where there’s great beaches and tropical weather, there’s likely numerous snorkeling opportunities, too. This is the case in Maputo, and one of the best places to go is right on the other side of the bay on Inhaca Island, just 30km offshore from the city. Once you get there, you’ll find several coral reefs to explore in swimming distance from the beach. If you want to go a bit farther out, many of the local fishermen will be able to take you. The easiest and cheapest way to get to there is by taking a ferry that runs in the morning and returns in the afternoon.
It’s easily doubled up with Kruger National Park
If you’re looking for a major city to hang out in and still have quick access to Kruger National Park, then you should forget Durban and Johannesburg and stay in Maputo. The drive from Maputo to Kruger is just over 100km, versus over 400km from Johannesburg.
You can enjoy warm weather all year
Maputo’s location on the Indian Ocean makes it perfect for a tropical vacation anytime of year. In fact, the temperatures average around 25C (77F) even in the middle of winter. So get out of whatever frozen tundra you happen to be in and come to Maputo instead.
You can save a few bucks
Once you get to Maputo, hitting up restaurants or dancing all night at a hopping bar isn’t going to cost you much at all. In comparison to other southern African cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, it’s a downright bargain. Flights aren’t that bad either, especially if you connect or fly out of O.R. Tambo International Airport in Joburg.