The Charm of Mozambique Starts With Visiting Maputo
Maputo is a stunning beach paradise in Mozambique, where visitors can shake off a little stress in the sunshine and take in the magnificent views. There are generally few tourists abound, and the atmosphere is almost South American holiday destinations kinda style and feel, only difference it is in Africa.
Maputo – Then and Now
Maputo had been previously named Lourenço Marques, up until Mozambique’s independence in 1975 – almost eight decades since the city was named capital of Mozambique in 1898. Maputo was really put on the map for being Mozambique’s largest city, as well as the country’s most relied upon harbour – a well suited harbour being situated at the mouth of the Santo River, less than 100 kilometers from the South African border.
Magnificent, Unique, and Just Plain Strange Architecture of Maputo
The buildings of Maputo vary in style, from old palatial colonial structures to more modern high-rise buildings, however the most dominant architecture of the Maputo structures are of Stalinist-looking boxes with concrete walls, typically suffering a lot of wear and tear including rusty security bars and peeling paint. Somehow, these concrete structures manage to eventually fade into the background, and enough charming old architecture and beautiful lush gardens of coleus, bougainvillea, and cycads are there to swallow it up into the scenery and make for a shabby-chic look.
Particularly amazing buildings you should check out in Maputo are the Pancho Guedes buildings: Guadiesque,
ultra surreal structures, worthy of a visit and a photo op!
In relation to most other sub-Saharan African cities, the downtown area can seem to feel rather tiny and concentrated, with features harkening back through history. Very wide streets, very old trees lining them, families getting on with their daily lives out and about the avenues of the city. The atmosphere is pleasing, vibrant and active, with few people begging and more people working as street vendors and in markets. There isn’t a huge presence of law enforcement during the day, but the streets feel safe and happy.
Thinking About What to do in Maputo? The beach! And more…
While travelling around Maputo, there are definitely some highlights that you’re going to want to strike off your list. Take to one of the area’s crazy beautiful beaches, such as the Ponta d’Ouro and Catembe. The scene is lovely and relaxing but also very vibrant and alive. While the beaches are typically a safe place to be, just be careful of pickpocketing and make sure not to ever bring your valuables with you while on a beach stroll or playing in the sun. Ponta D’Ouro and Ponta Malongane offer several gorgeous scuba-diving spots, with either campsites or chalets alongside on the beach.
Take a trip to Nucleo D’Arte, located at 194, Rua D’Argelia, Maputo. This establishment features a Mozambique Artists working studio workshop that is home base to more than 100 painters, sculptors, and various other artists. You are more than welcome to come in and see for yourself. Come meet the artists next door in the Cafe Camissa, too, and get a taste of the live music nights featured on Sunday evenings as well as on one of the many public holidays.
Take in a local Maputo wedding! Witness the sounds of the beautiful tribal singing and tribal women ululating. There will be civil ceremonies taking place next door to the Avenida Hotel, which can see multiple weddings on any given Saturday morning.
See The Railway Station at Praca dos Trabalhadores, which could be mistaken to be the work by Gustave Eiffel. The Station is quite a commanding building and well-worth a trip to see – particularly Fridays or Saturday nights when they often play live music.
Make sure to see the National Art Museum! It offers a modest collection of fascinating Mozambican art, such as a number large canvases by the world famous artist Malangatana.
Take time to visit the beautiful Jardim Tunduru garden, located at Rua Henrique de Sousa, Maputo . It’s a small botanical garden so it won’t take up your day, but it’s worth seeing if you’re in the area because it really is quite lovely and makes for a great photo opportunity!
Take a quick jaunt through the Mercado Central in the Baixa district and see the fresh fish, calamari, crabs, fruits, vegetables, and many other goods. It’s a pretty safe Maputo area, both lively and fascinating to see! Especially if you’re on the lookout for something to cook for dinner.
If you’re walking up Avenida Julius Nyerere it’s said you should begin at the Hotel Cardoso or the Natural History Museum on R Mutemba all the way to Nyerere. Hang a left heading north to the Polana Hotel. You will encounter many restaurants, curio vendors, boutiques, video stores, and other shops to browse in this pleasant and comparatively posh Polana neighborhood.
Where to Grab a Bite?
The cuisine of Maputo is a melting pot of African, Middle Eastern, Portuguese, and Indian and Pakistani fare. You’ll find that an abundance of all these different types of dishes are served up in many areas throughout Maputo. Grab a bite to eat that won’t grab a bite out of your wallet:
- Mamma Mia Located in the Parque dos Continuadores, and situated right next to Gracianna. This
restaurant offers Mozambican and Italian dishes, all very delicious. Mamma Mia’s prices do run slightly more expensive than it’s neighbour Gracianna.
- Mimmo’s offer two separate locations, the first on Av. 24 de Julho and Av. Salvador Allende, the second on Av. Vlademir Lenine near Av. Agostinho Neto. The feature mostly an Italian menu, and Tuesdays are half-price pizza days (for takeout only) – so get there quick! And be prepared for a wait.
- Gracianna is also found in the Parque dos Continuadores, which is tied by Av. Mao Tse Tung, Av. Armando Tivane, and Av. Martires de Machava, a block west of Av. Julius Nyerere. Come here for excellent Mozambican food – and try the mucapata!
- Mercado do Peixe This is the area’s fresh fish market. Located in back of the Sasol Garage on Av. Marginal, you can choose you own Rock cod, crabs, prawns, clams, Grouper, Coral and Squid and a multitude of other kinds of tropical fish still flapping about at the fish market. Once you’ve chosen your dinner, head over to one of the many small restaurants located behind the stalls where they will be beautifully prepared and cooked for you professionally. This is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and an experience to remember.
- Mundo’s Found beside Avenida Hotel on Av. Julius Nyerere. Known as a multiracial meeting place, with bar and a restaurant that serves up several dishes including pizza. You’ll find many televisions tuned to various sports from South African channels. You can access the Internet here free of charge for 30 mins. per day, and pay a moderate charge following the thirty minutes.
- Waterfront, Av. 10 de Novembre. You’ll be pleased with this restaurant choice if you’re looking for seafood. It’s located on the seafront.
- Restaurante Escorpiao, found in the Feira Popular (in the Baixa district). Restaurante Escorpiao boasts a titanic menu, a pretty good wine list (by Mozambican standards) and isn’t so hard on the wallet either. It’s basically no frills, loved by locals, and offers great food. Try their arroz mariscos (seafood stew with rice) it’s delicious!
Where Should You Stay When Visiting Maputo?
The city of Maputo offers visitors that pass through various accommodations, from nice hotels to more rustic but still comfortable backpacking hostels. There are always options which are more middle of the range and considered best value for your budget:
Duqueza de Connaught Guest House
Address: Av. Julius Nyerere, 290 – Maputo
Tel: +258 2130 2155
If you’re looking for a great Bed and Breakfast downtown, this is the one and only! Duqueza de Connaught Guest House offers comfortable air conditioned rooms, roof fans, a tea and coffee station, cable television, and access to their refreshing pool. Feel like something to eat? Maputo’s Restaurant and Bar area is just a few steps from the door. Rates are about $100-$150 per night and include breakfast.
Address: Av. Patrice Lumumba, 1109 – Maputo
Tel: +258 2130 2155
The Guesthouse 1109 could not be more ideally located, situated on Av. Patrice Lumumba along the incline that comes between the Baixa and Museu. Guesthouse 1109 provides guests with air conditioned comfortable rooms, cable television, a tea and coffee station and a great swimming pool with amazing city views. Maputo’s Restaurant and Bar area is located less than a block away, and rates are about $100-$150 per night including breakfast.
Villa das Arabias
Address: 698 Av. 24 de Julho
Tel: +258 21 328945
Looking for something a little different? This self-marketed “boutique hotel” is rather small in person but makes up for it in character and reasonable amenities. The kitschy Arabia theme is all part of the experience at Villa das Arabias, so just go with it. The hotel features an all you can eat breakfast, and modern bathroom facilities. It’s a reasonable accommodation for somebody who is looking for something a little different on a budget. Pro tip: The cheapest rooms are located in the stale and dank basement, opt for the next ones up. Wifi access is provided for a fee, and rates for accommodation are around $100-$150 per night.
Matola River/ Maritima Lodge,
Address: Matola river
+258 824 824 750, +258 849 00 6669, fax: +27 865529794
This complex can be found a half hour drive from downtown Maputo. Along the banks of the Matola River, you’ll find large and spacious rooms inside a thatched complex of lodges. These rooms are air conditioned, and the complex provides Braai and self catering facilities. Breakfast is included in the price of accommodation, as is the secure parking for your boat or caravan. Take a swim in the swimming pool, Dstv satellite television and refrigerator provided in your room. Contact for prices as they are subject to change.
Maputo’s Vibrant Nightlife Scene
Get out and have some fun! There are lots of different nightclubs and bars in Maputo, each with its own unique style and flavour. Come to Maputo’s Entertainment District and see some of these places for yourself:
- Xima’s bar, on Av. Eduardo Mondlane, is definitely a local favourite, and features live music Saturdays and Sundays.
- Coconut Club, Maputo, Costa de Sol. Opening 10PM and staying open until…early. The Coconut Club is a trendy dance club. Come and be taken aback by the architecture alone, then join in the dancing, the excitement and the music.
- Feira Popular is in the Baixa, where a jumble of many bars and restaurants can be discovered.
- Central Train Station, home to a jazz lounge on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Centro Cultural Franco-Mozambicain will usually feature live music as well as cultural local events. Who knows who you’ll be dancing to tonight!
- Africa Bar This jumping nightclub can be found on Av. 24 de Julho near Av. Karl Marx, come give it a try!
- Dolce Vita Located at Av. Julius Nyerere 800. Dolce Vita is a classy upscale bar with blue lighting and a touch of elegance.
- Gil Vicente is the name of the bar attached to the Gil Vicente theatre, right across from the ‘Jardim Tunduru.
- Havana Bar This bar by day, disco by night establishment knows how to have a good time!
- Coconuts is a thrilling discotheque situated right in front of the beach. It’s known for its good vibes and amazing atmosphere
Regardless of what your reason is for coming to Maputo, Mozambique, you’re sure to fall in love with the charm and the uniqueness of this fun and happy city!
Visit the African destinations category to learn more about other tourism opportunities available in Africa!