Maputo is back! Not that it was ever out of the map, but it lost its glitter before 1992 no thanks to the unrests in the preceding years. Who would have thought that the laid back lush capital city of Mozambique that sits on the shore of the Indian Ocean would today be ranked as one of the World’s success stories? When I first visited the country after the war, I saw more potholes than pavements. Most of the buildings were rundown while sewage foul-odour hung in the air. I needed no explanation as to why the capital of the former Portuguese colony, home to over 1,500 miles Indian Ocean beachfront, some of the finest diving and deep sea marlin fishing in the world with a unique Afro-Iberian-Brazilian culture lost its vibe.
But my recent experience in Maputo tells me that the city has taken some giant steps with regards to rediscovering its place as one of Africa’s most alluring and relaxing tourism destination. Nothing tells the story better than personal experience. So if you are still weighing the options of going to Maputo or anywhere else on holiday, here are my top 10 reasons why you should visit Maputo.
With minimal reported pockets of crime; Maputo is still relatively safe compared to some wealthier and major capital cities. Being carefree about your security however is not recommended. But you can be rest assured that whether you are on the street during the day or at night, you will almost not walk alone. Unlike residents of cities in some other countries, which empty at night; people crawl the vibrant city of Maputo at all times. Snack kiosks and hawkers at sidewalk stands offering enormous fruits and food can always be heard blasting away in Portuguese-language as well as Afro-Brazilian funk music that wafts out into the streets from the surrounding bars and clubs.
Maputo is nice and the cost of living is relatively low. Since you don’t want to spend all your fortune on a holiday, Maputo would be a perfect choice. This is where you will find holiday packages, including accommodation, flights and more, which allow families, couples, friends or individuals to enjoy the city at very affordable cost. As a city recovering from decades of unending hardship, Maputo residents understand with it means to lack and thus how to help others save cost.
3. You Can’t Get Lost:
The gist actually is that getting lost is getting tougher these days. For me, that is a bad news because getting lost is sometimes pleasurable as I discovered in Maputo! I got lost once but easily found direction after downing a pastel de nata egg tart pastry at a sidewalk café. But with street signs virtually all replaced now, chances are you will easily find your way around.
Thanks to its mild climate, Maputo welcomes visitors all year long. The city’s skies are clear blue and its temperatures which range from about 24 to 27 degrees Celsius is just perfect. Visit Maputo between May and November to enjoy its stunning weather and glistening beaches.
5. The Beaches:
Need a memorable holiday? Then consider some of Maputo’s exquisite sandy beaches which are among the most beautiful in the world. Although some of the beaches are being restored after being wiped out by a 2007 cyclone, you will still find some exotic ones where you can have some fun.
Maputo feels like a small town with a ravishing culture. Easily noticed and appreciated is its traditional music, with semblance of Reggae tone. The city jabs to live with Portuguese-language/Afro-Brazilian music often played loud onto the streets. For music-freaks, this is just one more reason to visit Maputo.
7. History and Attractions:
I didn’t want to bore you with this but it is one fact I can’t stay away from. Maputo has a wide range of attractions and fine architecture, it also has a long and fascinating history kept in its rich museum—with the National Art Museum as a worthy site.
The city sits along the coast and has an array of pronounced foreign influence with many interesting stalls. At the Praca de Independencia, you will enjoy sights such as the spiral beauty of the Cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao, neoclassical designed City Hall, the Botanical Gardens and the Iron House.
8. Fantastic Train Station
In Africa, almost none compares to the magnificent Maputo’s landmark train station. It is an iconic architectural masterpiece and a must see for all visitors. An associate of Alexandre Gustav Eiffel, the brain behind the Paris Eiffel Tower designed it. The superb wrought-iron lattice work, the pistachio-green interior, lined with lovely pillars and charming verandas and the dome itself are a sight to behold.
9. The Old Military Fort
If you are a military history buff you will definitely love this. It was constructed by the Portuguese in the 19th century. The Old Fort has a small museum and a lovely garden. There is also the cofﬁn of Ngungunhane, a 19th century ruler of the Gaza Kingdom. Asides its rich history, well preserved cultural influences and things to see, the Fort, specifically its Garden is a fantastic place to sit and relax.
10. Friendly People, Nice Markets and Bazaars
I hate to use clichés, but it’s a known one that Mozambicans are nice people, and some of their nicest call Maputo home. The city feels like a small town where everyone cares for everyone and there is almost a ready hand to help when you need one. If you get to Maputo, visit some of the city’s charming markets and bazaars, it’s a fun place to take a stroll and check out the local scene. Of course, you can also ﬁnd pretty much anything that you need there. A notable one is the Municipal Market, with its endless rows of vendors hawking their wares. Some of the best fresh produce, wild ﬁsh, colourful packets of spices, and fragrant fruits are available here too.