The African continent is not only about impressive animals, stunning deserts and beautiful savannahs. It is also home to astonishing cities and towns that are rich in history and culture and have character, stories and beauty. Here is a list of the ten most charming cities and towns to visit in Africa.
Cape Town | South Africa
Cape Town is a vibrant and colorful city with stunning beaches, beautiful mountains and some of the best wine farms in Africa. Taking the cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain at sunrise or sunset to take in the beautiful views is a must. That is usually enough for people to admit that Cape Town is by far one of the top beach cities worldwide and a very photogenic one too. With all the sophistication and facilities that can be found in efficient urban areas, this seaside playground certainly has enough to offer to everyone.
Kigali | Rwanda
Not only is Kigali beautiful, but it is also the cleanest and safest capital city in the continent. The fact that it is so green and hilly adds to the aesthetic allure of the place. It is not surprising thus that Kigali is considered to be one of the most liveable cities in Africa! With impressive urban development plans and efficiency in road construction, Kigali has become a well organised and structured city that gives its visitors and inhabitants a feeling of peacefulness and serenity. Indeed, nothing beats the views that you can get from the top of the numerous beautiful hills.
Essaouira | Morocco
With an ancient medina and lustrous fortifications which date back to the 18th century, kilometres of stunning beaches, and a charming harbour and fish market to stroll around, Essaouira is one the most beautiful towns to visit on the continent. It guarantees moments of peace and tranquility far away from the mayhem of bigger cities and the charmless all-inclusive resorts of Morocco. As the wind and currents are quite strong, it is the perfect spot to windsurf and kitesurf. In addition to being a picturesque coastal town, Essaouira is thus also a paradise for those who love watersports.
Luxor | Egypt
Once ancient Egypt’s capital called Thebes, Luxor has attracted many travellers and Egyptologists since the 19th century. They come in search of ancient wonders that still dominate the city’s landscape. The name ‘Luxor’ itself is translated by ‘Palaces’. Luxor is now a beautiful city with spectacular sceneries of the Nile river and desert landscapes, and a vibrant city life. It is also home to the remains of the tombs of the Pharaohs, the beautiful temple of Karnak, the Temple of Hatshepsut; the only woman who has ever been a Pharaoh, and the stunning Valley of the Kings among others. The last two are most beautiful at dawn when viewed from up in the sky while on a hot air balloon ride.
Djenne | Mali
The town of Djenne is one of the oldest in the country. Indeed, its establishment dates back to the years 800 BC. It is a fascinating and beautiful place with mud brick houses decorated with paint. And not only are homes made out of mud, but mosques are as well. In fact, the largest and most creative mud-made building with wooden sticks coming out of the walls; namely the Grand Mosque, lies in Djenne. With its magnificent mud-made sights, this is certainly a town that is unique.
Stone Town | Tanzania
Right off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean, the island of Zanzibar is one which combines a fascinating and rich history to beautiful white sand beaches with crystal clear waters, and Stone Town is its cultural heart. Over the last 200 years, little has changed in this old city. Extravagant houses with carved wooden doors, the Sultan’s palace, winding alleys and narrow streets, and animated bazaars make Stone Town a fascinating place to wander around. No wonder that this Swahili coastal trading town is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Mozambique City | Mozambique
Located on the tiny three-kilometre-long island of Mozambique, Mozambique City is a picturesque and stunning fortified city. It used to be a Portuguese trading post on the way to India. Since the 16th century, the place has kept its impressive architectural unity. Buildings are all made out of the same materials and decorative ideas and using the same techniques. The architecture also reflects the melting pot of cultures present on the island. Portuguese influences, just as much as local ones, and Arab and Indian traditions to a lesser extent can all be felt. This exceptionally pleasant town is today, one of the most fascinating towns in the region.
Windhoek | Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia’s largest city and capital, is a tidy and modern city with stunning pastel-painted buildings and traditional German houses. Wandering through the city centre of Windhoek will instantly reveal the beauty of the place. The ambiance there is usually laid-back. As it is a somewhat small, pedestrian-friendly city, it is quite walkable. Together with the modern skyscrapers, neo-baroque cathedrals and German ‘castles’ dominate the city’s skyline. Windhoek is a hassle free and cosmopolitan city that is very pleasant to walk around.
Lamu | Kenya
Lamu is a very relaxing and laid-back coastal town in Kenya. The only thing that could occasionally disturb the quietness of the place is the braying donkey or the call to prayer from the many mosques. It is, in fact, one of Africa’s best preserved Swahili settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travellers can spend hours strolling around the beautiful, narrow alleys in the old town. They can also relax at the nearby Shela Beach. Lamu is one of the best places to chill out, and adopt a slow, coastal lifestyle.
Bahir Dar | Ethiopia
Wide streets with lines of palm trees and stunning river views make up Bahir Dar’s landscape; the beautiful capital of the Amhara region, and the third biggest city in Ethiopia. Located on the shores of the stunning Lake Tana, the city is home to some of the oldest monasteries and churches in the world. Visiting them is a must, and there are many boat tours to take travellers. The Blue Nile Falls are also one of the most spectacular sights to see in Ethiopia and are only a short distance away from Bahir Dar.