The capital city of Mozambique, Maputo is a large, busy city with a port and a population of around 1.5 million people. It is just 100 km to the border between Mozambique and South Africa from the city.
With wide tree-lined avenues and plenty of well-maintained buildings that contrast with the few that are falling into disrepair, the city is extremely attractive and atmospheric, with an African-Mediterranean feel to it. There are plenty of street cafés along the avenues, and the trees that line them are jacaranda, palm and flame tree. The buildings are a pleasing mix of attractive old architecture and a number of skyscrapers (in the African sense of the word…) that were built in the 50’s and 60’s. The city is located on the mouth of the Matola, Umbeluzi and Tembe rivers, with the Indian Ocean at its doorstep, giving it views to rival those of Cape Town in South Africa, Swakopmund in Namibia and Kariba in Zimbabwe.
There are plenty of wonderful places to eat in Maputo, with a number of international and traditional restaurants and cafés available. Feira Popular is located on one of the beautiful avenidas in the city, this has a large selection of restaurants all within easy walking distance, and a fairground adds to the appeal even more if you are looking for some fun. The Baixa district has many Portugese restaurants that are good value, whilst the Polana district has a number of expensive restaurants that are perfect for special occasions. If afternoon tea is what you are looking for, there are scores of cafés which serve absolutely delicious cakes and delicacies. For something extra special, five miles from Maputo is a beach known as the Costa do Sol is a restaurant of the same name, which sells excellent food of which the seafood is most highly recommended, and the squid worth particular mention.
For a night out, the previously mentioned Feira Popular is an excellent place to explore, with a variety of fairground rides and an abundance of restaurants. Otherwise there are several bars and discos around the city that can provide a perfect place to have a few drinks and dance to some local and international music.
You can learn about Mozambique’s colourful history in several of the museums, which also include a Natural History Museum housing an exhibit on all stages of elephant gestation and one dedicated to the art and artists of Mozambique. As well as being interesting on the outside, the buildings these are housed in are some of the most attractive in the city; of special mention is the Natural History Museum in the Polana area, Casa Coimbra in the Baixa, which is in the Art Deco style and Jumma Masjid, a well-kept mosque which is still in operation and doesn’t allow visitors.
If wandering through the city looking at the beautiful buildings and eating your body’s weight in delicious food does not appeal to you, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied including a tennis club, swimming pools, football stadiums and cinemas. The shop also has seven markets with one specialising in fish, another in alcohol alone, others in curios and of course the ever present food and produce markets. These are lively and colourful, and should not be missed.
Near Maputo there are several places worth taking a day trip to, such as Catembe, a little fishing village which is about ten minutes from the city and has a small market that sells the days catch along the jetty. Ilha da Xefina is a small island just north of Maputo which was once a leper colony, and is now mainly the ruins of an old Portugese fort complete with the ruins of a cannon.
Maputo provides good access to the Quirimba Archipelago via Pemba – beaches, sun, palm trees, diving and tropical holiday deluxe!
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