Table of Contents
- 1 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Understand
- 2 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Get in
- 3 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Safety
- 4 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Traffic & Get Around
- 5 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Pollution
- 6 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Connectivity
- 7 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Sights
- 8 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Eat and Drink
- 9 My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Side Trips
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Understand
Maputo is located just at the southern tip of Mozambique, a huge country that stretches all along the Eastern shores of Africa from Tanzania to Swaziland bordering Malawi and South Africa. If you think you can triangulate Maputo from hopping over form Johannesburg – think again – it’s a different world.
As with many African countries suffering from the ‘Dutch disease’ of currency deflation the local products and services are rather expensive. It’s a bit less than in the US but not by much. Expect $10-$15 for a lunch or $4-5 for coffee.
Mozambique was hit by the three horsemen of economic apocalypse – former Portuguese colonies struggle more than others, communism deprived a whole generation of economic development and most African countries have a hard time getting any GDP growth going that is not driven by commodities export.
Having said all that Maputo (still) feels more like a (run-down) Mediterranean European capital (i.e Lisbon a few decade ago) or Athens in it’s worst areas. Compared to many African capitals Maputo impresses with wide alleys, trees and good infrastructure.
Maputo is bordered by the warm Indian ocean and there is a good amount of walk able beach side areas. Maputo is also remarkably not crowded.
People in Maputo seemed extraordinarily chill. They are somewhat friendly, no-nonsense and do everything they can to relax. Nobody suffers from ‘big city stress’ in this capital. It’s more like a laid back beach town.
While Portuguese is the official language most people are fluent in English – I had NO language issues at all.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Get in
Mozambique instituted a Visa-on-Arrival policy in 2018. It works for all international airports in the country. Most nationalities from Europe/ Asia/ America are eligible and the fee is $50. It can be paid via credit card (if the credit card terminal works).
There is a separate counter before you go through immigration – be prepared for one to two hour wait as the agents are NOT in a hurry.
Some airline agents, at some airports, may not know that you can not get a Visa-on-Arrival and may not let you board without a visa. Take screen shots of the Mozambique embassy website and the Timatic system to be on the safe side.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Safety
Maputo is one of the safer African capitals and the inner city areas of Maputo are perfectly walkable during the day and (to an extent) at night. Many post-communist countries come with an abundance of public safety and so does urban Mozambique.
The basic issue often is that there is nobody around (i.e on a Sunday afternoon) or weekday night. The streets are deserted of cars and people.
The paranoia, I sometimes develop after walking the streets of an African city , just never set in while in Maputo.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Traffic & Get Around
Traffic is generally light in the city and the roads are in good shape. Don’t be surprised if there are just a few cars to be seen on a Sunday afternoon. Even in rush hour you won’t really ‘get stuck in traffic’ here. It’s just not gonna happen.
There is no Uber and no other working taxi app. The taxi mafia is determined to keep prices high at $4-$5 for short rides and about triple that amount for airport rides (which usually take less than 15 minutes).
Tuk-Tuks have moved into the niche and usually offer the best price and given the minimal traffic and pollution, were my favorite way to get around.
Most of the city is walk-able – just bring proper clothing for the hot and humid summer weather.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Pollution
Another plus for many former communist countries – pollution isn’t as bad (or visible ) typically. Most cars are new and there is little of the toxic diesel fumes present in many African countries.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Connectivity
Many African countries with direct access to sea cables (i.e. Madagascar) have lightning fast Internet now. Internet access in hotels, coffee shops and restaurants is typically slow (below 1 Mbit) in Maputo. However I bought a local Vodacom SIM card for just $1 (but it took a few hours to activate!) and used super fast LTE data (50 Mbit) all over the city at just $2 per GB.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Sights
Maputo isn’t rich if sights for anyone into sightseeing. The cathedrals dotting the city are pretty and there is a bunch of museums.
I much more enjoyed walking and exploring the city streets and getting an insight into how life works in Mozambique.
This beach is right outside downtown Maputo and stretches up for miles. The water is often muddy and brown so it is not as enticing as the word beach implies.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Eat and Drink
Given the communist past there isn’t a lot of entrepreneurs bidding for your business. Generally it is ONE option for each cuisine (think Thai, Indian, Greek, Chinese) and one for coffee etc. The quality is generally decent but not great (but also not terrible). The Portuguese influence in the cuisine is rather big.
The coffee shop is inside a beautiful (but small) park with views over the Indian Ocean. The terrace is marvelous and you can watch your ids play at the playground. The food and coffee offering are just ok though.
Extending the theme of ONE business for each purpose is the ‘Maputo Shopping Center’ – the main attraction isn’t shopping but the beautiful outdoor food court inside. I liked the hummus at the Shawarma King and the fresh kebabs and salads at Istanbul Pasteleria. Expect prices that are in line with what you pay back home.
Chez Fred looks like it a mix of Bohemian Rhapsody and Parisian decadence. It serves French inspired sandwiches and good coffee. I liked this place!
This Business Center has a lovely Pasteleria in the ground floor that has friendly staff, yummy Pasteia de Nata and fresh coffee.
One floor up is Regus which offers free (often very fast) WiFi if you want to get some work done.
This is THE place to go for desserts and coffee in Maputo. The desserts are very Portuguese (and good) and the coffee is decent too. There is a location just off Avenida Friedrich Engels with fantastic views over the Indian Ocean.
My favorite 12 Things To Do Maputo, Mozambique – Side Trips
Ethiopian recently started domestic services in Mozambique and the struggling local carrier LAM also operates domestic flights. Airport use taxes are sky high and domestic Round Trips rarely dip under $200 Round Trip (half of that are airport use taxes).
Vilankulo (Vilanculos) is a popular beach destination with stunning clear water and sandy beaches (it’s just opposite Madagascar).