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Book a flight to Maputo with Qatar Airways and you’ll be introduced to a city that perfectly captures the essence of African life. Currently, Mozambique is unspoilt and relatively tourist-free. However, its wild beauty, cream-coloured beaches and world-class snorkelling are putting it firmly on the tourism radar.
If you want to see Mozambique’s capital in all its Art Deco-inspired glory, then book a flight to Maputo as soon as you can. The country as a whole is set to become something of a hotspot and it would be a shame not to catch this stunning destination while it's still a little 'off the beaten track'.
Take a trip to Maputo and you’ll find yourself in Mozambique’s largest, living attraction. The city was founded in the 17th Century by the Portuguese who were enticed by the promise of pearls. Maputo quickly became prosperous, only to be ravaged by a civil war. Today, however, it is peaceful and the remnants of its glory days only serve to add to its charm.
The Maputo Elephant Reserve is a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts, encompassing 50,000 hectares of lakes, swamps, woodlands and beaches. Here, you can watch elephants and other creatures, such as hippos, crocodiles and even vervet monkeys.
For a look at Maputo’s colonial history, visit the Fortaleza da Nossa Conceicao Maputo – the remains of a Portuguese fortress. In addition to the ramparts, artillery shells and statues, you’ll also get a fantastic view of the city. Alternatively, you can easily spend a day visiting the Xefina islands. You can catch a traditional dhow from Maputo harbour and explore this stunning island – once a military base. Many tours will offer traditional music as you sail and even supply a beach-cooked barbecue as part of the day.
If you only try one activity on your trip to Maputo, then make sure it’s snorkelling or scuba diving. While all of Mozambique’s beaches are perfect for lazing and gazing, it’s what’s under the water that’s truly amazing. You can swim with kaleidoscopic-coloured fish and even get a glimpse of wild turtles. Bilene is the nearest beach and there are diving schools on hand to get you trained up and ready to get into the water.
A trip to Maputo Central Railway Station might not sound like holiday material, but it really is worth a visit. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, who designed France’s famous Tower, it’s a stunning mix of marble, glass and metalwork and widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations.
The city’s cuisine is a vibrant mix of Portuguese, Oriental, African and Arabic flavours, resulting in dishes that feature creamy coconut sauces, piquant piri-piri and crushed cashew nuts. Your trip to Maputo wouldn’t be complete without visiting Avenida Marginal, the beach road, where you’ll find street vendors selling curries, samosas and the much-loved galinha al Zambeziana – a dish of grilled chicken with a lime, piri-piri and coconut milk. For a real taste of Mozambique, try their famous prawns – a little spicy but absolutely delicious!
However, if you want to indulge yourself with some fine dining then there are plenty of high-end restaurants serving a wide variety of local and international cuisine.
Shopping on a trip to Maputo can be as simple as walking down the street. Flea markets and impromptu stalls are everywhere. The most traded items are used shoes – so if you have a pair you’re looking to get rid of, get yourself down to the square near Avenue 24. Shoes dominate the markets, but root around and you’ll also find saris, tunics and an abundance of dresses.
However, if you prefer more conventional shopping, seek out the Maputo Shopping Centre in Marques de Pombal. It’s glitzy and glamorous and brimming with shops, selling everything you could wish for. The Centre is incredibly popular and seen by the locals as Mozambique’s first steps into the modern world.
Flights to Maputo will bring you into Maputo International Airport, about three kilometres from the centre. You’ll find plenty of cabs and car-hire facilities, so travelling to your accommodation shouldn’t be a problem.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Maputo please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Mozambican Metical (MZN)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type C / F / M
International dialing code: +258