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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.Laid-back and relatively unspoiled, Maputo, the Mozambican capital, is Africa’s best-kept secret. Few tourists venture here, but those who did were treated to a destination of unadulterated beauty – golden beaches, turquoise waters and world-class snorkelling and diving sites.
If you want to see Mozambique’s Art Deco-inspired glory, then Maputo is the place to visit. Located along the Indian Ocean shoreline, the city still bears the mark of a Portuguese imperial past on its language, culture and cuisine.
The Mozambican government has embarked on a long-term initiative to develop the country’s tourism industry. So, take advantage of Maputo’s off-the-beaten-path vibe while you still can, before the rest of the world wakes up to its allure.
Explore Maputo’s wildlife on land, at the Elephant Reserve, and in the sea, at Bilene Beach; then give your taste buds a treat with its fiery dishes; hurry to Mozambique’s capital, before word gets around.
Take a trip to Maputo and you’ll come face to face with Mozambique’s largest and most vibrant city. It was founded in the 17th century by the Portuguese, who were enticed by the promise of pearls. Under colonial rule, Maputo quickly became prosperous, only to be ravaged by a civil war. Today, however, it is a peaceful and thriving metropolis, with reminders of its chaotic past only adding to its charm.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Maputo Elephant Reserve is an attraction worth exploring. The area encompasses 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.
To learn more about the city’s history, visit Maputo Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceição, where remnants of a Portuguese fortress still stand. In addition to the ramparts, artillery shells and statues, you’ll also get a fantastic view of the city from here.
Alternatively, you can easily spend a day touring Xefina, a cluster of small islands located around 4km from Maputo's Costa do Sol. Catch a traditional dhow from Maputo harbour and explore this stunning area, which once hosted a military base. Many tour operators will play traditional music as you sail and even supply a barbecue on the beach as part of the package.
If you can 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 is what’s under the water that is truly amazing. You can swim with a school of multi-coloured fish, or get a glimpse of wild turtles. Bilene is the nearest beach to Maputo and there are diving schools on hand to train and prepare you for getting into the water.
Back on land, a trip to Maputo Central Railway Station might not sound like holiday material, but it really is worth a visit. Designed by Gustave Eiffel – the same designer who gave Paris its famous tower – the station is a stunning mix of marble, glass and metalwork. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations.
Mozambican cuisine is a vibrant mix of Portuguese, Asian, African and Arabic flavours. As a result, traditional dishes feature creamy coconut sauces, piquant piri-piri (bird’s eye chili) and crushed cashew nuts. To sample some authentic local recipes during your trip to Maputo, head for Avenida Marginal. On this beach road you’ll find street vendors selling curries, samosas and the much-loved galinha à Zambeziana. This grilled marinated-chicken dish, served in a spicy coconut and lime sauce, is truly mouth-watering.
For a real taste of Mozambique, try Maputo’s famous grilled prawns – a bit spicy, but absolutely delicious. Alternatively, if you want to indulge yourself with some fine dining, there are plenty of high-end restaurants across the city 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, head to the square near Avenida 24. Shoes dominate the markets, but root around and you’ll also find saris, tunics, bags and an abundance of dresses.
However, if you prefer more conventional shopping, seek out the Maputo Shopping Centre in Marquês de Pombal. It is a glitzy part of town, brimming with shops that sell everything you could possibly need. The shopping centre is incredibly popular, and locals see it as one of the first steps taken by Mozambique towards embracing the modern world.
Essential facts about Maputo
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip