All the insider info to make for a memorable short stay in Maputo
The thriving metropolis of Maputo is everything you could expect of a modern-day African city, but perhaps slightly gentler, and more relaxed.
It’s a hotspot for young Millennial travellers, bursting at the seams with culture, art, music and food — really good food. It’s raw, authentic, and often filled with the unexpected, but that’s exactly why we love it, and we think you will too.
If you’re planning a short trip to Mozambique, don’t completely skip the capital in favour of the beach. Even a short weekend visit proves well-worth it, and here’s how we think you can make the most of it:
A Saturday in Maputo
For a short stay in the capital, we’ll always recommend accommodation that’s centrally located. It minimises your travel time and maximises your time to explore.
If you’re more flexible with your budget, the Polana Hotel is one of our favourites (yes, ocean views) featured in our two night Maputo & city tour. Joli Guesthouse is our top pick if you’re watching your pennies, and we use it for our Maputo on a budget tour. Both are central and serve up a great breakfast, so it’s easy to fuel up before making your way out the front door.
To help get your bearings on your first day, ditch Google Maps and join one of our Maputo day tours. We’ve already done the homework for you here, carefully adding the best bits of the city, and packaging them together for short-on-time travellers. There’s no need to waste time getting lost!
First time visitor to Maputo? Go for our City Tour. It’s three hours long and covers all the important attractions that Lonely Planet wants you to see, like the Fortress, the downtown neighbourhood of Baixa, City Hall, the Railway Station, FEIMA curio market, the Botanical Gardens and The Iron House. Keep your camera close at hand!
If you’d like the afternoon off to do some shopping, your guide can help point you in the right direction, but if you’re here in Maputo for the food, you could also join our Flavours of Mozambique Tour. With this experience, you’ll get to taste traditional street food made with local ingredients and even more local love. Nothing from a hotel kitchen. Prep the belly for piri-piri chicken, fresh paõ, badjia (bean dumplings), and matoritor (coconut sweets).
By this time, it should be winding into the late afternoon in the capital, which is the perfect time for a quick siesta and a camera/phone recharge. Make your way back to your hotel to get some shut-eye and don’t be underwhelmed by this suggestion, especially if you tend to suffer from F.O.M.O (the fear of missing out). Like many short trips, it’s always better not to pack in too many activities, especially in Maputo’s tropical climate! Save your second wind for the evening.
For dinner, spruce up and make a beeline for Café Dhow. It’s great for sundowners among the locals and it’s just the spot to watch the sunset over Maputo bay. While it’s slightly on the pricey side, the experience is well-worth it! Volare restaurant also tops the list if you’re in the mood for beer, pizza and a chilled vibe.
A Sunday in Maputo
After a late breakfast, spend your Sunday in Mozambique exploring at your leisure, seeking out those inspiring street scenes, which Maputo is never short of.
If you want to skip breakfast at your hotel, watch the bustle of the city from Café Nautilus (close to the Natural History Museum) with a pastry and a coffee. Then, make your way over to the Nucleo de Art, an old Art-Deco building with a modern design. This creative hub is filled with cafes, bars and artists’ studios and forms the heart of the Mozambican art world.
This is also where you’ll discover the work of Gonçalo Mabunda, an acclaimed sculptor who moulds and welds deactivated AK47s, rocket launchers, pistols, and other recovered remnants of war, into human-like, metalwork faces and furniture. His work is exceptional and has even been displayed in Tokyo, London and Düsseldorf.
You could also meander back over to Mercado do Peixe to check what’s open, or rather head over to the Polana Hotel for brunch which starts at midday. This is the perfect spot to laze the day away, tucking into some delicious food and sipping on cocktails, or crisp 2Ms.
If you’re determined to spend one day near the beach and are travelling with ten friends or more, we would recommend setting aside one of your weekend days for a tour to Santa Maria, Inhaca Island and Portuguese Island. You can snorkel at Santa Maria, enjoy a seafood lunch at Inhaca and soak up even more sun, sand and sea at Portuguese Island before you return to Maputo.
While a mere two days will never be enough to really experience everything Maputo has to offer, we can help you make it a little more organised and hassle-free, so that you can spend more time focusing on the fun stuff.
If you’re ready to spend a weekend in Maputo, go ahead and get in touch with us here.