Welcome to Harare, Zimbabwe!
Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe, and it’s also the most culturally diverse city north of the Limpopo River in Southern Africa. It boasts an international airport, numerous five-star hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, cinemas, theaters, night clubs, horse racing, and more aesthetic pleasures in and around the city.
Tourists know of the famous attractions, but a worldwide local knows how to best experience the city. This is an insider guide of some of Harare’s best-hidden gems.
Many travelers visiting Harare, typically head to Victoria Falls, hardly taking time to explore the country’s capital. This guide will show you why you need to spare a few days to explore, rather than just pass through.
Getting Around in Harare
The Harare city is very spread out, meaning the best places to visit are also spread out, and you can’t easily reach them on foot. A car, hired or taxi, is the best way to get around. Your hotel or tour operator will often be happy to organize transport, so be sure to ask about this when booking. There aren’t many official Harare tours because sights have clear signage making it easy to walk around without a guide.
Worldwide Local Tip: As a result of the shortage of US Dollars, to pay for essential imports like fuel, there is very little of it available for purchase. This makes it come at a very steep price, so be ready to queue for a while if you opt to hire a car in Harare.
Harare for the Adventurer
Mukuvisi Woodland is the perfect place for a day trip while in Harare. Located in the city center, on Hillside Road, this is one of the few places where you can see wildlife like kudu (species of antelope), rhino, giraffe and elephants, as well as a wide species of birds and indigenous flora. As there aren’t any predators in it, you can walk through the game park, or even ride a horse through the woodlands to get much closer to the animals. To enjoy the Harare weather alongside a herd of elephants--it doesn’t get much better than that.
The loving adventurous can get a fantastic view of Harare from above as you skydive from an airplane at Charles Prince Airport. To secure a spot, make sure to book in advance.
Arts and Crafts in Harare
Harare is an exciting place to shop for unique, handmade crafts, ranging from homeware and toys to fabrics. Visit Avondale Flea Market, an open-air market that has been hosted at the car park for many years. The bottom floor of the flea market contains stalls selling African curios like drums, wall hangings, carvings, and mbiras. Mbiras are an African musical instrument consisting of a wooden board with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the device in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs. As this section is underground, it’s a little dark in there, which adds more character to the traditional masks and fabrics hanging from the stalls.
Worldwide Local Tip: Some stalls sell similar goods, so don’t be in a rush to buy the first thing that you like. Stroll through the market and compare prices before making a purchase.
Eating, Drinking and Dancing in Harare
Harare is the country’s food capital. With many new and exciting flavors, it’s a haven for the traveling foodie. While Zimbabwe has welcomed many great cuisines from all over the world, including Chinese, Ethiopian and Italian, it would be a shame not to indulge in the local cuisine. The best and most popular traditional eatery is Gava’s. Located at Belgravia Sports Club, this is a fantastic place for those wishing to sample typical Zimbabwean home-cooking.
Harare has a vibrant nightlife that goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Sam Levy Village, an area in Borrowdale, is one of the best places to go for a good night out. Home to dozens of clubs dedicated to those who love to get on the dance floor, the village attracts locals and foreigners alike. You’ll also find many sports bars, where you can catch a fun game, different jazz clubs, pool bars as well as cafés, and restaurants.
For a taste of locally brewed beers, try Castle, Lion, Zambesi or Bohlinger. But if you prefer a more traditional beer, however, try Shake-shake. This sorghum beer (brewed in the classic African style) is very thick and filling that comes in prepackaged milk cartons.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you choose to walk around after dark, be prepared for the frequent blackouts that usually occur without warning. Make sure to carry a working flashlight, whenever possible, and be very mindful where you step as many paths have uncovered manholes and gaps that can prove to be very fatal.
Have an Unforgettable Time in Harare!
The city of Harare is often times overlooked, but with this guide, you can roam the city as a worldwide local. You will be granted unique access to its wondrous sights and fascinating tastes.