Welcome to Lusaka, Zambia!
Lusaka, the largest city in Zambia, is one of the fastest growing cities in the Southern part of Africa. Despite being Zambia’s capital, Lusaka is a place often overlooked by travelers visiting Africa. What it lacks in grand monuments, however, it more than makes up for with a buzzing, big-city way of life, a wide range of entertainment, and access to fabulous national parks showcasing the best of Zambia’s celebrated flora and fauna.
The crowds of tourists arriving daily at Lusaka Airport know popular attractions, but a worldwide local knows how best to experience the city. This is an insider’s guide of Lusaka’s finest gems.
In Lusaka, times are changing. The city has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years, with bustling city markets, several upmarket restaurants and bars, and helpful links around the country. This guide will give you plenty of reasons to spend a few days in this cosmopolitan city, rather than just passing through.
While many visitors come to the country only to see the majestic Victoria Falls, Lusaka has many other exciting gems waiting to be explored.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are short on time, visit Lusaka National Park, Zambia’s newest but smallest national park. Situated only 30 kilometers (18.64 Miles) from the city, this park makes a great safari destination for a day trip. You can take a guided lion walking tour, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, go bungee jumping.
Experience Unique Culture in Lusaka’s Attractions
Also a few kilometers away from Lusaka is the Kalimba Reptile Park. Part of a working farm, Kalimba is where you will be introduced to some of Zambia’s most venomous serpents, giant Nile crocodiles, shy African slender-nose crocodiles, tortoises, and several other reptiles. It’s a fun and different way to experience the wildlife and enjoy the Lusaka weather. You can buy farm produce at farm prices and can also grab a bite at the restaurant. Make sure you try the Kalimba Special, the Croc Burger, and wash it all down with a cold beer.
You can discover Zambia’s fascinating history by visiting the Lusaka National Museum, a magnificent building on Independence Avenue that is exclusively used to showcase Zambian’s culture. What makes this museum special is the unusual art, and historic and ethnography. This museum has an entire section devoted to witchcraft. The witchcraft exhibit paints a fascinating picture of the traditional beliefs of Zambia, a blend of Christianity, superstition, and magic. One of the items on display is a python skin belt, that is to be worn by a man who intends to commit adultery with another man’s wife while the couple is in bed.
Shopping in Lusaka
Lusaka is a shopper’s haven, with many markets, each with their unique products. For a local feel of Zambians’ way of life, head over to City Market. Located close to the train station, this market is jam-packed with locals buying fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat from local farmers.
The Arcades Shopping Mall is also a great place to spend a few hours of your day, especially on Sundays, when there is an outdoor market hosted in the parking lot outside the mall offering a wide selection of handicrafts. Explore more of Zambia’s creativity by visiting the Pakati Sunday Market. A fantastic market that offers a diverse range of items from local handmade jewelry to African-themed house décor.
Worldwide Local Tip: Do not be afraid to haggle for any items you are interested in. Even the vendors expect you to bargain with them; it’s the only way you’ll get an item for a price you desire.
Discover the Lusaka Restaurants and Cuisine
Food is a significant part of Zambian culture, and there is no better place to experience this than in Lusaka. Get a taste of the traditional nshima, a cornmeal staple food, popular among the locals. It is served with meat, fish or local vegetables like chibwabwa, which are pumpkin leaves, lumanda (a species of hibiscus), kattappa (sweet potato leaves), bondwe (a species of amaranthus), impwa (a species of eggplant), and okra, which are either fried or boiled.
Street food is hard to come by in Lusaka because it was banned a while ago in a bid to curb the spread of Cholera in the city. However, there are a ton of restaurants to enjoy. You can enjoy a mix of traditional Zambian food with contemporary cuisine at Lilayi’s Restaurant located at the Lilayi Lodge. With fantastic food and a refined atmosphere, an evening at Lilayi’s Restaurant is an unforgettable experience. For international cuisine, head over to Mint Lounge at Arcades Shopping Center, a pleasant space on which to enjoy your lunch or a nice cup of coffee.
Worldwide Local Tip: Most prices indicated on the menu are frequently quoted without VAT (17.5%) or service (10%), be sure to note that as you make your order.
Lusaka After Dark
Although the city doesn’t have a very robust nightlife, there’s no reason for you to retreat early to your Lusaka hotel. There are plenty of bars where you can stop for a drink or two and have a fun night. For instance, Alpha Bar is an absolute legend in Lusaka, drawing a wide range of locals and visitors. Here, you’re guaranteed there will be music playing every night of the week.
Have an Incredible Time in Lusaka, Zambia!
Lusaka might be under the radar for many travelers, but with this guide, you will not only explore the city as a worldwide local and get to enjoy the best Lusaka has to offer, you will also leave with a lifetime’s worth of memories.