WindhoekCopyright: Vadim Nefedoff/Shutterstock.com
WindhoekWindhoek is at Namibia's centre in more ways than one: apart from being the country's main political hub by design, it also happens to sit in its very heart geographically, making the city an easy stop over on the way to Namibia's spectacular natural attractions. Some of those include the Namib-Naukluft National Park, with its striking Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, Etosha National Park with free-roaming indigenous animals, and the endless stretch of ghastly, striking Skeleton Coast.
The CityWindhoek is, in some ways, the least "African" of Sub-Saharan cities. The compact city centre, with its landmark Christuskirche, looks much like a transplant from the European mainland — its streets rarely overflow with people, traffic is orderly, and the closest continental restaurant — or even a full-on beer garden, for that matter — is never too far away. Although many visitors limit their stay in Windhoek to its central district (Klein Windhoek), heavy on colonial heritage, there is more to discover further afield. The outlying neighbourhood of Katutura makes for an insightful day trip (although going it alone isn't recommended, try and join a guided tour or be accompanied by a local), while the Daan Viljoen Game Reserve is the place closest to town to get close and personal with some of Namibia's non-predatory indigenous animals: zebra, giraffe, impala, kudu, steenbok, oryx, and a multitude of bird species. One needn't go to a specially designated reserve, however — animals roam the red Namibian plains freely and can be spotted just off the major highways.
Do & See
Few come to Namibia and limit their stay to Windhoek alone, but most who do travel to the country choose to spend a day or two in the easy-going capital. Although attractions are admittedly scarce, there is just enough for a good couple of days with sightseeing and shopping. If you happen to have time on your hands and do not mind venturing out of the city centre, check out the recently inaugurated Heroes Acre (south of Windhoek, down B1), an expansive war memorial commemorating those involved in the Namibian liberation struggle.
Namibian cuisine is a unique blend of African game dishes, including meats of animals such as crocodile or kudu, and strong European (more specifically, German) influences. While Windhoek's multiple restaurants serve a range of international cuisine, the locals' staple diet is more focused on traditional Namibian dishes. If you want to experience the local Namibian cuisine, you can venture a bit further afield to the Katatura Township, where Namibian eats are more readily available. Many guided tours of Windhoek include a tasting of open-fire grilled Kapana beef, a local speciality.
Klein Windhoek has a thriving cafe scene, with plenty of options for those looking to grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Many of the cafes here serve Western-style food, including favourites like burgers, sandwiches, and salads, as well as coffee and delicious desserts.
Bars & Nightlife
Central Windhoek has a lively bar scene, with a range of options to suit every taste. Whether you're in the mood for a chilled-out local pub or a trendy cocktail bar, you'll find plenty of choices within easy walking distance of each other. The bars here attract a diverse crowd of locals, expats, and visitors, all looking to have a good time and meet new people. For a taste of local nightlife, be sure to check out Eveline Street in Katatura, a well-known hub for bars and backyard parties. This vibrant street is a great place to experience the city's party culture, but it's important to exercise caution and avoid going alone, especially at night.
When it comes to shopping in Windhoek, there's a good mix of modern one-stop shopping centres and traditional craft stores. Modern shopping centres in the city include Wernhil Park, Maerua, and the popular Grove Mall, which is the largest mall in Windhoek. For local souvenirs and handicrafts, head to the pedestrian Post Street Mall, where you can browse through a range of stalls selling everything from hand-carved wooden figurines to beaded jewellery. If you're interested in picking up some bargain books, be sure to check out Uncle Spike's Book Exchange, located at the corner of Tal and Garten. And for a taste of local life, don't miss the Windhoek City Market. Here you can find everything from fresh produce to handcrafted goods, and haggling is definitely encouraged. Keep an eye on the schedule, as it's subject to change. Whether you're looking for high-end fashion or unique souvenirs, Windhoek has something to offer every type of shopper.