Things To Do In Luanda
Luanda is a city full of incredible landscapes. Settled calmly along the Atlantic Ocean with a shoreline beside a thin pine-bordered sandbar (locally referred to as the Ilha de Luanda), the soothing seaside setting is as awesome as it is extraordinary. The majestic views would be considerably all the more staggering if not for the abounding towns and dilapidated temporary residences that have flourished around Angola's quickly expanding capital, 30 years since its freedom. The best part of seeing the city is the nearby beaches; they have the most perfect waves you will ever see. And it is on the beaches where you will find locals dancing, partying, and simply having a good time – a welcome change from political strife.
When To Go:
The capital city’s atmosphere is generally calm and mostly tropical. Normal temperatures change very little as the year progresses. The hotter months are from October until May, and it is not advisable to visit if you cannot tolerate extremely hot weather (especially when the temperature ranges up to 75°F). The monsoon months of November through February are especially troublesome and streets can become unsafe and impassable due to high waters.
The ideal time to visit is from May until September, when temperatures are warm and downpours fluctuate between a slight drizzle and almost nothing. This is by and large thought to be the best vacation season of the city. And lodging costs may be more extravagant as a result. Still, it is still the best time to go because some vacation spots are closed during the rainy season - only opening after the stormy period.
If you’re in Luanda, Angola, don’t fail to visit and experience the following things to do:
Cabo Ledo is the most prominent beach in Luanda City where most of the locals spend their weekend for a picnic or have a nice getaway with the family. It is located a few kilometers away from the city but people still come to see this place. In general, it has good beaches and tasty food. It is the best beach in Luanda, its surroundings are pretty, and it is great for those who want to feel a bit of calm and escape the bustle of the city.
Cabo Ledo offers two types of beach. One for tourist resorts and another for the shops and businesses facing the ocean, where they form the most extensive waves. It is a place to visit if you love the sea and delicious food.
This beautiful beach outside Luanda is actually a small fishing village. It lies about 130 km south of Luanda and provides a break from the stress of the city. The roads are in reasonable condition, so you can experience a hassle-free trip there. The Angolan coast is extensive and geologically a little bumpy and jagged, in perfect contrast to the blue sky and sea, while the fish, shellfish, sun, and waves make Cabo Ledo perfect for fishing, surfing, and other leisure activities. When you’re in Luanda, try to spend at least a day here and try some of the food. The restaurants are a bit expensive, but rice and seafood are the best choice here!
Fortaleza de Sao Miguel
The Fortaleza de São Miguel is a must-see visit in Luanda for anyone. Beyond providing the most fantastic views of the entire city you can also have a great view of the Luanda Bay and the nearby Cape Island. It provides a tour of the most recent history of Angola (last 50 years), all in a great environment within a historic building now refurbished and equipped with modern features. Everyone is comfortable at this place, and the site’s willingness to extend their visiting hours is an added perk. The outdoor spaces are beautiful as well, neatly arranged, and well cared for.
The museum, with its "chunks" of Angola's history, is organized chronologically with documents, maps, photographs, and personal belongings of key figures in Angola’s recent history. In addition to being didactic and educational, it is an excellent way to understand the Angola century during the XXI century. Invest at least two or three hours of your time and lose yourself in this magnificent ‘Museum of Angola’ while you take in in the breathtaking scenery.
For those who want to appreciate the local history, the Fortaleza is the best place to see. The attraction is in a safe place because it is located in a military zone, and is obviously set up for tourism. It sits atop a small hill and was originally built to be a Portuguese fort but now houses the Military Museum of Angola.
Starting from the giant statue of Queen Nginga, who led the resistance against Portuguese colonizers until independence was achieved, leading up to the fighting against attempts to invasion, the apartheid, the racist regime, and the fight for peace achieved in 2002, it is an attraction where you’ll see the strength of the Angolan Armed Forces and history of war against their invaders and rulers.
Try to visit the attraction in the late afternoon when there are fewer tourists, allowing you to get a more exclusive experience of this historic place. From there one can see all new Luanda Bay, its harbor and the reforms that are revitalizing this entire waterfront. During the day you can visit the fortress and see some landmarks from the colonial time. At night you can simply enjoy the view over the bay of Luanda.
Ilha do Mussulo
The Ilha do Mussulo is a great beach and community that is fairly easy to access from the central part of the city. It is like an outdoor museum, but it doesn’t update its exhibits very often. There is a big effort being pushed by the Ministry of Culture, however, to improve the sections on anthropology and ethnography. They have also improved the explanation of every section with the right markers and descriptions.
The ride along the uphill landscape offers spectacular scenery contrasted with the ever increasing number of villas. It has a beautiful beach with large clusters of people in the few areas of restoration. From the western part, the sea side attraction is the most visited part of the Ilha do Mussulo. If you want to explore more of this beach community, you will need to rent an all- terrain vehicle and spend at least half a day discovering all of its interesting features.
Miradouro da Lua
The Miradouro da Lua (which literally means moonscape) is the result of water erosion over time. The viewpoint of the “Moon” is located in the Province of Luanda, Angola in Africa. It's a simple place with many colors of earth cliffs that offers a view that is different and beautiful. As for the terrain, it is breathtaking but it has a complete lack of tourism infrastructure (lack of signage along the road and appropriate markers) and catering (no restaurants or snack shops), which is a shame. This natural viewpoint, with its fabulous sunset view, deserves more attention. Africa is one of the places where the sun looks incredible, like a perfectly spherical ball of fire in the sky. This place is also a place of history - during the war it was used as an escape route, and many people died by falling into the abyss.
The overlooking vista of the moon is one of the most visited tourist places in Luanda for nature-lovers. The landscape is exceptional and there are colorful seaside cliffs that look like waves of different colors. It seems that, depending on the angle of the sun, they even change color. The viewpoint of the moon is located a half hour drive from the capital and the best time to view the landscape is towards the evening. While the site needs a little work - some parts have debris or garbage from visitors who don’t know how to respect a natural attraction like the Miradouro da Lua – you should still go. Do not miss seeing this site if you are in Luanda. It is worth the effort.
Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto
The Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto is a historic landmark that is also now called the Cultural Center of Luanda. This symbolic monument serves as a dedication to the first president of Angola. It is an large building that breathes the history of Agostinho Neto. It is highly recommended to visit this iconic structure - tastefully decorated with historical details.
The site explains everything about the Angolan culture and its former president and national idol. The place is beautiful, very well maintained, and holds so much general information about Luanda and the nation of Angola. If you can access the interior (there are certain times when they are open to the public), spend time looking at the mausoleum, where the late president is buried.
National Slavery Museum
The National Slavery Museum is a beautiful place full of sad stories. It is here where you will learn a lot about the history of the Angolan slaves when they were brought to Brazil on slave ships. It serves as a link to the past with history about the roots of Brazil in Luanda. The museum presents a general overview of slavery and the colonization of the country. The collection is comprised of both historical pieces from the past Angola colony and important relics related to the slave trade in early times. Some photos show clear proof that the slaves were sent to Brazil.
The space is well maintained and provides lots of interesting and informative materials. The photographs call attention to the good state of preservation, as well as the weapons used by the Portuguese. Be sure to see it and let the museum present the spirit of the story while you have a reunion with the past. You’ll have overwhelming emotions from being in the place where almost all the slaves brought to Brazil traveled through, as well as from reading the loads of heartbreaking stories, and seeing the vivid images of the boats leaving the beaches of Ilha do Mussulo.
National Anthropology Museum (Museu Nacional de Antropologia)
The ground floor section of the National Anthropology Museum (Museu Nacional de Antropologia) is moderately interesting with all kinds of fish. It is well maintained and is even more pleasant upstairs. It also has many kinds of animals designed for children to view and observe closely. It is, however, quite different from other great museums of anthropology, but it is still worth visiting while in Luanda. A visit must be scheduled and booked in advance because the place is always undergoing renovation, and only a limited number of guests are allowed per package tour.
Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is an exhibition hall that discusses the nature and animals of Angola. It is a small museum with exhibits on two floors that presents the very rich fauna of the country. It is all easily accessible, everywhere from the exhibits, to stuffed animals, to the skeletons.
There is one unidentified skeleton of a huge pre-historic animal or bird that never fails to amuse visitors. This museum has lots of antiquated items in its collection. It is a must see attraction, so scheduled one day in advance to avoid the crowds.
The Jango Veleiro is a huge restaurant/disco bar/pub renowned in Luanda for being one of the best nightlife spots to gather in. It’s open as “late” as 8:00 am because of the number of overnight partiers. There is always a variety of night clubbers and party goers who prefer to come there after the other Luanda establishments have closed. The ambience is decent, despite the high number of intoxicated people there. The sultry shoreline is also close-by. In the event that you feel too tired to dance and groove to the hip African music, there is a substantial buffet service, although a bit extravagant, for which you pay according to how much your plate weighs.
There is no admission fee to see this prominent bar and the sensual Kizomba music changes at regular intervals, with all the well-known tracks that the local Angolans are familiar with. During the day it is truly the perfect spot for enjoying authentic Angolan and international cuisine. The setting is very pleasant, although the food can be a bit costly. The drinks and cocktails are also worth checking out. Make sure to visit this place to experience the cultural and social interaction with the friendly and party loving locals of Luanda. If you like to see them passionately dance the night away or literally let their hair down, you’ll have to visit this perfect Angolan party scene.
The Pimm’s Luanda is one of the best restaurants in the capital city that serves mostly Portuguese dishes. It certainly has one of the best atmospheres and levels of service. The menu offers a variety of Portuguese dishes as well as meat and fish. Try the Caril de Lastovo, the acclaimed specialty of the house. The environment here is rather intimate; the rich wine list has great selections complemented by a huge array of dessert options. It is always full of people and the cuisine also features traditional Angolan food. The cod in bread layer is divine, well-served and accompanied by a matching wine. The good range of desserts and cheese board is also mouth-watering. The owner and the staff serve with dedication and refinement. The terrace views of the city make it an awesome place to check out while in Luanda.
Luanda is a city in Africa that is waiting for you to discover it. If you are looking for a hip and cool city with lots of diverse things to do, this city best qualifies (because of its many possibilities and historic attractions). All in all it is a very positive city despite threats of rebellion and political instability. The happy and fun disposition of its people is just another interesting facet of the beautiful capital city of Angola.