The best known place in a country is often not its capital city. Southern African News takes a closer look at ten capitals in the continent that certainly merit their important status.
10. Pretoria, South Africa
Being the administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria is home to the Union Buildings, the Voortrekker Monument and the University of South Africa among others, giving it much character. There is plenty to see and do, like taking a trip to the Pretoria Zoo or the Transvaal Museum in a friendly climate with long, hot summers and short, cool winters.
9. Rabat, Morrocco
Probably lesser known as a tourist destination than Marrakech or Fez, Rabat still offers some fascinating architecture and lovely beaches. Rabat is steeped in history and, like Tunis, is separated into the old city and the new city. Meanwhile, the world-famous Royal Dar es Salaam Golf Course is just 15 minutes from the city centre.
8. Tunis, Tunisia
Tunisis divided into two parts, the old city, also known as the Medina and the new city, known in French as Ville Nouvelle. The city is rich in culture and offers many historical attractions, including the Bardo Museum, world-renown for its large collection of Roman mosaics and several architectural buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul.
7. Victoria, Seychelles
Although technically a town with a tiny population of 25,000, the Seychelles capital is situated on the island of Mahé. Exotic beaches, stunning landscape and colourful sea wildlife make it many a holidaymaker’s dream destination. The bustling Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke market sells fresh fruits, fish, vegetables and spices.
6. Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, known as the safari capital of Africa, is one of the continent’s most vibrant cities. Whether travelling to the city for business or pleasure, visitors will be captivated by the city’s spirited people and rich cuisine asit caters for both wildlife and nightlife with the National Park a must-see.
5. Harare, Zimbabwe
The country’s most populated city and commercial capital, Harare is fairly cosmopolitan with a desirable climate. Central Harare is full of shops and restaurants along with skyscraper office buildings. Meanwhile, the 58-hectare National Botanic Gardens contain examples of diverse flowers and greenery, a spectacle for any visitor.
4. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Best-known as a busy sea port, Dar es Salaam is a multicultural city nestled along a natural harbour on the Indian Ocean. The diverse culture boasts international cuisine and colourful markets, while the Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve just seven kilometres away is a great spot for snorkelling and diving.
3. Port Louis, Mauritius
Situated between the Indian Ocean and a mountainous backdrop, Port Louis is a somewhat underestimated city in the famous holiday island. It embraces modern life with traditions and architecture. The Caudan Waterfront offers fashion, local crafts and entertainment, while the Champ de Mars racecourse creates a real city buzz on race day.
2. Cairo, Egypt
Putting aside the political unrest that has plagued Egypt in recent weeks, Cairo has long been a much sought after destination to visit. The largest city in Africa stretches out on both banks of the Nile and is home to a wealth of culture. The Great Pyramids of Giza on the outskirts of the city are a great starting point.
1. Cape Town, South Africa
The legislative capital of South Africa is the most popular tourist destination in the country and fast becoming one of the most visited cities in the world.
Reportedly holding 10 percent of the continent’s conferences and meetings in Africa, it is culturally diverse and versatile. This vibrant city has a fascinating yet at times troubled history and is where South Africa’s first inhabitants, the Khosian, first lived.
A picture of natural beauty, visitors can take a cable car trip to the top of Table Mountain that overlooks the city and marvel at the spectacular Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens lie just 13 km from the city centre. Travel resource Lonely Planet recently ranked Cape Town as the world’s second best beach city.
The entertainment scene offers something for everyone, ranging from restaurants, pubs and all-night clubs to theatres and a chance to toboggan down the first slope in Africa.