With a population of around 350,000, it does feel more like a small European town or city than a capital, but it offers a much more diverse experience than you would expect to find in other parts of Namibia. And it has all the wealth of amenities and transportation links that you would encounter in any other capital city!
Windhoek covers a wide expanse of a valley, with quaint, bush-filled hills surrounding the city. It is a really pleasurable place for a stroll, with the historic notes of the colonial German architecture at its very core, the café culture offering a feel of Eastern Europe, and the street vendors lining the main streets bringing a real reminder of the color and vibrancy of African culture! In Windhoek you will find that the majority of tourists are stopping here on their way both to and back from an excursion in other areas of Namibia. This approach works well, as the capital is the transport hub of the country, with international flights leaving its airport. Windhoek is also the perfect place to pick up supplies en route to your safari trip, or to recharge your batteries. As mentioned, a smaller center than what you would expect in a capital city, Windhoek is quiet in terms of traffic and quite easy to navigate, making it a popular destination for visitors from Namibia and farther afield!
What to do in Windhoek
As it is the largest urban area in Namibia, Windhoek provides plenty to do and see, offering a stark alternative to life in the national parks and along the country’s coastline! As with any city, the center is a place where you can find a range of restaurants and bars as well as a few nightclubs for dancing until the early hours. Although the city is not spectacularly lively, you will find a good night out if you are looking for one! In the daytime, there are ample shopping opportunities in Town Square and the surrounding pedestrianized streets. For a slice of culture, why not take a trip round the National Art Gallery of Namibia? Alternatively, you could visit one of the fascinating museums, such as the State Museum or the diamond museum! In the quiet suburb of Klein Windhoek, tourists can take time to appreciate the National Botanical Garden of Namibia, which since 1993 has been serving as an important floral conservation area, housing indigenous plants. It is a real treat, ideal as a relaxing afternoon excursion.
Activities outside of the city center
Away from the city’s busy center, you can take a guided tour into the townships or villages in the surrounding areas to sample local life at its most natural. Tour guides can take you to experience cultural hotspots first hand – here you can eat Namibian food and be serenaded with local song and dance! In the areas surrounding Windhoek, there are plenty of opportunities for horse riding in the bush, to take a look at the surrounding wildlife, and to visit the expansive Avis Dam for some birdwatching, hiking or watersports. On a more somber note, an interesting visiting point is Heroes Acre, an official war memorial, which symbolizes the struggle of the Namibian people to gain independence.
Windhoek is a small and easy-to-navigate capital city, offering a relaxed atmosphere and all the amenities and transportation options you require, whether you are about to set off on the journey of a lifetime into the wild, or you are returning and looking for some home comforts!