Lilongwe is the capital of Malawi, a country in Africa known for its warm climate and friendly citizens. Its busy urban center proves attractive to many tourists, who enjoy the city for its bustling markets, extravagant architecture, a beautiful nature center, and local and international restaurants.
Below are five facts about this busy African city, which combines the peaceful retreat of “the warm heart of Africa” with all the attractions that a curious traveler could want.
#1. The city’s population is large and varied, but not overwhelming.
Lilongwe’s population was 669,021 in 2008 and is projected to reach 978,800 in 2014. That’s enough people to ensure opportunities to mix with a diverse array of locals, but not so many people that you have no hope of finding peace and quiet.
#2.Lilongwe is the capital of Malawi, which is known as “the heart of warm Africa” for a reason.
Lilongwe is located on a plateau about 1,050 m above sea level. The climate is humid and subtropical, with warm summers and mild winters. Average high temperatures range between 23 and 30 degrees Celsius, depending on the time of year; average lows generally fall between 6 and 17 degrees Celsius. The wet season runs from December to March, during which the city experiences heavy rain; the rest of the year is mainly dry, with June and July being cooler than the rest of the year.
#3. The city is divided into two “districts,” both of which have much to offer.
The New City houses most of Lilongwe’s hotels, embassies, and offices. The main attractions of the Old Town—whose older streets and walled markets contrast nicely with the more modern architecture of the New City—are its markets, bus stations, and restaurants. You may find yourself drawn to one part of the city over the other, or you may discover something to charm you in both places; either way, Lilongwe has something for everybody.
#4. There are several youth centers in the city; encourage your kids to use them!
If you’re on a family trip, there’s no need to worry about the kids getting bored; the Lilongwe city assembly runs multiple youth centers. The Lilongwe community ground features facilities for basketball, football, karate, boxing, volleyball, and a host of other games. Also, Lingadzi Academy, which is free and open to all youth, features football pitches, netball courts, a library, and a permaculture center. Don Bosco Youth Centre, meanwhile, is located in Area 23 on the outskirts of Lilongwe; many of Lilongwe’s younger generations visit the centre to pray, and there is also a technical school that trains attendees in different trades.
#5. Transportation between the capital and other parts of Malawi is varied and convenient.
Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport has flights, located about 20 kilometers from the city centre, has flights that run between Lilongwe and Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Lusaka, and Blantyre. There is also a regular bus service from Lilongwe to Blantyre, Zomba, Kasungu, and Mzuzu. Finally, the city’s rail service runs towards Zambia to the west and Salima to the east.
As you can see, Lilongwe has a lot to offer. Whether you’re looking for a great place to take a family vacation or just for some tranquility to enjoy by yourself, look no further than this quietly bustling city in “the warm heart of Africa.”