Africa is one of the most diverse continents in the world. With 54 countries, Africa is home to beautiful national parks and a wide range of cultures, cuisines, and languages. But how do you decide where to go? Don’t worry — that’s where we come in.
The 15 Best Places to Visit in Africa
As the second-largest continent, deciding where to go in Africa can be challenging. There is so much to see that it’s impossible to do it all in one trip.
This article will help you decide which places in Africa to prioritize when planning your trip, whether your goal is to go on safari, enjoy the nightlife, or experience new cultures and cuisines.
1. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island in Tanzania. It has a unique history different from the rest of Tanzania, with the perfect blend of Arab, Swahili, Indian, and Portuguese influences. It offers an opportunity to enjoy authentic Swahili cuisine.
Take a walk around Stone Town, where you can see historical buildings or get lost in ancient pathways. You can also spend some nights on the other side of the island at places like Paje Beach, which has many resorts and restaurants. There are always beach parties and events going on as well.
2. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is located on the coast of South Africa and is home to Table Mountain, which provides stunning views of the city and ocean. You can visit one of the world-class restaurants, do some wine tasting, or enjoy the nightlife.
There is a lot of history in Cape Town as well. For example, you can visit Robben Island, the place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Cairo, Egypt
As one of the largest cities in Africa, Cairo features luxury hotels and an opportunity to see the Nile River. Whether you eat at one of the riverside restaurants or take a boat tour down the river, there’s one crucial thing you shouldn’t miss: the Pyramids of Giza.
Located in Giza, just outside Cairo, the Pyramids are one of the seven wonders of the world. Tourists flock to Egypt from all over the world to see them. They are even accessible by Uber from Cairo.
4. Marrakesh, Morocco
It’s one of the most colorful cities you’ll ever visit, despite all the hustle and bustle. Whether you want to visit the museums or see some snake charmers in action, Marrakech is just a short flight away from Europe.
5. Mombasa, Kenya
Mombasa is Kenya’s main coastal city. Most tourists prefer to stay in nearby Nyali or other adjacent areas as opposed to Mombasa itself. Mombasa’s main religion is Islam, and the region is full of Arab, Swahili, Bantu, Indian, and Portuguese influences.
In Mombasa itself, you can visit Fort Jesus or walk around the markets. Alternatively, you can take a trip to some of the more popular coastal towns and villages that make up the greater Kenyan coastal region.
Diani is close by but currently only accessible via a flight from Nairobi or a ferry from Mombasa. In the opposite direction, you can stay in Malindi or the sleepy beach town Watamu, which is around two to three hours by road from Mombasa.
If you’d like to escape the crowds and enjoy the beautiful scenery, Namibia is the place to go. One of its main attractions is the massive sand dunes in the coastal region.
Climbing the sand dunes can be a struggle, but it’s well worth it. You can also visit the Fish River Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon). The country is also one of the safest in Africa.
7. Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos isn’t at the top of everyone’s travel list, but it’s still worth a visit. As one of the largest African cities, it will give you unique insights into the everyday lives of Nigerians.
The nightlife is one of the best in Africa, so you can party to your heart’s content. You can also enjoy the delicious cuisine Nigeria is so famous for. Nigeria is also a leader in dance and music, which visiting Lagos will give you first-hand exposure to.
8. Lake Victoria
There’s a reason people call Lake Victoria the Pearl of Africa. As the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, it offers spectacular views. Most of the lake is in Tanzania and Uganda, but it also borders Kenya. Most people access it from Tanzania or Uganda.
Home to over 200 fish species, you can enjoy fresh fish that will delight your palate at some of the lakeside hotels and restaurants. There are plenty of tours operating in the region, regardless of which part of the lake you are staying at.
9. The Seychelles
Seychelles is a country in the Indian Ocean consisting of 115 islands. Its capital is around 800 miles away from mainland Africa.
Most people visit Seychelles to enjoy its pristine beaches and stay at one of its many resorts. The weather is excellent all year round, so it’s always a good time to go.
10. Cape Verde
Its stunning scenery, year-round good weather, all-inclusive resorts, white sandy beaches, and friendly locals are some of the main reasons people visit.
Tunisia, including the capital Tunis, has a lot to offer. You can start with the beautiful Mediterranean beaches – but that’s not all. You can also enjoy the Sahara, visit the archeological sites, wander around the markets, and enjoy the unique cuisine.
Hospitality is one thing that Tunisians are famous for. You’ll be able to make friends quite easily, although knowing some Arabic or French might be helpful.
12. Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. Some call it the Dubai of Africa – it has well-paved, clean roads and an overall modern feel.
Visiting the Genocide Memorial to understand more about Rwanda’s history is a must. However, Kigali also has a thriving art scene and café culture, and you should also consider a visit to the Kimironko market.
Ethiopia has some of the best cuisines in Africa, featuring a wide range of spices and the injera, or the spongy Ethiopian flatbread made of teff flour. Ethiopia is also famous for its coffee.
There’s a lot to see in Ethiopia, starting with the busy capital city of Addis Ababa. Many people also visit the ancient ruins and historical sites, such as Lalibela and its rock-cut monolithic churches.
14. Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It attracts many visitors who attempt to climb it, many of whom go on multiple-day trekking trips.
It’s a truly stunning place, but it’s not for everyone. If you do decide to do it, you will get some fantastic photos and make long-lasting friendships with your climbing crew.
15. Safari Parks
A visit to Africa would only be complete with a trip to one of the many safari game parks. You’ll get a chance to see lions, elephants, tigers, monkeys, and other animals up close in their natural habitats.
There are many national parks in Africa where you can go on a safari drive. Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania are all great choices.
Things to Consider
Is this your first time visiting Africa? You should first understand that Africa is huge and diverse, so it’s best to focus on a specific region or visit one or two spots at a time. You can always make more trips later.
Air transport is the best way to get around Africa, but not all cities are well-connected. There are some direct flights from the US.
Still, only a few airlines, such as Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways, offer many connections between various African cities (usually with a stopover in cities like Addis Ababa and Nairobi). There are also regional carriers, such as ASKY Airlines in West and Central Africa.
Some African cities are not very safe. Examples include Johannesburg, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Lagos. In such cities, take an Uber when traveling around, especially at night.
Ask your travel agent, Airbnb host, or local friend about which neighborhoods are safe to visit, and don’t flaunt your valuables in the street. Remember that there may be multiple languages in a single country or region.
Learning Swahili might help you understand locals in Kenya, for example, but many people will speak to each other in their native tongues, of which there are over 70. Above all, keep an open mind and enjoy yourself.