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Basic information

  • Area: 113 km2 (44 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +244
  • Currency: Kwanza (AOA)
  • Population (EST): 2,825,311
  • Official language: Portuguese, other
  • Time Zone: WAT (UTC+1)

10 Reasons to Visit Luanda

1.The Stunning Bay

Luanda is on the up and up these days, and that's making it a wonderful destination for curious travelers. The culture and scenery are quite lovely, and of particular attraction is the stunning bay of Luanda. Both day and night, the sparkling waters and open skies over the bay draw tourists to its shores to relax and find some peace in their busy travels. Miramar is a perfect place to view the natural beauty and enjoy the local characters. Corimba is in the south of Luanda, and provides an ideal place to swim and lye oceanside.

2. Fortress of Sao Miguel

One of the main attractions of Luanda is the fortress of Sao Miguel, built by the Portuguese in 1576. It's considered a landmark in Luanda, and was commissioned by Paulo Dias de Noivais, who was the very first governor of Angola. A shocking bit of history: the fort was at one time the outlet for slave traffic to Brazil. This heavily fortified building was also a military stronghold for some years, and still remains as a symbol of power. Today the fort is maintained by the government and is open as a military and historic museum to those who visit. It is an UNESCO Cultural Heritage site, and one of the most fascinating highlights of Luanda.

3. Island of Mussulo

This stunning island paradise is just minutes from Luanda, and there are two accessible points at which you can catch a boat across the bay. The island is wonderful to spend a day, or perhaps your whole trip, with numerous choices in restaurants and hotels. The atmosphere is simple and laid-back. The bay of Mussulo is very calm and wonderful for swimming and sun bathing. Don't forget to wear your sunblock, as the island is notorious for its heat and direct sunlight. This is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the natural, untouched beauty of Angola.

4. Marvelous Beaches

Luanda is famous for its beaches, and the shores are well populated with numerous restaurants and hotels to choose from. There are also plenty of dining areas right on the beach, which makes it a lovely choice to spend an evening meal, and watch the Luandan sunset. The Lokal Beach is favourite for most travelers, and here you can rent an umbrella, purchase snacks and cool beverages nearby, and take in a whole lot of sunshine. This is the best place to find some freshly-caught, local seafood that is simply to die for. There are not many waves on Luanda's beaches, so a surfboard is not in order, however inflatable rafts and inter-tubes are a safe bet.

5. The Slavery Museum

The Museo da Esclavatura is an experience that no one should miss, and leaves an indelible impression upon its visitors. Once a small, white church on the southern shore, the building has been transformed into an establishment that serves to teach people about the horrific slave trade that is a large part of Luanda's history. Because it is a port city in such an ideal location, Luanda quickly became the prime location from which slaves were transported to the Americas. The most common destination for these slaves was Brazil, where a great deal of the population of Luanda was taken. The museum is quite simple and powerful. Photographs and lithographs depict the faces of those whose lives were given over to the business of slavery. There are also some incarceration implements and other artifacts on display. This is a difficult site to see, but at the end of the day enriching and incredibly important.

6. Armed Forces Museum and Independence Square

The Fortress of S. Miguel is an historic building constructed in 1575, and the interior blue tiles are reminders of when the Portuguese first came to the shores of Angola. Today, the Fortress houses the Museum of Armed Forces, that has a rich display of items reminiscent of Angola's military history. Also of note, Independence Square is the spot where Angola proclaimed its freedom from Portugal in 1975.

7. Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto

Within Independence Square is the most important monument in Luanda: the Mausoleum that commemorates the first president of Angola, Agostinho Neto. It is a rocket-shaped monument in the Praia do Bispo on the south side of the city. Just near the Presidential Palace, this striking monument was built in the 80's. For those who are interested in the rich cultural heritage and historical story of Angola, this is a site not to be missed. At once both thrilling and inspiring, the monument is a testament to the spirit and vigor of the people of Angola.

8. National Park of Quissama

The Quissama Natural Reserve is about 70km outside of Luanda, and is a great spot to encounter some of the most amazing species of the continent. The Park is rich with elephants, antelope, giraffe, exotic birds, and numerous beautiful species of local flora. The long stretch of coastline within the Park is a perfect place to see the native sea turtles. Quissama makes a fantastic day trip, and is one of the rich locations that puts Luanda on the map as a viable tourist destination.

9. Exciting Day Trips

Perhaps one of the best things about Luanda is that it is in such close proximity to some amazing day trips. These little excursions are quite popular amongst tourists, but also a favourite for those doing business in Luanda, and need to get away for the weekend. In fact, within a short drive you can see some of the most beautiful sites that Angola has to offer. Within the Northern Malange and southern Huila provinces, there lies the magestic Calandula Waterfalls, the Black Rocks of Pungo-a-Ngongo, and the famous "Cristo Rei".

10. Sporting

Sporting is big business in Luanda, and a pastime that the city cherishes. Nationally, basketball and football are the sports of choice. It's not uncommon to see locals playing these two sports all throughout the day, as there are a number of playing fields all across Luanda. But these aren't the only sports of popularity; add to that handball, beach volley ball, surfing, Judo, and so much more. Catching a local game is just one of the perks of visiting Luanda.

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