If you are planning a trip to Mozambique you will probably fly into the capital city, Maputo. It is worth spending a day exploring the best sights in Maputo before heading further afield.

Mozambique was originally a Portuguese Colony. These influences can still be seen dotted around the city, but much the city was destroyed during the civil war that wracked the country for 15 years. Slowly the country began to rebuild and in the last 10 years, tourism has started to develop, although it is still in its infancy.

It is a laid-back city with palm tree-lined streets, old colonial buildings, shanties and ugly concrete buildings that stand shoulder to shoulder. There is also Soviet styled architecture from the 1950’s when Cuba and Russia had political sway here.

Mozambique is best known for its beach holidays, but dig a little deeper and there is so much more to discover.

 

Maputo Beach
Maputo Beach

The best sights in Maputo 

 

The Iron House (Casa de Ferro)

The house was designed for the governor of Maputo in 1892 by none other than Gustav Eiffel. The name gave it away, of course, but yes, this is the same person who built the Eiffel Tower.  The order was placed by the Colonial Governor and it was constructed in Belgium. It was intended to be the Governor’s residence. Obviously, as it is made from metal it was highly impractical for the subtropical climate. It was never used for its intended purpose.

 

Iron House in Maputo
Iron House in Maputo

 

The railway station

This is an interesting building, would you believe, once again designed by Monsieur Eiffel. I find this fascination with Eiffel quite odd, being that these monuments are in Africa. I guess that it is directly related to the fact that it was a Colony. The building is a classical design, more like and sultan’s palace with marble, wrought-iron lattice work and arches. Look out for the bar on the platform. There are often exhibitions of local artwork inside the building and you might find something special to take home with you.

 

Railway station in Maputo
Railway station in Maputo

 

The fish market

It is probably not the most hygienic place that you have ever been in your life, but the fish is brought to the market straight from the local fishing boats. The small boats pull up onto the beach and the fish makes its way to the market a short distance away. The market is surrounded by small cafes and restaurants that will happily cook your purchase for you, but be sure to negotiate a price first. It is the perfect place to have the freshest fish imaginable, simply cooked and delicious.

 

Crayfish in Maputo Fish Market
Crayfish in Maputo Fish Market

 

The Central Market

I thought that the market just sold fresh produce, but I was mistaken. It sells everything imaginable, brooms, plastic buckets, spice and local chillies. If you arrive early in the morning you will see tables piled with goods and you can enjoy a stroll around without the crowds bothering you.

 

Peri Peri Chillies Maputo
Peri Peri Chillies Maputo

 

Shop

Along the road, you will find brightly coloured printed items. They are great gifts to take home but remember to bargain as the first price is never anywhere near the real price.

 

Printed Fabric in Maputo
Printed Fabric in Maputo

 

Sunset and dinner

 

Restaurant Costa del Sol

The restaurant dates from 1938 and is about 20-minute drive north along the coast. Over the years it claims to have had many famous visitors. It is nothing to write home about but the setting is amazing to watch the sunset. Another very good reason for visiting is to try the local prawn’s peri peri ( a local chilli – see above). These are the best that I had during my stay and just writing about them makes my mouth water!

Restaurant Costa del Sol :10429 Avda. Marginal; +258 21 451 662

 

Sunset in Maputo
Sunset in Maputo

 

Cafe Sol Coffee

Although not strictly a sight I must mention Cafe Sol Coffee. Companhia do Cafe is a coffee roaster in Maputo who source fair trade beans from the Southern African Region. They buy from local farmers and cooperatives. The end result is a premium coffee that is delicious. So if you are looking for a caffeine fix then look no further.

Cafe Sol Coffee : Rua Beijo da Mulata 98, +258 82 223 3765

 

Cafe Sol Maputo
Cafe Sol Coffee Beans

 

Fun Facts

  1. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for nearly 500 years

2. The tallest building in Maputo is 33 floors high.

3. If you play scrabble, Mozambique will score more points than any other one-word country.

4. Mozambique is the only country to have a modern weapon on its flag

5. Mozambique is the only single word country that includes all 5 vowels.

6. It is the 35th largest country in the world in terms of land area which means that it is almost 4 times as big as the UK

7. The coast is 2425 km (1500 miles) long which is about the same distance as the East Coast of the USA.

8. The main exports are aluminium, cashews, timber, prawns, cotton, sugar, timber, citrus fruit and electricity.

 

Tips

You can walk around the city centre during the day, but steer clear of the central business district at night.

“Tuk-Tuks” are also an easy way to see the city. The drivers are usually more fluent in English than the yellow cabs

This is a malaria zone so take precautions before you arrive.

 

Tuk Tuk Maputo
Tuk Tuk Maputo

 

Maputo is great for a day, but it is not the best part of Mozambique. The beaches and the marine life are spectacular and rival that of the Maldives and Mauritius, but without the sophistication.  The coastline is unspoilt, the food is delicious and the people are friendly, but it is a little rough around the edges. If you can accept this then you will love the country.

 

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See the best sights in Maputo in a day
See the best sights in Maputo in a day
The best sights in Maputo
The best sights in Maputo

 

 

 

 

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve never heard of Maputo, but now you’re making me want to visit! I’d love to walk along the beach and go shopping for those beautiful scarves. Thanks for the tip on making sure to negotiate!

  2. The Iron House looks amazing. I hadn’t realised that Mozambique was a Portuguese colony – there doesn’t seem to be that much influence though? It looks like Maputo is definitely a day trip rather than a stay – but still rather charming!

  3. Maputo is probably not on my travel list. Our cruise ship stopped here and I did not have the right medicines to leave the ship. Most people who visited said we didn’t miss much. You seem to have seen much more. Good to see it from another perspective.

    • It’s not a city that draws people to it, but there are things to see. I understand that cruise liners passengers often don’t have a lot of time in port and Maputo certainly offers nothing like what you can see in most other ports. The sights are a little more obscure and difficult to get to.

  4. Wow! I didn’t know that Gustave Eiffel designed a house AND a train station in Maputo! They definitely have Eiffel’s artistic touch! Buying fresh local seafood and have it cooked on site is one of the things we LOVE doing when traveling. And I suppose that they also sell prawns, not just fish, since they export prawns, right?

  5. I’ve actually never heard of this city, but I would love to go! All of your pictures were amazing and gave a wonderful description of the city! I especially loved your sunset picture, very stunning.

  6. I would have never guessed it was a Portuguese colony!! Thats a nice fun fact. Do you happen to know why the crayfish are so BEAUTIFULLY colored and have amazing details on their bodies?

    • That’s generally the way crayfish look in the Mozambique where the water is quite warm. If you go further south, to South Africa, the crayfish there are identical, but they have less blue in them and the water is colder. The crayfish from Mozambique are sweeter in taste to those that live in the cooler waters of SA. If you touch them they are rough with loads of little points standing up on the shell. I hope that answered your question.:-)

    • I really don’t know too much about the colours on the crayfish. I do know that is you go further south along the coast they lose some of the purple and blue and become more orange in colour. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the water is warm and the need the colour as camouflage.

  7. I really enjoyed your post. It was interesting that Monsieur Eiffel designed buildings in Africa! Loved the fun facts at the end as well. I learned loads 🙂

  8. Maputo sounds like a wonderful destination, I’d love to know what the connection is with Monsieur Eiffel! Those crayfish look weirdly beautiful too, great picture!

    • I have no idea what the connection is or why they chose him to create a building that is a white elephant. I have tried to find out, but there seems to be surprisingly little information available.

  9. It’s quite surprising where you can find Eiffel buildings; there are a number of them in South America too. Those crayfish are quite spectacular – I can just see them making their way to the fish market. 😉

  10. I loved the fun facts too. What’s the other country name with all the vowels?
    When I read about Eiffel’s house, I smirked. An iron house in the Tropics!? Mr. Eiffel left his mark everywhere!

    • I think that it is the only country in the world to have all the vowels in its name. An iron house in the tropics is crazy, but I guess they didn’t think about that when they commissioned it.

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