Africa is home to more than 50 distinct countries and some of the most fascinating cities in the world. Several African cities are contemporary affairs situated against stunning landscapes, vibrant, eclectic, and culturally diverse.
Safari travel is often associated with vacations in Africa. It makes sense, given that this enormous continent is home to some of the most remarkable megafauna on the planet. However, there are also some fascinating metropolitan locations in Africa. Some are more distant or obscure, while others, like Cape Town, Marrakech, Cairo, and other well-known tourist destinations, are well-established and well-liked.
Africa, although is thought to be the world’s poorest continent, is home to 54 independent countries, some of which are developing and quite wealthy, including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, and Tunisia.
In this article, I’ll list the best cities in Africa you should visit. From popular cities known to the outside world to some of the best vacation places on the continent.
Best Cities In Africa
Cape Town – South Africa
Cape Town, which is situated directly on the Atlantic Ocean and at the foot of Table Mountain, has everything. The city is home to numerous natural attractions including trekking in Table Mountain National Park and ascending to the summit of Lion’s Head to witness the dawn. It also boasts a long stretch of stunning beaches. It also has the stunning Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, and approximately half an hour’s drive outside of the city center is where you can observe African penguins in the wild.
Together with its rich cultural heritage, Robben Island—the site of Nelson Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment—and other museums, galleries, and historical sites may be found in Cape Town. Excellent restaurants and modern shops abound in Cape Town when it comes to dining and shopping. Both are located in the bustling Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, so be sure to check them out. There are hotels to suit every traveler’s budget, and even the most luxurious accommodations are reasonably priced because of the good exchange rate for visitors from the US, Canada, and Europe. With Instagram-worthy bathtubs, The Silo Hotel is among the best in town if you do want to splurge.
Marrakesh – Morocco
The fourth-largest city in Morocco, Marrakesh, is a fascinating destination with a blend of modern and old culture. Dating back to the Berber Empire, Marrakesh is a bustling medieval walled medina in the country’s western section. Spend some time exploring its winding, labyrinthine lanes, where you’ll come across souks (marketplaces) brimming with traditional merchandise ranging from textiles to spices and jewelry.
With its Moorish minaret that dominates the city skyline, the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque is another must-see attraction in Marrakesh. Don’t overlook brand-new sights like the galleries that comprise Marrakesh’s emerging arts scene and the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden.
Cairo – Egypt
Cairo, the largest metropolis in Egypt, is a frantic, bustling city situated right on the banks of the Nile River. The “city that never sleeps” gets its name from the fact that there is always activity in this vast metropolis, which blends modern skyscrapers with ancient cultures. Large city lovers will find the clamor of horns and the rumbling of traffic energizing but be prepared for them.
Discovering Egypt’s rich and turbulent past is the main reason tourists visit Cairo. The Egyptian Museum, which houses thousands of years’ worth of antiques and artifacts, including the mummified bodies of ancient monarchs, is one of the top attractions in Cairo. Cairo’s main square, Tahir Square, is a public space with a traffic circle in the middle and is frequently used for political protests. You should go to the 187-meter-tall Cairo Tower in the Gezira Island suburb’s Zamalek neighborhood for expansive city views.
Nairobi – Kenya
Nairobi is hardly the most picturesque city in Africa, but few compare to Kenya’s high-altitude capital in terms of contemporary conveniences, lively nightlife, and links to both local and international transportation. One of the few locations in the world where you may view free-ranging animals, such as lions, giraffes, and rhinos, beneath the glittering skyscrapers of a tropical central business district is the adjacent Nairobi National Park.
Accra – Ghana
Accra is like a lively painting on Africa’s canvas. This city, sitting by the Gulf of Guinea, is truly special. What makes Accra one of the best in Africa is its mix of old and new, creating a beautiful harmony. When you stroll through Accra, it feels like a friendly hug. People here are warm and welcoming. Walk into Makola Market, and you’ll be amazed by the bright fabrics and delicious smells of local food. It’s a place that wakes up all your senses.
Accra isn’t just about tradition; it’s also about moving forward. The city is buzzing with new ideas and businesses. Tech is booming, and there’s a real sense of excitement about what’s next. At the same time, Accra holds onto its history. Places like the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and W.E.B. Du Bois Center remind us of the past. And let’s not forget the beaches! Labadi Beach is like a calm retreat, and when the sun goes down, Accra’s nightlife comes alive. Accra, with its mix of friendliness, tradition, and progress, is truly one of Africa’s best cities. It’s a place that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go.
Stone Town – Zanzibar
One of the most fascinating places in Africa is Stone Town, an ancient Swahili coastal trading town rather than a large metropolis. Stone Town is the hub of the stunning island of Zanzibar, which is situated in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania.
The village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a history spanning more than 200 years. It is full of narrow streets and historic riads, which have elaborately carved wooden entrances that are now used as guesthouses. See the colorful bazaars in the town and get dinner from one of the many food sellers serving freshly prepared meals on the waterfront.
Addis Ababa – Ethiopia
The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is surrounded by mountains and was established in the 1880s by Emperor Menelik II. Although it is relatively contemporary by Ethiopian standards, it offers a colorful introduction to Africa’s most unique nation. Here, you may explore exquisite cathedrals connected to the renowned Emperor Haile Selassie, savor Ethiopia’s hot cuisine, and take in a glimpse of the nation’s rich historical past at the National Museum of Ethiopia.
Djenné – Mali
Africa’s most harmonious town in terms of architecture is situated on a seasonal island in the Bani River, a portion of the Niger River Delta, and has been a significant trading center since the 15th century. Even now, Djenné is a treasure trove of Sahelian mud-and-stick architecture, best exemplified by the Great Mosque of Djenné, the biggest and maybe most stunning adobe structure in the world.
Abidjan – Ivory Coast
Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, serves as a major hub for global business and trade. Abidjan’s stunning skylines and array of tourist attractions make it one of Africa’s most developed cities.
Once a major commerce hub for the continent, Abidjan is one of the most important French-speaking towns in Africa.
Abidjan’s central business district features a collection of skyscrapers. The city core is seen from the rivers that climb to the port. The very important port ships products and services from all over the world to Abidjan.
Lamu – Kenya
One of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili villages, the city of Lamu is located on the picturesque island of Lamu, which is off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. The city has been recognized by UNESCO. Lamu, is one of Africa’s most picturesque places, with pristine beaches bordered by sand dunes, a harbor filled with traditional dhow boats, and meandering lanes inhabited by donkeys. With its old-world charm intact, the Old Town features crumbling forts next to historic houses and cobblestone pathways that lead to secret rooftop eateries. The Swahili proverb “pole pole” (slow down) seems especially fitting in this context, as you may wish to stay a little while longer once you’ve started to adjust to Lamu’s leisurely pace.
Windhoek – Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, could serve as the beginning point for your safari if you are drawn to the country by wildlife viewing. The city, which is well situated in the middle of the nation, is a well-liked destination for winding down after spending time in the bush or for getting your bearings before a safari. But Windhoek is a delightful destination by itself, unlike some cities that serve as a springboard to other excursions. The colonial buildings, the tree-lined Independence Avenue, and the neo-gothic meets-art-nouveau Christuskirche (the German Lutheran church) all give the impression that they belong in northern Europe. You may quickly recall that you are in the center of Namibia by taking a quick drive to the Daan Viljoen Game Reserve, which is only 12 miles from the city.
Stone Town – Tanzania
Some have compared the Zanzibar archipelago, which is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania, to the Caribbean but without the crowds. It is a paradise for sun worshippers and snorkelers. The major island of the archipelago, Unguja (also called Zanzibar), is home to historic Stone Town, a historical coastal trading town with a blend of African, Indian, Arab, and European influences in its urban landscape.
Explore the maze-like maze of historic streets, take in the intricately carved wooden doors that dot the city, and have coffee with the locals at Jaws Corner to people-watch. While pristine sands, crystal-clear waters, and palm-shaded swimming pools maybe your idea of paradise when you visit Zanzibar, a trip to Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, will inject some history and culture into your island vacation.
Maputo – Mozambique
Maputo, with its seaside location, avenues lined with jacaranda trees, and structures with Mediterranean influences, is one of Africa’s most attractive towns. Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and the nation as a whole are still largely unknown to most tourists. This means you can experience the Baixa (old town)’s magnificent architecture and laid-back restaurants without the throng. Whether you are traveling to Mozambique for diving, exploring desert islands, or taking a detour from popular tourist routes, make sure to visit Maputo before finding yourself stranded on one of the many unexplored beaches in the nation.
Dar Es Salaam – Tanzania
Unexpectedly for many, Tanzania’s capital is also among the most developed cities. On the other hand, Dar Es Salaam has grown significantly in the last several years, making it one of Africa’s most remarkable cities. Dar Es Salaam, a stunning city, is centered on a body of water.
This town is one of the few port towns where you can get off a skyscraper and take a boat to another part of the city to attend a conference in another skyscraper. The city’s main road is lined with opulent hotels and beautiful commercial buildings. You can take the bus, cab, or boat to get around the city; the transportation system is effective.
Lagos – Nigeria
Being the most populated metropolis in Africa and the “economic center” of West Africa, Lagos takes great pride in this fact. Lagos is home to several businesses and is one of the busiest cities on the continent.
Some of the greatest and busiest places in the world, such as Lekki, Victoria Island, Broad Street, Ojuelegba, and many more, can be found in the two main halves of the city, the Mainland and the Island. Lagos Nightlife is so popular that the city is known as the “city that never sleeps.”
Johannesburg – South Africa
Depending on one’s viewpoint, Johannesburg, South Africa, may be regarded as the most beautiful city in Africa. Johannesburg thrives as a contemporary, affluent city that respects its South African roots. Soaring buildings gleam in the famed African sunlight, a variety of international corporate events, and hip restaurants. Johannesburg’s main charm, meanwhile, is found in its incredible collection of museums, which provide insights into South African history, including victories, tragedies, art, and culture.
The Gold Reef City Mine Museum preserves the history of the original gold mine while the Apartheid Museum illuminates the nation’s difficulties. Ancient rock art, stone tools, and spiritual artifacts are on display at the Wits Origin Centre Museum, enhancing visitors’ comprehension of the past.
Gaborone – Botswana
Gaborone, a modern metropolis in Botswana, is well-known for its Western-style malls, sophisticated architecture, and prestigious educational institutions. Because of the Gaborone Game Reserve, several people find it to be one of Africa’s most fascinating towns despite its metropolitan nature. This protected park, with its pristine ecosystems and a wide variety of native species, perfectly captures the spirit of Africa. Amazing animals like the blue wildebeest, rock thaties, warthogs, zebras, and gemsbok are among them.
With its compact size of fewer than two square miles, the reserve captures the essence of Africa’s natural resources. It is brimming with migratory birds that soar over tree savannas, marshes, and woodlands. It is a pleasure to have visitors have picnics in this amazing setting and watch the wildlife.
Luxor – Egypt
The name Luxor is very important to the Egyptian metropolis. Translating to “palaces,” it captures the essence of the city even in its dynamic modern metropolitan setting. Having formerly been the capital city of Thebes, Luxor proudly maintains its historic palaces and temples amidst modern life. Luxor’s rich antiquity makes it one of Egypt’s most interesting and important towns.
Luxor is home to famous structures including the temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut, the rock-cut tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and the remains of the pharaohs’ tombs, in addition to its magnificent array of palaces. Luxor is still an amazing fusion of nature and ancient architectural marvels, whether you’re viewing sights along the Nile River or exploring the captivating desert landscape.
Saint-Louis – Senegal
Founded in 1659 close to the mouth of the Senegal River, island-bound Saint-Louis is the oldest French town in West Africa. Before Dakar took over as the new city in 1902, it functioned as the capital. The pastel-hued colonial and Creole architecture of Saint-Louis oozes personality, and the vibrant modern nightlife reaches its pinnacle with the internationally renowned Saint-Louis Jazz Festival.
Kigali – Rwanda
The capital city of Rwanda is renowned for being among the cleanest in all of Africa. Its central location makes it an ideal starting point for visiting this rapidly developing region. Volcanoes National Park, where visitors hike to see Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, is only a 2.5-hour drive away.
Situated at an elevation of slightly over 5,000 feet above sea level, the city is mountainous, with houses situated on slopes and the valleys that they abut. It was founded in the eleventh century. A must-see (although melancholy) site in Kigali is the Genocide Memorial, which records the horrifying mass murders that took place during Rwanda’s civil war in 1994. To purchase traditional handicrafts such as jewelry, woven baskets, and wooden carvings, visit the many sellers that comprise the Caplaki Craft Village. There is also a thriving restaurant and entertainment scene in Kigali.
Essaouira – Morocco
One of Morocco’s most picturesque port cities is Essaouira, which is located on the Atlantic coast. Thanks to strong currents and lots of wind, the city—which is also a well-liked resort town—has some beautiful beaches and is well-known for its superb kitesurfing, windsurfing, and conventional surfing; in fact, it’s known as the Wind City of Africa.
Start your sightseeing by going to the historic Medina. It is surrounded by palm-lined avenues, little alleyways, and small hotels, as well as beachfront ramparts dating back to the 18th century. Take a look at the historic brass cannons that line the walls of this little fishing hamlet.
Durban – South Africa
The third-biggest city in South Africa, Durban boasts a distinctive multicultural past and is well-known for being the town where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on June 7, 1893.
The city on the Indian Ocean coast is becoming a popular beach destination in South Africa because the water is warmer than in Cape Town and has some strong surf breaks. It is renowned for its great food scene and sizable Indian community.
A waterfront walkway connecting Moses Mabhida Stadium, constructed for the 2010 soccer World Cup, to uShaka Marine World, a sizable theme park featuring an aquarium, is one of the best places to see in Durban. Another name for it is the Golden Mile. A wider range of African plants are on display in the well-liked Durban Botanical Gardens.
Algiers – Algeria
Known as the “Paris of North Africa,” Algiers, the capital of Algeria, is a fusion of Arab and European influences. The stunning city has some of the most magnificent beaches in the Mediterranean and is situated on a bay. Additionally, there are tourist hotels, boutiques, and restaurants with a global flair.
Make careful to explore the Kasbah’s white-washed buildings. The ancient town is teeming with palaces from the Ottoman Empire and winding, steep lanes. Another excellent location to visit is the Ketchaoua Mosque. It features two sizable minarets and was built in the seventeenth century.
Fes – Morocco
Fes is the greatest city in Morocco for historical sightseeing as well as the country’s spiritual center. Fes el Bali, the oldest area and most popular tourist destination, is said to be the largest complete historic medina in the world. Proceed via Bab Boujiloud’s main gate. The best views of the Medersa Bou Inania’s minaret are available from this location. Situated just within the gate, the well-known landmark was constructed sometime between 1350 and 1357. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Fes since it is one of the few places of worship that is open to non-Muslims.
Here, you can lose hours exploring the twisting, tight lanes of the medina that spiral into two districts divided by a river. The souks in the medina offer lots of shopping opportunities as well. Fes is renowned for its handicrafts, which include ceramics and metalwork. You should reserve a room at one of Fes’ riad hotels while you’re there. These are typically found in traditional middle homes that have been turned into guesthouses. They contain center courtyards, carved doorways with exquisite details, and tilework.
Axum – Ethiopia
In sub-Saharan Africa, Axum is the oldest continually inhabited city. It was formerly the center of a commercial route that connected Yemen with the Sudanese Nile via the Red Sea, and it dates back to the reign of the Queen of Sheba. Ruined palaces, soaring stelae, and other remnants of these illustrious times may be found all across Axum today. Ethiopian Christianity began with the founding of the major Maryam Tsion Church in the fourth century.