Things to see and do in Benguela

Things to see and do in Benguela Angola
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Benguela is a coastal city in Angola with wonderful beaches surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. In addition, the city has a long history that is reflected in its museums and other monuments of interest such as the National Museum of Archaeology, the Fortaleza de São Filipe, or the Portuguese Cultural Center. But that’s not all there is to see in Benguela. There you can also discover wonderful local produce markets, visit the Blue Bay and take boat rides.

On your trip to Angola you can not miss this beautiful coastal city, so we have prepared this post where we will tell you how to get there and what to do in the area. And as we want you to live the full experience, we also tell you the best places to eat and stay in the city, and give you many other travel tips that will be of great help. If you’re ready to embark on your trip, don’t hesitate any longer and join us.

What are the best places to visit in Benguela?

1. Ponta do Sombreiro, the best views of Benguela

The highest point in Benguela, Ponta do Sombreiro, is 130 meters above sea level on a circular mountain with a certain resemblance to a Mexican sombrero. The combination of the unique-looking rock formation with the marine environment makes it an iconic spot for tourists in Benguela, with amazing scenery and impressive ocean views.

2. Blue Bay, a must-see in Benguela

Blue Bay is the most touristy area in Benguela, so there you will find several accommodation options and in general a very lively atmosphere. In the bay there is a pristine beach with fine and soft sand. It is and completely surrounded by tall trees that offer shade under which tourists can take refuge from the high temperatures.

To the west of Bahia Azul you will also find incredible mountains and cliffs that rise above the warm and calm waters of the Atlantic. The beach of Bahia Azul is not the most suitable for surfing, but many other sports such as winfsurfing or volleyball. It’s definitely a must stop on your trip to Benguela.

3. Playa Morena

Located in the city of Benguela, Morena Beach is undoubtedly one of the places that attracts more tourists thanks to its beauty. This beach, in addition to being the most beautiful in the country, is the cleanest and most taken cared of.

Its warm and calm waters make it a perfect destination for people of all ages. Head to the beach and enjoy the views and lively atmosphere of the area.

4. Church of Nossa Senhora do Pópulo

The Nossa Senhora do Pópulo Church, built in the mid-17th century, is currently a National Historic Monument. And it is one of the main tourist attractions in the city, both for its aesthetic beauty and rich history.

According to historical sources, the Church of Nossa Senhora do Pópulo is possibly the first stone and lime building constructed in the city, and the only one of its kind in all of South Africa. What is clear, is that this important historical monument is an obligatory stop for many tourists coming from different parts of Angola and abroad.

5. Praia da Caota

Just 10km from the center of Benguela we find Coata Beach, one of the most visited beaches in the region. The beach offers a perfect combination of rocky and crystal clear waters, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling without worrying about strong waves. Underwater you will be able to see a great variety of marine specie So we encourage you to bring your diving goggles.

Very close to Praia de Caota is the Praia da Caotinha beach, which is only 100 meters long and has extremely clean and crystalline waters.

Things to do around Benguela

1. Angola Buffalo Reserve

With an area of 400 square kilometers, the Buffalo Partial Reserve is a protected area dedicated to the conservation of the African buffalo population. Its objective is to preserve the natural habitat of these majestic animals while promoting the biodiversity of the area.

At the reserve you will be able to observe these impressive creatures in their natural environment and enjoy the ecosystem, its fauna and flora. You will also see other animals such as baboons, jackals, hyenas, antelopes and even lions.

The reserve is 30 km from Benguela and you will need to hire a guided tour to visit it.

2. Lobito

It is the third most populated city in the country and one of the most important ports for trade with the Congo and Zambia. Along with Benguela, it is one of the most famous tourist destinations for its incredible beaches with calm waters and rugged cliffs.

Near the town, in Dos Tigres Bay, there’s a sunken ship that’s popular among divers from around the world. And if you don’t dive, we recommend you still approach the bay as it’s interesting to see the combination of colors that gives it its name.

From Benguela you can get there by road in less than 1 hour.

What to see in 1 day in Benguela

Benguela is a popular beach destination for locals, who tend to spend several days enjoying its beaches. However, if you’re touring the country, one day is enough to see the city, its beaches and the main buildings of interest such as the Church of Nossa Senhora do Pópulo.

Around Benguela you can also visit the Búfalos Partial Reserve and Lobito, another town with incredible beaches. We recommend spending at least 3 days to be able to see both Benguela and the reserve and Lobito, and also have time to enjoy the beach.

Where and what to eat in Benguela?

The gastronomy of Benguela stands out for its multicultural cuisine dominated by ingredients such as corn, cassava, pumpkin or beans. In addition to typical dishes, the region offers international culinary options in hotels near tourist attractions.

At Passporter we encourage you to try the local cuisine, so we have prepared a selection of some of our favorite restaurants in the city:

  • Morena Beach Restaurant: is a nice restaurant with amazing sea views where you can try the local cuisine for less than 10€.
  • Tudo na Brasa: is a good option to eat well, fast and cheap. The place is simple and serves hearty grilled meat dishes such as suckling pig or chops.
  • Restaurante Ferro Velho: is one of the best restaurants in town. The atmosphere is very cozy and the service attentive and friendly. The food is simple, but everyone who goes here comes back for more.
things to do in Angola
Lobito’s Beach @shutterstock

Where to stay in Benguela

Despite the increase in tourism in Benguela, there is still not a wide range of hotels, so it is advisable to search in advance. Here are a few options in the city to help you with it:

  • Hotel Residencial RAMIRE-TOUR: This hotel is located in front of the beach and offers air-conditioned rooms with satellite TV, a restaurant and free WiFi. From the terrace the sea views are a marvel. The price per night starts at 30€ and breakfast costs 8€.
  • Aparthotel Mil Cidades: If you’re traveling with your family, we recommend this aparthotel with a swimming pool, gym and restaurant. The rooms are perfectly equipped and the price (from 137€) includes breakfast.
  • Hotel Luso: is a nice hotel in the center of Benguela with swimming pool and restaurant. If you want to book you will have to do it directly from the establishment’s website.

How to get to Benguela

In recent years the city of Benguela has been prepared to receive tourism, and as a consequence the connections with foreign countries and other parts of the country have been greatly improved. These are the options available to you to get to Benguela:

  • Airplane: Benguela province currently has two airports: 17 de Setembro Airport (which receives small domestic flights) and Catumbela Military Airport. If you are traveling from Europe you will most likely have to make at least one stopover. To get from the airport to your destination you can take a cab or public transportation.
  • Car: Thanks to the reconstruction of the roads, it is now possible to travel by car to Benguela. In fact, it is highly recommended because of the incredible views. You will be able to rent a car at the airports or in the big cities.
  • Bus: There are several bus routes in the country that connect the main cities. It is a cheap option, but also slow and uncomfortable. You should consult well the conditions of travel before buying the ticket.
things to do in Angola
Transport in Benguela @unplash

What should I consider before traveling to Benguela

  • The Angolan Kwanza is the official currency of Angola. However, they generally accept U.S. dollars.
  • It is illegal to take currency out of the country, you will need to change before arriving at the airport if you don’t want to be penalized or even detained.
  • The documentation required to travel to Angola is the passport (which must be at least six months valid when you enter the country), visa (except for people who have Portuguese nationality, as they will be exempt from this requirement as it is a former colony), and an international vaccination certificate.
  • The international vaccination certificate is very important when traveling to Angola and must include the yellow fever vaccine. However, it is also advisable to have received other vaccinations such as hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio and meningitis C, although these are not compulsory.
  • The official language of Angola is Portuguese, but more than 40 Bantu languages are spoken in the country.
  • Hedge yourself against possible risks: travel insured. The Angolan health system leaves much to be desired, and in case of an accident you will need to go to a private clinic. With a good insurance you will travel with peace of mind and you will be fully covered against possible emergencies.
  • Do not drink tap water, only bottled water.
  • Travel with plenty of cash because with the exception of a few hotels and restaurants, they don’t commonly use credit cards are nor are there many reliable ATM machines.
  • The best time to travel to Luanda is between June and September, during the dry season.
  • Angola is quite safe but some precautions should be taken: we recommend to avoid walking, going out at night or visiting areas of conflict.
  • Book hotels well in advance to avoid exorbitant prices.

How to prepare what to see on your trip to Benguela

Register or download the Passporter App and discover all its possibilities.

  • Get inspired by other travelers’ experiences, photos and itineraries.
  • Organize your trip by the categories that suit you best: dates, number of days or type of trip (beach, mountain, restaurants…).
  • Add your friends so that they can see and modify all the plans and trip information.
  • Create your own itinerary of your destination with everything you feel like visiting each day.
  • Add the stops that most interest you, including your accommodation, restaurants, museums…
  • Book your flights, accommodations, transfers and activities through a single app.
  • Save all your documents in the app to have everything always at hand: reservations, boarding passes, important documentation…
  • Make any modifications you need and you’ll be all set for your trip
  • Share your experience with other users. Upload photos of the places you have visited on your trip to the app and inspire other travelers with your experience. In addition, you will be able to share your own travel tips and recommendations on the things to do and see in Benguela.
  • Enjoy your trip to Benguela!

If you have doubts about how to do it, you can check our post: How to create your travel itinerary with Passporter.

Frequently asked questions about a trip to Benguela

What currency is used in Angola?

Angolan Kwanza is the official currency of Angola. However, US dollars are generally accepted in the same way.

How many days do I need to see Benguela?

You can visit the city in one day, but if you also want to discover the surroundings and have time to enjoy the beach, we recommend spending at least 3 days.

Is it possible to drink tap water in Benguela?

In Benguela and in the rest of Angola it is preferable to drink bottled water.

What is the best time to go to Benguela?

The best time to visit is January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December.

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