Things to see and do in Luanda

Things to see and do in Luanda Angola
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Luanda is the capital and the political, economic and cultural center of Angola. The city is also a tourist destination in the country for its history and Portuguese colonial legacy that has left its mark on the architecture of renowned buildings such as the Fortaleza de São Miguel and the Cathedral of Luanda. On your trip you can also visit beautiful beaches on the Ilha do Cabo, the Mirador da Lua and the local markets. There are a lot of things to do in Luanda, a fascinating destination for those looking to explore the cultural richness and natural beauty of Africa.

In this post we will share the must-sees in Luanda and help you organize your trip with the best tips. Discover the local cuisine, the best neighborhoods to stay in, and how to get to and around the city. Are you ready to start your trip? Then dive into the post and start planning.

What are the best places to visit in Luanda?

1. The Fortress of São Miguel

The São Miguel Fortress is a historical symbol of the city. It was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century in a strategic location on the bay of Luanda for defensive purposes during the colonial period. That is why it is a military-style architecture building.

The building has witnessed numerous historical events and has stood the test of time until today. It now houses the Museum of Military History where artifacts and documents narrating the country’s history are on display. It is a fascinating place to learn about Angola’s colonial history.

Visit hours: daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Price of admission: 264 KH.

2. National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology showcases the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of the country through an impressive collection of art, artifacts and traditional objects from Angola’s different ethnic groups. Visitors can explore the pre-colonial history, popular culture, religion and ancestral traditions of local ethnic groups throughout its rooms, where in addition to promoting cultural heritage, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and educational activities to raise awareness among the younger generations about the importance of preserving Angola’s identity and cultural heritage.

Visiting hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.

Price of admission: Free access but donations are welcome.

things to do in Luanda
Parliament of Luanda @shutterstock

3. Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré

The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré is an outstanding religious building interesting for its architecture with colonial and modern influences, and baroque and neo-Romanesque elements. It was built in the 17th century and today is a symbol of the history and faith of the country. On the facade you can appreciate different types of ornaments and colorful stained glass windows, and the interior is equally impressive.

Visiting hours: every day from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Price of entry: it is free but if you want to enter the sacristy you will have to pay 0,5€.

4. The best beaches to visit in Luanda

Luanda, despite being a port city, has several picturesque beaches along its coastline among which we highlight:

  • Santiago Beach: is popular for its golden sand and calm waters, ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Praia do Bispo: is another good option for its relaxed atmosphere and views of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Praia da Mabunda: This beach with a festive atmosphere is perfect for water activities.
  • Ilha do Cabo: here you’ll find pristine beaches and luxury resorts.

5. The Iron Palace

This interesting building was designed by Gustave Eiffel in the 19th century and reflects the Portuguese colonial influence on the city. It is worth a closer look to appreciate its pre-fabricated iron structure with ornate detailing and arched windows. The building has undergone changes over the years, but it still remains a must-see in Luanda.

Visiting hours: every day except Mondays from 10:00h to 19:00h.

things to do in Luanda
Sao Paulo da Assuncao Monument @shutterstock

Things to do around Luanda

1. Ilha do Cabo

The Ilha do Cabo, also known as Ilha de Luanda, is a beautiful island located off the coast of Luanda and a popular tourist destination for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters that attract local and foreign visitors in search of peace.

The island has a wide variety of accommodation options, restaurants and bars with panoramic sea views. In addition, tourists can enjoy water sports, boating and other water activities.

The island is connected to the mainland and you can get there by public transport or even walking.

2. Lua viewpoint, the best panoramic view in Luanda

Located atop a hill, the Lua viewpoint is an iconic point that offers an impressive panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the rocky shores of the city. Its name, which means “Lookout of the Moon,” is due to the lookout’s appearance reminiscent of the lunar surface.

The lookout is a popular spot for locals and visitors who wish to admire the natural beauty of Luanda and capture memorable photographs in a unique setting. It is located 1h and 10 min from the city, and can only be reached by car.

things to do in Angola
Lua viewpoint @pixabay

What to see in 1 day in Luanda

Although Luanda is not one of the most touristic cities in Angola, the truth is that it is worth spending at least a day discovering the museums and beautiful colonial buildings of the city. The must-sees in Luanda are The Fortress of São Miguel, the National Museum of Anthropology, the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, the Iron Palace and the Ilha do Cabo. However, there are many tourists who decide to extend their stay to enjoy the beaches and good weather in the city.

Where to stay in Luanda

The level of security in Lunda is similar to that of other African cities, so we recommend avoiding the most troubled neighborhoods and going out at night. In the city you will find a wide variety of accommodation options, but we recommend looking in the downtown area, in Vila Alice and Talatona. They are modern residential and commercial areas.

  • Casa Catalina: This is a very nice guesthouse with well-equipped rooms with bed linen, private bathroom and a fridge. There is also a common terrace where you can relax after a long day of sightseeing. The price per night starts at 46€.
  • Hotel Coral da Ilha: This 3-star hotel located in front of the beach features free WiFi, fitness center, bar, African cuisine restaurant and free private parking. All rooms at the hotel have air conditioning, closet, balcony with sea views, private bathroom, flat-screen TV, microwave, bed linen and towels. The price per night starts from 150€.
  • InterContinental Luanda Miramar: This 5-star hotel is the perfect luxury option for a vacation in style. The rooms are perfectly equipped and it has common areas such as garden, swimming pool, restaurant and bar. The price per night starts at 300€ and breakfast costs 23€.

Where and what to eat in Luanda?

Angolan cuisine is rich, varied and heavily influenced by the country’s history and cultural diversity. In Luanda you can try dishes such as Moamba de Galinha (chicken stew), Calulu (fish stew), Funge (corn flour paste) or Cachupa (meat and corn stew) among many other dishes.

Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Luanda:

  • La Vigia: In this restaurant you can taste the best fresh grilled fish in town. It is an informal and very nice restaurant where you will eat deluxe.
  • Churrascaria Nandinhos: Here you can eat the best roast chicken in town. It’s a simple, cheap and busy place, so you’d better get there early if you want to get a table.
  • Cafe del Mar: This is an upscale restaurant with exceptional views of the beach. They serve international cuisine and the price ranges from 20€ to 80€.

How to get to Luanda

Although Luanda is not a very touristy city, the truth is that its 4 de Fevereiro International Airport is very well connected with European cities. From the airport you can reach the city center as follows:

  • Mini cab or Candongueiros: these are blue and white cars that will take you downtown for 100 Kwanzas, although the price may increase if there is traffic.
  • Minibus: there is bus service that will drop you off in the city center.
  • Car: at the airport you can rent a car, but be aware that not all roads are in good condition. Also, if you are going to stay only in Luanda it is better to use public transport.
things to do in Angola
Luanda Beach @shutterstock

What should I consider before traveling to Luanda

  • 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 Luanda

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 typology (beach, mountain, restaurants…).
  • Add your friends so they can see and modify all the plans and information of the trip.
  • Create your own itinerary of your destination with everything you feel like visiting each day.
  • Add the stops that interest you the most, including your accommodation, restaurants, museums…
  • Book your flights, accommodations, transfers and activities through a single app.
  • Save all your documents in the app to always have everything 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 things to see and do in Luanda.
  • Enjoy your trip to Luanda!

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 Luanda

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 Luanda?

One day is enough to see Luanda, but if you wish, you can extend your trip and enjoy all the city’s museums and beaches.

Is it possible to drink tap water in Luanda?

It is better to drink only bottled water.

What is the best way to get to Luanda?

You can get to Luanda by plane to the airport at Aeropuerto Internacional 4 de Fevereiro.

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