A Local’s Guide to Harare, Zimbabwe
Are you looking for an adventure of a lifetime in an African city? Then look no further than Harare – Zimbabwe’s capital city.
The sunshine city as it is so affectionately known, is home to more than 3 million residents. It boasts great weather all year round, with the best times to visit being April through to November. You may want to avoid December, January and February because of the rain which, although it is by no means torrential, may put a damper on the afternoons and limit where you can go and what you can see.
With that being said, here are some of the best things to see when you’re in Harare.
Places to Visit in Harare
The great thing about Harare’s center of town is that it is accessible by foot. You can literally walk across town from one stretch to the other without fear of getting mugged or robbed in daylight. The best place to start your tour of the city is at the National Art Gallery along Julius Nyerere Way.
National Art Gallery
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Address: 20 Julius Nyerere Way
The National Art Gallery as the name implies is the leading gallery in the country. It is home to some of the country’s national treasures. Here you’ll find both contemporary works from internationally acclaimed artists such as Dominic Benhura and other local artists; as well as ancient artifacts unearthed from sites around the country.
Visit the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences
Open every day Monday to Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.
Address: Civic Centre, Rotten Row, Harare
If you’d like to learn more about the history of the people of Zimbabwe, there is no better place to go than the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences. The Museum has an extensive library, a model Shona Village in case you don’t have time to visit the rural areas, and a series of galleries which hold rare and valuable items such as the legendary 700-year-old Lemba artifact which is believed by many to be a replica of the original Jewish Ark of the Covenant.
Tour the Harare Gardens
The Harare Gardens are a designated green area in the heart of the town. The gardens which span more than 21-hectares are well-maintained and in the early 1990s were the site of thousands of wedding celebrations. Today, you’ll find many people resting and relaxing in the gardens and couples milling about. The City of Harare oversees the care of the gardens and during music festivals, it’s not uncommon for parts of the gardens to be set up for live shows and events. There is almost always a show taking place every other weekend.
Dine at the Crowne Plaza Harare Monomotapa
Address: 54 Park Lane, Harare
Just a 3-minute walk from the National Art Gallery is the illustrious Crowne Plaza Hotel where you can enjoy a refreshing drink at the Gazebo Coffee Lounge. Even better, after a long day touring and site seeing, opt to dine at the hotel’s fancy upmarket Parkview Brasserie restaurant, or better still, the charming Le Francais restaurant which caters to those with a more refined palate. You can check out the restaurant’s reviews here.
Open daily Monday to Sunday 7 am to 10 pm.
Address: Corner Julius Nyerere Way and Jason Moyo
A building that has recently changed the skyline of the city and is certainly worth visiting is Joina City. It also happens to be one of the biggest malls in the capital city, and the most modern. Having been completed as recently as 2010 it is the place that many go to hang out, shop and generally spend an afternoon at.
6. Check out the Celebration Centre
Address: 162 Swan Drive, Borrowdale Road, Harare
One of the most renowned buildings in the capital city that is worth the 20-minute drive out to the lush suburbs of Borrowdale is the Celebration Centre, home to Celebration group of churches. The massive community center stands as testament of the faith and resilience of the people of Zimbabwe. The building you see was constructed during an era in Zimbabwe where nobody believed anything good could come out of the country. The story of how the building itself was finished is enough to impress anyone. There is also a restaurant called Connections which serves light meals, cake and coffee where you can relax after your tour of the center.
Things Worth Noting About Harare
Zimbabwe is a country that is recovering from an economic depression as it were. The country has no stable currency but uses a mixture of currencies from the United States Dollar, the South African Rand, the Botswana Pula, the Chinese Yen, and even a quasi-currency called bond notes. There is a serious cash shortage in the country which has seen the adoption of e-banking as a way of life. You’ll need your credit cards everywhere you go in this country, and while it’s not advised to carry cash when travelling, you must definitely carry cash to Zimbabwe!
How Safe is Harare?
To read an in-depth review of the different safety concerns you should be aware of when travelling to Harare, be sure to check out the United States Bureau of Diplomatic Security OSAC’s official 2017 statement and statistics from their website here.
Harare – A City Poised for Greatness
Overall, Harare is a city that’s poised for great things. With the recent outing of former President Robert Mugabe, things are looking hopeful for the young country. The country is set to experience a bigger tourism drive in future. If you ever do visit Harare, Zimbabwe, let us know below. We’d love to hear about your experience.