From great culinary and cultural experiences to animal encounters, these are the best things you can do in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
Often ignored by travelers road tripping around Namibia, Windhoek is not only Namibia’s gateway to the world but also a great city to understand what makes this country so different from the rest of southern Africa.
It’s true. Windhoek is not as modern as Cape Town, as large as Dar es Salaam, or as buzzing as Nairobi. Still, I considered this city a small cozy/town with great people welcoming with a smile and plenty to do.
I worked in Windhoek and explored its hidden getaways, and after almost two months, I fell in love with this city. In this article, I want to show you my favorite things to do in Windhoek and why you should consider visiting this capital.
Get lost around the city center
The best way to explore Windhoek’s key attractions is by exploring the city center independently and finding your way around.
Start your visit to Windhoek by visiting the imposing Christuskirche in the city’s heart. This 42-meter high church tower can be climbed during opening hours and offers a beautiful view over the surrounding town. The climb is definitely worth it!
Also, the National Museum of Namibia, located at the old fortress (Alte Feste), should not be forgotten. Here, you can learn about the colonization period at the beginning of the last century, the period when Namibia was part of South Africa, and the changes affecting today’s Namibia.
From the National Museum of Namibia, you can reach the Windhoek pedestrian zone within a few minutes, where the well-known meteorite group “Gibeon Meteorite Shower” is located. The celestial bodies are worth a look!
If you feel hungry or thirsty, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants offering delicious bites from southern Africa, and worth a stop. Slowtown cafe is always a good choice.
KEEP IN MIND: Windhoek is considered way safer than most African cities. Still, essential precaution is recommended. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking outside when the sun comes down. Petty crime is quite common in the city center at night, and for some reason, Windhoek is extremely quiet and empty after 8 pm.
Visit Katutura Township & the Kapana Market
Historically known as a residential area for racial segregation during apartheid, Katatura symbolizes Namibia’s dark past (and even in some way present). While the city has left that chapter more or less behind, Katatura became the backbone of Windhoek – a district with people from everywhere in Africa and home to around 70,000 residents.
Katutura is a place to better understand Namibia’s current social issues and see a different face of the city. And yes! This district can still be treacherous for tourists – especially at night. However, Namibians are doing everything to change this bad image and show the more vibrant and exciting side of Katatura. Until things get together, the best way to explore Katatura trouble-free is by exploring this district on tour. Katu Tours or Katutura Township Tours are highly recommended!
While on tour with them, you will also stop by the Kapana Market, a sprawling market hall where one street food stall stands next to the other. For residents of Katutura, this is the premier destination for Kapana, a traditional way of preparing raw beef, in which the meat is cooked over an open fire.
Of course, every Namibian has a different Kapana spot, and every trader swears by their own spice mixture. Therefore, you can simply try it out from stand to stand and let yourself be inspired by the meat appetizers!
Get crafts at Namibia Craft Center or the craft market on Independence Avenue
Namibia has some of the best crafts I’ve seen in Africa. From simple keychains made of hazelnuts to accessories Himba and Herero use in their daily lives, travelers can get here unique items to bring home.
You can find some crafts in shopping malls, hotels, and at the airport. However, the best places to buy something unique and special are the Namibia Craft Center next to Brewers Market or the craft market on Independence Avenue.
They are both just meters away from each other, and you can explore both in a single visit. At the Namibia Craft Center, you will find more organized shops and higher prices, while at the market on Independence Avenue, you will instead see Himba, who just set up a stand on the ground and try to sell whatever they produce.
NOTE: Don’t buy wooden masks in Namibia! First, tribal masks are not worn by any ethnic groups living in Namibia. Secondly, all these masks are brought from Angola, DRC, or CAR, and you can find them way cheaper in other African countries.
Taste the world’s best meat
Famous for having the best red meat globally, Namibia is the place to go if you are a carnivore. Braai (a Namibian BBQ) is considered a sacred tradition and if I’m a bit honest, being vegetarian in Namibia is simply not accessible.
Still, this is where meat lovers can have a feast and taste some of the most uncommon meats in the world. Did you know kudu is high on the menu? The animal is known for its lean, tender beef, often cited as the tastiest game meat in the world! You just have to try it.
Feeling adventurous to try something more? Zebras, crocodiles, and impalas are also some of the favorite dishes for locals and visitors.
The best place to try it? Joe’s Beerhouse. Here, the braai masters cook all kinds of different meats to perfection. From burgers to croc steaks, Joe’s Steakhouse is the place to visit as a meat lover. Even if you don’t go for the meats, the extravagant furnishings and decorations there are definitely worth looking at.
Looking for something fancier and less meaty? The Stellenbosch Wine Bar is the perfect location to taste some of the best wines of southern Africa but also get an excellent meal in Windhoek.
Visit the Okapuka Ranch
On the outskirts of Windhoek lies the beautiful Okapuka Ranch. A visit there is a must during any stay in Namibia! Okapuka is known as one of the best activities in Namibia. This lodge/ranch is perfect for staying overnight or simply visiting and experiencing wild animals up close. Several game drives are offered at different times every day for just 25 EUR. Visit the Okapuka Ranch
On the outskirts of the capital Windhoek lies the beautiful Okapuka Ranch. A visit there is a must during any stay in Namibia! Okapuka is known as one of the best activities in Namibia. This lodge/ranch is perfect for staying overnight or simply visiting and experiencing wild animals up close. Several game drives are offered at different times every day for just 25 EUR. Without going as far as Etosha or Damaraland, you can see zebras, wildebeest, crocodiles, and rhinos if you are lucky.
Top activities at Okapuka Ranch
- Cheetah feeding
- Hiking Trails / Mountain Biking
- Lion Feeding
- Game Drive
- Horse Riding – rhino trek
- Leopard Feeding (not available yet)
NOTE: All bookings can be done through the official website of the Okapuka Ranch
The Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve is a different alternative, a private ranch many consider breathtaking. This park is known for its many wildlife species and more than 200 species of birds.
If you want to visit the Daan Viljoen nature reserve or Okapuka Ranch, you can get in your own car or arrange a taxi for more or less 25 EUR.
Visit Voigtland Guesthouse
Located 35 kilometers away from Windhoek and on the way to the airport, Voigtland Guesthouse is more of some kind of farm built for wealthy travelers. Even though I consider it a false impression of what Nambia is, I couldn’t skip it from this list, as this is the only place in the country where you can feed a giraffe.
Yes, at Voigtland Guesthouse, there are three resident giraffes, Gustav, Sophie, and Shorty. These three animals are fully habituated, curious and happy to get closer and even fed by you.
Unfortunately, feeding the giraffes is now only available for guests. However, if you are willing to spend around 140 EUR per night, you can enjoy this unique opportunity.
Read more: How to prepare for a camping trip in Namibia
Enjoy the nightlife of Windhoek.
Fancy a drink and maybe some dancing once the sun comes down? Whether you only want a cold drink, a relaxing night meeting new people, or clubbing until early in the morning, Windhoek has an option for each of us.
At Thule Hotel, located only a few kilometers drive from the center, you will find the city’s best view and delicious cocktails waiting for you.
On the other hand, Vinyls Bar in the city center offers cool events! An exciting pub quiz takes place every Monday, on Tuesdays, you can prove yourself on the microphone at the karaoke evening, and on Thursdays, you can have a great time at the comedy night!
If you’re more into dancing and partying, Brewers Market is the perfect location for young people to have a drink and chat. Dance the night away there!
For a relaxed evening with a few beer glasses, the Urbancamp is my number 1. This lodge/camping spot is a favorite for travelers passing by and expats living in Windhoek. It is simply the best place to get tips from expert travelers, hear stories from locals, or simply enjoy a glass of beer.
Another top area for spending the evening is The Village, a street in the district of Eros full of restaurants and bars.
Read more: How to plan a trip to Etosha National Park
How to get around
With most travelers renting a vehicle when traveling to Namibia, moving around with your own car seems the best option. However, if you want to get a drink or simply not worry about driving late at night after dinner in Windhoek, the best way to move around is using LEFA.
LEFA is a taxi app in Windhoek and works like Uber. A standard trip costs an average of 5 EUR, and it is considered the safest and most comfortable option for tourists.
Alternatively, regular taxis also cost between 0,70 EUR or 1.40 EUR depending on the distance. These are blue cars you can stop at any time. However, keep in mind that standard taxis are shared between several people, and you might not be the only one in the vehicle.
If you plan to leave Windhoek and visit surrounding cities, you should definitely rent a car. This is the safest and cheapest option.
Read more: How to plan a road trip in Namibia