Explore Luanda, a Tourist’s Guide
Once you step foot in Luanda, the pungent sea-smell of the port city is sure to assail your senses with unspoken promises of endless thrills. Luanda is the capital of Angola, situated in the southern part of Africa and home to Portuguese-speaking people of African, European and South American origins. It is also the largest city in Angola and doubles as its administrative hub.
Luanda definitely has something of interest to fit whatever one’s personality type is, and for tourists looking to explore the port city, there are numerous side attractions to consider. For instance, the Mausoleum of Augustinho Neto ─ the first president of Angola (1975-79) and leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) ─ is a towering monolith sitting in the National Park, sure to evoke strong emotions from even the most passive tourist visiting Luanda. The giant obelisk is a memento built in honour of the country’s first head and renowned father of independent Angola.
History enthusiasts should make a point of visiting the National Slavery Museum in Luanda. Originally owned by Alvaro de Carvalho Matoso a Portuguese captain and foremost slave-trader in 18th century colonial Africa─ it is a little chapel dating as far back as the 17th century and was the final point of departure for African slaves from Luanda.
Currently, this historic building houses slavery artefacts and other antiques from the slave trade like handcuffs, leg chains, and hunting rifles, as well as bows and arrows used in handling slaves. There are also photos, books and other audio-visual resources about the slave trade era available there. Tourists can visit the museum from 9am to 6pm every day.
One does not need to be a foodie to explore local or foreign cuisine in Luanda. Everybody needs food after all. For those who love seafood, Lookal Mar comes well recommended. The view is exquisite and the food is fresh. Meals usually start with a small plate of sliced Señoro de Olivenza (a special sausage), while an order is placed. Luanda’s best restaurants are at Ilha where it is rumoured one can eat a feast because the food is cheap.
To be free or escape from all of life’s humdrum for some time or for quality relaxation, there are a couple of exotic beaches all around Luanda. Ilhado Mussulo (Mussulo Island) tops the list of popular seaside spots and is closely followed by Sangano Beach, which is relatively less crowded. Cabo Ledo is another decent beach that is great for surfing. Tropical-style restaurants, beach houses, endless stretches of sand and fantastic waves, all feature to create a thrilling experience.
Regarding night-time activity with good music, drinking and plenty of dancing, Luanda doesn’t disappoint. Twenty is an amazing hangout bar, which also has good music. In addition, the reviews for its cocktails are positive. Other nightlife favourites are W Club and Switch Supper Club, inside the Epic Sana Hotel.
Another place of note to visit in Luanda is the Fortaleza de Sao Miguel (Saint Michael’s Fortress), which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1966. Paulo Dias de Novais, the Portuguese explorer who founded Luanda, built it in 1576.
The fortress is another rich repository of Angolan history, covering the colonial, liberation and civil war periods. War antiques (ammunitions and so on) from the liberation and civil war years can be accessed, as well as photographs and other memorabilia. The fortress has the best view of the Luanda Bay.
Avenida 4 de Fevereiro is perhaps the perfect spot to begin and end your day in Luanda. It is located along the Luanda Bay and is suitable for taking long walks, jogs, cycling, roller-skating or other forms of exercise or recreation. For those desiring more intense activity, basketball courts are available.
Whether you’re a shopaholic, a window-shopper or just seeking to get a few souvenirs from your trip to Luanda, you can look to Belas Shopping Mall, which also has a cinema house within it. Although not as well stocked as Belas, Ginga Shopping is another quality mall to visit for your shopping needs before you leave Luanda.
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