I’m fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (not just my opinion – this is according to almost every article in the world highlighting the most beautiful cities on the planet!)
Cape Town is incredible. It’s vibrant and cosmopolitan, diverse and naturally astounding!
I don’t take it for granted and am grateful everyday for the blessing of living surrounded by such beauty BUT, Cape Town is not the only amazing city on the African continent. There are so many more to explore!
I recently asked a few of the most well-travelled travel bloggers to share with me their favourite city in Africa. Let it be said that people LOVE Africa!
Read on below to find out which spots made the list of Top 10 Best Cities in Africa…
Best Cities In Africa
Nominated by Melissa from The Family Voyage
The seaside hamlet of Essaouira, Morocco is a wonderful place to get a sense of North African culture without some of the pitfalls of bigger cities. It has a population of just 80,000 (less than one-tenth the population of Marrakech just a few hours away) but it offers so much for visitors. You can wander the low-pressure streets of the ancient medina, watch fishermen bring in their daily catch at the wharf, visit artisans at work, eat amazing Moroccan food, ride a camel through sand dunes and so much more. Thanks to its small size and relatively high European expat population, you’ll find that the people of Essaouira are extremely welcoming of foreign visitors.
Cape Town, South Africa
Nominated by Sharon Gourlay from Digital Nomad Wannabe
Cape Town is the best destination in Africa because it’s one of the best cities in the world. With crazy beautiful views seemingly everywhere, you constantly know where you are thanks to the very famous Table Mountain. There are many things to do beyond Table Mountain including beautiful beaches, many great museums and the possibility to see another side of Cape Town with a township tour. There are many chances to learn the history of Cape Town from the Castle of Good Hope to the District 6 Museum. There is also a wine region on the edge of a city and only a short bus ride. Between the variety of attractions, the great food, the low cost of everything and just how stunningly beautiful Cape Town is, it is the best destination in Africa.
(Ed – Luckiest to call this my home town! Heading here? Read my post listing ALL the things to do with kids in Cape Town)
Nominated by Marita Dortins from Yoga with Marita
Dahab is an idyllic town on Egypt’s Red Sea Coast, renowned for its spectacular scuba diving. There are shallow lagoons with an incredible array of tropical fish perfect for first-time divers, as well as deeper dives for the more experienced. Lucky divers will encounter dolphins, turtles and rays. For non-divers, snorkelling, kite-surfing, yoga classes, a mountain climb and a 5th century monastery are all on the menu. And then there’s the doing nothing: lying by the pool, listening to the waves gently lapping at the nearby shore. It’s a big enough town to have plenty of options for (cheap and cheerful) dining, but small enough that you can get around on foot. Dahab is one of those places where you meet expats who came for a week, and are still there 20 years later. It’s well worth a visit, for a week or a lifetime!
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nominated by Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse
Johannesburg is my favorite big city in Africa, at least out of the ones I’ve been to. While most people prefer Cape Town, I find that Johannesburg has a life and saw to it that is vibrant, welcoming, and more integrated. There is such a rich history there as the center of the anti-apartheid movement. I recommend doing a tour of South Africa‘s largest Township, Soweto, as well as the Neighbourgoods market on Sunday for a more local experience. Since chances are good you’ll be flying into or out of Johannesburg for a lot of Africa experiences, might as well stick around and get to know this often underlooked city.
Nominated by Suzi Sanders from Survey Suzi
Morocco is home to many interesting cities, and Marrakech is one Morocco’s most popular cities to visit. It’s easy to see why. The city is a treasure trove of historic architecture, gardens, palaces, mosques and souks (a Moroccan market/bazaar). The old city, the medina, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see the Marrakech Gates which surround the old city and get lost exploring historic narrow alleyways. Must see attractions include the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque (the largest in the city), as well as El Badi Palace and Jemaa el-Fnaa – the main city square. As for accommodation, the best way to stay in Marrakech is in a riad – a traditional Moroccan home, often with a pool or garden in the center.
Nominated by Isabelle from Dominican Abroad
A trip through the southern region of Africa will likely bring you through the transport hub of Bulawayo, the second biggest city in Zimbabwe. Travelers driving, taking buses, and trains will often stop through the city of Bulawayo briefly on their way to one of the more popular destinations in the region: Harare, Victoria Falls, Botswana or South Africa. But what about stopping in Bulawayo? Bulawayo is one of the best cities in Africa to visit because it’s quaint yet bustling with art, history, and culture. There are hostels, national parks, museums, restaurants, and nightlife opportunities. But my favorite? Connecting with the local Zimbabweans who are full of kindness and generosity. Listen to their stories as you stroll through the tree-lined streets of this beautiful city!
Durban, South Africa
Nominated by Inma Gregorio from A World to Travel
Until today, Durban is my favorite city in South Africa and where I spent most of my time in that country. Durban is the Barcelona, and also India of South Africa. It has a beautiful coast of temperate waters, is avant-garde and its inhabitants seem chosen among the most charismatic of the country. Perfectly understandable, they live in a small paradise where mass tourism, fortunately, has not yet arrived! On your itinerary, do not forget to include the Golden Mile, the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Financial Center. If you are looking for a hotel, check Hotel Elangeni and Hotel Beverly. They are among the best! To eat, go for pop-up restaurants like the one Zac & Tonic organize on request or get something from the many food trucks you can find all over the city. The South African food is regularly listed among the best cuisines in the world and the street eats in this city can prove it. Finally, to have a drink, go to Freedom Cafe or Mojo. The sunsets from the latter one are priceless. Enjoy!
Nominated by Emily from Two Dustry Travelers
Nairobi is a city of striking contrasts: Constant development alongside entrenched poverty; skyscrapers towering over wildlife; a reputation for being “dangerous” despite incredibly friendly and helpful people. But embrace its idiosyncrasies, and you just might fall in love. Where else in the world can you spend the morning on safari, the afternoon shopping, and the evening enjoying fine dining? Kenya’s bustling capital city can feel overwhelming at first, but stay long enough to scratch the surface and you’ll find plenty to appreciate. Nairobi boasts the only game reserve within a major city (Nairobi National Park, home to all of the Big Five) as well as enough cultural and historical sights to keep visitors busy for days. Surrender yourself to the chaos that is Nairobi, and you’ll see why it’s one of the best cities in Africa.
Nominated by Heather from Trimm Travels
One of my most favorite cities I’ve visited is Chefchaouen, Morocco. If you don’t recognize it by its official name, you might recognize it by its nickname “The Blue Pearl”. It gets that nickname because so much of the city is painted blue! The Blue Pearl isn’t painted just any blue, it’s a blue that makes the city glow even in the daytime. For me, this blue glow set the city apart, made it quite memorable and consequently, moved it to one of my all-time favorite cities! Located in northern Morocco, Chefchaouen is nestled high in the Rif Mountains and has a Spanish influence. The people are quite friendly despite the fact that their city has been made famous by Instagram and they now share their daily lives with a massive number of tourists. If you are traveling to Morocco, be sure to visit Chefchaouen. It really is a city that allows a break from the heat and a chance to truly immerse in the culture as a local would!
Nominated by Chris Backe from Becoming a Digital Nomad
Tunis, Tunisia is a near-perfect introduction to northern Africa. While less touristy than Egypt, the blend of French and Arabic influences combine nicely with offerings from the ancient Roman Empire. Yes, this is the same Tunisia that has suffered some terrorist attacks in recent years, and the southern parts of the country should be considered off-limits to tourists, but the more liberal capital city is a world away from the fighting. Expect exotic, tasty meals, efficient inter-city transit (including to nearby Carthage), and some nearby Roman ruins uncluttered by tourists.
So there you have it! A round up of all the best cities in Africa – I have certainly got a longer list of must-see spots on the continent thanks to these suggestions from the well-travelled travel bloggers of the world!
Which is your favourite city in Africa?
Which one will you be visiting next?