Every year, on January 25, Angola celebrates Luanda City Day. During this festive day, the country commemorates the creation of the capital in 1576.
Luanda was originally called Loanda, which means “flat land,” and was part of the kingdom of Kongo. When the Portuguese arrived, Luanda went down in history as the first city to be founded by the Europeans on the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, Luanda is a vibrant city with beautiful architecture, museums and relaxing beaches.
1. Soak up the city’s culture
Tap into the city’s amazing cultural heritage and visit some of Luanda’s landmarks.
São Miguel fortress is one of the main attractions of Luanda and definitely worth a visit. Built in 1576 by Paulo Dias de Novais, the fortress used to be a major outlet for slave traffic to Brazil. Today, the fortress houses the Museum of Armed Forces.
Architecture lovers will also enjoy visiting the Palácio de Ferro, designed by Frenchman Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) in the 1890s for the Paris Universal Exhibition. The construction was dismantled and brought to Luanda in 1902.
2. Indulge in Luanda’s delicious cuisine
There’s no better way to get to know a destination then through its food.
Luanda has a rich cuisine, which draws from both European and African influences. With its coastal location, seafood is extremely popular, so be sure to try the city’s prawns and tilapia.
Although expensive, locals and travellers agree that Lookal Mar is the best restaurant in the capital for seafood. Make sure you try the Polvo à Lagareiro (the octopus).
3. Relax on the beach
Luanda is famous for its beautiful white-sand beaches.
The palm-fringed Mussulho beaches, on a peninsula south of the city, are ideal for relaxation with their warm and calm waters. You can spend the day at any of the resorts on the island, which will offer you access to almost completely private beaches.
The island of Luanda is a 7km long beach situated just 2 minutes from the city centre. You’ll find quaint little bars, restaurants and discos along the seaside.
4. Go on a wildlife experience
Close enough for a day trip, Kissama national park is just 75 km south to Luanda.
Kissama became a National Park in 1957, and offers visitors the chance to see elephants, elands, giraffes, wildebeest and zebras. Besides wildlife, Kissame also features the most beautiful scenery with numerous baobab trees, huge cactus and other exotic plants.