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Windhoek is, in some ways, the least "African" of Sub-Saharan cities. The compact city centre, with its landmark Christuskirche, looks much like a transplant from the European mainland – its streets rarely overflow with people, traffic is orderly, and the closest continental restaurant – or even a full-on beer garden, for that matter – is never too far away. Although many visitors limit their stay in Windhoek to its central district (Klein Windhoek), heavy on colonial heritage, there is more to discover further afield. The outlying neighbourhood of Katutura makes for an insightful day trip (although going it alone isn't recommended, try and join a guided tour or be accompanied by a local), while the Daan Viljoen Game Reserveis the place closest to town to get close and personal with some of Namibia's non-predatory indigenous animals: zebra, giraffe, impala, kudu, steenbok, oryx, and a multitude of bird species. One needn't go to a specially designated reserve, however - animals roam Namibian planes freely and can be spotted just off major highways.
Few come to Namibia and limit their stay to Windhoek alone, but most who do travel to the country choose to spend a day or two in the easy-going capital. Although attractions are admittedly scarce, there is just enough for a good couple of days with sightseeing and shopping. If you happen to have time on your hands and do not mind venturing out of the city centre, check out the recently inaugurated Heroes Acre (south of Windhoek, down B1), an expansive war memorial commemorating those involved in the Namibian liberation struggle.
Namibian cuisine as a whole is an odd mix of African game dishes, using meats of animals like crocodile or kudu, and strong European (more specifically, German) influences. The food served at Windhoek's multiple restaurants differs greatly from the locals' staple diet: you'll have to dig to experience the latter, albeit not too far - the Katatura Township is where Namibian eats are more readily available, and nearly every guided tour includes a tasting of open-fire grilled Kapana beef.
Cafes are ubiquitous in Klein Windhoek, most serving Western-style food, coffee and dessert.
Bars-hopping is easy in central Windhoek, as most establishments are grouped close to each other. The party-going crowd is normally a good mix of working locals, expats and visitors, and the casual environment at most bars makes it easy to strike up a conversation. If you happen to have a local guide, consider checking out Katatura's notorious Eveline Street, where rowdy parties break out in someone's makeshift backyard bar, but certainly do not go it alone.
Windhoek has a good mix of craft stores and modern one-stop shopping centres, the latter including malls like centrally located Wernhil Park, Mauera and the latest and largest yet addition to the scene: The Grove. For local souvenirs, head to the pedestrian Post Street Mall, and do not hold reservations when it comes to haggling. The Windhoek City Market takes place on Fridays and Saturdays at The Village; schedules are subject to change. Browse through Uncle Spike's Book Exchange at the corner of Tal & Garten for some very reasonably priced, multi-lingual literature.
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