Africa is a wonderful place. The history, people, culture, food, wildlife and natural beauty draw you in and leave a lasting impression. Anyone who has lived in or visited Africa, will surely agree with these sentiments. Africa also has a reputation for poverty, war, disease, hunger and corruption, and usually this latter reputation is what most outsiders dwell on.
Today we will focus on the top most livable cities on the continent and highlight a few of their numerous features and attractions – we will cap the list at 10, but there are many more!
First, let’s get the criteria out of the way:
- Must be affordable – (relatively)
- Must have political/economic stability
- Must be relatively safe- personal safety and threats from abroad
- Environmental quality – pollution, traffic etc
- Solid infrastructure
- Have that “African Essence”
So without further ado, below are our 10 favourite cities in Africa.
#10 Tunis, Tunisia
Tunis, Tunisia’s sprawling capital is nestled between lake Tunis and the glorious Mediterranean sea. This North African city is very picturesque and has a lot to offer. History abounds – ancient Roman ruins are nearby and grand museums tell the story of Tunis’ rich past. For the average resident or visitor, you have a lot to do. Lounge along the nearly 1200 km of shoreline, visit trendy shops and cafes down cobblestone streets, or visit the ruins of Carthage.
#9 Maputo, Mozambique
Some may be surprised by this selection, but we are sticking by it. Maputo, Mozambique’s capital and largest city is a charming and beautiful place. On a recent visit, we were able to mingle with locals, enjoy great food, and nightlife. Situated on a large natural bay along the Indian Ocean, Maputo has great beaches close by, transportation is reliable and South Africa is a short trip away .
#8 Windhoek, Namibia
Windhoek is a modern African city with a Western vibe to it. It is the capital of Namibia and is around 1700 meters above sea level. The city is clean and organized and offers a wide range of restaurants, hotels and museums. The vestiges of German colonial rule can be seen in architecture that can sometimes seem out of place, but still rather interesting. Game reserves are close by as well as desert scenery which is breathtaking.
#7 Libreville, Gabon
Libreville, the heart of the small country of Gabon- is a vibrant and clean city that has benefited from the oil industry. This cool coastal city is modern and has nice restaurants and sprawling gated communities along with bustling artisan markets. The cost of living is high, that is why it does not rank higher on the list as it could, nonetheless, its heart is African, and the local charm is endearing.
#6 Dar El Salaam, Tanzania
Dar (as it is affectionately called) has grown from a local fishing village to a thriving metropolis and serves as Tanzania’s financial and cultural hub. It has the second busiest seaport in East Africa and is a vital connection to many parts of the region. Infrastructure is improving and locals have many available transportation options (despite epic traffic jams), good restaurants, and quality housing. There is a great eclectic vibe, with the mix of African, Muslim and South Asian influences.
#5 Accra, Ghana
We have a soft spot for Accra. The Ghanaian people are so friendly and accommodating, and this large coastal city is the capital and major economic hub of Ghana. The cost of living is rising, and power cuts still occur, but It has gradually grown into a modern and safe city with many attractions. The food and local culture are delightful, and many of West Africa’s well off, have second homes in Accra.
#4 Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is a large and bustling city located along the Nairobi river in central Kenya. It is a popular city with Westerners, and thus, it has many modern amenities that one would expect. Tourists crowd the game reserves and safaris are a main attraction. As a resident – Nairobi has a lot to offer: an emerging tech scene, great restaurants and hotels, museums, national parks, waterfalls and available housing and transportation. Nairobi is still plagued with wide spread poverty and high cost of living, but measures are being taken to alleviate these problems.
#3 Durban, South Africa
This African city is captivating – its Afro-Indian charm, beautiful setting at the East end of South Africa. Often overlooked for the other great cities in South Africa – Durban is a cosmopolitan gem that will reel you in and make you want to stay a while. The beautiful beaches, sidewalk cafes , museums and aquariums, efficient transport and quality housing, this city could easily top the list.
#2 Cape Town South Africa
Cape Town usually does top everyone’s list as the most livable city in Africa – and it is totally apparent as soon as you set eyes on this place. Its inherent beauty is unsurpassed and is completely mesmerizing. From the mountains that surround the city to the crystal white beaches, this city has a hip urban edge and offers everything a resident would desire in a city – restaurants, cafes, hotels, good schools, markets, safety. This city is a gem, but it failed to make our # 1 spot, mostly due to the fact that it lacked the “essentially African” feel.
#1 Kigali, Rwanda-
I bet that not many expected Kigali to top our list, but we could not resist its charm and unique “African” appeal. Kigali is emerging as a beautiful gem nestled in the centre of Rwanda in Eastern Africa. A clean, charming and progressive city, Kigali has a low crime rate, rolling lush hills and tourists roll through on their way to hike the jungles and safaris that are close by. Kigali who’s past harbours genocidal nightmares of epic proportion, has done a great job moving on and embracing new technologies, and businesses are spouting up, cost of living is low and quality of life is improving for many citizens. Kigali is the quintessential African city of today and the future.
So what do you guys think about our list? Who do you think deserves to be on top? Please let us know your picks and leave comments below.
Oh by the way, did you notice that not one city from Naija is on this list? Is this fair?
Don’t worry, stay tuned for our next post which will list our top 10 cities in Naija!