With Africa being the second largest continent, it can be hard to decide which of the 54 countries to visit let alone the cities within them!
The good news is that I have compiled a list of some of the absolute must-see cities within the continent to help narrow down your search and give you a feel of the many wonderful things Africa has to offer.
Pack your suitcase and get your camera ready as you enter a world of landscapes, wildlife, and culture, unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Table of Contents
1. Cairo, Egypt
The capital city of Egypt is home to many historic monuments but is mainly known as being the location for one of the Seven Wonders, the Pyramids of Giza.
Grab a cup of Egyptian-style coffee and stroll through the Khan El-Khalili souk marketplace which is lined with breathtaking antiques for purchase.
A trip up the Cairo Tower provides stunning, panoramic views of the city and the Nile River.
There are many churches to visit, each with its own unique features. The Hanging Church was built above the entrance to the Babylon fortress and has elaborate walls, arches, and benches.
Not only is Cairo home to one of the Seven Wonders, but it is also the last one still standing. This definitely calls for a visit but it also means that the area can get pretty busy.
Along with the Pyramids, there is also the giant Sphinx that has a viewpoint perfectly set up to take pictures that look like you’re kissing it!
2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Known for its massive waterfall that stretches over a mile long, Victoria Falls is a flourishing city that is dependent on the tourism the falls bring in.
The falls are one of the largest in all of the world and are inhabited by many unique species.
Walk across the bridge from Zimbabwe to Zambia to admire the falls from a different angle.
Get your heart pumping with one of the many exhilarating experiences like bungee jumping, white water rafting, and zip-lining.
The best time to visit the falls is towards the end of summer when they are at their fullest.
After a day of adventure, head down to Boma, an all-you-can-eat buffet located in the middle of the forest, to try some authentic meals like a warthog.
Enjoy the entertainment of African dancers, drummers, and fortune-tellers.
Step away from the tourist scene and walk over to the Chinotimba Market where you can interact with the natives and see what items they were able to make from old scraps.
3. Zanzibar City, Zanzibar
The white sandy beaches and clear waters that make up this island are amazing and you can easily spend all your time here relaxing on the calming beaches.
The warm waters make for enjoyable swimming experiences and they don’t gain depth quickly so it’s possible to go far out into the water and still have your feet touch the ground.
Eat seafood barbecue and buy trinkets without ever leaving the beach.
Learn about the city’s history as you take a walking tour through the small villages and stop by the famous Stone Town.
Stone Town is also where you will find the house where Queen singer, Freddie Mercury, was born!
Watch the sunset while you enjoy dinner with a view at The Tea House Restaurant, located on top of the Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel with breathtaking views of the city and the Indian Ocean.
Plus this island is not a very well known place to visit so there is a good chance you won’t face many crowds along your travels.
4. Marrakesh, Morrocco
The bustling city of Marrakesh is a wondrous place to explore but like any busy city, it’s easy to be overwhelmed in the shuffle.
The best advice is to go with the flow and take in all the city has to offer. Walk off the beaten path and visit some of these hidden gems that will have you oohing and aahing for days to come.
To get up close and personal with the beautiful detail of Moroccan architecture, you will want to plan a visit to the Islamic school of Ben Youseff Madrasa.
Head over to the old town of Medina to be immersed in the culture as you find boutiques hidden along the streets, sugary treats around every corner, and kittens that seem to guide you through it all.
The markets, also known as souks, are a sight all on their own. Vibrant carpets, lamps and so much more hang around you as you walk through a colorful wonderland.
Don’t forget to barter for a better price! No prices are set and stone and you can easily get ripped off if you don’t stand your ground.
Last but definitely not least, take a hot air balloon ride with views of the Moroccan mountains and plains as the sunrise creates a golden glow, unlike anything you’ve seen before.
5. Kigali, Rwanda
Established as the capital of Rwanda in 1962, Kigali’s gruesome history has not stopped it from growing into a wonderful city of peace and tranquillity.
The city is best known for its diverse environment and abundance of wildlife.
Visit the Akagera National Park to see some of Africa’s most majestic animals in their natural environment. Most commonly seen are elephants, leopards, and lions.
Mount Bisoke is for the hard-core adventure seekers ready to climb a 12,000 ft summit to stand alongside the largest crater lake in the area.
If money isn’t a concern, plan a trip to Volcanoes National Park where you can admire the endangered mountain gorillas on a luxury tour.
If nature isn’t calling to you, head into the heart of the city to visit some of the iconic buildings unique to this area.
The Kigali Convention Centre is famous for its been-hive shape and technology advanced conference centers.
Stop by the Inema Arts Center to appreciate the local artwork, buy a piece to take home, or learn a native activity.
6. Windhoek, Namibia
This city is the perfect place to learn about the country’s culture, visit the one of a kind historic sites, and admire the beautiful gardens.
Christuskirche is the oldest Lutheran church in the country and its blend of gothic and roman style makes it one of the most popular locations to visit.
The Namibia Craft Center is a colorful market with unique souvenirs like jewelry made from an ostrich eggshell!
Learn the country’s history at the Independence Memorial Museum. Entry is free and you don’t even need to go inside to pay your respects at the Genocide Memorial.
With over 30 acres to explore, the National Botanic Garden of Namibia is a wonderful place to admire the different plant species that are native to the land.
The garden also has a dense population of birds so keep a lookout for the many species that call this area home.
7. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the most popular city to visit in South Africa and with good reason.
Located on a peninsula along the southwest coast of Africa, the city provides breathtaking views at every turn.
No trip to Cape Town would be complete without taking a ride along the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway where you will have panoramic views of Table Mountain, the South Atlantic Ocean, and the stunning city itself.
Relax on one of the many beaches as you listen to the calm waters rise and fall amongst the sandy shore.
Boulders Beach, although not a beach to lay out a towel, is a great place to see the famous penguins that live here.
For an affordable wine tasting, head over to one of the many vineyards that are laid out across the land.
Even if wine isn’t your thing, the vineyards are the perfect place to take a stroll and appreciate the estates, restaurants, and old-style architecture.
8. Nairobi, Kenya
Although the city is widely known for the Nairobi National Park, there is so much more cultural beauty to awe over.
The Bomas of Kenya allows you to dive deep into the culture and history of the Kenya people.
Enjoy live performances that revolve around music and dance while educating you of their traditions.
Nightlife is booming here so get ready to party at one of the many bars with live entertainment and craft beers located in the Westland part of town.
Visit the orphaned baby elephants that are raised at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust before being released back into the wild.
There is a good chance you will see some of the exotic animals that reside within Nairobi National Park right from the main roads of the city.
However, to truly understand the park’s appeal you must plan a visit where you can spot animals like lions, giraffes, rhinos, and more with the interesting backdrop of city buildings.
9. Algiers, Algeria
Located along the Mediterranean Sea, this capital city is rapidly becoming a tourist hotspot because of its growing attractions and gorgeous views.
The Notre Dame d’Afrique stands out amongst the rest thanks to its unique Byzantine-style architecture, featuring a variety of stained glass windows that look out onto the bay.
Another one-of-a-kind structure, the Maqam Echahid, is a monument made of cement but shaped to look like 3 massive palm leaves joining together to protect the “eternal flame” that lies beneath it.
For something different, spend a day at Aquafortland, a water park designed for all ages.
After a day of taking in the many things this wonderful city has to offer, swing by the Sheraton Club des Pins Resort for a fancy dinner, views of the bay, and cocktails accompanied by live music.
10. Gaborone, Botswana
For a glimpse into the abundance of wildlife that thrives in the African climate, Gaborone is the place to be.
Gaborone Game Preserve is a great way to be introduced into African Wildlife.
The lack of predators makes for a more relaxing experience. Guests even feel safe enough to have picnics amongst the many terrains.
When you are ready to take things up a notch, head over to the Khutse Game Reserve, where the salt plains and vast grasslands are inhabited by species like lions, leopards, and giraffes.
The city also has one of the only ancient ruins still intact across the entire continent.
Phalatswe, a city made of mudbrick in the late 1800s, was abandoned after the water supply began to dwindle but many of the structures still remain.
11. Knysna, South Africa
Very similar to Cape Town, this city boasts the same great amenities with less of the crowd.
A boat ride around Knysna Lagoon provides stunning views of the biodiversity that makes up South Africa.
Explore the many white sandy beaches that seem to go on for miles.
While on the beach be sure to keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins.
Walk across bridges that connect the 19 islands that make up Thesen Islands to admire the interesting style of homes and stop for a drink along the coast.
If you want to get your heart racing, book a bungee jumping experience and jump nearly 700 feet off of the Bloukrans Bridge!
12. Antananarivo, Madagascar
Antananarivo has a little bit of everything, from its thriving wildlife and nature experiences to its history and culture.
There are many architectural masterpieces located within this capital city so it can be hard to decide which ones to visit.
The Rova of Antananarivo is a massive structure with exquisite detail. Within the main walls, there is a church and a few different palaces to venture through.
Another interesting structure is The Law Court of Ambatondrafandrana which was built entirely of columns in 1881.
Hang with the monkeys at Lemurs’ Park or get up close and personal with Nile crocodiles at Croc Farm.
Bird watchers will enjoy a visit to Parc de Tsarasaotra where you can spot 14 endangered species of bird that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.