Do It Up! Exploring Luanda, Angola
When some people think of Africa in 2016, they may not be picturing your typical “modern” cities, as in your typical skyline outlined by skyscrapers, along with things like chain stores, supermarkets, fancy restaurants, and the like. The reality is that Africa, depending where you go, is just as modern as anywhere else in the world. Take, for example, the capital of Angola – Luanda.
Considered to be the most important and most populated city in Angola, think of Luanda as being comparable to a city like Toronto – a large metropolis with gleaming skyscrapers, with a population of over 2 million.
If you’ve seen many pictures of Luanda, you will know that this city is very photogenic – like a glamorous actress batting their big, beautiful lashes, and looking into the camera with the utmost charm. Of course, this is if you capture her from her good side. For instance, have a look at this video, showing some of the things to do in Luanda and surrounding areas.
With regards to beaches, Luanda definitely has them, although you may need to take a quick jaunt, in order to arrive in a place like the Ilha do Mussulo, which is the beach-laden peninsula just west of Luanda proper.
Here’s a map to show you where Mussulo is located more precisely, marked in red. We highly recommend you visit there to check out the beach activities.
As you can see from the map, downtown Luanda is on the water, and so much of the attraction to this city has to do with its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
For visitors, life in Luanda is marked by nightclubs, restaurants, and beautiful waterfront views. The good times can go on and on, as long as you have the time, energy, and money to afford it.
When the sun is high in the sky, you’ll find tourists taking their time enjoying the oceanside, and by night Luanda has a rich nightlife where people drop hundreds of dollars for exquisite lobster, or sushi and think nothing of it.
Take a look at this video, which focuses on the affluence of Luanda, while showcasing some of its obvious blissfulness.
We must remember, only part of Luanda is replete with splendor, while there is a large part of the city that tourists tend to avoid, as it is less glamorous. Many tourists are always wondering if it is safe to wander past the perimeter where things begin to decline class-wise, and many others do warn against it – especially if you’ve never been there before. Take a look at this video below, and you’ll see that not all of Luanda is quite so debonair.
Not to throw a damper on the festivities here, but, like many tourist-driven cities in the world, Luanda does have its share of poverty, and we shouldn’t be afraid to examine it, or at least acknowledge it. In this way, Luanda is no different from any city in the world with millions of people. Some are rich, but many are not so lucky. In this article, we’re talking about the tourist side of life in Luanda, but there is obviously another side to it as well, like most cities.
All things considered, as a visitor coming to Luanda, you will most likely be steered towards the 24/7 party, where most tourists end up anyway. In Luanda, day-to-day festivities in the well-to-do waterfront area are fairly constant, while the nighttime partying really does go all night long for some, with many people taking a short nap before the pre-partying starts as the sun sets, and then moving on to the the dance clubs and discos, where the action is to dance the night away. If you are visiting Luanda with this type of lifestyle in mind, you will need to have money at your disposal.
Luanda may not be the most famous party city in the world, when you compare it to Miami or perhaps Rio, but it definitely has a reputation as being a tropical paradise, where the upper class go to have fun, with a growing number of expats finding work there as well.
If you like what you’re hearing so far, not so fast, because there is a bit of a catch, as it turns out. Two things. First – getting your Visa. In order to visit Angola, you’ll be needing one, and they are actually rather hard to come by, and even if you do manage to get your Visa to come and join the party here on the west coast of Africa, the prices are usually enough to make your average traveler at least stop to consider if they can afford the trip.
If you thought it was expensive to visit certain cities in the world, such as Geneva, Dubai, or Oslo, then you can consider Luanda to be this way as well. It is, for expats, one of the 10 most expensive cities in the world.
Luanda is also a city in transition, with many changes being made that have stirred up some controversy.
Best Restaurants In Luanda, Angola
If you do make the trip to Luanda, and the prices are within your reach, then here is a list of the some of the more interesting, and unique restaurants that you simply must visit when you go there.
Located beside the Fortress of Sao Miguel in a two-story house, Naquele Lugar is a restaurant that you will find along the way to the Ilha. At the entrance, you will be greeted by a soldier, whose job it is to permit (or not permit) people inside the white-walled patio area, where you will enjoy some delicious food. Really, what you will enjoy perhaps more than the food (or just as much) is the view, which is unrivalled.
Naquele Lugar, Rua 17 de Setembro; +244 926 322 615
While we’re on the subject of expensive tastes, one of the most costly places to eat in Luanda would be Lookal, which is quite a statement since you’re liable to go broke eating at any of the finer restaurants in the city. Part of the reason prices are so sky high, is that the food there is incredible.
Take for example their Portuguese lobster, as well as some of the seafood dishes. You can easily rack up an enormous bill there, but for the jet set, it’s the place to go. Once the dinner hour has passed, Lookal becomes one of the hottest nightclubs in the city. Definitely somewhere you’ll want to check out if your bank account knows no bounds.
Lookal, No. 15 Rua Murtala Mohamed; +244 936 000 018
Interesting name, yes? Coconuts is a prime example of how much things are changing in Luanda over the years. Located at the end of the peninsula, Coconuts was once a building that could barely be called as such, with no doors, windows, or even a roof.
Few places embody the positive changes on the Ilha as much as Coconuts. Once again, if you want to go somewhere for a memorable meal with specialty food made weekly, or just to enjoy a drink in the afternoon, Coconuts is such a place. The view, once again, is incredible!
Coconuts, Avenida Murtala Mohamed, Ilha do Cabo; +244 912 205 777
Cais de Quatro
There is a dream in Luanda, which imagines the city as a wholly inviting place to go, but it’s hard to make this dream real when there is still so much progress to be made. Still, Cais de Quatro does an admirable job of providing for visitors a way to imagine Luanda in this fully realized way, starting with one of the most beautiful views you’ll find in the city. If the menu here is too much to bare, Wimpy’s burger joint is just next door.
Cais de Quatro, Avenida Murtala Mohamed, Casa do Desportista; +244 222 309 430
At some point, you’ll want to go for a stroll, and the more recently renovated Marginal offers visitors such a route. Wandering this way, you’ll no doubt come across Bahia. At one time, before the facelift the city underwent, Bahia was an establishment located on just another desolated street.
Today, with its Miami-imported palm trees, trails, and playgrounds, you may find yourself at Bahia enjoying an expensive pizza by candlelight. Expensive, yes, but not overly so. Definitely worth a look if you are heading in that direction.
Bahia, 183/184 Avenida 4 de Fevereiro; +244 222 370 610