Lately on my Africa overland trip I visited Zambia, country number 109 for me on my journey to visit every country in the world. Part of my trip was a stop in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. In total I stayed 4 days, but if you are a tourists I suggest visiting Lusaka for 1 day is more than enough!
So am I not a tourist? Yes of course I am, but at the same time also a traveler. My Africa overland trip started in Cape Town and from there I made my way overland from Windhoek, Namibia through Botswana to Zambia. I was in no rush to see places, the journey up to North Africa is already intense enough.
Great Zambia travel tip: get a local sim card for Zambia and save money on high roaming costs. Prepaid sim cards for tourists with data are very cheap! Click on the link to read all about it and see my vlog of how to buy a sim card in Zambia on my Youtube Channel.
Are you traveling up North to Tanzania from Lusaka? You can also find a vlog about my crazy adventure taking a bus from Lusaka to Tanzania on my channel. Worth watching to prepare yourself for that trip.
Anyway let’s go back to some vital Lusaka travel tips as that is what you came to read this blog for in the first place.
Since I have seen a crazy amount of cities around the world I feel I have the knowledge to say that Lusaka is one of the least interesting cities that I have been so far. When looking for things to do and places to see, you will find out quickly that there is not much in Lusaka.
Some expats were telling me it has some areas with nice restaurants and bars and yes I bet, but that is something to visit in the evening. What to do in Lusaka during the day?
Here is my vlog about visiting Lusaka.
Places to visit in Lusaka
As you might have seen in the video there are a couple places worth visiting when traveling to Lusaka. Here is my list of the best places to visit in Lusaka.
Town Center Market
Actually it is something like an electronics or home depot open market, not interesting for buying stuff, but it is great to walk around here as a tourist. This is NOT the place where you go souvenir shopping it is all about the soaking in the real life of the Zambian people living in Lusaka.
People inside the narrow streets of the partially covered market are friendly and they will greet you with a smile and a lot of curiosity. In no other Lusaka travel guide I found this tip, but I got here just by getting lost and I would recommend you to visit the Town Center Market too.
According to my Lusaka guide this is the heart of the city and I can not agree more. Visiting the Kamwala Market is to me one of the best things to do in Lusaka. This is a real local market where you can find almost anything, from food to electronics and from clothes to even livestock.
The Kamwala Market is huge and you can easily spend an hour here getting around. There is a lot to see when visiting this place trust me.
The main road of the city where all the action is happening. It is definitely fun to stroll along Cairo Road when visiting Lusaka, but it is nothing special. Don’t expect any architectural highlight or lovely bars and cafes. This is Africa! On Cairo Road you will see the most remarkable things and scenes unfold in front of you, which makes it so special to travel to this side of the world.
Kabwata Cultural Village
It won’t get more touristy than this in Lusaka. The Kabwata Cultural Village is literally a couple old thatched houses that are restored and around the houses you find big souvenir stalls. Unfortunately you can not enter the houses as that is were some families still live nowadays. I understand of course, but I would have loved to.
Kabwata Cultural Village is mostly created for tourists to buy souvenirs. Eat your heart out when you love souvenir shopping. There are a ton of small things to buy as well as some big painting and sculptures. I am not a souvenir shopper, but even I felt the pressure to buy something from these lovely people that due to the pandemic have hardly seen any tourists in recent years.
Have you ever heard of the COMESA? Apparently it is the EU of Africa and unites a lot of African nations. The headquarters is located in Lusaka city center. Don’t expect much from it, but it is worth walking past and having a look when you are exploring the city center.
From the outside there is not much to admire as this church is definitely not the most pretty. It was gifted by former Yugoslavia and named the Lusaka Cathedral. Please enter as the inside is much more interesting with its beautiful stained glass walls. Astonishing to me was how I found more mosques around Lusaka than churches, however the vast majority of the people in Lusaka and Zambia are Christians.
If there is one place you must visit when traveling to Lusaka then it is the Freedom Statue near the central Intercity bus station and the New Government Complex and the National Museum. On top of the freedom statue you will find Zanco Mpundu Mutembo. He is the symbol of freedom and independence of Zambia.
Zanco Mpundu Mutembo was surrounded by 18 police officers during his battle for independence of Zambia and his hands were chained. He was facing to be shot but if he was able to break the chains he could walk free. Somehow he managed…
Zanco Mpundu Mutembo is still alive and lives in the Northern part of the country. The freedom statue is also displayed on every banknote in Zambia: the Kwacha.
Presidential Burial Site
Visiting the Presidential Burial Site in Lusaka was a bit of a disappointment. The reason? They charge tourists a hefty entrance fee of $15 USD and you are not allowed to film. So what is so special about this tourist attraction in Lusaka? The former 3 presidents of Zambia are buried here so you will find 3 mausoleums that one can admire.
Luska National Museum
Find out more about Zambia’s history in the National Museum. Unfortunately I was told not to film or take photos. Displayed is Zambians culture and their traditional way of living. You can also find contemporary art of Zambian artists on the ground floor.
Things to do in Lusaka
The above list of the best places to visit is what I could come up, but there are some other things to do in Lusaka as well.
Free walking tour
The best way to go sightseeing in Lusaka is by local guide. I always try to find a free walking tour in every city I go. These tip based tours are a great way to be shown the city by a local. It was a little harder to find, but I found Darius. Here is his WhatsApp for when you visit Lusaka: +260 97 26 41 491.
His Lusaka Free Walking Tour lasted about 2 hours and involved 2 short taxi rides. One to Kabwata Cultural Village and then towards the Presidential Burial Sites. The rest we explored the city on foot together. See more about the free walking tour in my Lusaka vlog.
Have lunch at Mint Lounge
Sadly I found this place only on the last day. I visited Lusaka for 4 days and tried a bunch of restaurants around, most of them not worth mentioning. Mint Lounge however was the best restaurant in Lusaka to me. It boosts such a different vibe than what Lusaka actually is. This white and green restaurant, probably inspired by Bali style serves good coffee and delicious food like smoothie bowls, wraps, quinoa salads, etc.
The next door Chang Thai restaurant was another favorite of me during the 4 days I visited Lusaka.
Get a massage
When visiting Lusaka you have to get a massage. Why? Prices are WOW! You can already get an hour long massage for just $12. Indulge yourself!
Roof top pool at Neelkanth Sarovar Hotel
Well let’s start with telling that the rooftop pool is on the second floor so don’t expect any amazing views over the city. Sorry guys, I tried my best to find a fancy place to end your day sightseeing in Lusaka. However, the setting around the pool is pretty nice and prices are very moderate considering that this is the best rooftop bar in Lusaka.
How to get around Lusaka
The easiest way to get around Lusaka is by taxi and they are very affordable. However it is pretty hard to find a cap sometimes on the side of the street. There are simply not that many taxis. What you can do is to download the Ulendo Taxi app. This will surely help you get around Lusaka easier.
How to travel to Lusaka
Bus from Livingstone to Lusaka
If you are traveling from Livingstone to Lusaka then taking a bus is probably the easiest way and for sure the cheapest way. Busses leave anywhere from 6.00 AM to 10.00 AM from the central bus station in Livingstone. The bus takes about 7 hours depending on traffic.
For African standards the busses are pretty ok and they cost about $7. You can also catch a flight, but expect to pay around $100.
From Lusaka to Tanzania or Malawi by bus
If you are traveling onwards to Tanzania or Malawi you will have to get a bus from the Intercity bus station in Central Lusaka. Expect long and uncomfortable bus rides on very bad roads. Check my YouTube Channel for a short video of my bus from Lusaka to Tanzania.
Train from Lusaka to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This was my preferred way of travel but unfortunately due to the pandemic there are no cross border trains. The train leaves from Kapiri Mposhi, 3 hours North from Lusaka. The train only runs on Tuesday and Friday, departure time is around 4.00 PM and tickets cost around $35 all the way to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
I hope the above Lusaka travel tips were helpful and so you make the most out of your trip to Lusaka. Let me know if you have any more questions about visiting Zambia's capital and I will try to answer them in the comments below.