Ever found yourself in Harare and thought, “what on earth is there to do around here?” You’ll probably be surprised: there are plenty of things to do in Harare, no matter who you are. Zimbabwe’s capital is not a stale city, and can hold its own against the metropolises of other African countries. Just be prepared to spend some money (a milkshake at Mugg & Bean in Harare costs the equivalent of R55).
1. Hikes and views
Just outside Harare there is a spot that is easy to access and quick to climb. If you’re looking for a great location to survey the land and enjoy a drink as the sun sets, Domboshawa is the ideal place. Situated about 25km north of Harare city centre, along the Domboshawa Road, this orange granite outcrop gives visitors an incredible 360° view of the beautiful Mashonaland country. Covered in luminescent orange and green lichen, the rocky outcrop also features impressive rock formations, pools, and a cave with 6000 year old rock art. Entrance will cost US$4-10 depending on your nationality, as the site is a National Monument of Zimbabwe.
2. Water activities
Harare may not have a beach, but that doesn’t really matter – right, Joburgers? There are still a plethora of activities for the water babies visiting Harare. There are many small-to-medium sized dams surrounding the city, all within a one-hour drive. If fishing sounds like the best way to relax, go to Darwendale Dam (about 70km west of Harare) where numerous records for largemouth bass have been broken in previous years – an 8.2kg whopper is the current record. Prefer something a little more thrilling? Arcadia Dam (situated about 100km north of Harare) or Lake Chivero (about 30km west of Harare) are perfect for boating, skiing and tubing. Take a picnic and relax on the shores before skimming across the surface of the water at speed.
3. Wining and dining
Harare has a variety of eating establishments; from quirky to larney, there is a restaurant to cater for every appetite. To satisfy a meat craving, visit The Butcher’s Kitchen in Sam Levy’s Village, Borrowdale. Choose your fresh meat from the display and the chef will prepare it to perfection. Fancy something more upmarket? Then visit Amanzi (158 Enterprise Road, Highlands) for delicious international food and local art for sale, while sitting in their lush garden. A great way to turn a good meal into a better night out is to visit The Tin Roof Bucket Bar and Bistro (1 Lewisam Shopping Centre, Entreprise Road). Enjoy a Portuguese-style peri-peri chicken, or fresh calamari at a wooden bench in this rustic bar. Once the food is digested, order a round of drinks and enjoy the good music and friendly vibes late into the night.
4. Wildlife and game viewing
Harare may be a large city, but the wonders of African wildlife are accessible within 30 minutes. Mukuvisi Woodlands offers walks and horseback rides through the reserve, where you can expect to see giraffe, rhino, elephants and a multitude of other game. It can be found near the edge of the city on Paget Road, Glenara.
5. Support local art
First Thursdays are an artistic sensation in Cape Town, and with such vibrant street art, the mother city is probably unbeatable when it comes to art and artistic expression. However, Harare is well-known for another form of art – stone sculptures en masse. Varying in size from a few centimetres to massive granite boulders, the streets of Harare are well-known for roadside sculptures. Doon Estate and Chapungu Village (1 Harrow Road, Msasa) are excellent places to stop and see the incredible craftsmanship. Apart from stone sculptures, Doon Estate and Chapungu Village feature art galleries, hand-made pottery and home-made Belgian chocolates, among other local wares and trinkets.
Gone are the days of empty shelves in Zimbabwe. Now an impressive number of local and international businesses have set up in Harare. Sam Levy’s Village (located on Borrowdale Road) is the most well-known shopping centre. Designed to look like an old European village, shoppers walk along brick pavements between stores, able to take in the manicured lawns and open skies. For something a little more rustic, visit the Avondale flea market. Located on top of the old car park behind Avondale Shopping Centre, on King George Road, this bustling market sells cheap clothes and local crafts, as well as second-hand books and movies. Speaking of films, Ster Kinekor has recently opened new movie houses in Sam Levy’s Village.
Harare is home to some of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the region. Spend your Saturday on the beautiful greens at the Royal Harare golf club (5th Street, opposite the Presidential Residence), Champan golf club (Samora Machel Avenue), or Borrowdale Brooke golf club (Fairway Drive). Other golf courses can be found dotted around the city, and will offer cheaper rates. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie and have a need for speed, then head over to the Country Club Karts on Brompton Road, Newlands. They are open on the weekends, and prices range from US$5-10, depending on your age and how long you want to race for. Other sports facilities in Harare include a number of sports clubs (for cricket, rugby, tennis and squash).