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Hohenzollernhaus in Swakopmund | © Georgio/WikiCommons
Hohenzollernhaus in Swakopmund | © Georgio/WikiCommons
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10 Top Things to See and Do in Swakopmund

Picture of Gill Lange
Updated: 8 December 2017
Swakopmund is a coastal city in Namibia with a strong German heritage that is reflected in much of its architecture and history. It is often considered Namibia’s adventure capital and as it stands – sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Namib desert – there is plenty for outdoor lovers to pursue. It is the launchpad for adventures to the Skeleton Coast and dune escapades into the Namib and holds a happy holiday vibe, charming most that pass through its streets. Read on for some of Swakopmund’s most popular sights and activities.
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The jetty

The Swakopmund jetty is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and stands stark and beautiful against a wild Atlantic sea. In its early years it was used as a mooring for ships but fell into disuse after the nearby Walvis Bay harbour was built. Over the years it has been refurbished and today is a favoured hangout for anglers and those looking for some fresh sea air. The jetty also hosts a great seafood restaurant and bar.

The Tug Restaurant, A.Schad Promenade, Molen Road, Jetty Area, Swakopmund, +264 64 402 356

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Swakopmund Museum

Once a harbour warehouse, the Swakopmund Museum takes visitors through the history and ethnology of Namibia. It contains a wide range of artifacts from the various ethnic groups of the country, and showcases how the lifestyles of various Namibian communities have evolved over time. One of its most popular attractions is the Devil’s Claw, where archaeological displays stand on the one side and historic machinery on the other.

Swakopmund Museum, Strand St, Swakopmund, +264 64 402 046

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National Marine Aquarium

Located on the waterfront at Swakopmund, this aquarium is the only one in Namibia, and offers a great introduction to all the varieties of marine life that thrive in the cold Atlantic waters off the coast of the country. It features an impressive walk through tunnel where visitors can get close-up sightings of sharks, rays, lobsters and all sorts of fish. From star fish and sea anemones to Cape fur seals and mighty Mantra rays, all can be enjoyed on this entertaining visit.

National Marine Aquarium, Strand St, Swakopmund

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Kristall Gallerie

This gallery is home to the world’s largest quartz crystal cluster that was discovered in 1985 in Otjua. Weighing in at an astounding 141,000 kilograms (220,462 pounds) and standing over three metres tall (118 inches), the cluster took five years to excavate and consists of numerous beautifully formed crystals. There is also a gem garden, crystal cave, studio, jewellery boutique and craft area to explore, as well as semi-precious stone scratch patch.

Kristall Gallerie, Theo-Ben Gurirab Ave, Swakopmund, +264 64 406 080

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Sandboarding

The constantly shifting and powerful, towering sand dunes of the Namib Desert offer the ideal playground for sandboarders who can fly and zoom down the sheer, sandy faces of some of the largest sand dunes in the world on traditional Swakopmund sand boards. Fabulous scenic beauty, an awesome sense of freedom, and the chance to experience the ride of a lifetime is all part of this fantastic adventure.

Alter-Action Sandboarding, Moses Garoeb St. 25, At Amanpuri Travellers Lodge, Swakopmund, +264 81 128 2737

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Quad biking

This off-road quest takes riders to the dune belt through the Swakopmund River mouth. An experienced guide prepares visitors for the ride of their lives, while the stark and merciless Namib Desert provides panoramic backdrops. The dune’s names of ‘Big Billy’, ‘Roller Coaster’ and ‘Devil’s Dip’ offer a hint of the excitement and exhilaration that is to come. After defeating ‘Devils Dip’ the ride berms, spirals and slopes and cruises towards ‘Table Top’ – a summit with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Desert Explorers Adventure Centre, Nathaniel Maxuilili, Swakopmund, +264 64 406 096

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Cruise with the dolphins

The cold Atlantic waters that lap the coastline of Namibia are famous for their rich marine reserves that offer fabulous scenic tours, excellent angling and succulent and fresh seafood. Dolphins are found close to the coast all year around and boat cruises take visitors out to sea, where these inquisitive and friendly creatures swim, feed and play in large pods. There is also a good possibility of spotting and feeding seals.

Desert Explorers Adventure Centre, Nathaniel Maxuilili, Swakopmund, +264 64 406 096

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Rent a bicycle

Swapomund is filled with interesting history and culture, making it a fantastic location to explore on two wheels. Visitors can feel the fresh salty wind and hear the bustle of the city as they pedal to their chosen destinations and explore them at their leisure. The city’s German heritage can be seen in the beautiful German colonial buildings scattered throughout the town, while the tree-lined promenade offers palm trees, scenic cycling trails and plenty of spots to stop for a quick break and a bite to eat. The city is small and easy to get around making it ideal to explore on a bicycle.

Swakop Cycle Tours, Central Sports Field Room 3, Swakopmund, +264 81 251 5916

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Explore Namibia’s moonscape

Taking a side trip from Swakopmund to explore the nearby moonscape is really worth the time, and sends visitors into a surreal wonderland filled with craters and strange looking plants. Although the landscape looks barren and devoid of life, there is in fact plenty of plant and animal life around. These survive, in part, from fog moisture that comes off the cold Atlantic Ocean every night. It is also the native location of the famous Welwitschia mirabilis, a plant that only exists in certain areas of Namibia and can live for hundreds of years.

Tommy’s Living Desert Tours, 28, Daniel Tjongarero Ave, Swakopmund, +264 64 461 038

Take a township tour

Mondesa township is located on the outskirts of Swakopmund and houses approximately 17,000 people consisting of three different ethnic groups: the Damara, Owambo and Herero. A township tour takes visitors past colourful houses and laughing children, and explores interesting cultural traditions and medicinal remedies ranging from root elixirs to powdered ostrich shell. Visitors can also browse the local markets and sample some traditional food. There are various tour operators that offer this visit.

Herero woman
Herero woman in traditional layered dress | © salymfayad/Flickr