It is inevitable that almost every traveler will find themselves with some time to kill in Windhoek, as the city is home to Namibia’s one and only international airport, with visitors arriving and departing on a daily basis. However, far from being just another pit stop, Windhoek has a great little personality, full of big-city spunk but tempered by its chilled African roots. So before rushing off into the Namib Desert for a wild adventure, find out what can be enjoyed in vibrant Windhoek in a day.
A pocket of suburbia in the wild
Windhoek is located pretty much slap bang right in the middle of Namibia, and usually serves as the gateway to wildlife safaris and long, meandering road trips through desert solitude. Some may find it surprisingly cosmopolitan, with glass-fronted high-rise buildings and white-collar workers munching on lunchtime baguettes in grassy parks; city slickers, on the other hand, may want to speed up the slower pace of ‘African time’. But this is wherein Windhoek’s beauty and charm lies, and it’s this combination that makes the city unique and charismatic.
Take a morning meander
For those that missed the memo, it gets hot in this neck of the woods, with daytime temperatures soaring well above 35°C (95°F). It therefore makes sense that any activity requiring very much physical excursion should be accomplished in the morning, before the heat of the day peaks.
This is the perfect time to hit the streets and enjoy some of the German colonial architecture for which Windhoek is renowned. Christuskirche is a historic Lutheran landmark and national monument located in Robert Mugabe Avenue, which hints at a neo-romantic style and is dedicated to peace. Other buildings of interest include Alte Feste and the Tintenpalast. In between admiring gorgeous creations of stone and mortar, pop into a market or two to pick up some uniquely Namibian mementos such as wood carvings, woven baskets, and beaded jewelry.
Christuskirche, Robert Mugabe Ave, Windhoek, +264 61236002
Time for a break
As the high noon sun reaches it peak, move off the streets and into the coolness of one of Windhoek’s many great coffee shops and bistros for a cold drink and a bite to eat. Almost every palate is catered for, and much of the fare features a German or African twist. Accompany your meal with a a crisp glass of chardonnay or an ice-cold beer.
Beer is serious business in Windhoek, and Namibia Breweries Limited has been producing an excellent range of ales in the city for over 95 years. Today, the beer is still manufactured using natural ingredients and based on German brewing traditions. Afternoon tours of the brewery commence at 2 p.m. and last for approximately two and half hours – a great way so spend a relaxing, cool afternoon in Windhoek. If beer is not your thing, try the Botanical Gardens or the Avis Dam Nature Reserve, just outside of the town.
Namibia Breweries Limited, Iscor Street, Windhoek, +264 613204999
Avis Dam Nature Reserve, Windhoek, +264 61255224
As the sun sets
Windhoek, and in fact the whole of Namibia, is well known for offering some of the most spectacular sunsets on the continent. This is largely due to the clean, clear air, and there are a number of great spots in the city to enjoy this spectacular, natural show. The River Crossing Lodge, on the outskirts of the city, is one of the more popular places for a sundowner, as are the veranda of the Hotel Heinitzburg and the Sky Bar at the Hilton.
River Crossing Lodge, Windhoek, +264 61246788
Hotel Heinitzburg, Heinitzburg Street, Windhoek, +264 61249597
The after-dark scene
Nightlife in Windhoek is far from boring, and the city comes alive after dark with an eclectic vibe to suit every mood. For good food, a friendly atmosphere, and jovial Namibian hospitality the well loved Joe’s Beer House never disappoints, while the Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Bistro focuses on prime Namibian cuts of meat, flame grilled to perfection.
Late-night owls can party the night away at one of the city’s many clubs, and those more culturally inclined can check out what is happening at the Warehouse Theatre for great live music, dance performances, and more.
Joe’s Beer House, 160 Nelson Mandela Ave, Windhoek, +264 61232457
Warehouse Theatre, Tal Street, Windhoek, +264 61402253