Lilongwe became the capital of Malawi in 1975 and is now predominantly the hub of major air and road routes in Malawi, making it the ideal gateway for visitors to the country.
It has two distinct parts, the Old Town and the Capital City. The Old Town has all the appearance of a traditional African settlement, with vibrant street life and a large walled market selling everything imaginable. Conversely, the other part could not be more different; spacious and green, the 'garden' Capital City has its roots firmly in the 20th century, with gleaming modern buildings, wide boulevards and verdant gardens.
The Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary
The Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary, which separates Old Town and Capital City, is well worth a visit to explore the network of trails that run through the small reserve.
You are unlikely to see many animals here but it does boast spotted hyena, porcupine, bushpig, bushbuck, vervet monkeys and crocodiles. A rather staggering 150 species of birds have also been recorded here.
Other activities in Lilongwe include visits to the tobacco auction floors (from April to September), where between 13,000 and 15,000 bales of tobacco are sold each day, with a daily turnover of around $2 million.
Lilongwe does have a bad name and is described by some as 'bland', but this is slightly unfair. Unlike so many other African cities, Lilongwe is safe to stroll around, with little crime directed at tourists, and for those in need of essentials there are good shops, banks and other useful facilities.
The city is mostly used as a stopover destination so long stays here are unlikely.
Suggested itineraries featuring Lilongwe
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Lilongwe, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Lilongwe
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Lilongwe
- The Southern Lakeshore & Cape Maclear 73 miles away
- Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve 76 miles away
- Liwonde National Park 124 miles away
- Zomba Plateau 142 miles away
- Majete Wildlife Reserve 145 miles away
- Likoma Island & Mozambique Lakeshore 148 miles away
- Lake Malawi 164 miles away
- Viphya Forest Mountains 165 miles away
- Thyolo Region 172 miles away
- The Northern Lakeshore 184 miles away
- Vwaza Marsh 206 miles away
- Nyika Plateau 231 miles away
Photos of Lilongwe
Accommodation choices for Lilongwe
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Lilongwe. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.