Harare Travel Guide

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Harare Zimbabwe

Going to the capital of Zimbabwe? Are you wondering, what’re the things to do in Harare?

Harare zimbabwe bookonboard
Image by Martin Addison from Flickr

Unlike your standard busy polluted capitals, Harare is an exception. There is plenty of sightseeing and activities in and around the city. Also, the city itself is so nice! Whether you are a seasonal tourist ticking off your bucket list, or a casual visitor for a fun weekend at one or two destinations – Harare has something for everyone. From national parks to memorials, from museums to botanical gardens, picnics to hiking, shopping, and dining, the city won’t let you rest!

BookOnBoard’s Guide to Harare

Every attraction in Harare has something unique about it. That’s precisely why it’s a daunting task to figure out exactly what to do in Harare and what not. So, the best thing would be to take expert advice and tick off selected places. Also, rushing to cover all the places in Harare won’t do at all – you’ll get tired and won’t be able to enjoy much.

Fear not! Here in BookOnBoard we’ve compiled a list of fun things to do in Harare. In this guide, we have included places in the city and outside. So that every type of tourist has something to do. From jungles and animal preserves to shopping and clubbing, something of everything is here. Decide and prioritize what’s best for you!

Top 10 things to do in Harare

  1. Encourage the animal lover inside you
  2. Pay respects at the liberation fighters’ memorial
  3. Go karting at a fun country club
  4. Witness weddings and sculpted nature
  5. Go shopping and dining 
  6. Have a safari in a city
  7. Be inspired by famous arts
  8. Go to a luxury camping beside a lake
  9. Be amazed by a park full of sculptures
  10. Spot Lions and Cheetahs

We’ve shortened this list due to lack of space and time. Actually there is plenty more stuff you can do in Harare. We would publish location-wise articles later on. For now, let’s see about the top attractions in Harare, Zimbabwe.

A. “Wild is Life” Grand Zimbabwe

Initially a wildlife sanctuary, Wild is Life is so much more. They bring in injured or orphaned animals from the wild. The animals are treated with utmost care and respect. Specialized vets care for their health and nourishment. You’ll never feel the same about sipping tea if you had a pangolin nuzzling in your arms at the same time.

You can have personalized tours here to get up close to the animals. You can feed many of them. The animals in this protected place are very friendly and love attention! During the tour, you will get fresh homemade pastries, tea, champagne and canapes. 

things to do in harare zimbabwe
Image by David Brossard from Flickr

Manicured gardens and enclosures create a beautiful setting in the grounds. Excellent and learned guides conduct the tours, who will tell you backstories about all the animals you meet. You will get emotional hearing about young animals orphaned by their parents because they were disabled. It truly takes a heart of gold to care so much. Especially cute are the baby monkeys and lion cubs! Also, you’ll never have enough of feeding the giraffes.

You should know that children under the age of 12 are only allowed inside the Wild is Life Trust on Saturday mornings. Otherwise, teens and adults can visit the park from Tuesday to Saturday in the afternoon. The entry fee is 95 USD currently.

B. National Heroes’ Acre

More commonly known as the Heroes’ Acre, is a burial ground and monument for the freedom fighters of Zimbabwe. Located only 7 kilometers away from central Harare, it is situated on a ridge towards Norton. It is a revered shrine and pride of all the people of Zimbabwe.

The primary point to see here is Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This symbolizes the final resting place for tens of thousands of people who gave their lives for the sake of independence. Before 1981, their remains were scattered throughout the country in various little-known places. Now they all are united in eternal peace.

Heroes Acre Zimbabwe
Image by Gary Bembridge from Flickr

Other important points to visit here are The Eternal Murals, the Murals on walls. And of course, you shouldn’t miss the museum here with its great historical exhibits. The sunset over the hill with the monuments in silhouette makes for great photogenic opportunities.

Don’t make the mistake of not visiting this great place instilling humanity and understanding the toils and troubles of the Zimbabwean people. It is open from eight to five every day except Sundays. Though you can cover the grounds in half an hour, you would do best to enlist a local guide and listen to the stories. For that, you would need time and packed food, since there are no good eateries around here.

C. Country Club

Previously known as the Interfin High Performance Academy, this is a veritable mecca for all cricket lovers! The Country Club cricket grounds has birthed many cricket legends. You can learn all about them here. The grounds are famous for holding many national and international matches.

Other than cricket, you should visit this place for go-karting. The Country Club Karts is an arrive-and-drive venture, with no hassles. Teenagers will especially love the 440-meters long drive! It is crewed by very responsive and skilled people and offers an awesome experience for the whole family. This is a great bonding opportunity for dads and sons, and daring young ladies as well. 

Not only that, if you want to have a party in Harare, this is a great place for it! The Country Club lets you book venues for parties and gatherings for children to corporate on weekend afternoons.

D. Harare Gardens

Placed on Samora Machel Avenue, this place is featured in most Harare Holiday Packages. It is most famous as the prime wedding spot in the region. It is the city’s largest public park and a favourite leisure spot for the locals. The landscape is sculpted carefully here, creating an impression of a rainforest right in the middle of the city.

Image by cobalt123 from Flickr

The restaurant in the Harare Gardens offers takeout, which is most sought-after. Unsurprising, since you can easily take the packed lunches for a picnic in the park. Spread a sheet under the cool shade of a tall tree or on the shore of the quaint little pond. Enjoy the peace and oneness with nature here with your family.

But that’s not all! If you are visiting Harare in spring, that is, in April-May, you will be able to witness the International Festival of the Arts in the city. During that, the garden hosts much colorful music and theatrical shows on its open-air stage. It is also used for many events at other times of the year. 

E. Shopping, Dining and Nightlife in Harare

Doon Estate is the most famous spot for shopping in Harare. There are plenty of shops, galleries, and restaurants here lined up attractively. Even if you don’t want to shop, the Estate is worth a visit during your stay in Harare.

The establishments here sell a wide range of food, goods, and souvenirs here. Some shops specialize in local crafts, like leather bags, belts, wallets, and jackets, which are well-known around the world. If you’ve hots for stuff like handicrafts and boutiques, don’t miss Sam Levy Village. For art lovers, the Newlands Arts and Crafts Market would be best. Don’t miss Mbare either.

Harare is a very active city with dazzling nightlife too. Indeed, the name of the city came from the word ‘havarare’ – meaning, people who do not sleep! There are plenty of bars, clubs, theques, and fine dining available in the city. For example, Tin Roof Bucket, Mount Pleasant Sports Club, Mega 2, Paramount Signature, Dreams Nightlife, Pariah State Borrowdale, etc. All of these are great places to chill out and have fun things to do in Harare.

F. Mukuvisi Woodlands

Commonly described as ‘the safari in the city’, Mukuvisi is located only 7 kilometers from the heart of Harare. The 256-hectare forest is home to zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and uncountable birds! Bring your binocs to view the wildlife from the viewing platforms. Or, get closer on foot or on the bike, with a safari guide of course. 

You can also take horse-riding safaris in the park as well. On Sundays, you can roam on your own without a guide. Costing only $10 to $20 per head, it is one of the cheapest places to visit in Harare. There are more than 300 species of flora and fauna here ensuring you never get bored. With some breathtaking vistas, the park offers great photo opportunities as well.

G. National Gallery of Zimbabwe

If you like the fine arts, you cannot possibly miss a visit to this revered art gallery in Harare. It is dedicated to preserving, conserving, and showcasing the rich artistic heritage of the country and to hearten the contemporary artists. 

Image by Awinda from Wikimedia Commons

You can admire the arts of many famous local artists, as well as artists from other parts of Africa. Actually this gallery has inspired many budding artists on their way to fame and glory. They have over 6000 exhibits accumulated over 55 years. These are sure to take all your day. It is open nine to five and it takes only a dollar to enter the building.

H. Lake Chivero Recreational Park

Next to Chivero Lake, this national park was completed in 1952, relatively recently. The park offers views of plush green nature at its finest. It is best known for the flocks of many species of birds on and near the lake.

Furthermore, it is a prime zone for a family picnic. You can go for budget camping options, as well as luxury camping in Lake Chivero. There are plenty of lodges around the area, which vary in comfort and amenities according to their prices. Other activities around the park include Fishing, Boating, Crocodile watching, etc. It’s a must for any ecotourists visiting Harare.

I. Chapungu Sculpture Park

Have you ever seen art and nature meld so gracefully anywhere else? The Chapungu Sculpture Park will amaze you with its collection of solid stone sculptures. They are strongly underlined by the Zimbabwean style of artistry. Completed in the ’70s, it is a great place for refined enjoyment, relaxation, and meditation. 

Chapungu Landing BookonBoard
Image by William Andrus from Flickr

The park is located in Msasa in the city. They hold many art events and exhibitions, making this one of the favorite destinations for many artists worldwide. You can also buy some of the sculptures in the souvenir shops around here. The wonderful and varied sculptures here inspire awe and instill greatness in the visitors. 

J. Lion & Cheetah Park Harare

Going to Africa and not viewing predators from a safari jeep? That’s almost sacrilegious! You have to complete that gap with a safari to the Lion and Cheetah Park in Harare. It is a sanctuary, especially for these big cats. There are plenty of game animals here as well, like elands, nyala, besbok, blackbuck, and duiker. 

Keep your camera close while on a safari to this Park. You never know when you can spot the famous white lions here! With a guide, you can also go up close to the animals when safe. The kids will especially love the baby turtles and giraffes in the park. The Snake World attraction here will leave you fascinated, too!

The park costs $7 only, even less for children. You can go for horse rides in the Lion and Cheetah Park for an additional $5. Additionally, bring your lunch and drinks in a cooler for only $10. Further, the entry to the Snake World costs $5 more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Harare

Where can I stay in Harare for cheap?

There are many affordable hotels in Harare. Most of them are in the city, but some of them are in the suburbs or a bit further away. Some of the cheapest places to stay in Harare are:

  • Small World Backpackers Lodge Avondale – $12
  • Victoria Falls Rest Camp And Lodges – $17
  • The Palace Guest Lodge – $19
  • The Crown Inn Guest House – $26
  • Simba Harare Guest Lodge Budget Rooms – $28
  • …and many more!

Please note that the prices that are given here are for two guests for one night stay, with no extra services included. They are for the month of July.

Are there budget flight options to Harare?

The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport hosts a lot of international airlines. For example, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Air, Air Emirates, Lufthansa, EgyptAir, etc. They cater to worldwide locations, such as:

  • New York: $1244 to $ 2630
  • London: $512 to $946
  • Dubai: $278 to $391
  • Berlin: $805 to $991
  • New Delhi: $522 to $644
  • Paris: $611 to $913
  • Sydney: $766 to $1405
  • São Paulo: $1487 to $2712
  • Washington DC: $1104 to $2017

Please note that prices indicated here are for one person one-way only, with no special addendum or time selection. The ticket prices are calculated for the first of July and are subjected to vary at any time.

Is the local food in Harare any good?

Zimbabwe is distinguished for its signature cuisine. The native culinary arts merged with British colonization and produced a unique blend of eating. You will often find excellent tea here, for starters. Meat is plentiful in Harare, with exotic fares like crocodile and warthog, to various game animals and birds. They are cooked or grilled in authentic ways to produce mouthwatering dishes. The common local fare consists of many nut-based stews, mushroom soups, etc. 

The city of Harare is an excellent host to visitors and offers many eating opportunities to the tourists and locals alike. You got interesting street food as well as fine upscale restaurants. Some of the most popular places to eat in Harare are:

  • Gavas
  • Queen Makeda
  • Amanzi Restaurant
  • Coimbra Restaurant
  • Sorella’s Pizzeria & Cafe
  • Chang Thai Restaurant
  • Garwe
  • Food Nest
  • …and many more!

When is the best time to visit Harare?

The best time to visit Harare, as well as any place in Zimbabwe, is December through February. The weather is nice and dry at this time and you can enjoy most of the wildlife activity without restrictions. However, if you are visiting this city for its famous yearly art festival, then you have to target April-May. 

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