Africa—although known as a continent of underdeveloped nations associated with difficult economies and social problems, it’s also one of the most magnificent continents in the world. Africa is not only rich in beautiful savannahs and majestic, breath-taking wildlife, but also boasts of its beautiful cities as well as its richness in history. Some of these cities have grown to a level of competing with the “pace setter” cities of the world such as Rome, Buenos Aires and Paris. The growth of these cities has seen tourists shift their focus and world visits to Africa. Large corporations, especially in the hospitality industry, have jumped aboard the train with notable brands such as Hilton Hotels and Radisson Blue, among many others, easily being spotted upon landing at the various African destinations.
10. Abidjan, Ivory Coast
The third-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Abidjan is a city in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. Situated on the southern Atlantic coast of the country, this city has been able to hold its position among the top cities of Africa despite the aftermath of war that has impacted it negatively. As the largest city in the country, it is characterized by high-rise office buildings, green parks, good infrastructure, and modern architectures that would parallel that of an American city.
Other attractions of the city are the Amani Gallery, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Banco National Park. Abidjan plays host to some of the major Western Africa cultural events such as the International Comedy Festival, the International Comics Festival, the Festival of Urban Dances, International Jazz Festival of Abidjan, and The RTI Music Awards.
9. Cairo, Egypt
Cairo—Egypt’s capital city is set on the giant Nile River that flows through the capital. Cairo is the largest city in the Middle-East and second-largest in Africa after Lagos (Nigeria). Cairo is extremely rich in historic finery as well as breath-taking attractions all over the city such as:
- The Pyramids of Giza
Right on the edge of the city, the Pyramids of Giza have been attracting tourists for centuries, and they continue to be among the country’s major highlights. These were fourth dynasty funerary temples.
- The Egyptian Museum
An unquestionably astounding collection of antiques are displayed in the museum, ranking it among the great museums in the world.
- Al-Azhar Mosque
It is one of the finest buildings in Cairo. With its completion in AD 972, it’s one of the city’s earliest surviving mosques and among the oldest universities in the world.
8. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar es Salaam is a major city in Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast that grew from a fishing village. The words “Dar es Salaam” means the abode of peace. Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania as well as the largest city in Eastern Africa by population. It is the biggest and most populated Swahili speaking city in the world and East Africa’s second-busiest port. At the northern end of the harbor is Kivukoni Front. Here numerous dhows dock to offload the previous night’s’ catch in the bustling fish market. Brilliant craft makers also exist here alongside sandy beaches and islands. Some of the notable attractions of Dar es Salaam include:
- Azania Front Lutheran Church
Built by the German missionaries in 1898, it was built in the Bavarian style of the time, with a red-tiled roof, tiled canopies over the windows and bright white walls.
- Botanical Gardens
- Fish Market
- Village Museum
7. Tunis, Tunisia
Source: Airlines Airports
Tunis is the capital city of Tunisia as well as the largest city in the country. With its 2.7 million inhabitants, Tunis is perhaps the most organized and developed city in Northern Africa. Rapid modernization seen in Tunisia has caused a reflection in the booming development of Tunis as a city. It houses an archeology museum where Roman mosaics are exhibited in a 15th-century palace complex. The city’s astounding attractions include the ruins of once glorious Carthage, set amongst the eminent white mansions of Tunis’ modern-day upper classes; the astounding, enormous collection of Roman mosaics housed in the Bardo’s Ottoman palace; and the cliff-top village of Sidi Bou Saïd that so enthused Paul Klee and August Macke.
6. Libreville, Gabon
The country’s largest city housing over half a million people is among the most modern and vibrant cities of Africa. The western central African nation boasts of close to 90% literacy with school enrollment rate in the country being over 70%. The city boasts a grand boulevard with beautiful monuments and architecture in a stylish manner owing its elegance to the French influence. Expensive stores and hotels line the seafront with stylish clubs, restaurants, and bars being housed at the Louis quarter. Pointe Denis, a resort island with several of the region’s best beaches is accessible by a quick boat ride. The Sibang Arboretum just outside the city exhibits the nation’s unique flora.
5. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Source: Dan & Tracy Overseas
The capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is well developed with world class buildings and roads that make the city ideal for business. Addis Ababa is truly a modern city that is also home to some of the most beautiful women in Africa. The city’s national museum exhibits traditional crafts, Ethiopian art, and prehistoric fossils. One of the major noticeable architectural landmarks is the copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral that is also the burial place to 20th Century emperor Haile Selassie.
Mount Entoto, set 3200m above the city is a eucalyptus-covered feature that offers far reaching views. Following being taken over by Mussolini and the Italians in the 20th Century, the Ethiopian city has great gastronomic delights to offer, being anything from coffee to Italian food.
4. Kigali, Rwanda
Source: The Culture Trip
Ranked among the cleanest cities in Africa, Rwanda’s capital is becoming one of the most rapidly developing cities on the continent. The city is clean as a result of the ban of non-biodegradable plastics in the county. On the last Saturday of every month, people throughout the country embark on working on projects aimed at improving the public places in the country. It is a mandatory practice that is called “Umuganda” meaning “coming together to achieve a common purpose”. During “Umuganda”, traffic is stopped for 3 hours in the morning as the city comes together to neaten up.
The green and hilly nature of the city greatly adds to the aesthetic allure of the city giving inhabitants a feeling of serenity and peacefulness. Among the greatest assets of the city is diverse wildlife, the popular one being the rare mountain gorillas.
3. Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos was Nigeria’s capital until December 12, 1991, when Abuja became the new capital of Nigeria. Lagos prides itself as the most populated city in Africa as well as Nigeria’s and West Africa’s capital of trade and commerce. The city also has an array of stunning attractions as well as remarkable magnificent architecture. It is a city of aquatic finery and is rich in history and culture with some of the cultural artifacts being housed in the National Museum which is situated in the city. Lagos can boast of the ability to offer a greater night-life compared to its fellow cities in Africa. Nearby to the city is Freedom Park, once a colonial-era prison but now one of the major venues for concerts and public events.
2. Nairobi, Kenya
Source: Buzz Kenya
Nairobi is the only place in the world with a game reserve right in the city. It is an amazingly modern city that offers a fascinating range of options from wildlife to nightlife. Tourism still is one of the top profit industries of the country but Nairobi has blossomed to become one of the key cities in Africa in trade. International brands are easily noticeable in the capital especially with the recent launching of East and Central Africa’s largest shopping mall, Two Rivers Mall, that saw American, French and Italian brands being hosted there. Nairobi is also home to United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
1. Cape Town, South Africa
Source: Layover Guide
The New York Times and The Telegraph in 2014 named Cape Town among the best places to visit in the world. The city’s infrastructure is compared to cities around the world as its fellow African cities do not come close to it in comparison. The city is located at the foot of the Table Mountain, not distant from the Cape of Good Hope. The city enjoys the sophistication and amenities or a modern city yet in a relaxed pace with it sitting between mountains and the ocean; creating an ultimate mix of work and play. Cape Town also produces some of the world’s top wines from the hundreds of vineyards that are located a short drive from the city.
Each African city has its own unique cultures and historic characteristics that differ from one another, yet seem to be uniform with the modernization of the world. These ten cities show the diversity and beauty of Africa as a continent that you may just have to experience for yourself someday.