Lilongwe Travel Guide
Craft Market, Lilongwe © Hans Hillewaert
The capital of Malawi, Lilongwe is a very green city, with leafy trees and grassy areas breaking up the concrete. Lilongwe is also quite a laid-back town, in typical Malawian fashion; a sleepy city with social highlights revolving around visits to the local nursery, shopping in Old Town or a couple of drinks at the golf club.
Lilongwe is divided into Old Town (to the south) and New Town (to the north), with the Lilongwe Nature Sanctury between the two. Old Town is more popular with visitors as it is home to markets and craft stalls, and attractive cafes, restaurants and pubs. New Town is focused more on business, with office buildings, banks, and embassies offering little in the way of sightseeing.
Located in central Malawi, Lilongwe itself is not a major tourist draw, but a large expat population has given the city a distinctly cosmopolitan feel that makes it the perfect stopover for travellers heading to game reserves and beach resorts. Many a trip to Malawi begins at the Lilongwe International Airport and the city makes for a pleasant introduction to the country, though those not travelling on business seldom stay long.
Many tourists in transit also take advantage of the shopping in Lilongwe, which is the best in Malawi. Old Town Mall is home to impressive art and craft galleries, a grocery store, travel agencies and upmarket clothing stores. Crossroads Complex, at the Mchinji Roundabout, also boasts gift shops, a post office, ATMs and fast food outlets. It is a good idea to capitalise on these amenities, particularly for banking, as ATMs are scarce outside of urban areas.