Nestled in the heart of Zimbabwe is Harare, the capital city is an important hotspot for anyone looking to get an authentic experience of Zimbabwe. With its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural landscapes, and thriving arts scene, Harare offers some truly unforgettable experiences to its visitors.
In this guide, we invite you to explore the hidden gems that make Harare one of the places deserving to be on your bucket list for Zimbabwe. From galleries and museums, wildlife, local markets and big balancing rocks, Zimabwe's capital has so much to offer its visitors to give them a great feel and understanding of the country.
Whether it is the art and culture that speaks to you or the wildlife and sanctuaries, this article will help you make a mental note of what you would like to do when visiting Harare.
Let's take a journey of the enchanting sights, sounds, and flavours of Harare, where every step unravels a fresh tale of history, art, and natural beauty.
Things to do in Harare
1. National Heroes Acre
The National Heroes Acre is a monumental site in Harare that serves as a great symbol of national identity and unity. The monument pays homage to the courageous heroes of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.
The memorial complex features impressive sculptures, commemorative walls, and an eternal flame that honours those who fought for Zimbabwe's independence. This is the perfect place to learn all about the sacrifices and triumphs of Zimbabwe's historic patriots.
Ideal for: History enthusiasts, those interested in Zimbabwe's independence struggle, and visitors seeking a deeper understanding of the country's heroes.
2. Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences
The Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences - formerly Queen Victoria Museum, showcases Zimbabwe's rich Heritage and that of Africa as a whole. From the various traditions and beliefs of the locals to the colonial era and beyond, this museum is great for anyone that is keen on Zimabwe's people, past and present.
The Ngoma Lungundu artefact found in the museum is the oldest wooden object ever found south of the Sahara desert - more than 700 years old. Some believe it to be a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.
With an extensive Library, exhibition galleries, a model Shona village as well as ethnographic and archaeological artefacts, the museum is a treasure trove for learning and connecting with everything about Zimbabwe, past, present or future.
Ideal for: History buffs, anthropology enthusiasts, and families seeking an educational and immersive experience.
3. Shona Sculpture Gallery
The Shona Sculpture Gallery is a beautiful garden showcasing remarkable stone sculptures. Wandering through the gallery, the incredible sculptures show the heritage, creativity and craftsmanship of the Shona people.
The gallery has a varied collection of pieces with themes both traditional and contemporary.
The stones most used for sculptures belong to the serpentine family of sedimentary rocks. Shona sculptures gained fame in the 1950s and 1960s, especially for the great depictions that are inspired by Shona mythology and other cultural phenomenon.
Entry into the Shona Sculpture Gallery is free but you are encouraged to tip the staff and buy some sculptures for your own collection.
Ideal for: Art lovers, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Zimbabwean art and culture.
4. Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary
The Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary is a wonderful non-profit organization located around 25km east of Harare. The Sanctuary's mission is to provide a safe and nurturing haven for animals and birds that are injured, abandoned, orphaned or victims of human-wildlife conflict.
Twala is home to more than 50 species of animals such as monkeys, serval cats, reptiles, raptors, lions, ostriches and more. The animals are not bred and whenever possible, they are reintroduced and released back into the wild.
Twala Trust is run by Sarah Carter and Dr Vinay Ramlaul as well as a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. Visiting the Sanctuary is a great way of learning about the conservation work and contributing towards their incredible work.
Ideal for: Animal lovers, families, and those interested in wildlife conservation.
5. Hike to Ngomakurira Mountain
Ngomakurira, also known as "Drums Sounding," is a mountain located 40 kilometres from Harare, Zimbabwe. It holds cultural and spiritual significance for the local people.
Ngomakurira is blessed with beautiful landscapes of massive granite rocks and natural miombo forest ecosystems as well as well-preserved San rock art. The stone alters at some hilltops and woodland spots serve as a significant place of worship for the zionist church.
Often referred to as Domboshava's big brother, Ngomakurira is perfect for anyone who prefers a more adventurous and challenging hike in Chinamora.
Ideal for: Avid hikers, Cultural enthusiasts, and those looking for a quiet path less travelled.
6. Mukuvisi Woodland
The Mukuvisi Woodland is a beautiful nature reserve in the heart of Harare. It offers a peaceful retreat and allows visitors to get an initial introduction to Zimbabwe's rich wildlife.
There are several trails which can be followed for great wildlife viewing, bird watching or biking. You will see zebra, giraffe, eland, wildebeest, ostrich, and impala, including some of their young ones within woodlands, as well as a wide variety of birds and indigenous flora.
Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, this urban oasis provides a refreshing break from city life.
Ideal for: Nature lovers, birdwatchers, families, and those seeking a peaceful getaway.
7. Chapungu Sculpture Park
For anyone who loves art, the Chapungi Sculpture Park in Harare is an un-missable stop in the city. This outdoor gallery showcases the incredible talent of the Zimbabwean sculptors.
Chapungu is beautifully landscaped - making it easy to move through and meander to a variety of sculptures that fit in properly with the surrounding. Regular exhibitions and events are hosted in the park, allowing even more artists to present their creativity to a bigger audience of visitors.
Ideal for: Art enthusiasts, sculptors, and those seeking a serene, creative and artistic atmosphere.
8. Chiremba Balancing Rocks
Located just 13 kilometres southeast of Harare, the Chiremba Balancing Rocks are among the many fascinating rock formations in Zimbabwe. These boulders are beautifully stacked on top of each other to create amazing natural art that perfectly blends in with the untamed surroundings.
While Zimbabwe has many rock formations, these are especially popular because of their proximity to the city of Harare. Hiking, photography or just scenery watching can be enjoyed here without being very far from the bustle and hustle of the big city.
Ideal for: Nature lovers, photography enthusiasts, and those seeking a peaceful and scenic retreat.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to visit Harare?
The best time to visit Harare is during the dry season, which typically spans from May to October. The weather is pleasant, with sunny days and cooler temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing.
Is it safe to visit Harare?
Harare is generally a safe city for visitors.
As with any big urban area, you should exercise caution, and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or at night. To
How can I get around Harare?
Getting around Harare is convenient with various transportation options. Taxis, ride-hailing services, and public minibusses (known as "kombis") are commonly used. It's important to negotiate fares with taxis and ensure your safety by using reputable transportation services.
Are there any cultural etiquettes I should be aware of in Harare?
In general, you are advised to be respectful of the local people's customs and traditions. Common politeness such as greeting people and asking for permission before taking pictures is all that is needed.
In places of worship or rural communities, you are advised to dress more modestly to avoid offending people's sensitivities that come with tradition and spirituality. Common courtesies like "please" and "thank you" are always appreciated regardless of where you are.
Are there any day trips or excursions from Harare?
Yes, there are several day trip options from Harare. You can visit attractions such as the Chinhoyi Caves, Lake Chivero Recreational Park, or the nearby town of Marondera for a taste of rural Zimbabwe.
These excursions offer opportunities for outdoor activities, wildlife encounters, and cultural experiences within a short distance from the city.
What are some must-try local dishes in Harare?
Harare offers a range of delicious local dishes to tantalize your taste buds. Don't miss the opportunity to try traditional Zimbabwean dishes such as sadza (a staple cornmeal dish), bota (a type of porridge), and muriwo nedovi (greens with peanut butter).
Exploring local food markets and restaurants will give you a chance to sample the authentic flavours of Zimbabwean cuisine.
Harare, Zimbabwe's beating heart, offers an irresistible blend of culture, history, and natural wonders that will leave you mesmerized.
From the exquisite artistry at Chapungu Sculpture Park to the breathtaking views atop Mount Nyangani, Harare presents a tapestry of experiences that are truly worth discovering. Engage your senses with the vibrant beats of Ngoma Kurira and lose yourself in the serenity of Mukuvisi Woodland. And as you traverse the city, don't forget to pay tribute to the heroes who shaped Zimbabwe's destiny at the National Heroes Acre.
Harare is a destination that will ignite your spirit of adventure and leave a great mark on your soul. Now that you know some good places to check out in Zimbabwe's capital, we hope you feel confident to plan your incredible adventure.