The capital and most-populous city in Malawi takes its name from the river that carves its route through Lilongwe. Lilongwe is typically overlooked as nothing more than a stopover for most visitors to the country, however at least two nights here will expose you to a sprawling and vibrant city.
After a hike up Nhkhoma Mountain, survey the city from this summit and you will see the distinct separation of the Old Town in the south, and the New Town to the north, so named after Lilongwe took over from Zomba as the official capital of Malawi in 1975.
Separating these two downtown areas is a forest of green, spread across the very heart of the city’s centre. One of Lilongwe’s most worthwhile attractions, here you will find Malawi’s only wildlife sanctuary. The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is an animal rehabilitation centre dedicated to helping injured and rescued animals before they are eventually returned to the wild. Visitors can even volunteer and learn about caring techniques for the resident fauna, including crocodiles, monkeys and lions.
Elsewhere, souvenir hunters will enjoy the city’s eclectic markets such as the Kanelolo Curios Market, which makes for a great way to spend an afternoon. Lilongwe also hosts a reputed selection of eateries and restaurants for dining out in the evening, most of which can be found in the Old Town. Be sure to spend some time in this underrated capital before venturing out to the wilderness of Lake Malawi and beyond.