Namibia’s small yet perfectly formed capital is home to just 200,000 people, its most populated conurbation sandwiched into a valley between the Auas and Eros mountains. Right in the centre of the country, Windhoek (pronounced Vind-hook) is well-groomed with European-style planned streets, its Germanic influences interwoven with its modern African culture. The newly-built skyscrapers of Namibia’s recent independence rub up alongside turn-of-the-century colonial buildings, and glittering jewellery stores sit next to rustic stalls selling instruments and wooden sculptures made by artisans from the north.
Most visitors to Namibia will need to enter and exit the country through the capital, and a couple of nights here will help you to better understand Namibia before setting off for its more famous sites. Visits to Windhoek are ideal for sampling some of the country’s cuisine, a fusion of German and African specialities. The city has a wealth of cafés where you can dine al fresco on Namibian-style breakfasts, known as Frühschoppen, accompanied by a glass of chilled sparkling wine or draught beer.
Many visitors enjoying holidays to Windhoek often comment on the city’s less-than-African atmosphere; there are plenty of international restaurants to try, ranging from French to Korean, Portuguese, Greek or Chinese. However, there are pockets of African culture to be found in the city, where you can purchase traditional clothing and jewellery, such as at Post Street Mall. You can also visit townships such as Katutura, to learn more about the population of Windhoek and the displacement of people in the late 1950s.
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