Africa is the most diverse continent that balances the sophistication and simplicity dynamic quite flawlessly. If you want to visit the Africa out of the Savannah, these 10 cities are your go to places that infuse African culture with 21st century sophistication. This ranking combines quantitative metrics like affordability and cleanliness with the more important qualitative factors that draw people to these cities.
1. Cape Town, South Africa
Credits: Cape Town Travel and Tours
With an unreal fairy-tale location between the sea and the mountains, The Mother City no doubt encapsulates what the continent’s future looks like. It is the highlight of the continent with its scenic surroundings yet it still is a formidable and well built concrete jungle. Cape Town is the digital and insurance hub of Africa but not all is about work in this bustling metropolis as it is close to hundreds of South Africa’s vineyards. This is the right place to set the connoisseur in you free. Hiking and water sports also add to the catalogue of activities one can do in Cape Town apart from tasting some of the finest wine around. It is not a surprise that Cape Town has won numerous international awards like Africa’s Travel Destination and Travel+Leisure’s World’s Number two City. The City boasts one of the highest concentration of major events in Africa and these include the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Argus Cycle Tour, the Two Oceans Marathon and the Design indaba.
2. Nairobi, Kenya
Credits: Impressive Magazine
Nairobi is fast becoming the home of large multinational companies in Africa and if this is not a telling sign of the city’s attractiveness, nothing will. The Rockefeller Foundation and China’s CCTV are two of the hundreds of popular international organisations that have opened shop in Kenya’s capital. The city has an interestingly promising technology industry and arguably the best internet connectivity in the continent. Nairobi’s location in the African landscape has earned it the nickname the Silicon Savannah. In fact, the city has a National Park only 5 miles from the city centre. This again is a case of modern day cutting edge infrastructure coupled with an unrivalled and unique African environment to create a phenomenal cityscape. Nairobi is also known for its relatively cheap housing. Of late, the government has upped its security presence to protect people from various militants in the region. Safety is therefore not as much of an issue as it might have been a decade ago. This is definitely one city to put on the bucket list for a memorable vacation.
3. Accra, Ghana
Credits: Wikimedia Commons
This Ghanaian city is a perfect place to spend a holiday and by the looks of it, it is also a great home to its 20 million people. Upscale Nigerians are known to have weekend homes in the Ghanaian capital and indeed, one can never wonder why. Accra is a joy to behold with upmarket shopping malls like Osu, locally called “ Oxford Street” for its evident touch of class and Accra Mall. The city has a great warm tropical climate that is perfect for all the outdoorsy folks. Ghana’s warm and hospitable people are another reason to want to visit this great city. With even more development in the works, this city is surely on its way to the world’s big league. It is another African city to add to that list of places that need to be visited as soon as possible.
4. Tunis, Tunisia
Tunis is a unique city that has managed to drag along its history and incorporate it in its development. Once one of the wealthiest cities in the Northern African and Middle East region, Tunis is now regarded the least expensive city for expatriates in the region. The city is well linked to other places by an extensive and efficient rail system so transport is not a problem at all. With a life expectancy of 74.6 years, one might want to go and find the secret for long life. It could easily be the scenic Mediterranean Sea that clears the mind of every stress or maybe the Medina of Tunis reminding the citizens how far they have come. One can never know until that all important vacation in this great city.
5. Windhoek, Namibia
The compact city of Otjomuise (formerly known as Windhoek) is a literal heaven. The small city is home to just over 320 000 people and just about every Namibian government institution. Otjomuise houses one of the most diverse range of people with all sorts of backgrounds. Anyone would feel at home here. For beer lovers, this is the home of the Windhoek lager; a brand par extraordinaire. Otjomuise is one of the cleanest and safest places to be. The efficient transport system is a bonus. This city is indeed the epitome of simplified beauty.
6. Port Louis, Mauritius
With a diverse colonial history, Port Louis is the best of several worlds. The city houses numerous buildings and monuments that reflect its rich and diverse colonial history. Close to the city centre are several French colonial buildings that date to the 18th century, including Government House. Port Louis is also home to the Jummah Mosque, the English Saint James Cathedral, the Indian Tamil Temple, the elegant five-tier colonial Port Louis Theatre (Théâtre de Port-Louis), the Cham, and the nearby Chinese Pagoda. If one is out to capture the glory of several cultures all at once, this is the place to be.
7. Agadir, Morocco
Agadir, which means “walls enclosing a fortress”, is surely a wall housing Morocco’s pride. The beautiful city is the only place which gives one lease to be thankful for an earthquake. Agadir was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960 and had to be rebuilt following specific seismic standards. With an almost consistently mild climate through-out the year, this is the go to area for anyone with acute aesthetic sensibilities. With citrus fruits and vegetables from the region of Souss, this city surely has it all. The cityscape is no longer the personification of Moroccan tradition but no one minds considering the strides it has made. Agadir along with Bay of Taghazout are members of the "Club of the most beautiful bays in the world".
8. Luanda, Angola
Credits: Africa Ranking
The Angolan capital is the shining beacon of the Eastern world’s co-operation with Africa. With the help of the China International Trust and Investment Corporation, Luanda looks like the revitalised jewel of African glory that it is. Boosted by oil production, the country has a banking sector overflowing with unprecedented success and ultimately really high standards of living. The city is known for being a little on the expensive side but with high earners in the country, not many people take issue with that. A visitor might want to carry a really fat wallet for this destination lest he fails to get even a tub of ice cream, reportedly going for $31. Luanda might be a little steep for most but it is absolutely worth it. Quality comes at a certain price.
9. Johannesburg, South Africa
Credits: World Property Journal
This large metropolis is the taste of Africa’s very bright future. Stepping into “Jozi” as locals call it, is stepping into the future of Africa. Home to more than 7 million ( in the Greater Johannesburg area), the city is the financial hub of South Africa and arguably the whole continent. It is home to most of the African branches of International companies due to its strategic positioning that earned it a place in Mastercard’s list of 50 Worldwide Centres of Commerce. Not all is about business though as the city has a bustling entertainment sector and nightlife. Shopping malls are truly everywhere that people stay with the most popular ones being Sandton City and Melrose Arch. Jozi also prides itself in being one of the greenest cities in the world. In fact, Johannesburg has the biggest man-made forest in the world. The city’s OR Tambo Airport is simply a joy to behold. This is Africa’s statement: Bye bye to stereotypes of a “wild and uncivilised” Africa, in with the new. Jozi is the future.
10. Lagos, Nigeria
There is one Lagos under the sun and it is in Africa. With an exciting film industry usually referred to as Nollywood and a growing musical presence, Lagos is the heartbeat of African art no matter the form. 21 million people in the city go about their business to create the Lagos the world knows and loves. It is without question the biggest city in Africa and it is quickly pacing towards becoming a global city. Development is therefore rife especially considering the fact that Lagos is the major contributor to the Nigerian economy. Due to the astronomical numbers of people in the city, peak hours result in extreme traffic jams and it would be wise to travel around after the “Go Slows” as locals call them. Lagos also has bustling marketplaces like Idumota where most of the film sales take place. This city definitely deserves a visit so as to appreciate the African approach to building a mega-city.
(Header Image Credit: UK Airshow Review)