A Quick Guide to Blantyre Malawi

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Blantyre is Malawi’s second biggest city and the country’s centre for finance and commerce. After spending a some time there, we’ve put together a short guide of what you can do in Blantyre, ranging from places to eat, historical buildings to visit and entertainment. Also, Blantyre is a great base for all activities in the South of Malawi including Mount Mulanje and Liwonde National Park. See our blog post about Mount Mulanje for more details. 

Sounds of Malawi

Sounds of Malawi: Every Thursday at the Jacaranda Cultural Centre, Code Sangala hosts Sounds of Malawi. A rhythmical evening showcasing Malawian talent. There is a small snack bar and shop with curious on sale and a great way to meet locals and travelers. Also, the change over between acts is really well done and quite unique. You will have to visit yourself to find out how it’s done. 

Sounds of Malawi Poster
© Nicholas Philipson | Woza Rafiki
© Nicholas Philipson | Woza Rafiki

Mandala House

Built in 1882, Mandala House is said to be the oldest building in Malawi. It is home to Mandala Cafe, La Cavera art gallery and the Society of Malawi Library and Archives. It is a beautifully designed historic building made with mud, grass and bricks with a charming character and beautifully maintained gardens. 

St Michael and All Angels Church

Although we did not visit this stunning church, I have seen pictures of it and a visit was recommended. This historical building of significance is the St Michael and All Angels Church built from 1888 – 1891. It was built by Rev David Clement Scott and Scottish missionaries using red-face brick made on site and without any architectural training. 

Central Africana Bookshop

Central Africana Bookshop, located in Kidney Crescent,  is a charming bookstore that sells some strange and very old books, as well as, some very useful new ones! You can buy a Chichewa/English language learning book and many curious to take home if you wish. There are also maps, prints and artworks for sale. 

Blantyre Municipal Market

Although chaotic, don’t be afraid to get lost in the cramped stalls and alleyways of the Blantyre municipal market. You can find almost anything secondhand or new here, as well as, fruit and veg and beautiful African fabrics. You will also come across men playing Bao a traditional mancala game played all over East Africa. Handcrafted Bao sets are sold at this market. 

© Nicholas Philipson | Woza Rafiki
Reed frame maker © Nicholas Philipson | Woza Rafiki

Cafes, Bars and Backpackers

Cafe Grazia is opposite the Central Africana Bookshop. They sell delicious Italian food and homemade cakes. They also have a shop selling handcrafted goods and artworks. Find a table in the peaceful Bougainvillea courtyard.

Lovestory Cafe is a small coffee shop offering simple lunches and drinks. It’s a cool place to do some work, have a meeting or play a game of Bao or chess with a cup of coffee in hand. 

Doogle’s Backpacker’s – A friendly, backpacker vibe with a restaurant and bar. On the weekends it gets very lively with locals frequenting the bar and restaurant. It is a great place to meet people, both travelers and locals. 

Baobab Backpackers – A fairly new backpackers with great facilities and is well situated. This place is also frequented by locals – a great place to meet people and chill. There is good wifi here. 

There are also many good AirBnB options in and around Blantyre. Our favourite’s are  Sonke Apartments (soccer ball house) and AJ’s place. AJ’s place offers a tasty, filling breakfast included in the price! 

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