PICK A BASE
My two favourite hotels in the city are within coconut-lobbing distance of each other.
The Southern Sun Maputo (Av. de Marginal 1116) is the only hotel in the city to be right on the beach. It has a cosy, intimate feel, with warm Portuguese colonial-inspired touches. The Resident’s Bar flows out onto a giant fig tree-covered stoep overlooking the ocean — making this one of the city’s best quaffing spots. If you’re in a celebratory mood, head to Evolve, the hotel’s restaurant, and treat yourself to the legendary seafood platter, which is crammed with sublimely cooked crayfish, crab, mussels and line fish.
Sleeker than a ship’s prow, the Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence (Av. de Marginal 141) is a chic blend of smart corporate minimalism and exuberant touches of Mozambican design — including a multi-storey mosaic mural by acclaimed artist Naguib. Azul, the recently-opened restaurant at the bottom of one of its two new residential towers offers a tempting mix of Italian- and Mozambican-inspired dishes.
TAKE THE PLUNGE
Maputo gets seriously hot and steamy in the summer. As it hasn’t got any nice swimming beaches, finding a pool to take the plunge in is the next best thing. For a serious workout, dive into the crystal clear waters of the elegant Clube Naval (Av. Marginal, 1866) lap pool, then soak up the sun on a lounger, or order lunch or snacks at the club’s ocean-edged restaurant.
If you only plan on getting your shins wet, the pool at the Clube dos Empresários (in Rua Mateus Sansao Muthemba) is ideal. There are gorgeous Art Deco change-rooms that you expect F. Scott Fitzgerald to step out of and a big, shady courtyard with plenty of tables. Once you’ve dried off, sip on a 2M beer or two while Petula Clark — or some other rose-tinted songstress — serenades you from the speakers blasting the revived LM Radio.
MEET AND EAT
Head to the open-air craft centre FEIMA (Parque dos Continuadores) in search of stocking fillers. Chat to local craftsmen and artists stationed in the snake-like stalls as they show you their art, homeware and fabrics. Once you’re done browsing, head to Graciana, one of FEIMA’s two restaurants, which offers local cuisine, such as the country’s national dish, matapa (a beguiling blend of crab, manioc, groundnuts and coconut milk) washed down with numbingly good lime caipirinhas.
What better way to get to grips with a city than chatting to some locals for their insider views and favourite haunts.
My Sea Peixaria (Av. Kim il sung, No.83). I came across the place by chance. I went there and it was oh so quiet and small and charming. A few tables at the time back in 2015, only open for lunch time, in the patio between the fishmonger’s shop on the right and his wife’s spa on the left. One year later, the restaurant is open most evenings, the spa has left its space for the restaurant’s indoor area and the menu has improved a lot. Raw fish, cooked fish, seashells, fish on hot stone…More people know about it now but it still feels like a secret place only you know about when you go.
Dhow (Rua de Marracuene, No.4). Dhow is a décor and art store with a selection of beautiful African and Asian pieces, as well as gorgeous jewellery, high-quality clothing and lovely homeware. Walking around the shop is already a treat for the eyes. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, the best way to enjoy the view is to book a table for sundowners and delicious mezzes with a few friends. Don’t get mistaken by the official opening hours, if you book a table on a Friday or Saturday night for let’s say 6pm, you’ll be able to stay till 8pm or later, depending on the mood of the owner and availability of the staff on the night. And don’t be deterred by the lack of parking spaces outside, park further away and walk or take a cab. The place is worth it.
Feira Popular (Corner of Avenida 25 de Setembro & Rua Belmiro Obadias Muanga). Only open at the weekends, Feira Popular is a place that combines a few very old-looking but perfectly functioning merry-go-rounds for kids to enjoy with bars, restaurants and nightclubs for big people’s entertainment, all hidden inside a run-down walled compound. Plan your nightclub arrival at Face2Face, Bambu or Roots Crib for after midnight and do not schedule anything on that morning as you’re likely to return to your hotel a little worse for wear!
Costa do Sol beach (Avenida Marginal). Have a piri piri chicken or Magumba (local fish) made by the Mozambican women at the beach. This is a good way of spending a relaxed afternoon by the sea.
XIMA – Alto Mae (Avenida Eduardo Mondlane 3517). Listen to live music performed by Mozambican musicians to a Mozambican crowd on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Núcleo de Arte (Rua da Argélia 194). For the art and music lovers. This is the Mozambican association for artists. It is open every day and they have a great gallery and live music on Sundays at 7pm.
Cinema SCALA (Av. 25 de Setembro, 1514 Maputo). This Art Deco cinema located downtown is more than 85 years old. When it was built by the company South African Kinemas Lda, it was considered the most modern cinema constructed in Mozambique. Even today, the original chairs and colours in the movie theatre remains intact. There’s an outdoor cinema and a restaurant too.
Centro Cultural Franco Moçambicano (Av. Samora Machel, 468 Maputo). With an architecture containing traces of Gustave Eiffel, this cultural centre welcomes artists from all over the world with a diverse cultural programming. It has an open-air restaurant with a large garden, set between the Tunduru Gardens and the statue of Samora Machel. Closed on Sundays.
Museu de História Natural (Praça Travessia do Zambeze). This is the oldest museum in Mozambique (opened in 1913). The collections of natural history and ethnography includes a fabulous collection of elephant fetuses.
Fortaleza (Praça 25 de Junho). With a history that dates back to the 18th century, this small fortification is located downtown. It contains various statues related to the occupation and conquest of Mozambique. One can see an urn containing the remains of Ngungunyane, the emperor of Gaza, symbol of the local resistances.