9 Best Sights in Mozambique

Gorongosa National Park

Fodor's choice

On the floor of The Great Rift Valley, Gorongosa National Park was once one of Africa’s crowning glories, where thousands of plains game followed by hundreds of predators fed off some of the richest grazing grounds in Africa—a microcosm of the continent itself. But it became a casualty of neglect, civil wars, and plunder. Today, thanks to the 2004 non-profit Gorongosa Restoration Project of U.S. businessman Greg Carr and the Mozambican government, Gorongosa is steadily becoming the jewel in Africa’s crown once again. It's almost in the dead center of Mozambique, in Sofala Province, approximately 62 miles (100 km) from the port of Beira. Featuring the 6000 feet-high (1860 m) granite massif, Mount Gorongosa, the park today develops local communities, education, health, and skills, and provides a unique wildlife experience. Discover rivers, spectacular waterfalls on the mountain slopes, the beautiful Lake Urema, savanna, rainforest, flood plains—each of the different habitats home to all kinds of creatures, from big game such as elephant and lion, to reptiles and birds (339 species including the Green-headed Oriole—a bird you’ll find nowhere else in the world).

Watch the National Geographic documentary

Africa's Lost Eden

to whet your appetite.

Gorongosa National Park, Sofala, Mozambique
sights Details
Rate Includes: $20, Apr.–June daily 6–6, Aug.–Sept. daily 5:30 am–6 pm, Oct.–Dec. daily 5 am–6:30 pm. Closed from mid-December until mid-April for the rainy season.

Ibo Island, Cabo Delgado Province

Fodor's choice

A nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Quirimbas’ historic Ibo Island is fast becoming top of the pops with international travelers seeking a unique experience. This island, once a major slave source for the sugar plantations, is a historic melting pot of different cultures from Arabic to Christian, African to European, Chinese to Indian, with buildings that date back to the 16th century. Arab traders established it as a fortified trading post in 1600 AD, dealing in amber, slaves, ivory, turtle shell, and jet. They were followed by Portuguese and Muslim invaders. Don't miss the 18th-century Portuguese Fort of São João with its massive ancient cannons, restored with U.S. aid money, where local silversmiths fashion jewelry under the cool stone roof of the entrance using age-old methods. Absorb the gloom and terror of the damp cells of the 1791 St. John the Baptist chapel, where slaves were kept before being transported.

Ilha de Mozambique, Nampula Province

Fodor's choice

Ilha (ilia) de Mozambique, the former colonial Portuguese capital in Nampula province, is a small coral island that was the most important settlement along the East African coast for four centuries. Only one-and-a half miles (2.5 km) long and a third of a mile (600 m) wide, this UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site is home to some of the oldest colonial buildings in the southern hemisphere. Check out the 1610 Jesuit College of São Paulo with its 17th century pulpit from India's Goa province. See the Fortress of São Sebastião, built in the mid 1500s and often described as one of Africa's most formidable fortresses, explore the southern hemisphere's oldest standing European building, the Church of Nossa Senhora Baluarte, within the fort, and take in the 18th century whitewashed Catholic Cathedral where shipbuilders still ply their ancient traditional craft on the beach in front.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Casa de Ferro

Look out for the improbable 1892 "Iron House," one of Maputo's two edifices designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame—the other is the Maputo train station—and donated by the French to Mozambique. Originally designed as the residence of the General Governor of Mozambique, the house only became habitable with the advent of air-conditioning. An iron house might have looked good on paper, but was not very practical in the extreme heat of a Mozambique summer.

Av. Samora Machel, Maputo, Maputo City, Mozambique
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Daily

Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceição

Though it's on not-so-scenic grounds and is not very well-maintained, this historic late 18th-century Portuguese fort, with its stout stone walls and cannons reminiscent of Cape Town’s castle, is worth a visit. It's best to hire a guide, as site information is very sketchy. You'll find it at the bottom of Avenue Samora Machel, near the sea.

Rue Marques de Pombal, Maputo, Maputo City, Mozambique
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Daily 8–5

Maputo Railway Station

Designed by Monsieur Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, Maputo Railway Station's vaulted roofs, hand-carved doors, broad, curving platforms, antique light fittings, and spacious proportions make it one of the most beautiful and elegant train stations in sub-Saharan Africa. There’s live jazz many evenings, especially on weekends, in the historic bar on the station platform.

Praça dos Trabalhadores, Maputo, Maputo City, Mozambique

Maputo Se (Cathedral)

Dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), the gleaming white Art Deco Roman Catholic cathedral in Independence Square has a slender spire more than 200 feet high. The first stone was laid in 1936, and it was consecrated in 1944. It looks like a glistening, very elegant wedding cake and it's well worth a visit. Look out for some interesting art works inside by local artists António Lino, Francisco Franco, Simões de Almeida, Leopoldo de Almeida, and António Maia Ribeiro.

Praça de Independência, Maputo, Maputo City, Mozambique

National Art Museum

A small but good collection of paintings and sculptures by some of Mozambique’s most famous artists is on display here, including several large canvases by the world-renowned Malangatana.

1233 av. Ho Chi Minh, Maputo, Maputo City, 1233, Mozambique
sights Details
Rate Includes: 20 MZN; free Sun., Tues.–Fri. 11–6, weekends 2–6

Tunduru Botanical Gardens

Designed in 1885 by Thomas Honney, who also designed gardens for the King of Greece and the Sultan of Turkey, these gardens, although somewhat neglected, are well laid out with some interesting plants and large shady trees. Visit with care—don’t venture in alone and avoid the lower area, frequented by homeless people. Outside the gates there’s an imposing statue of the first President of Mozambique, the charismatic Samora Machel, who died in a mysterious plane crash (his widow, Graça, married Nelson Mandela some years later).

Rua Henrique de Sousa, Maputo, Maputo City, Mozambique