Friday, July 19, 2024
Lilongwe Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Malawi’s biggest and capital city, Lilongwe, with a population of 1,077,116 people. The city lies in Malawi’s central area, between the Mozambique and Zambian borders, and it serves as a significant commercial and transportation center for the country. The Lilongwe River inspired the name.

Lilongwe has a humid subtropical climate that borders on a subtropical highland climate, with moderate winters and pleasant summers. Temperatures are lower than one would anticipate for a city in the tropics due to the altitude. Lilongwe has a brief rainy season, which lasts from December to March, and a long dry season, which lasts for the most of the year, with June and July being colder than the rest of the year.

It’s an extremely green city, to the point that you could question whether there is really a city center, since buildings in the new town are separated by patches of grassy ground and trees.

While Blantyre is Malawi’s commercial capital, the government and public institutions dominate Lilongwe’s economy. The largest industrial region in the city is Kanengo District, which has food processing, tobacco storage and sales, maize storage, and other light businesses.

The city’s primary economic activity include finance, banking, retail commerce, construction, transportation, public administration, tourism, and tobacco manufacture. In Lilongwe, 76% of the population lives in informal settlements, with poverty rates of 25% and unemployment rates of 16%. About 27% of all formal employees are employed by the government, while 40% work in the private sector and 2% are self-employed.

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Lilongwe | Introduction

Lilongwe – Info Card

POPULATION :  City: 1,077,116
FOUNDED :   1906
LANGUAGE :  Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, other 7.7%
RELIGION :  Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3%
ELEVATION :  1,050 m (3,440 ft)
COORDINATES :  13°59′S 33°47′E
SEX RATIO :  Male: 50.13%
 Female: 49.87%
ETHNIC :  Chewa 32.6%, Lomwe 17.6%, Yao 13.5%, Ngoni 11.5%, Tumbuka 8.8%, Nyanja 5.8%, Sena 3.6%, Others 7.6%

Tourism in Lilongwe

Live music and events may be found at a number of taverns and nightclubs.

The number of foreign restaurants has increased dramatically in recent years, owing in part to the development of the expatriate population and the growing significance of tourism. The city currently provides a diverse range of cuisines, including Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Indian cuisines.

On the other side of the road from the ancient nature reserve is the Lilongwe wildlife facility. It’s back down to old town through the river bridge; keep an eye out for the sign. It’s a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center that offers great tours of the facility and its wilderness zone, as well as a diverse assortment of species and reasonable prices.

Lilongwe Golf Club offers golf lessons. The best site to learn golf, having a great 18-hole course at a low cost compared to western costs. Even professionals will find it difficult.

The Old Town Mall is a shopping center in the heart of the city Just as you’re driving away from the Lilongwe Sunbird, turn left off Chilambula. Old Town Mall features two art and craft galleries, a DVD rental business, a grocery store catering – lightly – to expat preferences with foreign food and wine, and a book store, largely to tourists, expats, and rich Malawians. There’s also Serendipity Cafe and Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant (see below).

Shoprite. South African grocery chain, located in the heart of town and difficult to miss. The majority of travelers travelling through town will refuel here. Because the forex in the same complex has closed, you’ll have to cross the street and use the one in the mall (avoid the men on the sidewalk). Nando’s Chicken has closed and is now known as ‘The Grill House,’ yet everything inside is identical to Nando’s, including the menu and sauces. There’s also an ice cream shop at the Chicken Inn, which is lovely and affordable.

Game. Newly opened Walmart-owned hypermarket across from Shoprite. Food is available, as well as a hardware, toy, and sporting goods store. Expensive, yet the only location to get some items, such as tents.

How To Travel To Lilongwe

Get In - By plane

Regular flights are available from Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) to Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Lusaka, and Dar es Salaam, as well as local flights to Blantyre. Malawi Airlines flies to Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as three airports in Mozambique.

Lilongwe to Dar Es Salaam is served by Fastjet, a low-cost airline. with tickets starting at $100 USD

All travellers with foreign passports must pay an international departure tax of US$30 (cash only) on the first floor before proceeding to the departure hall, whereas the local departure fee is K200. This charge is no longer levied at the airport. It seems that it is now included in the airline ticket.

The airport is roughly a 30/40 minute drive north of town, and cabs from Old Town (if you’re staying in one of the lodges) cost about (US$20). If you take a cab from Capital City, this cost will be lower.

Get In - By bus

Regular bus services are available from Johannesburg, Harare, and Lusaka. Intercape operates Southern Africa’s biggest intercity bus network.

Get In - By car

Mchinji, near the Zambian border, is roughly 110 kilometers from Lilongwe. Taxis are pricey (about $50 depending on your negotiating abilities), but for MK500/600, you can take a minibus or open back truck (matola).

How To Get Around In Lilongwe

Because the town is so large, getting around may be difficult. Taxis are available at the Lilongwe Hotel in the Old Town and the Capital Hotel (in the Capital City). You can take a minibus if you’re feeling daring. It’s inexpensive, but you’ll get to know your fellow riders quickly. There are various options, including one that takes you from the enormous blue bank in the new town to the center of the old town, just next to Shoprite supermarket.

Districts & Neighbourhoods In Lilongwe

Lilongwe is separated into two parts: the New City and the Old City.

Hotels, embassies, government institutions, and offices are located in the former, whereas markets, bus terminals, cafés, and restaurants are located in the latter. The City’s contemporary stores contrast with the Old Town’s street and walled marketplaces.

Prices In Lilongwe


Milk 1 liter $ 1.15
Tomatoes 1 kg $ 0.40
Cheese 0.5 kg $ 2.80
Apples 1 kg $ 1.60
Oranges 1 kg $ 2.50
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $ 1.50
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $ 10.00
Coca-Cola 2 liters $ 1.30
Bread 1 piece $ 0.30
Water 1.5 l $ 1.55


Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $ 15.00
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $ 27.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $ 37.00
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $ 2.30
Water 0.33 l $ 0.50
Cappuccino 1 cup $ 2.50
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $ 2.20
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $ 1.55
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $ 0.55
Coctail drink 1 drink $ 3.50


Cinema 2 tickets $ 6.50
Gym 1 month $ 45.00
Men’s Haircut 1 haircut $ 3.00
Theatar 2 tickets $
Mobile (prepaid) 1 min. $ 0.09
Pack of Marlboro 1 pack $ 1.65


Antibiotics 1 pack $
Tampons 32 pieces $ 2.30
Deodorant 50 ml. $
Shampoo 400 ml. $
Toilet paper 4 rolls $ 0.75
Toothpaste 1 tube $


Jeans (Levis 501 or similar) 1 $ 60.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M) 1 $ 33.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas) 1 $ 70.00
Leather shoes 1 $ 68.00


Gasoline 1 liter $
Taxi Start $
Taxi 1 km $
Local Transport 1 ticket $ 0.55

Sights & Landmarks In Lilongwe

On the other side of the road from the ancient nature reserve is the Lilongwe wildlife facility. It’s back down to old town through the river bridge; keep an eye out for the sign. It’s a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center that offers great tours of the facility and its wilderness zone, as well as a diverse assortment of species and reasonable prices.

Traditional Malawian dance and drumming may be seen at Kumbali Cultural Centre [tel: 0999-933-252]. Live acoustic Malawian music and a traditional Malawian supper are included.

Food & Restaurants In Lilongwe


Many local cafés, particularly in Area 2, provide inexpensive dishes such as rice, chicken, nsmia, and beef.

Deli counters with hot meals, sandwiches, and a bakery are also available in Shoprite and Spar.

  • Sana Meals such as curries, pizza, burgers, and other items are sold across the street from Diplomats tavern. Good value for money.
  • Chicken Inn Shoprite is just next door. Like KFC, but with unexpectedly decent quality. It also offers ice cream and has good chips.


  • Bohemia Cafe – Along the road from Don Brioni’s is the Bohemia Cafe. Breakfast and lunch are served. Breakfast, toasted sandwiches, baked potatoes, quiche, fresh fruit juice, excellent tea and coffee, and delicious cakes A sandwich, a cup of tea, and a piece of cake will set you back around $5.
  • Korea Garden Lodge,- Mabuya Camp, Mufusa Lodge, and old town are all 5 minutes away from Korea Garden Lodge. In the restaurant, the hotel serves Korean cuisine. The reception has been mixed. A double room with a shared bathroom costs about USD30, while an ensuite room costs around USD55 (July 2013). They provide you with an extremely sluggish internet connection. Use the KGL-ZyXEL network with the WPA-code kglogde1 for the time being (yes, with the typo).
  • Kiboko Town Restaurant, – Reopened with a new look, menu, and bar. A great location to dine at a reasonable price. There is a children’s play area as well as an excellent bar. Live acoustic music is also performed on a regular basis. It’s a good spot to mingle with visitors and meet local expats.
  • Four Seasons, – Amid New Town, the Four Seasons is a delightful collection of restaurants and small stores situated in well-kept grounds. There is an amazing Indian restaurant called Blue Ginger that serves curries for roughly 1500-2200 kwacha, as well as another restaurant that serves pastas, salads, and steaks for a reasonable price. You’ll probably need to drive since it’s in the Government District, near the Capital Sunbird Hotel. But it’s definitely worth the trek since there’s also a fantastic bar with some killer drinks!
  • Spur, – South African chain restaurant that has just started. Sells steaks, burgers, and other meats. Also serves delicious ice cream, milkshakes, and soda floats! Because it is operated by Muslims, no pork is offered.
  • Chilli Peppers, – Up the road beyond Sunbird Lilongwe in Old Town is an Italian/Mexican themed restaurant. A nice location to eat, about MK1500-2000 for a main course. Nachos, fajitas, and pizzas are all delicious. They don’t specialize on pasta or meat meals, but they make them well.
  • Game complex, – Papaya is located behind the Galito’s, Creamy Inn, and Pizza Inn complex. Milkshakes, smoothies, and tea/coffee are available at this pleasant daytime eatery. Nachos, wraps, and other light nibbles are available.
  • Crossroads complex, – Steers (burgers, chips) and Pizza Inn, a South African fast food brand, are both located here. Cappucino’s is another wonderful tiny café that serves delicious breakfasts and daytime meals. There’s also plenty of tea, coffee, and iced coffee.
  • Country Lodge, – It’s a 5-minute drive. Mabuya Camp is located in Mabuya, Uganda. It serves excellent Indian and Chinese cuisine. You may also call, make an order, and pick up your food (picking it up yourself mind you).
  • Noble China, – After Sunbird Lilongwe, take the first left towards Old Town. Sells high-quality Chinese cuisine. The idea is to order a variety of meals and share them; the table’s center revolves to allow for easy dish swapping.


  • Mamma Mia, Old Town Mall. On weekends, reservations are highly suggested at Lilongwe’s fanciest Italian restaurant, which is popular with the expat population. Real Italian pizza, spaghetti, and other dishes are available, but expect to spend about K2000 per person (US$20) for a full dinner with a glass of wine, and the food quality is variable.
  • Don Brioni’s Bistro, – Next to the Old Town post office is Don Brioni’s Bistro. Pizza, spaghetti, steaks, and daily specials are available. Good cuisine served in large amounts. A main course costs $10.
  • Blue Ginger, – Blue Ginger is located in Area 10 of the Pacific Parade retail complex. Lilongwe’s greatest Indian restaurant.
  • Game complex, – In addition to Game, there are South African franchises such as Galito’s (similar to Nando’s), Creamy Inn (ice cream, milkshakes, waffles, and so on), and Pizza Inn (with buy one get one free Tuesdays). They’re all in the same building. It’s just an indulgence since it’s difficult to resist the temptation of ice cream or a milkshake after a meal. Galito’s is the lowest, costing about MK2000-2500 per person.

Coffee & Drinks in Lilongwe

Many locals like drinking, and although most are nice, ladies should be aware of overly protective Malawian men!

Carlsberg is Malawi’s only beer (except from Chibuku, a grainy, sand-like drink sold in cartons!). Carlsberg is a fairly local beer (made in Blantyre) that comes in a variety of styles, including regular (also known as a ‘Green’), Special Brew, Classic, Stout, Elephant, and Light. You may also purchase ‘Kuche Kuche,’ which is also made by Carlsberg but comes in a larger bottle with a lower alcohol content and is marketed mainly towards visitors. In Malawi, glass bottles are available as a deposit (so expect to pay MK25 extra per bottle, unless you return some). Other beers, such as Castle, Carling Black Label, Kronenbourg, and Heineken, are available in certain taverns and clubs. These, however, are more costly. Ciders and wines are also available, although they are more costly since they are imported.

Malawi has its own spirits, including Malawi Vodka, Malawi Gin (which is surprisingly decent quality gin! ), Malawi Rum, Gold Label Brandy or the posh Premium Brandy, and the cane spirit Powers. These are all low-cost spirits per bottle, with Powers and Gold Label Brandy costing under MK600. Mixing with the sweet, delicious Fanta works every time, and many locals do it! The Vodka, Gin, and Powers are all available in 30ml sachets.

Shopping In Lilongwe

Old Town Mall

Just as you’re driving away from the Lilongwe Sunbird, turn left off Chilambula. Old Town Mall features two art and craft galleries, a DVD rental business, a grocery store catering – lightly – to expat preferences with foreign food and wine, and a book store, largely to tourists, expats, and rich Malawians. Also nearby are Serendipity Cafe and Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant.

Crossroads Complex

Mchinji Roundabout. There are a few nice gift stores, a post office, a gas station, a pharmacy, an Indian supermarket, ATMs, and two fast food places – South African brands Steers (burgers) and Pizza Inn. Cappucino’s coffee shop and café is also located here, serving delicious breakfast, lunch, and iced coffee.


This is not related to the American chain; it is just a popular supermarket (complete with in-house butchery and bakery) that carries a broad selection of local and international items.


South African grocery chain, smack dab in the middle of town and difficult to miss. The majority of visitors travelling through town will stop here to refuel. Because the forex in the same complex is closed, you must cross the street and use the one in the mall (do not bother with the people on the sidewalk). The Nando’s Chicken has closed and is renamed ‘The Grill House,’ but once inside, everything is identical to Nando’s – even the menu and sauces. There’s also a good, reasonably priced Chicken Inn that offers ice cream.


Newly opened Walmart USA-owned hypermarket across the street from Shoprite. Food is available, as is a hardware, toy, and sporting goods store. Expensive, yet the only location to acquire some items, such as tents.


International chain. Very fine bread, fruit and vegetable assortment, and inexpensive sandwiches, hot lunches, and so on at the deli counter. Food is expensive, but it offers a decent, high-quality range. Definitely Western.


Another popular supermarket with a great selection of meats, dairy, other basic foods, and wine, as well as sandwiches and other ready-made snacks, biltong, a complete bakery, and a nice array of meats, dairy, and other basic foods. It’s very expat. On Kenyatta between Mzimba and Youth Drive, in the same complex as a Total fuel station.


Another famous store that specializes on non-perishables and a few dairy goods, residents frequent this location to stock up on bulk items. The most affordable source for imported liquor, wine, and bulk South African smokes. Located at the intersection of Chilambula and Mzimba.

Nightlife In Lilongwe

Numerous pubs and nightclubs provide live music and events.

Diplomats Pub

(in old town), +265 8553492.

On weekends, there’s a braai (South African slang for B-B-Q, pronounced “brr-eye”) outdoors, along with nice music and cool beverages. From 5 p.m. until 2 a.m., the restaurant is open. On weekends and throughout the week when no other pubs are open, this is a great place to go for entertainment. Locals and foreigners alike adore it. Plus, there’s a good set of pool tables (MK100 a token) – the winner gets to stay! Behind Diplomats, there’s also Inferno, a sports bar.

Alexsander’s Bar

To reach to the downtown area by cab, it takes around 10 minutes. This is where Lilongwe’s white collars and expatriates used to gather. The tavern is on the ground floor of a building owned by a Malawian immigrant to the United States. This is a fantastic alternative if you want to get away from the throng and unwind.

Chez Ntemba International Nightclub

Area 47 (Behind Total Petrol Station).

On Fridays and Saturdays, here is where the locals congregate. Although it is not the most well-kept establishment in town, it guarantees fantastic music and a pleasant ambiance. If the dance floor becomes too much for you, there’s still the open air space outside, where you’re certain to meet a few locals and expats, and there’s also a Braii. On weekends, the entry charge is MK500. On weekdays, it’s the only location open late – on the smaller side of the bar.

Lonely Planet/Oasis

(Casino), Off Chilambula Road. 

Lonely Planet reopened it recently. Although it is no longer as popular as it once was, the famed ‘Lollipop’ club night is still held every couple of months. It also serves cuisine late at night.

Chameleon Bar

(Four Seasons), Presidential Way. 

Chameleon’s is a Scotsman-owned Mzungu (White) pub in Lilongwe. This area has a higher concentration of white expatriates. Although the environment is not particularly African, you can always count on a great ambience throughout the week to unwind with a cool green. There are drinks and snacks available. The busiest times are Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Every Sunday afternoon, don’t miss the live Jazz Jam sessions.

Zanzibar Nightclub

Known as ‘Zanzi’ in the area. Lilongwe’s most popular nightclub. Every Friday and Saturday night, the place is packed. Normally, MK500 entrance is required, although this might be increased for special events such as concerts (have featured artists such as the Black Missionnaries and Naeto C.) Pickpocketing has been reported in this area, so be cautious with your money, wallets, bags, and cameras.

The Shack

Wednesday evenings are the place to be, with a large number of locals and expats attending each week. Wednesdays are the busiest, and admission is free. You may see the weekly volleyball league teams play if you arrive early (6pm+). If you start conversing, you may be able to join one. It’s a nice spot, however it becomes quiet after 2 a.m. It’s a really convivial environment.

Stay Safe & Healthy In Lilongwe

At late hours of the night, transportation is not always simple to come by, so be sure you have a method to get back to where you’re staying. Taxis are readily accessible. Lilongwe is reported to be dangerous at night, so avoid walking alone after dark.



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