Blantyre – Malawi360

Malawi: The warm heart of Africa!

Blantyre is the economic capital of Malawi.

Understand

Get in

By plane

South African Airways fly’s every week on Wednesday and Saturdays from and to Johannesburg, South-Africa to Blantyre. Air Malawi also had some flights.

By train

By car

By bus

By boat

Get around

For the budget traveller there are basically two ways of getting around Blantyre. By foot or by minibuses. By day it is since quite safe to walk around Blantyre. It is possible to explore the entire city of Blantyre on foot within a couple of days, and unless you are travelling to Limbe or to the outer suburbs of Blantyre, then it is unlikely you’ll require even the minibus. In the event that you do, then minibuses are very cheap, travelling between Blantyre and Limbe costs MK 35 (as of January 2007). Alternatively you may consider hiring a bicycle if you are that way inclined. It is unsafe to walk around Blantyre during the night and we would recommend that you obtain the phone numbers of a few reliable taxi drivers (talk to some of the locals). Taxis are relatively more expensive, and the price also depends on how far the driver has to come to pick you up, but this is much preferable to being mugged in a dark Blantyre street late at night. As a general rule all taxi drivers begin at the Mount Soche Hotel.

See

Do

Learn

  • Society of Malawi [1] (Situated above the Mandala House) is a great place to visit if you enjoy a quiet, historic place to research life both past and present in Malawi and Africa in general. The library and archives are open weekdays from 9 to 12 and the last Thursday of the month from 6-7:30PM. See their website for more updated details regarding special functions, a searchable index of scholarly papers available, etc.

Work

Buy

Blantyre is the commercial centre of Malawi and travellers come in from all over the region (including neighbouring Mozambique) to stock up on supplies–food, construction materials, electronics, etc. The downtown area is full of Asian (Indian) run shops, as is nearby Limbe. A bustling market area popular with locals offers all kinds of fruits, veggies, used clothing, construction materials, etc. on the cheap. Newer Western-style shops are available for those who just want to get in and get out (i.e. Game and Shoprite at Chichiri). Savers Choice is a well-stocked Asian run store heading toward Limbe that caters to the expat community with hard-to-find food items, a good bakery, an ice-cream bar and candy shop. Prices for the same thing can often vary from shop to shop and an abundance of counterfeited products flood the market, so it’s best to shop around and stay on guard.

Eat

Budget

  • Vendors are all over the streets in Blantyre. They sell a range of food items from fried chips, chicken, etc. to hard boiled eggs, bread (mostly milkscone variety and yellow buns), biscuits (locally made from Universal Industries), and so on. Plenty of ripe fruit and vegetables are also readily available for a good price. On the whole, however, street food is nowhere near as tasty as many other African countries tend to offer.

Mid-range

  • Alem Ethiopian Restaurant, in the heart of the busy city Alem offers Malawian favorites (like nsima with rice, chicken and chips, etc.) as well as authentic Ethiopian dishes served in bowls straight from Ethiopia. Ethiopian coffee, served with cloves and salt, is a must-have for any coffee lover. The owners, friendly Ethiopians themselves, have been running the restaurant for over ten years.
  • Baba Delhi Darbar, heavenly tasty indian food with a wide variety of vegetarian meals. Situated in the city of Blantyre at Victoria Avenue close to Mt. Soche Hotel.
  • Blue Savannah, fast foods and takeaway, located at the site of Eclipse Lodge (close to Mt. Soche and Air Malawi). Great pizza, chips and burgers. In the same complex, opening soon, is a homemade ice cream shop, bakery, expat grocery store, sit-down fancy restaurant and coffee shop (by mid to late 2007). Phone 08827613.
  • Scoops and Shakes, For delicious homemade Ice Cream in exotic flavours also milk shakes, Thick shakes, Juices, Coffee’s waffles and crepes. Try our ice cream made with 100% natural ingredients. Situated at the site of Malawi Sun Hotel and Conference Centre (close to Mount Soche Hotel and Air Malawi.) Phone: 08827613.
  • Cappineros offers a relaxing outdoor or indoor setting just a short ride from downtown Blantyre, but far enough away that it feels out of the city. To get there just go past the casino and you’ll see the entrance on the right (if coming from downtown Blantyre). As of 2007 they have free salsa lessons every Tuesday night beginning at 7.00pm. Phone: 08 843 892
  • Chez Maky, a delightful out-of-the-way respite from the city, is a great place to get together with business associates or a few friends (space is available for conferences). Situated on a multi-level wooden deck protected from rain, the proprietor is a delightful host originally from Cameroon who makes everyone feel right at home. Grilled meat is particularly well-done here (some of the best in the country) and real coffee with desserts are a nice addition to any meal. Located on Kabula Hill Road past Seventh Day Adventist Hospital (just go passed the hospital, which will be on your right, and the road almost will end right at the entrance to the residence/restaurant). Open every day from 8 to 5. Phone: 09203029, 01622124
  • File:Chinapalace.jpg

    Inside China Palace, Blantyre, 2007

    China Palace, opened in 2006, this family-friendly restaurant shares its locale with Pizza Palace (see Pizza Palace for locale or service-related info). Phone: 08 600 600. Closed on Tuesdays.

  • China Sunrise, opened in 2006, offers some of the more authentic Chinese food available in the city. A converted residential home offers a quiet, relaxing atmosphere with plenty of male waiters eager to serve. Phone: 08 352 746. To find China Sunrise, proceed to Mwaiwathu Hospital and head toward the direction of Chileka Airport. Perhaps a kilometer or two past Mwaiwathu on the left there is a sign directing you to the place, which will wind you a bit into a housing area.
  • Curry Corner, located at Chichiri Shopping Center in Blantyre. Authentic Indian Cuisine also serves non curries. Next to Shoprite and Game stores. Serves lunches, dinners and take outs from monday to saturday. Closed on Sundays. call : 08843291.
  • Greens, rumored to be among the best in town for grilled meat, braii style. Warning to families: the restaurant opens late and will not allow children.
  • Hong Kong is an old favorite of many in town who enjoy Chinese cuisine, or at least this Westernized version of it. Run by a Chinese-American, the place is set up to look like any Chinese restaurant you’d find in the U.S. with the food to match. Situated almost right next to Mt. Soche Hotel. Phone: 01 820 859
  • Hungry Lion, found in the Shoprite complex opposite Chichiri Stadium, is a favourite with Malawians because of the simple chicken and chips menu it offers. A franchise, this location is often so pitiful (unless you only want an ice cream cone) that some visitors who don’t like the long wait or poor operation in general have stopped giving it a go altogether.
  • Jungle Pepper Pizza is the place for a wide assortment of pizza and various toppings. Very tasty! However, the seating is limited and mainly outdoors (up the hill from Portugalia/formerly Nandos). Great for take-away. Phone: 08 826 229
  • Marakesh, located on Glyn Jones Avenue just past Kabula Hill Road (heading towards Namiwawa and Chilimoni). Site formerly known as Christines and, more recently, Cafe Mexicana. Opened in April 2007, this place caters to the ethnic-loving crowd with both Moroccan and/or Mexican dishes. How the two of them co-exist or why, I’m not sure, but the Moroccan-prepared dishes were quite good. Closed on Tuesdays. Of special note is the play area for children, making it very child-friendly.
  • File:Pizzapalace.jpg

    Inside Pizza Palace, Blantyre, 2007

    Pizza Palace, opened in 2006, this family-friendly restaurant shares its locale with China Palace and is just perfect if various people in your party crave pizza or Chinese. It is possibly the best pizza in town. Located just down the street from the new vendor stalls at the old PTC building, a short walk from Mt. Soche Hotel but on one of the side streets, there is public parking right at the front door. Plenty of options on the menu, including pasta and other Italian-inspired dishes. Servers are friendly and efficient. Food arrives quickly as well. Tastefully painted walls decorated with an Italian retro theme and elegant tables really added to a feeling of intimacy, perfect for a business or more private outing. Phone: 08 400 400. Closed on Tuesdays.

  • Portugalia, formerly known as Nandos but now no longer a part of that chain. A popular destination for anyone traveling by minibus but a headache to those driving their own vehicle. This restaurant is famous for the blends of Lemon Herb or Peri-Peri chicken. The setting is very busy, but now that the vendors have been removed much quieter than formerly. Once inside the store you can forget the crowd of minibuses right outside and enjoy pita wraps, chicken and chips, pine nut burgers, and more. An adult meal (children’s also available) will cost about about 700 kwacha ($5-7).
  • Royal Taj Phone: 01 822 376

Splurge

  • 21 Grill, at Ryalls Hotel. The attention the servers give you is alone worth a reason to go (far superior to most other places where ‘service’ is not really a thing people know about). Kudos to 21 Grill for their terrific food AND service! Phone: 01 820 955.
  • Bombay Palace, opposite Ryalls Hotel, offers delicious authentic Indian cuisine. Reservations are recommended as it can be busy on weekend evenings. Phone: 08 200 200
  • L’Hostaria, in a new location (as of 2004), is THE place to go if authentic Italian is your thing. With plenty of space for hosting special parties, the food is very good with service to match. Phone: 01 636 025.

Drink

Sleep

Prices unknown for the following:

Budget

  • Doogles, Mulonga place, near the bus station, Phone: 01 821 128, this South-African run place is a travellers meeting place and fairly cheap.
  • Kabula Hill Lodge: Is a quite clean, family run establishment 10 minutes walking distance from the centre of Blantyre. Rooms range from 5 – 20 US$/night, the more expensive have one double bed and one single bed with ensuite). The standard rooms have two single beds and common bathroom facilites. If you would like to have one of the cheaper rooms it is recommended to book at least 6-8 weeks in advance and confirm it by email. All rooms have ordinary mosquito nets (no permethrin). Most of the ensuite rooms have a television with cable TV. Bed linen is changed every 3 days. For meals you can self cater using the common kitchen or preorder meals from the cook. There is a laundry and ironing service, but take tough clothes, as everything is done by hand! Safe-keeping facilities are available (and they are safe!) and US dollars can usually be exchanged for Kwacha if necessary.

Mid-range

Splurge

Contact

Stay safe

Night time muggings or robberies do occur. Private taxis are cheap and readily available. Ask around and bargain.

Cope

Get out

Originally based on work by lic. iur. HBR Lenel, Tim Cowley, Michele Ann Jenkins and Colin Jensen, Wikitravel user(s) Jonboy, WindHorse and MattR and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.

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