Lilongwe – Malawi360

Malawi: The warm heart of Africa!

Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, has a population of over quarter of a million inhabitants and is divided into the Old Town towards the South built around the former village of Lilongwe, and New Town towards the North with the Lilongwe Wildlife Reserve separating the two districts.

Get in

By plane

Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) fields regular flights to Johannesburg , Harare, Addis Ababa and Nairobi, as well as domestic services to Blantyre, Mzuzu and Karonga. For neighbouring Zambia, there are flights both to capital Lusaka and safari destination Mfuwe. An international departure tax of US$30 (cash only) is charged for all passengers with foreign passports (pay it on the first floor before heading up to the departure hall), while domestic departure tax is K200.

The airport is about 25 km north of town and the taxis charge a flat K2500 (US$20) for the journey.

By train

By car

Lilongwe is about 110 kilometers from Mchinji on the Zambian border. Taxis generally charge upwards of K5000 for the trip.

By bus

By boat

Get around

The town is very spread out so getting around can be a bit of a chore. You can pick up taxis from the Lilongwe Hotel (in the Old Town) and the Capital Hotel (in the Capital City).

A Google Map of Lilongwe is available here: [1]






  • Old Town Mall. Catering mostly to the tourist, expat, and wealthy Malawian community, Old Town Mall offers two impressive art and craft galleries, a DVD rental shop, grocery store catering to expat tastes, travel agencies, and upmarket clothing stores. Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant (see below) is located as well in Old Town Mall.
  • Crossroads Complex, Mchinji Roundabout. Lilongwe’s newest shopping mall, with a couple of decent gift shops, a post office, a petrol station, two ATMs and a couple of fast food joints.
  • 7-Eleven. No relation to the American outfit, this is just a popular supermarket (complete with in-house butchery) that stocks a wide range of products local and imported.




  • Don Brioni’s Bistro, next to the Old Town post office. Serving pizza, pasta, steaks and daily specials. Good food in generous quantities. $5-$10 for a main dish.
  • Bohemia Cafe, along the road from Don Brioni’s. Open for breakfast and lunch. Light meals (breakfast, toasted sandwiches, baked potato, quiche), fresh fruit juice, very good tea and coffee and great cakes. About $5 for for a sandwich, a cup of tea and a cake.


  • Mamma Mia, Old Town Mall. Lilongwe’s fanciest Italian restaurant, much favored by the expat community so reservations strongly advised on weekends. Real Italian pizza, pasta and more, but expect to pay over K2000/head (US$20) for a full meal with a glass of wine, and food quality is a little uneven.


There’s a place for drinking like bwandiro (area 47) where there’s a lot of pubs. There’s now a new Pirate cassino where people usually go almost every day up to midnight.



  • Mabuya Camp, to the south of the Old Town, tel. +265 (0)1 754 978 / +265 (0)9 746 239 /+265 (0)9 664 651, [email protected], [2]. Camping, A-frames, chalets and dorms. Formerly run by and named Kiboko Camp.
  • Crystal Lodge, Malangalanga Rd, K 700 single, the former government resthouse is now a privately run enterprise with basic rooms. Probably the cheapest place in Lilongwe.
  • Lilongwe Golf club (camping only), off Glynn Jones Rd, the campsite is not very busy and you might be the only guest there, but it works out a bit cheaper than a room.


  • Kiboko Town Hotel, in the centre of the Old Town, above Don Brioni’s Bistro, tel. +265 (0)1 751 226 / (0)9 838 485, [email protected], [3]. Has its own cafe and a residents-only bar. Used to be the Imperial Hotel. Clean, pleasant and friendly, in a very convenient location. They also run good-value safaris to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. $45-$75 (all are en-suite, more expensive rooms have a bath and TV).
  • Korean Garden Lodge offers a comfortable and relaxing setting close to downtown Lilongwe but in a quiet residential area. Swimming pool, television, rooms ranging from budget dorm-style to more luxuriant and private.


  • Cresta Crossroads Hotel, Crossroads Complex, Mchinji Roundabout, tel. +265-175-0333, [4]. Opened December 2004, this four-star hotel operated by a South African chain offers modern if somewhat uninspiring comfort. Pool, jacuzzi, gym, speedy wireless Internet and a shopping mall next door. Single/double from US$120/140.
  • Capital Hotel, [5]. Also uninspiring but comfortable with very similar facilities to Cresta Crossroads Hotel. En-suite double rooms from $110.


Stay safe

Transport is not always easy to get at late hours of the night so always make sure you have means of transport to getting back to where you’re staying. Taxis are available.


Get out

  • Cape Maclear, a laid-back village on the south end of Lake Malawi.
  • Salima, the easiest entry point to Lake Malawi, 1-2 hours away. Nice resorts (including Livingstonia Beach Resort) available with gorgeous beaches. A signposted turn off 3 kms before Salima beckons travelers to Kuti Wildlife Park with camp sites, bar/braii facilities, game drives and walks, horse back riding, etc. Animals found in the park include sable, nyala, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, giraffe and waterbuck. At night civets, genets, servals and aardvarks may be spotted. A great spot for birding too! If you plan to go during rainy season, be sure to take a 4×4 just in case. Fore more info telephone 09563004 or 09188132.
  • Chipata, the eastern gateway to Zambia, 1-2 hours away
  • South Luangwa National Park – a fantastic wildlife reserve in Zambia. Kiboko Safaris (see Kiboko Town Hotel in Sleep section of this page) and possibly a few others run roundtrip excursions to the park, and with advance notice can arrange visa waivers. The park is great, and this is an easy way to see it if you’ve got time for a side trip.


Based on work by Tim Cowley, marc van rensburg, Jani Patokallio, Colin Jensen and Frank, Wikitravel user(s) Cacahuate, Salvadors, Episteme, Tanzania safari, WindHorse, Suzisuzi and MattR and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.

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