Blantyre is Malawi's second largest city (after Lilongwe) and its centre of finance and commerce. As of 2018, its population is slightly above of 800,000. It is the capital of the country's Southern Region as well as the Blantyre District. Although most travelers don’t spend a lot of time here, there are enough activities to keep you busy for a few days. You can explore its cultural gems or go hiking in the surrounding mountains.
Where to Stay
We have listed some accommodation places in this area. If these don't suit you, we are more than happy to create your custom tour with your priorities.
Casa Mia Lodge & Restaurant
The family-owned Casa Mia is one of the smaller hotels in Blantyre. It has 19 fully air-conditioned rooms with minibar and tea/coffee facilities, satellite TV, and free WIFI connectivity.
Its à la carte restaurant offers casual dining with a continental-inspired menu. It is open all day, and the last orders can be made at 9.30 pm by both guests and walk-in diners. You will find a special lunchtime menu available.
There is also a beautiful outdoor pool with an exclusive seating area for the residents.
Many of the hotels in Blantyre are large and impersonal, but Casa Mia believes in providing a home away from home. You can expect to find comfort with great service.
The Leslie is a retreat from bustling Blantyre, situated right in the heart of the city. Whether you are passing by for only a night or a few months, on business or for leisure, your stay will be enjoyable and memorable.
The public areas benefit from enormous attention to detail, including bespoke artwork and furniture pieces from local and international artists. The many original features speak from another era and bring grace and elegance to the property, most notably the Roman-inspired stone column wall that winds its way across the front, creating characterised nooks in the garden where you can relax.
The patio is an oasis of calm with a shaded dining area and marble-top tables, leading to a glistening pool adorned with pool loungers and cantilever parasols.
Many of the spacious guest rooms open out onto a private garden and covered patio. The impressive range of facilities will spoil you with luxury, comfort, and privacy. All rooms include comfortable beds with percale linen, an en-suite bathroom with high-pressured showers, an in-room safe, relaxing chairs, satellite TV, free WIFI a dining & workspace and air conditioning.
In addition, The Leslie offers a 24-hour concierge, complimentary tea and scones upon arrival, an all-day dining menu, breakfast served until 10am and an honesty bar.
Run by a mother-daughter duo, Mijn Kitchen Coffee Shop and B&B is a charming establishment nestled in the heart of Blantyre. This small family-owned business boasts a cozy coffee shop, unique in its range of artisanal foods and freshly brewed coffee, as well as a fully furnished bed and breakfast.
Whether you are in Blantyre for business or pleasure, for a day, a week, or to live, Mijn Kitchen has something for you. The kitchen is the heart of this unique yet cozy establishment. It provides locals and visitors a place to come together and enjoy the seasonal flavors.
At Mijn Kitchen, they proudly use locally grown coffee beans supplied by local small business – Bean There Coffee Malawi. Their philosophy centers around sustainable relationships with their producers and customers.
In addition to the selection offered on the menu, they provide ‘Specials of the Day’ according to the seasonal availability of local produce. The aim is to deliver fresh food with a fresh approach. Takeaway options are available for coffee and food.
Activities in the Area
Visit the Museum of Malawi: Established as the Museum of Malawi in 1957 and situated a few meters from Chichiri Shopping Mall, this museum preserves and exhibits artifacts that tell the history and culture of Malawi and its people. Traditional dances are performed for guests on a daily basis.
Visit Art Galleries: La Caverna Art Gallery, situated in the historic Mandala House, is a home for local artists where they can exhibit and sell their work. It features paintings, wood carvings, and other contemporary artwork. After your visit, you can enjoy a meal or refreshment at the lovely La Caverna Café.
On the upper floor of the Mandala House, you will find the library and archive of The Society of Malawi. A treasure trove for history buffs, it contains a vast collection of books, documents, journals, photographs and maps, some of them dating back to the 19th century.
Kwa Haraba Art Gallery is an art shop and café, with wood masks, jewelry, textiles, and colourful paintings made by local artists, depicting Malawi’s cultural and social setting. Several activities take place within its walls: poetry sessions, book launches, exhibitions, and concerts. And if you are a book lover, you will find joy in scrounging through the numerous second-hand books.
Sounds of Malawi: If you happen to be in Blantyre on a Thursday, don’t miss out on Sounds of Malawi at the Jacaranda Cultural Centre, a weekly acoustic session that showcases local bands. The entrance fee is K4.000 at the door.
Visit the local markets: Head to the Pa Ziboli-boli Craft Market if you want to barter for souvenirs. Blantyre Market offers fruit, vegetables, clothes, shoes, hardware supplies and anything else you can think of – it’s very busy but very cool. And if you are after an even busier market experience, Limbe is the right place for you. Located 11 km east of Blantyre, it is rarely visited by tourists.
St. Michael and All Angels Church: This Victorian-style church was built in the 1880s by Scottish missionaries and is the second oldest building in Malawi.
Relax at the many cafés: One of the most creative ones is Khomo La Coffee, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in a tree house, surrounded by nature. It is definitely worth a trip to the outskirts of the city.
A 15 minute drive from town, Michiru Mountain is the closest nature reserve to Blantyre and a habitat for wild animals, such as the African python, hyenas, wild dogs, antelopes, monkeys, and different species of birds. There are several hiking routes, the most popular being the ‘Way of the Cross‘. It depicts the events of Jesus’ journey to Golgotha, but you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the route. The 3 hour hike to the top will reward you with a beautiful view of Blantyre, as well as pine tree plantations and indigenous trees.
Soche Mountain is the closest to Blantyre. It has an altitude of 1530m and the estimated hiking time is 4 hours. The trail to the summit is well-maintained and you can easily find your way by following the green-painted rocks. Many locals visit this mountain to pray, so you will feel a different vibe here compared to other mountains in Malawi.
Ndirande Mountain is a 1,609m high mountain, about 10 km away from Blantyre. You will reach it after passing the busy Ndirande Market. It is a bare mountain with few trees, but after the 4-hour hike to the top, you can enjoy a great view of Blantyre and the surrounding mountains.
Chiradzulu Mountain is located approximately 20 km to the northeast of Blantyre. With an altitude of 1,773m above sea level, its peak is the third highest in southern Malawi (after Mulanje Mountain and Zomba Mountain). With an elevation gain of about 850m, it should take around four hours to reach the summit.
Best Time to Visit
The best months for good weather in Blantyre are from April to November. However, June, July and August are the winter months and it can get a bit cold and rainy. On average, the warmest months are from September to December. January is the rainiest month.