17 Things to Do in Lusaka, Zambia

17 Things to Do in Lusaka, Zambia

Despite being Zambia’s largest city and capital, Lusaka is often an over-looked place for travellers to Africa. However, this sprawling city has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years, with bustling city markets, a number of upmarket restaurants and bars, and good links around the country. So, there are plenty of reasons to spend a few days in this cosmopolitan city rather than just passing through.

Here’s our guide for 17 things to do in Lusaka, Zambia.

1. Visit Lusaka National Park

Located just 30 kilometres from the city, Lusaka National Park – Zambia’s newest but smallest national park – is a great destination for a day trip. The location is rather unusual, as it’s located close to the city and in a populated area. However, it’s home to thousands of species such as rare white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, blue wildebeest, and eland, which roam freely throughout the habitat, comprising forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Have a guide take you on a lion walk or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, go extreme and do some bungee jumping or abseiling. Being so close to the city, why not take a few hours out to see some of Zambia’s amazing wildlife?

2. Head to the Sunday Crafts Market

If you’re in town on a weekend, take a trip to the Sunday Crafts Market and explore their selection of hand-made souvenirs. You’ll find a good choice of clothes, jewellery, artworks and crafts. It’s the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs and maybe some gifts for your loved ones, too. If you enjoy bargaining, then this is the place to be, as all prices are negotiable. The Sunday Crafts Market is a fun place to visit for a few hours with family and friends.

3. Get an Overview of Zambia at Nembo Scenic Park.

Spread over an area of 47,000 square metres, Nembo Scenic Park is a scaled-down model of the map of Zambia, so you can get a bird’s eye view of the country without needing to take off in a plane. Located about 11 kilometres from the city centre, it’s the perfect place to take a stroll with the family, with beautiful lakes and waterfalls to gaze at.  

4. Explore the Chaminuka Game Reserve

Go on safari and take a culture tour in Chaminuka Game Reserve, which sits on top of a hill overlooking Lake Chitoka. It’s a private reserve that’s home to 72 different species of Zambian mammals and reptiles, along with over 300 species of birds. It’s located just 25 kilometres away from the centre of Lusaka, but it seems like a totally different world. There’s so much to see and do at the reserve, you can spend a whole day exploring. See lions, cheetahs, ostriches, hyenas, giraffes and elephants whilst exploring the landscape in either a jeep or on foot during a safari tour, or a boat tour on the lake. Cheetahs are the main attraction – the cheetah experience will leave you speechless at the speed of these graceful creatures. Round off a fun day with a delicious organic meal of Zambian delicacies at the onsite restaurant.

5. Visit Kabwata Cultural Village

Get a sense of Zambian arts by visiting the Kabwata Cultural Village, one of Zambia’s traditionally styled trade centres that still uses thatched-roof huts. There are over 80 resident artists that come from all nine Zambian provinces, allowing for a great variety of wood carvings, drums, bijou, woven baskets, masks and traditionally designed fabrics. During the holidays, live performers play throughout the village to entertain travellers whilst also getting the opportunity to view the craftsman at work. Also, don’t miss out on lunch at the traditional restaurant found in the village.

6. Go Shopping at the Arcades Shopping Mall

Featuring a cinema, fast-food outlets, savvy restaurants, funky cafes, a bookstore and a large supermarket, the Arcades Shopping Mall is a great place to spend a few hours of your day. The mall has a superb ambience, and every Sunday an outdoor market is hosted in the car park outside the mall offering a vast selection of handicrafts and knick-knacks. The mall occasionally features musical and theatrical events too. There’s all sorts of fun to be had at the Arcades Shopping Mall.

7. Spend a Few Hours at the Pakati Sunday Market

Another of Lusaka’s superb weekend markets, the Pakati Sunday Market is an amazing market offering a diverse range of items from jewellery to house décor, set in an accessible location. If you’re a haggler you’ll fall in love with this place, as the vendors expect you to bargain with them – it’s the only way you’ll get an item for a price you desire. Remember to take a hat, as the scorching sun can become overbearing in the middle of the day. The Pakati Sunday Market is a great way to explore Zambian creativity.

8. Visit Kalimba Reptile Park

Get a great experience of the reptilian atmosphere at Kalimba Reptile Park. It’s home to various beautiful reptiles such as the slender-nosed crocodile, native snakes, tortoises, and many others. You’ll get the opportunity to learn about each type of reptile at the park and have the option to take a guided tour to gain even more insight into the life of reptiles. It’s a great day out for the whole family, especially if you’re travelling with kids. It’s located northeast from Lusaka, about 20 kilometres away.

9. View Zambia’s Art at the Namwane Art Gallery

The Namwane Art Gallery is a well laid-out gallery displaying many excellent pieces created by Zambian artists, as well as other African artists. It features a permanent collection of paintings, pottery and a variety of sculptures. Some of the paintings date back to the Kaunda era of dancers welcoming their then-president at the airport – these paintings are some of the finest Zambian artworks. The gallery is a must-see for every art lover.

10. Check out Zambia’s National Museum

Discover Zambia’s fascinating history by visiting the National Museum. It recalls the country’s history through exhibited works in ethnography, witchcraft and art. Read about the superstitious rituals and ceremonies created by tribal witch doctors through detailed textual descriptions, and see sculptures and paintings of ancient Zambian artists. Observe ‘The Freedom State’ statue of a man breaking his chains, which symbolises the nation’s struggle for independence. There’s a lot to see and learn from Zambia’s National Museum, and it’s really well set up and maintained to provide the best experience to learn about Zambia’s culture and history.  It’s an educational and fascinating day out for the family.

11. Spend Time at the Cathedral of The Holy Cross

Built in 1962, the Cathedral of The Holy Cross proudly overlooks the city of Lusaka. Since being built, it’s served as a national shrine for prayer and reconciliations, and is a place where locals gather to show their faith. The brilliant architecture was designed with aesthetics that make it look like it was made in the 1950s, and it’s designed to complement the surrounding parks. Visitors are welcome to join locals to express their faith during the Sunday service. The Cathedral of The Holy Cross is a defining landmark of Lusaka and an incredible sight that all travellers should visit.

12. See Baby Elephants at The Lilayi Elephant Nursery

Observe orphaned baby elephants being fed and playing with one another at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. It opened in 2012 with a mission to save elephant calves from poachers, providing them with a safe and caring environment. Unfortunately, you’re unable to pet the baby elephants as they’ve suffered trauma, plus they’re kept away from close interaction with humans to allow them to be reintroduced back into the wild. If you wish to hear a short lecture about the elephants, arrive before noon to hear a member of staff explain the project to all that are interested. This is a fantastic opportunity for those who love baby elephants and who want to support the great work of the organisation.

13. Observe Wildlife at Parays Game Ranch

At Parays Game Ranch, you get the opportunity to get really close to Zambia’s wildlife. Jump into a 4x4 and explore the park at your own pace, seeing a range of animals including zebras and wild boars. The undoubted highlight for many visitors is the majestic white lions, taking the spotlight as the park’s main attraction. These fascinating creatures roam freely in their well-maintained area of the park. After spending time observing the animals, enjoy a sizzling barbeque of bush meat. Parays Game Ranch serves an awesome day out for the whole family to enjoy.

14. Savour Delicious Curry at Bombay Lounge

Treat yourself and your fellow travellers to a selection of delicious curry at Bombay Lounge’s Authentic Indian Cuisine. Bombay Lounge’s speciality is in ‘Mangalorean’ cuisine, which originates from Tamil Nadu as well as other parts of southern India. You’ll experience fine dining in an elegant setting, and can also enjoy a wide range of cocktails, wines, whiskies and champagnes. For foodie travellers, this is a place you must visit to get those taste buds tingling. Be assured that there is a meal for everyone, with the kitchen happy to accommodate special diets, such as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diners.

15. Take a Day Out to Visit Victoria Falls

If there was only one thing you could choose to do when in Zambia, it would be to visit Victoria Falls. Known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, or ‘the Smoke that Thunders’, the falls are a fascinating sight of awe-inspiring beauty, and one of Africa’s greatest attractions as well as being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Victoria Falls form the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and are located on the Zambezi River. It’s the only waterfall in the world that is over a kilometre wide and is over 100 metres in height, and they’re renowned as being the greatest curtain of falling water in the world. Although it’s a full-day excursion from Lusaka, visiting the Victoria Falls is an unmissable experience for your Zambian adventure.

16. Observe Zambian Daily Life at the Lusaka City Market

The Lusaka City Market is located close to the train station. It’s a marketplace where local farmers gather to sell their goods, ranging from fruits to grain and clothes. The place is packed with locals and is a very colourful, exciting environment to be in. It’s a great way to experience local culture, even if you’re not interested in buying many things. However, if you do want something, this is another great place to try out your bargaining skills – although be warned, you’ll probably still end up paying more than the locals! But it’s a great experience, and a fantastic opportunity for budding photographers to grab some great street life shots.

17. Sip Refreshing Juice at Mint Lounge

The Mint Lounge is a pleasant veranda on which to enjoy your lunch or a nice cup of coffee. It boasts a casual, coffee shop-vibe and features a lovely outdoor seating area surrounded by manicured plants. It’s best known for its excellent smoothies and juices along with its healthy fare. If you’re getting too hot out in the sun, it’s a great place to cool off too, located near the Arcades Mall. There are plenty of snacks and meals available to enjoy, and its friendly staff make this a popular venue during the day for families.

As you can see from our list of 17 things to do in Lusaka, this often-overlooked Zambian town is worth taking time out to visit on your Zambian adventure. While it may not be filled with attractions, Lusaka gives travellers a great opportunity to have an authentic African adventure and get a truly wild experience close to the city.

To find out more about Lusaka or to book your Zambian adventure, give us a call today to discuss your dream holiday with one of our Africa experts. We’ll help you to plan the African trip of a lifetime. You can see more things to do in Zambia here

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