Harare always has a tough time competing with Zimbabwe’s better known and far more glamorous attractions of Victoria Falls and some exciting safari experiences. But don’t pass it by, because Harare is a safe and relaxed capital, with wide avenues lined with jacaranda trees, museums and old colonial buildings, markets to explore and bars and restaurants worth checking out.
At the heart of the city is African Unity Square, originally created as Cecil Square in 1890 in honour of Cecil John Rhodes. Pedestrianised First Street is an interesting place to sit in outdoor cafes and watch the city at work, while Jason Moyo Avenue is where to find the curio shops, tourist information office and restaurants. For the best architecture head to the Civic Centre, where you’ll find the Queen Victoria Museum and Harare City Library. Robert Mugabe Road is also bristling with historical buildings, making it a pleasant place for a stroll.
Take US Dollars and you won’t go wrong for money. You don’t even need to change them, because they’re accepted as currency.
TimeZimbabwe is GMT+2 with no Daylight Saving Time.
CurrencyAfrica’s most entertaining currency has calmed down, so you no longer need a wheelbarrow full of it to buy a loaf of bread. The US Dollar is king and the old Zim Dollar has been consigned to wallpaper. A multi-currency system means most places will happily accept South African rand, US and Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen and the Indian rupee. If you don’t have any of those, you can change money at exchange bureaus and hotels. ATMs are around, and credit and debit cards are also good.
WeatherTemperatures remain between 20 and 30°C all year, dipping in June and July before peaking in October. May to September is usually dry, with rains coming from November to February.
ElectricityZimbabwe uses the UK-style plug with three square pins. The voltage is 240V.
CommunicationsInternet access is available in hotels and a smattering of internet cafes, but the connection is slow. Mobile phone coverage is good.
Public TransportShared minibus taxis are the common form of transport. Ordinary taxis are also available, and it’s wise to agree the fare upfront. You can hire a car too. Fuel shortages are largely a thing of the past. Out of town you may encounter police roadblocks, with the police keen to find something wrong with your vehicle that’s miraculously fixed by a bribe.
Airport to City Center
Harare airport is 12km from the city, with taxis and car rentals available. Taxis from the airport to the main hotels charge about $25 – expensive for the short distance, but blamed on the high fees they pay the airport authority.