About LuandaThe capital of Angola sits on the Atlantic coast behind a narrow pine-fringed sandbar. It was founded by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais in 1576. By the time it gained independence from Portugal in 1975, it was a modern city. Rejuvenation of the city is continuously improving the infrastructure with cranes and building sites visible, as well as new buildings like the Torre Ambiente – a block of luxury apartments topped by what’s believed to be Africa’s most expensive penthouse.
Portuguese is the official language in Angola.
Hotels are generally rated as underpriced and under impressive. Airbnb, the online booking service where people can put their own home or apartment up for rental, is taking off in Luanda and it’s worth checking out before you book accommodation.
Angola is on GMT +1 hour with no Daylight Saving Time.
The kuanza (AOA) is the currency of Angola. Money can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change. US dollars get the best exchange rates. There are ATMs in the city, but not all of them accept foreign credit cards and generally only the larger hotels will accept payment by card.
Luanda is hot throughout the year, with a rainy season in March and April and again in November. March is usually the hottest month and July the coolest. There’s often fog too.
Electrical sockets take the European style plugs with two slim round pins and the standard voltage is 220V.
Mobile networks have much of the city covered and the government is working to install free Internet access in the main squares and public places, which should see wifi popping up all over the place. At the moment you’ll do best in the hotels.
Minibus taxis, or candongueiros, are how the locals get around. They’re quick and cheap, but not always safe, especially after dark. Ordinary taxis are available too. Get the number of a driver you like and keep him handy.
Airport to City Center
Luanda Airport is 5km from the centre. Taxis are available and they accept US dollars, but don’t expect a good bargain or much change. If you want to hire a car, it’s wise to book in advance to make sure the type you want will be there when you are.