(Last updated November 2022)
If you’ve only seen Harare’s traffic-filled city centre, you’ve missed out – there’s so much more to experience. In fact, there are so many sights and places to visit around Harare that we’ve had to split them into two articles.
If you’re looking for activities that will take one to three hours, keep reading the list below. If you want to do something near Harare that occupies more than three hours, with optional overnight accommodation, read the article Day trips from Harare instead.
Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare is not as tourist-oriented as Victoria Falls, but it still has many activities, cultural sights and natural spots. You’ll likely need a taxi, shuttle or hire car to be able to see the best places to visit in Harare. The sights are scattered around the city, which means that you can’t easily walk around them in one go. You can find links to car hire, shuttle services and taxis in the Harare travel guide article.
It’s easy to visit Harare’s sights if you’re self-driving because they’re on Google Maps, are usually signposted, with car parks, and locals will usually be eager to help. If you’re staying at a lodge or hotel, they will be happy to advise on transport services too.
Best places to visit in Harare, Zimbabwe
Here are my recommendations for the best activities, sights and monuments close to Harare.
Also known as Domboshawa, roughly translated as ‘The Red Rock’, this granite hill on the outskirts of Harare is a great place to go in the afternoon for sundowners. It’s an easy-ish walk to the top – and not too strenuous that you can’t carry a picnic basket!
There’s a small entry fee which you can pay on arrival to one of the officials in uniform near the car park. After walking through the open-sided building at the entrance, follow the hand painted arrows on the rocks, heading left to see the prehistoric rock paintings and caves. After that, meander slowly to the top of the hill towards the balancing ‘whale’ rock and take in the view. Although the incline isn’t too steep, the rock can be slippery, so wear walking shoes rather than sandals. Also bring a torch in case your sundowners last longer than expected and you have to walk down in the dark. Read about my trip to Domboshawa here.
Details: Located about 30 km out of Harare, off the Borrowdale/Dombosahawa Rd. Turn right at the sign reading “Ndambakurimwa – Chiyereswa”. Find a map here. Duration incl transport: Around three hours. Cost: Refer to NMMZ website; minimal. No fee to bring your own refreshments. There is an ablution facility but bring your own toilet paper just in case. Family friendly. Camping available. Link to official NMMZ website in heading above photo.
For a longer, more strenuous hike, visit the nearby Ngomakurira (The Mountain of Drums). See Day trips from Harare for more info on Ngomakurira. Also see Pasichigare Resort Domboshava for a local tourist business in the area.
Photo source: Wild is Life.
In this wildlife sanctuary and orphanage, many of the animals freely wander the lawns rather than restricted to a cage. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet African animals (especially elephants) in an up-close, safe environment. It’s also home to Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery, which was featured on the BBC show Nature’s Miracle Orphans. Visitors arrive mid-afternoon, where they have a guided tour of the sanctuary, a freshly-baked afternoon tea, champagne and canapes at sunset. Visits usually last three hours.
It is a little pricier than the other wildlife sanctuaries due to the sanctuary’s scope of wildlife, its exclusivity and luxurious food.
Details: 20 minutes out of Harare city centre near Harare International Airport. Contact details and costs info here. Duration incl transport: Around three hours. Full afternoon tea provided. Link to official website in heading above photo.
Photo courtesy of Deborah Casalin
This is one of the few places within Harare city centre where you can see wildlife like kudu, giraffe and zebra, as well as a wide variety of birds and indigenous flora, on foot. Although small, this reserve is affordable, well maintained and offers a pleasant few hours in a very convenient location. You and your family can walk or cycle through the game park because there aren’t any predators in it, and can even take a horseback ride through the woodlands to get much closer to the animals than you would on foot.
Top tip: Go for an early morning walk at 8am, before the heat of the day sets in. Although if you’re going on the weekend, aim for 2pm when the animals are fed at the viewing platform. There are often fascinating events and presentations at Mukuvisi, as well as markets, so do check their website and Facebook page. Read one reader’s story about her visit to Mukuvisi Woodlands.
Details: Located in the city centre, on Hillside Road. Coffee shop offering snacks and hot meals on site. Open 8am to 5pm. Duration incl transport: Around two to three hours. Official website and latest entry fees are linked in the heading above photo. Extra fees apply for the bird park, horse rides and guided tours of the game park.
This sanctuary adopts and rehabilitates orphaned animals ranging from monkeys, to domestic cats, to lions. When you visit this motley crew of lovable creatures, a knowledgeable guide will take you on a tour and tell you the history of each animal. Tea is provided, and you’ll have the opportunity to watch the lions and other animals being fed in the late afternoon. As featured on BBC’s Nature’s Miracle Orphans. Some readers ask me where I encountered a marmoset that sat on my camera – it was at Twala!
Details: Advance booking required via email or telephone. Located near Goromonzi. Email the sanctuary for location details and prices. Duration incl transport: Around three hours. Tea is provided, and you can bring your own picnic. Read about my visit and how to plan yours here. The link to the official website/Facebook page is in the heading above the photo.
Avondale Flea Market
The shopping centre in Avondale contains restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, pharmacies and a supermarket, but behind the shopping centre there’s something a little more interesting: an open-air car park that’s been used as a flea market for years.
The bottom floor of the flea market contains stalls selling African curios like drums, mbiras, wall hangings and carvings. As this section is below ground-level, it’s a little dark in there, which adds atmosphere to the traditional masks and fabrics hanging from the stalls.
On the first floor there’s a mixture of handmade goods as well as mass-produced clothes, jewellery, second-hand books and toys of varying quality. It’s well worth a scrounge – but don’t accept the first price that the sellers offer. Some stalls sell similar or identical goods, so don’t buy the first thing that you like – compare prices first.
Details: Located behind Avondale Shopping Centre, on King George Rd, Harare. Map here, just search for it on Google Maps. Cost: free to browse. Duration incl transport: Around two hours. Some stalls in the flea market sell hot food, and there are also cafes (such as Cafe Nush) and restaurants in Avondale Shopping Centre a short walk away.
Situated at Cleveland Dam, this is a wonderful family-friendly place to get out of the city and enjoy some fresh air. There are plains game including giraffe and zebra, as well as over 250 species of birds. The park is owned by Harare City Council but privately leased. You can bring your own picnic or braai to eat in the purpose-built eating areas, and go walking along the natural footpaths which meander around the park. Read about my visit to Haka Game Park.
Details: Located at Cleveland Dam, approx. 13 km from Harare city centre, off the Mutare Rd. Map here. Cost: Entry fees are $4.00 for adults and $2.00 for children, plus a vehicle entry fee of $5.00 per vehicle, which is waived if you park inside the gates (for security) and walk the park. Horserides are also available on weekdays and public holidays. Fishing and canoeing are on offer at the nearby Cleveland Dam. Official Facebook page is linked in the heading above the photo. Advance booking not required. Durationincl transport: Around two hours.
Directions (provided by SA Birding): From the city center take Samora Machel Avenue, and follow the signs to Mutare. The entrance to Cleveland dam (Haka park is situated within this Municipal area and has the same entrance of the main road) is not well sign posted, but start looking for it on the left hand side of the road just after passing the huge Jaggers warehouses on the right and the Danhiko project on the left. It is approximately 12 km from the city center. Follow the pine tree lined road and turn left at the blue Haka game park sign before you reach the main car park. Follow this road around for about 1 km till you reach the park entrance gates.
Sam Levy’s Village and Village Walk, Borrowdale
This extensive, open air, village-style shopping centre in Harare’s northern suburbs is home to a large number of boutiques, restaurants, cinemas, cafes and supermarkets. Although it’s not a tourist sight in the traditional sense, it provides a relaxed way to spend an afternoon, as well as an insight into the lives of more affluent Zimbabweans. Browse the boutiques, buy some fresh produce, enjoy a cake in one of the cafes, and enjoy the warming Zimbabwean sunshine all the while.
Recommended cafes and restaurants: Delicious Cafe & Restaurant for cake and coffee; Garfunkels Grill for steak.
Details: Located in the suburb of Borrowdale (it’s on Google Maps). Booking not required; no entry fee. Duration incl transport: Around three hours. See website/Facebook links in the heading above; or search Google Maps for Sam Levy’s Village.
More accurately, this is now a lion park and snake world. Drive yourself around the various large enclosures and pretend you’re on a mini-safari: the lion enclosure is a firm favourite. Another star of the park is Tommy, a Galapagos tortoise over 250 years old, weighing around half a tonne. This is an affordable family day trip option, which offers a self drive-through game park, petting zoo for farm animals and horse rides. There are braai and picnic spots available for you to bring your own lunch. There’s a curio shop and a kiosk selling basic refreshments. There’s also a snake park nearby.
Details: Near Lake Chivero, approx 23 km from Harare off the Bulawayo Rd. Map and contact details here. Duration incl transport: Around three hours. Small entrance fee. The link to the official website is in the heading above the photo.
An open-air market housed in the old racehorses’ stables of Borrowdale Race Course. This is where the well-heeled members of Harare’s social scene spend Saturday mornings, browsing local artisans’ wares whilst sipping a latte. Stalls are a feast for the senses, ranging from fine art to freshly-baked bread.
Details: Located at Borrowdale Race Course (on Google Maps) in northern Harare. Open on Saturdays; check the Facebook page for special events and opening times. Duration: Two to three hours. The link to the Facebook page is in the heading above the photo.
This is one for the kids! A large soft play centre, but in an open-sided structure that keeps the rain out and lets the sunlight in. Parents can enjoy a drink at the cafe while kids play. The baby area is separate to the older kid area.
Details: Located at 57 Princess Drive, Harare. Booking not usually required. Open seven days a week 9am to 5pm. See their website for latest entry fees; the link is in the heading. Duration incl transport: Around two hours. See more Zimbabwe Family-friendly articles here.
Have a foodie experience
Photo source: Meikles Hotel Harare
If food is your passion, try an afternoon tea at the historic Meikles Hotel in the city centre. In the suburb of Newlands, Victoria 22 offers high-end French Cuisine. You could even go on a cooking class at The Studio in Mount Pleasant. Perhaps try family-style Portuguese food (especially the chicken) at Paula’s Place or traditional Zimbabwean sadza at Pamugoti.
Duration incl transport: Around two hours. You don’t usually need to book ahead for Harare restaurants, but if you’re restricted to a specific time and date, don’t hesitate to contact them on their Facebook page in advance. For more Harare restaurants, see the article Best restaurants in Harare.
Beautiful botanical gardens with an impressive variety of aloes, cycads and succulents. You can walk around the gardens, bring your own picnic to eat under the large trees, go bird-watching, or hire a guide to take you on a private tour.
Details: Located approx. 35 km on the Shamva Rd; directions on the website. Family friendly. Duration incl transport: Around two hours. The link to the official website is in the heading above.
This museum, founded in 1903, contains some interesting exhibits on Zimbabwean history, fossils and archeological artefacts. Sadly it has been rather neglected in recent years so is a bit shabby. Don’t miss the Habitat Exhibition in the Natural Sciences Gallery. Also check out the 700 year old ark of the covenant replica, the oldest wooden object ever found in sub-Saharan Africa.
Details: Located in the city centre on Burnet Rd, Civic Centre, btwn Pennefather Ave & Raleigh. Family friendly. Map here. Cost: Entry fee $3. Duration incl transport: Around 1.5 hours. Link to the official website in the heading.
The National Gallery features traditional Shona stone sculptures, paintings by local artists, and regular special exhibitions. Vibrant and thought-provoking, this gallery is a great way to scratch beneath the surface of Zimbabwean culture.
This is one of the locations for Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) which is usually held in the last week of April each year.
Details: Located on Julius Nyerere Way, City Centre. Map and contact details here. Entry fee: Free. Cafe and internet cafe on site. Duration incl transport: Around one hour. The link to the official website/Facebook page is in the heading above the photo.
Top tip: Combine your visit with a walk around Harare Gardens which are just behind the gallery (below) – but remember that there may be pickpockets in this area of the city centre, so do not carry valuables within easy reach, and travel in a group.
A feast of historical documents and curiosities that bring many aspects of the region’s history to life. In the Beit Gallery “are the symbols of the extraordinary juxtapositions that birthed this country” (Petina Gappah, The Book of Memory), such as a facsimile copy of the Domesday Book, paintings by Thomas Baines, bronzes of independence fighters, pictures of Great Zimbabwe Ruins and independence documents including a letter from the Queen of England.
Details: Located off Borrowdale Road, about 3km from the city centre. Map here. Do phone ahead. Duration incl transport: Around one hour. The link to the official website is in the heading.
Reps hosts a number of performances ranging from opera to improvisation, so it’s a great place to experience Zimbabwean entertainment. Check their website for what’s on. A number of actors who have since found international acclaim, such as Lucian Msamati and Chipo Chung, walked the boards at this theatre in their early careers.
This is one of the locations for Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) which is usually held in the last week of April each year.
Details: Located in Belgravia Shopping Centre, Maasdorp Ave / Sam Nujoma St. Map here. Theatre tickets cost around $7-15. Duration incl transport: Around two to three hours.The link to the official website is in the heading.
Although the name of this airport seems like it’s a muddled version of “Prince Charles”, the order is actually the correct name for the airport. It serves internal private flights and pilot training, and was named after a fighter pilot who fought in WWII. Adventurous visitors can do a tandem skydive from this airport, to really get a fantastic view of Harare from above.
Details: 18 km from Harare off the Chirundu Road. Map here. Duration incl transport: Around two hours. Advance booking essential; see their Facebook page at the link in the heading above.
A hub for literary, social and musical discussion where comedians, singer-songwriters and many more perform. The Book Cafe was once a physical place, now it is a platform that showcases live events. Venues around Harare that often host live music include: 14 Aintree Rd, ELA the Garden, Queen of Hearts and Alliance Francaise de Harare.
Duration incl transport: Around two hours.
Africa Unity Square
The spot where Harare was ‘founded’ by the British government in 1890, originally called Cecil Square (after Cecil John Rhodes). The paths around this fountain and piazza are laid out in a Union Jack formation. After Zimbabwean Independence it was renamed Unity Square. The flower sellers lining the streets also make a striking sight.
Details: Located on Leopold Takawira St. Map here. Free entry. Duration incl transport: Around one hour.
Top tip: Best to go in a group, without any valuables, as there may be pickpockets in this area.There are coffee shops and restaurants nearby, especially Mirabelle restaurant at Meikles Hotel.
“Musika” means “market”, and this is large, bustling street market at Harare’s biggest bus terminal. It’s not a tourist spot but a slice of real life, so leave your valuables at home, keep to main thoroughfares and go in a group.
Details: Located on Ardbennie Rd in the centre of town. Free entrance. Map here. Duration incl transport: Around 1.5 hours.
Not as formidable as Domboshawa or Ngomakurira, but these rocks are famous because they are emblazoned on the old Zimbabwean Dollar notes issued during Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation.
Details: 12 km from Harare city centre, Epworth, off the Mutare Rd. GPS Reference: 17⁰53′13.46″S 31⁰07′29.12″E. Fee: $4. You can self-drive, or contact Zimbabwe Private Tours for a guided walk. Duration incl transport: Around 1.5 hours.
An Italian Renaissance-syle building, completed in 1935, which has been a key features of Harare’s governance since the colonial era. Mainly of interest to scholars of Zimbabwean history and colonial architecture. The centrepiece of the gardens is a colourful floral clock and fountain.
Details: Located in the city centre on the corner of Jason Moyo and Julius Nyerere Way. Map here. Pre-book a visit by phoning the number at the link in the heading or +263 (0)4 752577/9. The link to the official website is in the heading. Duration incl transport: Around one hour.
A rather cold, North Korean-style shrine built after Zimbabwe’s Independence, paying homage to those who fought against minority rule, and political figures who have died since then. Mainly of interest to scholars of Zimbabwean history and politics.
Details: Located just past the National Sports Stadium on the Bulawayo Rd (extension of Samora Machel), Kambuzuma. It’s rather a political site, so best to go in a group without valuables. Map here. Cost: Entry fee $4. Duration incl transport: Around 1.5 hours. The link to the official website is in the heading.
Harare National Herbarium and Botanical Gardens
Once a wonderful place to spend a few hours; now rather unloved but still interesting. It houses over 900 shrubs and trees, and also includes a mini-rainforest. There may be pickpockets in this area of the city centre, so do not carry valuables within easy reach, and travel in a group.
This is one of the locations for Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) which is held in the last week of April each year.
Details: Located on Fifth St, Alexandra Park. Map here. Free entrance. Duration incl transport: Around 1.5 hours. Email nhbg[at]drss.gov.zw. There is a restaurant serving light meals.
Note: There are also the smaller Harare Gardens which are located behind the National Gallery and have some restaurants in/around them. Map here.
Are there places to avoid in Harare?
It’s probably best to avoid the Harare Kopje or toposcope, as it is usually sadly full of litter, the signage has been taken down and is used by the Zimbabwe National Army.
If there is a demonstration happening in the city centre, it is best to avoid any large gatherings of people so as not to give the impression that you are involved with a political movement. See more tips on Staying safe in Zimbabwe.
There aren’t many official guided tours of Harare, for the simple reason that the sights are easy to walk around without a guide. See more details in the Harare travel guide.
Get more inspiration: See the Harare itineraries page which includes a ‘Best of Harare’ tour, ideas for kids, nature-lovers, shopping addicts and culture-heads
See our list of favourite Hotels in Harare: From boutique to budget
Want to go on a trip slightly further out of Harare? See our list of Day trips from Harare which includes optional overnight accommodation
For a general overview of Harare giving need-to-know information, see our Harare travel guide