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Your trip to Namibia won’t be complete without these unmissable and fun things to do in Swakopmund! We’ll list the most exciting sights within the old town of Swakopmund, locals’ favorite restaurants and coffee houses, best viewpoints for those iconic Swakopmund photos, best spots for watching seals and flamingos, quirky shops and craft markets together with the best guided tours to the ocean and the desert surrounding Swakopmund!
Why You MUST Visit Swakopmund?
Firstly, you must include Swakopmund in your Namibian itinerary: it’s the number one beach holiday destination and undeniable adventure capital of Namibia with no shortage of adrenaline-fueled things to do both in the desert and the sea.
Getting there is easy almost anywhere else in Namibia, so if you’re spending at least a week in Namibia, Swakopmund is a must-see destination – there’s no city quite like it anywhere else in the world. Think of German architecture and culture mixed with vibrant African flare, natural wonders combined to the treats of the city break.
Swakopmund’s location is incredible and promises otherworldly views. The city is sandwiched between the red dunes of Namib desert – the oldest desert in the world – and the raging, blue Atlantic Ocean. The hostile but stunning Skeleton Coast starts from its northern borders.
Swakopmund is a small city by its size and population but has a huge heart and no shortage of exciting things to do and see that will keep you entertained for weeks. We spent two months scouting for the best activities and sights in Swakopmund to compile this ultimate list of unmissable things to do in Swakopmund. Let’s start the countdown!
Swakopmund's Aquarium, the Jetty and Tiger Reef are among the best things to do in Swakopmund
FREE THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND – COVERING THE MOST POPULAR SIGHTS, DON’T MISS THESE!
Best things in life are free – same goes with Swakopmund! Luckily, you don’t have to spend tremendous amounts of money to experience the best of Swakopmund. Walking around the old town with a camera is free, so we’ll start with the must-see sights inside Swakopmund’s charming old town.
1. Photograph the Iconic Swakopmund Lighthouse
Our city walk starts from Swakopmund’s most famous landmarks: Lighthouse and the Mole. Both mark the foundation of the city.
The red-and-white lighthouse towers upon Swakopmund’s roofs and colors the most iconic photographs of Swakopmund. As it’s visible from afar in this low-rise city, it’s the easiest attraction to find and a convenient starting point for your Swakopmund old city exploration.
Lighthouse is among the most photographed sights in Swakopmund: it’s pictured in postcards, magazine articles, and art. To get the best angles, shoot the lighthouse from the Mole (when it looms upon the Mole area) or behind the state house (when you’ll get a classic shot with the garden and state house in front of the Lighthouse).
Swakopmund Lighthouse: History & Facts
Swakopmund Lighthouse was built in 1902-1903 and it’s still in operation as a navigational aid for ships heading to Walvis Bay.
The first lighthouse in Swakopmund was merely a beacon at the tip of the Mole. It was washed away within the first months, leading to the construction of the current Lighthouse.
First structure of the Swakopmund Lighthouse was 16 meters high, but it was raised to the current height of 28 meters already in 1910-1911. The light can be seen from 33 kilometers away from the sea.
Swakopmund Mole is a hotspot for eating out and swimming in the Atlantic
2. Hang Around Swakopmund Mole (for the Views and Fun)
The seawall called Mole seems to be a cultural center of Swakopmund: it’s where both locals and tourists hang around during the days.
Grab an ice cream and sit on the colorful benches overlooking the beach with locals, watching kids – and dogs – swim and play. Eat lunch or dinner in some of the best restaurants in Swakopmund, all terraces have nice ocean views and usually a lovely breeze.
The sandy Palm Beach sheltered by the Mole is also the best place to swim in Swakopmund, so let’s move on to the next activity!
Short History of Swakopmund Mole
Mole is first breakwater in Swakopmund, built by the first German settlers in 1899. Within five years, the strong Benguela current swept so much sand into it that harbor entrance was closed and the current Palm Beach was formed. A better jetty was built a bit further (check the activity no 4, the Jetty of Swakopmund)
Kids swimming in Swakopmund's Tiger Reef
3. Swim in the Atlantic – The Coolest Thing To Do in Swakop!
Swimming in the Atlantic with local kids is literally the coolest thing you can do in Swakopmund. Thanks to the cold Benguela current, the water remains chilly throughout the year.
If you don’t dare to dip in, at least soak in the sun with locals and tourists. Palm Beach by the Mole is the most tropical place in Swakopmund. As it’s virtually the only sheltered cove in Swakopmund, it’s the best place to swim, as well.
The best beaches in Swakopmund
Palm Beach by the Mole (for swimming)
Tiger Reef (for barefoot day or night out, swimming possible)
The long sandy beach south of Platz am Meer (for long beach walks, picnics, and hanging out with locals; there are also braai facilities)
Swakopmund's Palm Beach is sheltered by Swakopmund Mole
4. Stroll Along the Jetty of Swakopmund – For Pictures of Swakopmund’s Skyline Against the Desert
Another major landmark in Swakopmund, the Jetty is a must-see – and a fun place to visit. Getting there is easy on foot, bike, or car. If you’re walking or biking and coming from the Mole, just continue south by the seaside promenade until you reach the long pier: that’s the famous Jetty!
Jetty is a popular spot among locals for afternoon and evening strolls, so expect to meet families, dogs, and lovers at the pier. It’s among the best places in Swakopmund to watch sunset over the Atlantic!
Don’t forget your camera! Over 200 meters’ long Jetty offers an interesting angle to the cityscape of Swakopmund and the surrounding desert. Furious waves often reach the wooden planks and spits salty water on careless wanderers, so be alert if your camera is not splash-proof.
At the end of the jetty, you can find a lovely restaurant called Jetty 1905. It’s among the best restaurants in Swakopmund (check activity x for more info) and has the widest panoramic views to the Atlantic. Tip: reserve your table well in advance to get the best spots by the window.
Short History of Swakopmund Jetty
Shortly after the Mole was built, the harbor of Swakopmund got busy. There was an urgent need to quickly off-load cargo ships and passengers, which were anchored off the shore.
The original wooden Jetty was hastily constructed within five months between 1904 and 1905, and widened and extended a couple of years later. Wooden structure was slowly eaten by the elements and the marine borer worm. Construction of a 640-meter long steel jetty started in 1912, but the war disturbed the plans and left the jetty in one third of the planned length.
Although it was a popular strolling and fishing spot for both locals and visitors, the corroded jetty was considered unsafe for pedestrians from 1983 onwards, until it was restored to its former glory and re-opened in 2006. Read the full history here: jetty1905.com
Swakopmund Jetty: the most photographed sight in Swakopmund, Namibia
5. Stroll on Seaside Promenade Through Municipal Gardens of Swakopmund (Don’t Forget Your Camera)
Stunning seaside promenade is among our favorite places to visit in Swakopmund. You can bike or walk by the beach for almost 5 kilometers between the southernmost point, Tiger Reef (check things to do 10 & 31) and Platz Am Meer mall in the north (the best mall in Swakopmund, check activity 28 for more details).
Every weekend locals venture out to the seaside promenade to eat from the food truck parked in the middle of the hike (there are also food stalls nearby Aquarium if you don’t want to walk further from the center), walk their dogs and take kids to the beach.
Among the houses lining the coastal road you can find perfect examples of German architecture, some even imitating Alpine architecture. The seaside promenade takes you through palm-tree lined Municipal Gardens, where you can admire many coastal plants and spot small birds.
The beach garden walkways have amazing views of the Atlantic and when you get closer to Platz Am Meer, you can admire the silhouette of Swakopmund’s center over the long sandy beach, with desert looming in the background. Municipal Gardens is one of the best places in Swakopmund to take those iconic photographs of Swakopmund skyline!
UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND: BUCKET LIST FOR ONE DAY ITINERARY IN SWAKOPMUND
The Most Popular Sights in Swakopmund: the Mole, Lighthouse, Swakopmund Jetty and Seaside Promenade + a Swim in the Atlantic by the Palm Beach (check the best things to do in Swakopmund #1-5)
Woermann House Tower for the Best Panorama Over Swakopmund (check activity #6)
Enjoy Lunch by the Beach in Ocean Cellar and Explore (activity #30)
Shop Traditional Crafts at City Street Market and Meet Indigenous People of Namibia (activity #27)
More Shopping in Brauhaus Arcade (activity #26)
Enjoy Namibian Artisan Coffee in Slowtown Coffee Roasters (activity #36)
Eat the Best Ice Cream in Swakopmund in Spice & Ice (activity #11)
Visit the Namib Desert for Highest Dune in the World or Crazy Desert Adventures (things to do #12-15)
Sundowners and Romantic Dinner with a View in Jetty 1905 or the Tug (things to do in Swakopmund #31 & #32)
Sip Namibian Craft Beer or Gin (things to do in Swakopmund #47-51)
Stay in Swakopmund Hotel (Old Railway Station) for the full colonial architecture immersion (activity #9)
BONUS: Rent a Bike to Cover All These Popular Sights More Easily Within One Day (thing to do #10)
You can see Cape fur seals in Pelican Point (near Walvis Bay) or in Cape Cross (in Skeleton Coast)
EXPLORE THE GERMAN ARCHITECTURE IN SWAKOPMUND
Swakopmund feels like a little German town whisked into desert by African coast – that’s a weird mix! Spend at least a couple of hours exploring the German roots of Swakopmund and getting to know the history of this unique coastal town. Track down some of Swakopmund’s colonial buildings listed below – it’s easy as most of them will be along your sightseeing route anyway.
6. Visit Woermann House Tower for Panorama Over Swakopmund
Woermann House is among the most famous German-style colonial buildings in Swakopmund. It was built in 1905 for HQ of a trading company and later used as school dormitory and a hostel for merchants and sailors. It was declared as a national monument in the 70s. Nowadays it houses a public library and Swakopmund Arts Association.
Tip: pay a small fee to climb to Woermann House’s tower, called Damara Tower. It’s where early settlers spotted approaching boats and ox carts – and offers the same stunning panorama to the vast Atlantic Ocean and Namib Desert also for the modern day visitors. The tower has also served as a navigation point, as it’s visible far from the sea.
7. Stroll Pass Höhenzollern Haus – Camera Needed!
You cannot avoid seeing bombastic Höhenzollern Haus while strolling in the central Swakopmund. Höhenzollern Building is among the most photographed buildings in Swakopmund. Deservingly so, as it’s an unique example of neo-baroque, Victorian architecture in Namibia.
Look up for a classic Greek Atlas figure holding the world on his shoulders. There are also angels and lions in the frieze of Höhenzollern Building.
Höhenzollern Haus was built in 1905-1906 by Hermann Dietz as a hotel for German aristocrats, but served also as a brothel. Nowadays it’s divided into private apartments. Höhenzollern was declared as a national monument in the 80s.
Höhenzöller Haus is among the most famous colonial buildings in Swakopmund, Namibia
8. Find More German Architecture in Swakopmund (Happens by Accident)
Even if you aren’t architecture buff, the German-style buildings in Swakopmund entice you to take photos. The best news: you don’t need to search for German architecture in Swakopmund. It’s enough just to walk around the old city and stumble upon stunning buildings.
Some of the most important colonial buildings include:
Alte Kaserne (“the old barracks”; stunning fort-like architecture, similar to Namutoni Fort in Etosha National Park, address: )
Deutsche Africa Bank Building (nowadays Bank Windhoek)
Deutsche Evangelican Church (designed by Otto Erlt)
State House (“Kaiserliches Bezirksgericht”, nowadays a summer residence of President of Namibia, address Daniel Tjongarero St)
Old Court (“Altes Amtsgericht”, designed by Otto Erlt, address: in corner of Garnison and Bahnhof St)
Prinzessin Rupprecht-Heim (originally military hospital)
Otavi-Bahn Building (originally historical railway station, nowadays Living Desert Snake Park)
Alte Gefänglis (Old Prison, check out thing to do #58 under bizarre treats)
9. Stay in Swakopmund Hotel (Old Railway Station) for Ultimate Colonial Architecture Immersion
After all sightseeing, there’s one final treat for baroque architecture lovers: book a room in Swakopmund Hotel, the Old Bahnhof (Railway Station) of Swakopmund!
Almost all rooms overlook a beautiful pool area. Check out the best rates for Swakopmund Hotel here.
Short History of Swakopmund Hotel (Old Railway Station)
Swakopmund’s old railway station (Bahnhof Swakopmund) was built in 1901. Swakopmund railway station was the starting point of the first railway line in German South West Africa.
Bahnhof Swakopmund was built by Imperial Railway Authority (Kaiserliche Eisenbahn Verwaltung) and designed by German architect Wilhelm Sander, who has also designed three castles in Windhoek – Heinitzburg, Schwerinsburg and Sanderburg – and Swakopmund Lighthouse.
The beautiful building had an unfortunate faith: Windhoek–Swakopmund railway line was closed already in 1910.
Nowadays, the working train station is outside the old center.
Walk or bike through Swakopmund's municipal gardens on seaside promenade
FUN THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND
In Swakopmund, the oldest desert in the world rolls into the Atlantic, which is teeming with seals, dolphins, and whales. There are tons of fun things to do centered around the dunes and the marine life, but let’s start from the city itself.
10. Rent a Bike and Explore Swakopmund on Wheels (BONUS: Stunning Seaside Promenade From Start to Finish!)
Swakopmund is like Amsterdam: everyone has a bike! The best way to get around Swakopmund is by bike.
The city is flat (unlike Windhoek, which rolling hills and high temps make biking too strenuous for most), traffic is rather calm (compared to Windhoek or other African cities), and weather rarely too hot for pleasant rides. As distances are short, biking is usually also faster than driving.
Bike rentals vary between city bikes, mountain bikes, and fat bikes. If you stick to the marked paths, mountain bike is well enough – although fat bikes allow you to have some fun in the sand.
Start your day out by exploring 5-kilometer long seaside promenade, where a concrete biking path swirls through the sand and lovely city gardens. Be ready to get your share of the spray of the Atlantic, if you choose the path closest to the waves (that’s fun if you ask me!).
With bike, it’s easy to cover the whole seaside promenade from Tiger Reef (check point x) to Platz Am Meer (check point x) and see the city center by zigzagging the streets and stopping by all the main sights within one day. Thus, you can cover all the sights mentioned here on an adventurous one-day bike itinerary in Swakopmund and save the rest of your days for tours exploring the surrounding areas.
Tip from a fellow traveler: It’s safe to leave your bike locked anywhere in the center when you’re enjoying a cup of coffee or shopping. Official car and bike guards patrol the center and will also look after your bike – it’s kind to give them a couple of dollars as a courtesy.
11. Find the Best Ice Cream in Swakopmund
As this one is a matter of taste, I can only offer you tips on where to head.
Ankerplatz inside the old Swakopmund, nearby Woermann House and just off Sam Nujoma Avenue, is the best place to start. It’s also probably the most atmospheric little square in Swakopmund, so take out your camera and pick a table from the shadow. Browse the selection of Ice & Spice Cafe: they have more than 50 flavors of homemade ice cream. It’s the best ice cream in Swakopmund if you ask me!
Many locals swear by Raith’s Deli, Gelateria and Bakery on Tobias Hainyeko (between Slowtown Coffee Shop and Brauhaus Arcade) – they are said to have also the best brötchens in Swakopmund.
Check also the ice cream kiosks in the Mole area: Café Mole and Swakopmund Museum Café.
Woerman House Tower looming over Ankerplatz and Ice & Spice
12. Visit the Highest Dune in Namibia – and the World! – called Dune 7
You read right, the highest dune in Namibia is conveniently nearby Swakopmund! Many tourists don’t even don’t this, as Sossusvlei is (deservingly) more famous for its red sand dunes. However, the highest dune in Sossusvlei, called Big Daddy, loses by 58 meters to Dune 7.
With the height of 383 meters (or 1256 foot), Dune 7 is the highest dune in the world.
You can visit Dune 7 independently if you have a rental car: climbing Dune 7 is free! Getting there with a car is easy, as Dune 7 is just off C14, only 6 km from Walvis Bay and 37 kilometers from Swakopmund. There’s a parking and picnic area (search “Dune 7 picnic area” in Google Maps).
There are a restaurant and adventure tour outlets at the spot: Quad Bike Rental and Dune 7 Adventures. They sell a gazillion of desert tours, from quad biking to sand surfing and dune driving (in a monster bus).
As dunes are stunning, we encourage you to visit also the famous Big Daddy, which is watching over Deadvlei pan (check out section x for more detailed suggestion).
If you don’t have own wheels, check out the desert tour recommendations below.
13. Go Biking or Quad Biking in the Namib Desert
Biking in the middle of the red dunes is an unforgettable, adrenaline filled experience and a must-do when visiting Swakopmund! Depending on your preferences, you can choose either a fat biking or quad biking tour in the Namib Desert.
This quad biking tour includes transport from Swakopmund and you can choose between 1-hour, 1.5-hour, and 2-hour quad bike adventure. You can expect to ride past a lot of smaller and bigger dunes on all tours.
Sandboarding in the Namib Desert is epic fun! It’s might be even more exhilaring than volcano boarding that we tried in Nicaragua.
The dunes are just 10-minute drive away from Swakopmund, so there’s no reason to skip the crazy desert activities (just choose the best adrenaline level for you, even biking is fun).
This sandboarding tour is excellent for both experienced and first-time (sand) surfers. You can choose easy or more challenging dunes – if you’re a first-timer, you can even lie down on the board. Tour includes transport from Swakopmund and a light lunch.
Climbing Dune 45 in Sossusvlei: the second highest dune in Namibia
15. Skydive upon Swakopmund
Swakopmund is the adventure capital of Namibia and offers many daring airborne activities, as well. Sky diving the all-time favorite of all adventure junkies!
Thanks to breathtaking views over the Namib Desert, Atlantic and the little coastal town, Swakopmund is one of the top three skydiving locations in the world!
Check out this tandem skydiving tour for the ultimate thrills. The tour includes a tandem skydiving from 11.000 feet with an experienced and qualified instructor, transfers from your Swakopmund hotel and a video of your skydive adventure.
16. Kayak Among the Seals and Dolphins of Pelican Point
Pelican Point near Walvis Bay is the best place for kayaking nearby Swakopmund. Paddling in-between a huge Cape fur seal colony and dolphins is an activity that you’ll never forget! Sightings are guaranteed, as Pelican Point has staggering 50.000 Cape fur seals.
This guided tour includes both kayaking in Pelican Point and a scenic 4×4 drive through the Namib desert to the famous Sandwich Harbor.
17. Ocean Cruises for Spotting Dolphins, Whales, Turtles, and Seals
When visiting the charming little towns of Atlantic Coast of Namibia, be it Swakopmund or Luderitz, don’t skip the ocean cruises for spotting marine life!
Many tourists think that when they visit Pelican Point (activity 16) or Cape Cross Seal Colony (activity 38), they’ve “seen enough”, but the cruise is something totally different.
On day cruises from Swakopmund, it’s possible to find dolphins, whales, leatherback turtles on top of all the marine life and birds that you will see when passing Pelican Point from the sea.
Whale season in Swakopmund runs from July to November, when you can spot both Humpback whales and Southern right whales – or even Gray whales and Pygmy right whales if you’re lucky. Bottlenose, Dusky and Heaviside’s Dolphins populate the same waters with gigantic and playful Mola Molas aka sunfish. Mola Molas can weight up to one ton: they are known as the heaviest bony fish in the world and classified as vulnerable.
This affordable half-day luxury cruise takes you out to the Atlantic to find the “Marine Big Five” for 3,5 hours and includes snacks, coffee, fresh oysters, and bubbly. Pick between morning or afternoon departure from Walvis Bay Waterfront (30 minutes from Swakopmund by car/taxi/shuttle).
“Marine Big 5” cruises offer also excellent birding. You can expect to see pelicans, Kelp and Hartlaub gulls and Cape Cormorants.
18. Go Surfing or Fishing with Locals
Both surfing and fishing are big in Swakop – just pick your favorite. Fishing with friendly locals is free and fun if you find the right dudes by the beach promenade.
Swakopmund is an interesting surfing location for experienced surfers, as the climate is hard and the waves heavy, views to the desert are otherworldly, and the chilly Benguela current poses its own challenges. Element Riders offers introductory surfing courses in both Swakopmund and Luderitz.
Mola mola a.k.a. sunfish playing in the Atlantic
19. Golf in the Desert in Rössmund – with Springboks!
Rössmund is a world-famous golf course in the middle of desert – one of the five existing full green fairway desert courses in the world!
This full 72 par golf course offers tough challenges, like inversion of grass fairways dispersed throughout the sand (instead of sand traps in the grass) and springbok footprints harassing your lie. Oh yes, you will be golfing in the middle of free-roaming springbok herds – an experience that’s only possible Namibia!
You can also stay in the oasis by booking a room in the attached Rössmund Lodge that overlooks the golf course and its springbok herds. Check their best rates here.
Another lovely option is Paradise at Rössmund Golf Estate Swakopmund, nearby fully equipped beautiful 2-bedroom apartment that is perfect for families. Check their best rates from here.
20. Visit Tropic of Capricorn Crossing
If you’re visiting Sossusvlei from Swakopmund, don’t forget to take photos of crossing the Tropic of Capricorn! The famous circle of latitude is marked with signs on the both sides of the road between Walvis Bay and Sossusvlei.
Tropic of Capricorn signs are on C14 road, approximately one-hour drive from Solitaire on the way to Walvis Bay and further to Swakopmund.
Petrified trees in Deadvlei Pan, Sossusvlei
BEST MUSEUMS AND CULTURAL THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND
21. Visit Swakopmund Museum
Swakopmund Museum in the Mole is the most renown museum in the city. It offers an introduction to the nature, people, and cultures of Namibia.
It’s the largest private museum in Namibia, run by the Scientific Society of Swakopmund. It’s also a popular venue for interesting scientific talks, movie screenings, and workshops.
Entrance fee: N30 for adults, N25 for students and pensioners.
22. Visit Kristall Galerie for the Biggest Crystal in the World – And Shopping Gemstones
In Kristall Galerie, you can marvel semi-precious stones, including the biggest quartz crystal formation in the world. That famous crystal dates back to 500 million years and weighs more than 14.000 kg. The museum shop sells gemstones.
23. Browse Namibian Art in Fine Art Gallery & Swakopmund Arts Association
For Namibian art, visit Fine Art Gallery (the main street) and Swakopmund Arts Association (Woermann House).
24. Take a Township Tour in Mondesa
Explore one of the biggest townships in Namibia called Mondesa on a guided half-day tour. Mondesa on the outskirts of Swakopmund was created during the apartheid era to segregate black people and further divide them into ethnic areas within the township.
Visiting Mondesa gives you a deeper understanding of Namibian history and people: it’s also a fun day out in a colorful setting! This guided Mondesa tour takes you into the homes, schools, and kindergartens of Nama, Damara and Herero tribes. You will enjoy a local meal, music performance, and visit community projects.
If you don’t have a chance to visit Katutura in Windhoek, don’t skip visiting Mondesa while you’re in Swakopmund! It’s also possible to drive independently through Mondesa to get a glimpse if you’re short on time, but that way you miss all the interactions with locals.
Brauhaus Shopping Arcade in Swakopmund, Namibia
BEST PLACES TO SHOP SOUVENIRS IN SWAKOPMUND
If you’re short on time and not into souvenir shopping in general, visit at least City Street Market. If you like shopping, Brauhaus Arcade is the best place to start.
25. Buy Your Postcards and Find Quirky Books in Swakopmund Museum Shop
Support the amazing work of Scientific Society of Swakopmund by shopping your postcards and souvenir books in their museum shop. We’ve found interesting books from there, many about wildlife conservation and cultural history. Pop in to browse the selection on your visit in the Mule area, even if you’re not visiting the museum.
26. Shop Souvenirs and Books in Brauhaus Arcade – With Lovely Photo Opportunities
Brauhaus Arcade looks always good in photos and is an interesting place to visit thanks to its small café, nice bookshop and several small shops. Of course, it’s where you’ll find Swakopmund Brauhaus, as well.
Expect to find safari hats and clothes, leather goods, postcards and books, plush toys, creative souvenir ideas and arts and crafts.
27. Browse City Street Market Near the Mole for Traditional Souvenirs and Gifts
Buying souvenirs from the city street market is a brilliant way to support indigenous. You can find Swakopmund’s widest collection of indigenous crafts just behind Lighthouse Restaurant and Swakopmund Museum nearby the Mole (it’s on your way to the Mole from the center).
28. Shop Everything Else You Need in Platz Am Meer – the Best Shopping Center in Swakopmund
The best place for shopping anything else in Swakopmund is Platz Am Meer shopping center.
There you can find the best grocery stores and many special shops:
Checkers for cheap prices and wide selection of groceries
Woolworths for the best quality fruits and vegetables and imported goodies
Clicks and Dischem for cosmetics and pharmacy
Cape Union Mart for outdoor wear
A couple of sport stores and a camping equipment store
The best things to do in Swakopmund include a lot of sand and sea, the best restaurants and coffee shops in Namibia, crazy dune activities, Atlantic cruises, Cape fur seals and birding, shipwrecks, colonial German architecture, and so much more fun activities in the adventure capital of Namibia!
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND FOR FOODIES: TRY THESE DISHES!
Whereas Namibian cuisine is usually all about game meat, in Swakopmund it’s all about fresh and beautifully cooked seafood.
Good news for vegetarians: Swakopmund treats you much better than Windhoek or any other place in Namibia! You can find vegan sushi, vegetarian burgers, and many other options on top of the usual suspects – pizza and pasta.
29. Taste the Famous Fresh Oysters of Namibia
If you haven’t been in Luderitz yet, taste the world-famous Namibian oysters in Swakopmund! They can be found in most seaside restaurants and are best eaten as raw, seasoned with lemon and pepper (and maybe a bit of tabasco).
Boat tours from Walvis Bay serve freshest oysters on board with bubbly – a perfect day out! The secret behind Namibian oysters seems to be the cold Benguela current, which loads the water with oxygen and plankton. Thanks to Benguela, Namibian oyesters can be harvested within eight months, whereas French oysters take three years to grow.
30. Order Sailor’s Lunch in Ocean Cellar
Hands down our favorite lunch in Swakopmund, the dish called Sailor’s Lunch is a bargain. For NAD85 (USD5) you’ll get a delicious filet of hake with calamari rigs, chips, salad, and chili or tartar sauce.
Affordable lunch specials are available every day until 4PM. A la carte menu is available throughout the day with many choices for fresh fish, sushi, and, of course, delicious Namibian oysters.
31. Go Barefoot in Tiger Reef – With Fish & Chips or Calamari
If sun is out on Sunday, everyone in Swakopmund gathers to the southern edge of the city to dine out in Tiger Reef. Bike or walk there by the shore with locals before dipping toes in the sand and watching the waves lap right beside your table.
Simple meals, such as grilled calamari or fish’n’chips, are ordered from the bar. The brave ones (including dogs) take a swim on the long sand beach.
32. Book a Romantic Dinner in Swakopmund’s Jetty 1905
If I’d have to recommend a dinner spot to crown a one-day itinerary in Swakopmund, Jetty 11905 would be my pick for the unrivalled ocean views. Book as early as you can to get the best table by the window and schedule the dinner around sunset hour.
33. Sundowners and Fresh Fish with a View in Tug, Unique Boat Restaurant
Tug is among our favorite restaurants in Swakopmund for atmospheric sundowners and dinner with a view. It’s casual yet special.
Start with a sundowner on the terrace overlooking the Atlantic and Swakopmund Jetty, feeling like you’re onboard a tug boat – because you are! Oil-fired Daniel Hugo tug boat, built in Scotland, found its last resting place in Swakopmund and was turned into lovely marine-themed restaurant.
The Tug Restaurant specializes in local, sustainable and fresh fish. Also great vegetarian options are available (although we miss their excellent veggie burger that was dropped from the latest menu). Reservations are recommended for the inner cabin (window tables have amazing views), although we’ve been always lucky to find a table; no reservations are taken for the terrace or bar.
34. Sample Freshly Made Sushi in Yokohama
As a newcomer in Swakopmund’s restaurant scene, Yokohama has fortified its place quickly. In our opinion, it’s the best place in Swakopmund to feast on sushi. Everything is made to order, right under your eyes.
They have a wide menu and affordable special offers. Salmon platter (for two) is our all-time favorite.
Bonus points: Yokohama raises money to local animal charity, Have a Heart Namibia. Gotta love these guys!
Getting overwhelmed? Worry no more, we got you covered! If you have only day day in Swakopmund, eat lunch in Ocean Cellar and dinner in Tug. If you have two days, spend lunchtime sampling the sushi platters of Yokohama and book a table in Jetty 1905 for dinner.
If you’re looking for more options, check out the Wreck, Lighthouse Restaurant in the Mole and Fish Deli in the center.
Swakopmund's Tug Restaurant has amazing ocean views and fresh seafood
BEST THINGS TO DO NEAR SWAKOPMUND FOR NATURE LOVERS
35. See the Flamingos of Walvis Bay Lagoon
It’s easy to visit the flamingos of Walvis Bay independently from Swakopmund either with your rental car or a taxi. Drive takes approximately 30 minutes.
Plan to arrive at Walvis Bay Lagoon early, preferably at 7AM, to see the flamingos up-close. Early mornings are the best time to photograph flamingos without a long lens.
36. Visit Swakopmund Salt Pans for Birding – And Surreal Views for Instagram
Swakopmund Saltworks lie just 7 km’s (4 miles) north of Swakopmund, in an area aptly called Mile 4. Salt was produced in the pans from 1933 to 1952.
Nowadays the northern guano platform of Swakopmund Salt Pans is an excellent spot for birding. The platform has supported 700.000 Cape Cormorants and can support many other water birds, such as flamingos, African oystercatchers; Chestnut-Banded Plovers and migratory Common Terns.
If you’re not into birding, Swakopmund Salt Pans offer excellent photo opportunities for Instagram-worthy pink water pictures. Imagine pink water of the salt pans meeting the Atlantic and desert. Check out some stunning aerial photographs of Swakopmund Saltworks for inspiration from here.
37. Visit Walvis Bay Island Rock for More Cormorants
Similar guano platform has been built over Bird Island, which lies between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. This Walvis Bay Bird Rock dates back to the 1930s and is visible only at low tide.
About 99% of visiting birds are Cape Cormorants, but also Great White Pelicans, Crowned Cormorants, and White-Breasted Cormorants breed there. Walvis Bay Bird Island is known as the world’s largest White-Breasted Cormorant colony.
See flamingos in Walvis Bay Lagoon near Swakopmund, Namibia
38. Visit Cape Cross Seal Colony – the Largest Cape Fur Seal Colony in the World
If you want to see seals independently (without cruise and 4×4), Cape Cross Seal Colony is the best place for you.
Cape Cross is Namibia’s biggest seal colony – and the best place to photograph seals. It’s much easier to photograph seals while you can walk close to them and search for the best angle compared to photographing seals from a boat. Of course, both have their pros and cons, and here you cannot take pictures of swimming seals like from the boat (if you’re lucky).
There are fences, which are meant to protect the seals from visitors, but the seals don’t seem to mind the fences, as they are constantly at the visitors’ side, meaning that you can get nice closeups. Please just be considerate as with any wildlife: don’t approach a seal which doesn’t like it – and don’t go too close.
Visiting Cape Cross independently from Swakopmund requires 1,5 hours’ drive on both ways (approximately 130 km). It’s easy to combine a short loop to Cape Cross on your way from Swakopmund to Etosha National Park (unless you’re driving through Skeleton Coast, then it’ll be on your route naturally).
If you don’t have a rental car, consider taking this guided tour to Pelican Point (near Walvis Bay) to see the seals. The tour includes 4×4 drive in deep sand to Pelican Point from Walvis Bay (hotel pickups from Swakopmund can be arranged). In Pelican Point, you’ll have enough time to photograph the seals and birds and see the historic lighthouse and the ruins of the old jetty.
Baby seal sucking milk, Cape Cross Seal Colony
39. Find Oryx and Other Desert Adapted Animals (Independently or On Tour)
If you have your own wheels, it’s easy to make a day trip to the Namib Desert from Swakopmund. On top of dunes and arid landscapes, you can expect to see oryx (gemsbok), springbok, and other desert adapted animals. There are also excellent guided desert tours which show you the many odd desert creatures, which are hard to see without a guide.
40. Find Welwitschia Plants Near Swakopmund
You can quite easily see smaller Welwitschia mirabilis plants while driving to Swakopmund from other Namibian destinations through the Namib Desert. Endeamic to Namibia and Southern Angola, this modestly looking but huge (diameter up to 30 meters) desert plant can survive decades, even centuries, in arid conditions.
Still, the best place to find and admire them is Welwitschia Plain, approximately 1-hour drive from Swakopmund. Welwitschia Plain has one 1500-year old plant and several others populating the same quiet desert area.
Bizarre fact: Welwitschia mirabilis decorates National Coat of Arms of Namibia.
If you don’t have a rental car, this Welwitschia tour is an excellent option. The 4-hour tour takes you to the Namib Desert (national park permit included), Moon Landscape (see activity 42), and Welwitschia Drive. You can choose between morning of afternoon departure.
Oryx cooling down in Namib-Naukluft National Park
41. Visit the Lichen Fields Near Swakopmund
Explore another beautiful natural wonder, lichen covered stones by the beach. You can find lichen even in Swakopmund.
The best place to see an array of lichen is called lichen fields, which can be found north of Swakopmund, near Hentiesbaai. Excellent lichen plains can be found also on Welwitschia Drive (on your way from Swakopmund to the Welwitchia Plain). These gray and black lichen fields were featured in the film called “The Private Life of Plants” by David Attenborough and the BBC.
42. Explore the Moon Landscape of Namib Desert from Swakopmund
Moon Landscape is nearby the above mentioned lichen fields and Welwitschia Drive, and can be explored either independently or with a guided tour. Expect dramatic scenery that has invoked the name “badlands”: deep valleys and narrow gorges carved by the Swakop River millions of years ago.
You find the “Moon Landscape” by driving C28 from Swakopmund, then turn to the Welwitchia Drive after entering Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Note that you need a permit to explore Moon Landscape, as it’s inside Namib-Naukluft National Park. Permits can be obtained at Ministry of Environment and Tourism offices in Swakopmund and Windhoek (open Monday-Friday 8AM-1PM and 2PM-5PM, Saturday-Sunday and public holidays 8AM-1PM).
Moon Landscape in the Namib-Naukluft National Park leaves you breathless
43. Take a Sandwich Harbor Tour
If you have more than two days in Swakopmund, we highly recommend investing in Sandwich Harbor tour – you won’t be disappointed! It’s where the ancient dunes of Namib Desert roll into the Atlantic. There are no settlements, nothing but nature at its roughest. Pure beauty, I’d say.
Sandwich Harbor used to be restricted area and it’s still a conservation area, which is accessible only with a guided tour. The harbor that the name is implying was established in the 15th century by Portuguese sailors; nowadays it’s eaten by the sand and sea. Unique desert landscapes, excellent birding, and exciting 4×4 tours are the best reasons to visit Sandwich Harbor.
We recommend this guided full-day Sandwich Harbor tour from Swakopmund. Tour takes you up and down dunes to Sandwich Lagoon (weather permitting) in off-road vehicle. The tour stops by Walvis Bay Lagoon to marvel the flamingos and Salt Works to photograph the beautiful salt pans. Tour includes a lunch and drinks, transport to and from Swakopmund, and park permits. It’s possible to see seals and other wildlife as you drive through Dorob National Park and by the shore.
If you’d like to do a self-drive to Sandwich Harbor and have your own rental vehicle, check out this tour! Self-drives to Sandwich Harbor are only allowed as part of a guided tour, as it’s still restricted area. The tour includes briefing, two-way radios and recovery equipment.
44. Visit Spitzkoppe, “the Matterhorn of Namibia”
Although we’d recommend spending at least one night in Spitzkoppe, you can visit the rocky mountains – or the Matterhorn of Namibia – from Swakopmund in just one day.
It’s easy to drive from Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe if you have a rental car – and you can visit x shipwreck on your way.
Would you like to camp under these rocky peaks in Spitzkoppe, Namibia?
45. Visit Sossusvlei and Deadvlei Pan
Although Sossusvlei and Deadvlei can be visited from Swakopmund on a long day trip, they deserve a couple of days on their own. We’ll be covering the mysterious dead trees of Deadvlei pan and the vast dune landscapes of Sossusvei in another article very soon – stay tuned!
Plan to spend at least two nights in Sossusvlei, as you will need a half day for visiting Deadvlei and the highest dune of Namibia, Big Daddy. Climbing Dune 45 can be done on your way to Deadvlei.
46. Get Fueled in the Best Coffee Shops of Swakopmund
Swakopmund treats coffee geeks well – much better than Windhoek. There are two excellent roasteries, whose beans are available throughout Namibia, both originally from Swakopmund: Two Beards Coffee and Slowtown Coffee Roasters. Visit both if you have time!
Slowtown is the easiest to tick off, as they have two cafes right in the center of Swakopmund. The main joint is conveniently at the corner of Daniel Tjongarero and Tobias Hainyeko Streets, so you will pass it while strolling through the center (open Mon-Fri 8AM-4.30PM and Sat 8.30AM-12.30PM). It has a nice terrace for people watching and lots of tables indoors for working (but no wifi).
Smaller Slowtown Roastery Café has a lovely courtyard setting on Swakop Street, near the beach promenade (Swakop St 15, open Mon-Fri 8AM-4PM). Slowtown serves good quality beans and caters to several brewing methods.
Slowtown is the first artisan roastery in Swakopmund – and in Namibia. They have several cafes in capital, as well, which makes Slowtown the best coffee shop in Windhoek (and unfortunately the only third-wave coffee shop in Windhoek).
Reaching a bit more experimental Two Beards Coffee requires a short drive (or bike/taxi trip) from the center, but their Two Beards and a Saint Gourmet Bar & Bistro is a true oasis for coffee lovers in Namibia. They know their beans and brewing methods, turning up beautiful tasting experiences.
Wide courtyard has tables in the sun and shadow and two-storey industrial-chic coffee shop invites you to stay longer than planned with tasty food and a wide list of artisan-roasted single-origin Arabica beans to choose from.
While you’re in the area, be sure to pop in Namib Dunes Brewery and Stillhouse Distillery in the same Eastern Concepts complex (see the next alcohol-fueled things to do).
Two Beards roastery coffee shop in Swakopmund
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND FOR BEER & GIN LOVERS
47. Taste Namibian Craft Beer in Namib Dunes Brewery
Namib Dunes is our favorite craft brewery in Namibia. All their beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized. Pale ale is our favorite.
Craft beer culture is still a new thing in Namibia: Swakopmund-born Namib Dunes is the country’s largest independent craft brewery. You can get their beer already in many lodges and restaurants around Namibia, but the brewery is of course the best place for true tasting sessions!
48. Taste Namibian Craft Gin in Stillhouse Atlantic Craft Distillery
Following the footsteps of South Africa, Namibia has learned the art of distilling some excellent small-batch craft gins. Gin tasting in Stillhouse Atlantic Craft Distillery opens your taste buds for different aromas of the famous Namibian gin. Stillhouse is located conveniently next to Namib Dunes Brewery.
Our favorite Namibian gin, oak-barrel rested Devil’s Claw version of Desolate Gin, is produced by craft distillery from Walvis Bay. You can organize gin tastings at Copper & Coal Distillery – or just pop in to buy their liquid gold.
50. Visit Bavarian Brewery Pub in Namibia: Swakopmund Brauhaus
Taste more German beers in Swakopmund Brauhaus! Atmospheric Bavarian-style brewery cum pub setting in the middle of a picturesque shopping arcade that’s named after it (Brauhaus Arcade) makes you believe that you’re somewhere in Germany.
51. Grab a Tasting Platter at in Swakopmund Brewing Company / Brewer & Butcher
Swakopmund Brewing Company has a lovely terrace in the Mole: order a tasting platter and sip in-house brewed German-style beers while gazing at the Atlantic and Palm Beach. If you like meat, pair the beers with adjoining Brewer & Butcher’s meat-heavy menu. You can also take a microbrewery tour here.
Taste Namibian craft beers in Namib Dunes Brewery Pub in Swakopmund
52. Find the Best Terrace in Swakopmund
Once again – this one is a matter of taste and we urge you to explore the terraces of Swakopmund to find your own favorites. If it’s chilly, most terraces have heaters and plankets.
Without further ado, here are our terrace picks all around the town:
Bar Zonder Naam: The best terrace in Swakopmund if you don’t need ocean view. Frequently live music. Cozy atmosphere (outside and inside). The best craft gin selection in Swakopmund and creative gin cocktails with garnished ice cubes; a great craft beer and wine selection (it’s called a wine bar for a reason).
The Tug for sundowners right by the famous Jetty and Atlantic rollers
Two Beards Coffee Roastery for coffee and lunch amidst tropical courtyard – excellent spot for digital nomads to catch up with work
Ocean Cellar for lunch or dinner with view over the Palm Beach
Brewer & Butcher / Swakopmund Brewing Company for a German beer with those Palm Beach views
53. Late Night Cold Ones in Kücki’s Pub
Kücki’s Pub is a local legend, it’s the number one small-town local pub in Swakopmund. Go there for the cold ones (don’t expect craft beer or gin) or honest pub grub. Kücki’s Pub is never empty and atmosphere is always welcoming!
The lovely terrace and yard of Two Beards Coffee Roasters in Swakopmund
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND FOR FAMILIES
54. Visit Swakopmund’s Aquarium: National Marine Aquarium of Namibia
You cannot miss Swakopmund’s Aquarium while strolling through the beach promenade. Pop in for a quick introduction to the marine life of Atlantic – especially if you don’t have time for a cruise!
Swakopmund’s Aquarium is the only one of its kind in Namibia. You can see sharks, sting rays, turtles, and many more fascinating Atlantic fish species.
Practical tips for visiting Swakopmund’s Aquarium:
Be sure to visit during the feeding time (daily at 3PM). If you can, schedule your aquarium visit for Tuesday, Saturday, or Sunday when feeding is done by the divers.
The coolest thing is a huge tank with a long tunnel, which gives the feeling that you’re surrounded with the scary beasts of the ocean.
Don’t forget to visit upstairs, as well, to see the upper part of the fish tank. There are less crowds!
Opening times of Swakopmund Aquarium: Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-4PM
CLOSED ON MONDAYS
Lovely Swakopmund Aquarium lies by the shore of Atlantic
55. Visit Living Desert Snake Park
Swakopmund’s Living Desert Snake Park is among family favorites in Namibia. It has 60 resident snakes (both venomous and invenomous) complimented with some chameleons, agamas, scorpions and other creatures.
Reptiles are frequently abandoned at their doorstep, including exotic, rare, and smuggled species. Please note that we haven’t personally visited Living Desert Snake Park but have heard about their good reputation.
56. Ride Camels or Horses in Swakop River Valley
Swakopmund Camel Farm offers short camel rides along Swakop River Valley for kids and adults alike (20 minutes for kids 100NAD/$6 and for adults 200NAD/$12).
Please note that we haven’t personally vetted the site, but locals have told us that it’s a reputable family business. Swakopmund Camel Farm is 12 km out of the city.
You can also go ride horses along Swakop River Valley. The stables of Okakambe Horse Trails are nearby the camel farm, also 12 km away from Swakopmund. Short rides span from one to three hours; also 15-minute pony rides are available for the kids (160NAD per 15 minutes). Long rides can take you to the stunning desert sceneries, where you can also spot wildlife if you’re lucky.
BEST GUIDED TOURS IN SWAKOPMUND
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM SWAKOPMUND
Cape Cross Seal Colony and Skeleton Coast
Spitzkoppe’s Rocky Mountains
Pelican Pay for Cape Cross Seals, and Birds
Cruise for Spotting Seals, Dolphins, Whales, and Birds
Dune 7: The Highest Dune in the World
Sossusvlei Desert and Deadvlei Pan
Namib Desert: Welwitschia Plants, Desert Animals, and Moon Landscape
Walvis Bay Lagoon for Flamingos
4×4 Tour to the Sandwich Harbor
BEST ADRENALINE ACTIVITIES IN SWAKOPMUND
Quad Bike Tours in the Desert
Skydiving upon the Namib Desert
Horseback Riding in the Swakop River Valley
4×4 Self-Drive to Sandwich Harbor
Surfing in the Atlantic (only for experienced surfers)
Take a day tour from Swakopmund to find Cape fur seals
BIZARRE TOURS & SIGHTS IN SWAKOPMUND
57. Hunt Down Mad Max Filming Locations in Swakopmund and Around Namib Desert
Oh yes, “Mad Max: Fury Road” was filmed in Namibia, although it wasn’t planned so. The first Mad Max movies were all filmed in Australia, but before filming of Fury Road, rains turned the Outback green and flowery, bringing the filming crew to ever arid – post-apocalypse dystopia friendly – Namib Desert.
The scene where Imperator Furiosa’s (Charlize Theron) war rig fell apart was filmed on the salt pans near Walvis Bay called Paaltjies.
Blanky Flats near Henties Bay marks the filming location for the epic armada chase rides through the desert. You can go off-roading through the same desert landscape if you wish, although 4×4 vehicle is required.
The rest of the epic action scenes were filmed in Namib-Naukluft National Park (the canyon sceneries can be found near Welwischia drive) and Spitzkoppe. It’s easy to recognize the rocky silhouette of Spitzkoppe in the movie, and it was the location for some of the basecamps.
Wanna hang out in Swakopmund like Mad Max crew? Book a dinner table from Wreck!
Hungry for hunting down more filming locations? Namib Desert has set scenes also for The Mummy (starring Tom Cruise).
58. Check out Filming Locations of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “10.000BC” in Spitzkoppe
A Space Odyssey’s “The Dawn of Man” opening sequence was filmed in Spitzkoppe, although most of the 1968 film was produced in the studios of UK.
Also Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 BC was filmed in Namib Desert and Spitzkoppe.
Sunset hour in Spitzkoppe, Namibia
59. See the Old Prison (Alte Gefängnis) for the Chills
From outside, you wouldn’t believe that this impressive, ornamental colonial-era building was constructed and used as a prison. Guess what? It still houses a prison!
The Old Prison was built in 1909 and claimed as a national monument in the 70s. You can see similarities with the Old Court, which was built by the same German architect Otto Erlt. It might be the most beautiful prison building in the world!
Please note that Alte Gefängnis is a working prison, so you don’t really want to get inside.
Address: Alte Gefänglis, Garoeb Street, Swakopmund (slightly off the old city)
60. Visit Old German Cemetery
Another quirky favorite of ours: cemeteries! Historical and old cemeteries are the best. If you have time, pop by the Swakop River to see the Old German Cemetery, dating back to the colonial era.
61. Photograph Skeleton Coast’s Shipwrecks (Nearest to Swakopmund)
Notorious Skeleton Coast proves its name in form of decaying shipwrecks that are peppered along the coastline north of Swakopmund. Zeila shipwreck nearby Hentiesbay is the easiest one to visit from Swakopmund: just drive north C34 from Swakopmund almost to Hentiesbay.
The photogenic Zeila wreck is visible from the road, appr. 14 kilometers before Hentiesbay. As many other wrecks, Zeila hosts Cape cormorants and other birds, making it even more enticing sight for photographers. There’s a fake skeleton in sand at the site and always a couple of locals selling crafts.
Zeila makes a welcoming break if you’re driving through Skeleton Coast or from Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe or Damaraland. We’ve visited the site trice: it’s a nice stop for photographers.
BONUS: WHAT NOT TO DO IN SWAKOPMUND: SKIP THESE SIGHTS
61. Visit Uranium Mine
Whereas visiting uranium mines is not quite on our list, it’s possible to visit Rössing Uranium Mine in Swakopmund. Tours are organized by Swakopmund Scientific Society on first Friday every month.
Uranium was first discovered in the Namib desert in 1928, and the country’s first uranium mine Rössing Uranium was launched in 1976. Nowadays, Rössing produces 4% of world’s uranium oxide. Namibian government is one of its shareholders.
Please note that we don’t support mining, as it affects environment and the health of the miners. We haven’t and wouldn’t visit the mine ourselves.
62. Questionable Colonial Monuments in Swakopmund
Due to the colonial history, there are some questionable monuments in Swakopmund – and in Namibia – that represent colonialism and racial oppression.
The Marine Memorial (Marine Denkmal) in Swakopmund is an unfortunate example of these remnants of colonialism. It’s a statue of two German soldiers, one with a rifle in hand and another fallen, built in 1908 as a monument of Germany’s suppression of Namibia’s Herero and Nama people under colonial rule.
Between 1904 and 1908, the German Empire killed appr. 80% of Herero and half of Nama people in the Herero wars. The bloody period is also better called the first genocide of the 20th century or Herero and Nama genocide. Here’s an interesting article about Herero and Nama genocide and its aftermath.
See pelicans in Walvis Bay Lagoon or other birding sites near Swakopmund
How to Get to Swakopmund
Getting From Windhoek to Swakopmund & From Swakopmund to Windhoek
Most tourists travel to Swakopmund from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
Driving is the most popular way to get from Windhoek to Swakopmund, and it offers stunning sceneries. If you’re planning to rent a car in Namibia, you’re probably driving from Windhoek to Swakopmund. Many tourists and business travelers opt to fly, but we’ll describe below why it’s not necessarily the best idea.
Getting from Windhoek to Swakopmund by a Car or Shuttle
The drive between Windhoek and Swakopmund takes around 3,5-4,5 hours depending on traffic, weather, and your car. Bizarre fact: Namibians like to calculate distances rather in hours than in kilometers.
Shuttles between Windhoek and Swakopmund are a convenient, affordable, and ecological way to cut the distance (compared to flying). We’ve used several shuttle companies for the Windhoek-Swakopmund leg, and can only recommend Swakopmund-based Welwitchia Shuttle Service. http://welwitschiashuttle.com/ Luckily, they are also among the cheapest shuttles that you can be between Swakopmund and Windhoek.
Getting from Windhoek to Swakopmund by Plane
Flying from Windhoek to Swakopmund is an easy option in theory. AirNamibia has one daily flight between Windhoek and Walvis Bay (Swakopmund doesn’t have its own airport). The flight takes only 40 minutes and offers beautiful sceneries.
We’ve done it twice for the speed but would recommend to think twice before booking. Getting to the international airport in Windhoek (Hosea Kutako) takes time (reserve at least one hour and prepare to pay at least 300NAD per person one-way for the taxi). Same thing goes with the taxi or shuttle from Walvis Bay airport to Swakopmund. Add at least 2-hour waiting time at the airport and frequently delayed flights. Thus, driving (or a shuttle) can be quicker and more hassle-free option between Windhoek and Swakopmund than flying.
In theory, you can also take a train between Windhoek and Swakopmund, but it would be even slower than driving.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Swakopmund
Pack warm layers for chilly nights, especially during the winter months (April to October)
Pack a rain jacket (Swakopmund can be foggy and rainy like London)
Check all the available activities, sights and day tours from Swakopmund before deciding how many days you will spend in Swakopmund. Many tourists reserve too short time for visiting Swakopmund and don’t have enough time for all the exciting day trips!
If you stay just one day in Swakopmund, it’s hard to squeeze in a day tour, unless you skip some of the main sights in the city (or rent a bike and prepare to have a hectic day: check out our suggested one day itinerary at the beginning of this article)
Book your accommodation from the center (unless you have bikes to explore the city as locals or a rental car)
Roadside craft stall in Spitzkoppe
Swakopmund is fourth biggest city in Namibia, after Windhoek, Rundu, and nearby Walvis Bay. It’s a capital of Erongo district.
Swakopmund’s population hovers just under 45 000.
What Does Swakopmund Mean?
The word Swakopmund means “mouth of Swakop” in German, referring to the fact that Swakop River flows to the Atlantic at the southern point of the city.
Name “Swakop” is adapted from the indegenous languages of Damara and Nama, where it was called Tsoaxaub.
Bizarre fact: “tsoa” means opening or anus and “xaub” means excrement. Tsoaxaub describes the muddy discharge that the river releases to the Atlantic during the rainy season. The first adaption of the Nama word was “Swachaub”, which was turned into Swakopmund in 1896, when the district was declared independent.
How Old is Swakopmund?
Swakopmund was founded in 1892 as the main harbor of German South West Africa, as a competitor to British owned Walvis Bay.
Who Founded Swakopmund and Who Were the First Settlers?
The founder was German Schutztruppe captain Curt von François. The first settlers were 120 German soldiers and 40 civilians.
Which is the Best Time to Visit Swakopmund?
Always! Swakopmund is a year-round destination.
Summer months (November to April) are the best time to visit Swakopmund if you enjoy pleasant summer weather with the highest day temperatures from 23C to 30C. December, January and February are the hottest months in Swakopmund.
Winter months (May to October) are the best time for wildlife watching in Namibia and thus popular tourist season. Winter brings relatively cold weather to desert and the cities on Atlantic coast (Swakopmund and Luderitz). During winter, daily high temperatures in Swakopmund hover around 20C and the night temperatures can drop under 10C.
In our opinion, Swakopmund is at its best during Namibian summer months, when temperatures are warmer and you can (almost) comfortably plunge into the Atlantic to cool off!
We fell in love with Swakopmund so badly that we extended our supposed vacation into 2-month stay – and ended up returning twice! Swakopmund has so many exciting sights, activities, and things to do for all travelers, that we recommend to double your planned stay. If you have visited this lovely coastal town, please let us know in the comments your favorite things to do in Swakopmund!
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