Home to over 50 different countries, you may be wondering which are the most visited cities in Africa. Yet, the continent has the best cities to explore.
African cities are vibrant, eclectic, and culturally rich, and the majority are modern affairs set to a beautiful backdrop.
Africa has exciting cities for all travelers, from fast-paced and sprawling metropolises like Cairo, Lagos, and Johannesburg to cities like Stone Town in Zanzibar, where the pace of life moves slowly.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, around 1.04 million international tourists visited the continent. Selected for their diversity and beauty, here is a list of 8 of Africa’s most visited cities.
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Johannesburg, the biggest city in South Africa, is among the most visited cities in Africa. For cultural lovers, Johannesburg has over 40 art galleries and hosts cultural studios and institutes throughout the year.
The Art Gallery in the city features several landscapes and paintings while Market Theatre stages several Anti-Apartheid plays. The city also has a UNESCO-listed archaeological area that displays the cradle of humankind.
Johannesburg Zoo and Lion Park are some of the major attractions for wildlife lovers. City restaurants offer a variety of cuisine, including local and international dishes.
The most visited city in Africa, Johannesburg, receives about 4.3 million international overnight visitors annually. This proves the city has become a world-class African destination.
Cape TownThe second most visited city in Africa is Cape Town, with a flock of over 1.6 million tourists annually. Located at the base of Table Mountain and on the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities for its mix of natural beauty.
The city is home to a string of beautiful white sand beaches and a plethora of natural attractions such as climbing to the top of Lion’s Head to view the sunrise or hiking on Table Mountain.
Cape Town is also culturally rich with a myriad of museums, galleries, and historical attractions, like Robben Island, where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
Third on the list of Africa’s most visited cities is Cairo, Egypt’s capital. Right on the banks of the Nile River, Cairo is Africa’s largest city and home to several international media and business organisations
Dubbed the “city that never sleeps,” Cairo is a chaotic and bustling city. There is always something going on in this sprawling metropolis, where ancient culture meets modern skyscrapers.
The city is a preferred destination for most visitors because of the historical sites, cultural heritage, architectural designs, nature, and hospitable people. Some of the attraction sites include the Egyptian Museum, Mosque of Muhammad Ali, Pyramid ruins, Babylon fortress, Tahir Square with its central traffic circle, and Rhode Island.
Stone Town, Zanzibar
Stone Town is an old coastal trading town, and one of the most visited in Africa. Located on Zanzibar island, Stone Town is the heart and soul of the island.
The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with winding alleys and old riads, with their intricate carved wooden doorways that serve as guesthouses now.
Marrakesh in Morocco is the fifth most visited city is in Africa. The city is filled with ancient architecture and modern culture.
It is home to a vibrant medieval walled medina. Visitors wander in its narrow maze-like streets, full of souks (marketplaces) selling traditional goods, from jewellery to spices and textiles.
The city has five-star resorts and contemporary restaurants set next to ancient bazaars, souks, and markets.
Despite its traffic jams and crazy streets, Lagos comes in as another most visited city, with millions of international visitors every year. Lagos boasts great beaches, parks and exciting nightlife—it’s an African city that never sleeps.
The city is a preferred destination for visitors because of the several cultural heritage, nature, cuisine and people. The city has beach resorts, boutiques, National Museum Lagos, which displays Nigeria’s cultural artefacts and craftwork.
With its big port, and being home to Morocco’s primary airport, Casablanca attracts tourists to the city. Casablanca is a port city and commercial hub in western Morocco, fronting the Atlantic Ocean.
The city’s French colonial legacy is seen in Mauresque architecture, a blend of Moorish style and European art deco. Tourists stop to enjoy the city’s French colonial legacy, which is entwined with the traditional Arab culture, which ensures there are lots of diverse things in the city.
Visitors also love to visit the art déco buildings, old stone medina alleys, museums, palaces, and Hassan II Mosque, the second-largest mosque in the world. The mosque has a 210m minaret topped with lasers directed toward Mecca.
Accra, the capital of Ghana, holds sway as the 8th most visited city in Africa. Accra, a port city along the Atlantic Coast, boasts a huge variety of natural attractions. Right on the Atlantic coast, the beaches provide tourists with a memorable vacation. The city’s Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is one of the city’s monuments that draw tourists to Accra. The Makola Market, the popular seafront spots Labadi Beach and Kokrobite Beach are among visitors’ favorites when in Accra.
Interestingly, Accra is said to be one of the most peaceful and humble cities in West Africa.