Swakopmund Cities and Towns
Swakopmund may not be its official capital, but it's Namibia's adventure and extreme sports capital. A popular holiday destination, it is a coastal city more geared towards tourists than Windhoek. Its appeal includes a pleasant summer climate, the seaside setting, its distinctly German flavour and the myriad adventure activities on offer. Swakopmund is a convenient gateway and ideal stopover for trips heading south into the Namib Desert and the Fish River Canyon; or northwards along the Skeleton Coast into Damaraland and on to Etosha Park.
* Swakopmund Highlights
- ∞Beaches and seaside lifestyle
- ∞Adventure activities: skydiving, hot air ballooning, scenic flights, sandboarding, horse trekking into the desert, quad biking and more
- ∞Fishing and cruising
- ∞Visits to Cape Cross seal colony
- ∞Distinct German character: architecture, cuisine, heritage, locals, visitors and cultural influences
- ∞Historical mining tours
- ∞Cultural tours to local villages
A visit to this interesting city is a strange throwback to colonial times, especially in the quiet season when it feels almost surreal, as if you've stepped back in time in an ancient Germanic city. Buffered between the sweltering Namib desert and the icy Atlantic Ocean, Swakopmund overflows with holiday-makers and buzzes with activity during the peak summer season (December and January). Its a favourite place with the locals as it's generally cooler, giving a much-needed respite from the sweltering heat experienced in the interior.
Things to Do in Swakopmund
One of the great things about Swakopmund is that it offers both adrenalin-pumping pursuits and leisurely sightseeing excursions. You can take in some hectic quad-biking across the sand dunes ... or drive to the desert to see the almost prehistoric welwitschia plants.
Founded in 1892 when Namibia was colonized by the Germans, Swakopmund has retained much of this European influence. of the architecture with its domes, turrets and towers destinctly reflects German grandeur from bygone days. There's also a very European-style café culture with loads of small sidewalk eateries and diners. You'll also find most of the locals speak fluent German.
Besides a wealth of adventure and adrenalin activities, from quad biking to paragliding and scenic flights to duneboarding, there are many popular sights and attractions worth a visit, including:
The world's largest open-cast uranium mine, situated about 55km east of Swakopmund, is a huge contributor to Swakopmund's economy. Tours are around 3 hours long and only available twice a month, so please enquire in advance.
Established as a hotel in 1906, this is an exceptional example of German architecture, with intricate details and embellishments. Today, it is sectional title apartments.
Otavi Railway Station
This turn-of-the-20th-Century Otavi Railway is in the city centre.
The Woermann House
Dating back to 1905, this stately building was erected as offices and living quarters for the Damara and Namaqua Trading Company. Later renamed Woermann, Brock & Co, this retail company still trades in Swakopmund and other towns in Namibia.
On the southern side of town, you'll find the Hansa Brewery,established by the German settlers' and still contributing to the daily diet of the local folk.
Welwitschia Desert Trip
This odd looking shrub grows in the Namib Desert. It's said to have only two leaves which curl and twist. These prehistoric plants receive water from the sea mists from the icy Atlantic and live for over 1,000 years.
Situated next to the lighthouse, this museum is a treasure-trove of all thing botanical, with displays depicting the enormous variety of Namibian/desert vegetation as well as the wealth of wildlife that make this area their home.
This town landmark was built by the Germans in 1903.
By road: It's about a 4 hour drive from Windhoek. Regular buses service this route and road transfers are available.
By air: The closest airport to Swakopmund is in the town of Walvis Bay, a 30-minute drive away. Air Namibia offers regional flights and international arrivals Cape Town, Johannesburg and further afield.
Related LocationsNamib Desert & Sossusvlei Dunes
Sossusvlei epitomizes the exquisite desert experience of Namibia, with its endless sea of dunes. The blazing-ochre Sossusvlei dunes rise up over 320m tall, making them some of the world's highest sand forms. These forever-shifting dunes are constantly reshaped by the winds into the sandy valleys, slopes and peaks of the ancient Namib. The reds, oranges, yellows and caramel browns of the soft dunes, and the bleached whites and washed-out pastel shades of the pans, are continuously transformed as the seasons turn and the light plays on the desert landscapes - glowing at dusk and dawn.
More about Namib Desert & Sossusvlei Dunes
Famous for its arresting desert scenery and outstanding game viewing, Namibia is one of Southern Africa's top travel destinations. Its most captivating attraction, the ancient Namib Desert, presents endless ochre dunes and parched salt pans, whilst the game viewing gem of Etosha National Park offers a world-class safari experience. Natural wonders include the Fish River Canyon, Etosha Pan, Sossusvlei, Waterberg Plateau and the fertile Caprivi Strip.
More about Namibia