Beyond the Safari: Urban Adventures in Africa’s Bustling Cities


For many travellers, Africa evokes images of wild savannahs, magnificent wildlife, and unparalleled safari experiences. While these aspects of the continent are undeniably alluring, Africa also offers vibrant and bustling cities that are well worth exploring. In this article, I’ll take you on a journey through some of the most fascinating urban centres in the countries that The Grown-up Travel Company serves. So, let’s dive into the world of urban adventures in Africa and discover the wonders that await you beyond the safari.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town sunset - Urban adventures in Africa

The Mother City’s Blend of Nature and Urban Excitement

Cape Town, affectionately known as the Mother City, is a breathtaking destination nestled between the iconic Table Mountain and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. This cosmopolitan city offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural diversity, and a rich history.

Exploring the V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is a must-visit destination for anyone venturing to Cape Town. This bustling harbour, located in the city’s historic heart, offers a variety of attractions, including shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. You can also visit the Two Oceans Aquarium or take a boat trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap Neighbourhood

The Bo-Kaap neighbourhood is famous for its brightly coloured houses, cobbled streets, and rich Cape Malay history. Stroll through this vibrant area, take pictures of the picturesque homes, and learn about the district’s unique heritage at the Bo-Kaap Museum.

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi greenery - Urban adventures in Africa

The Green City in the Sun

Nairobi, Kenya’s bustling capital, is affectionately known as the “Green City in the Sun” due to its lush parks and gardens. This thriving metropolis offers a unique blend of modern development and rich cultural heritage.

Nairobi National Park and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Located just a short drive from Nairobi’s city centre, Nairobi National Park offers the rare opportunity to spot wildlife such as lions, giraffes, and rhinos against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers. After exploring the park, pay a visit to the nearby David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where you can learn about elephant and rhino conservation efforts and even “adopt” an orphaned elephant.

The Colourful Maasai Market

For an authentic taste of Kenyan culture, don’t miss the Maasai Market, held at various locations throughout the city. Here, you can browse colourful stalls selling traditional Maasai crafts, clothing, and jewellery, all while interacting with the friendly vendors and experiencing Nairobi’s vibrant atmosphere.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Dynamic Capital of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, the bustling capital of Ethiopia, is often referred to as the “political capital of Africa” due to its historical, diplomatic, and political significance. The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, diverse population, and an array of fascinating attractions.

The National Museum of Ethiopia

The National Museum of Ethiopia is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s history and culture. The museum houses a diverse range of artefacts, from ancient fossils to traditional art and clothing. The most famous exhibit is the 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of Lucy, an early human ancestor.

Mercato, Africa’s Largest Open-Air Market

No trip to Addis Ababa would be complete without exploring the bustling Mercato, Africa’s largest open-air market. Covering several square kilometres, the market offers a fascinating insight into Ethiopian culture and daily life. Wander through the maze of stalls, discover local handicrafts, and sample delicious traditional cuisine.

Durban, South Africa

Durban beach - Urban adventures in Africa

The Seaside Gem of South Africa

Durban, a bustling coastal city in South Africa, is renowned for its golden beaches, warm subtropical climate, and vibrant cultural scene. The city is a melting pot of African, Indian, and European influences, creating a unique and diverse urban landscape.

Durban’s Golden Mile

The Golden Mile, stretching along Durban’s beachfront, is the city’s most iconic attraction. Lined with hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues, this lively promenade is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating jog. Don’t forget to take a dip in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean or catch a wave at one of the popular surf spots.

The Durban Botanic Gardens

Established in 1849, the Durban Botanic Gardens are the oldest surviving gardens in Africa. The gardens showcase a diverse collection of indigenous and exotic plants, including a remarkable collection of cycads, orchids, and palms. Take a leisurely walk through the gardens, marvel at the magnificent flora, and relax in the tranquil surroundings.

Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Thriving Capital

Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, is a vibrant city filled with striking architecture, lush green spaces, and a friendly atmosphere. Despite its tumultuous past, Harare has emerged as a dynamic urban centre with a thriving arts and culture scene.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe is a must-visit for art lovers. The gallery features an extensive collection of contemporary Zimbabwean art, showcasing the country’s rich artistic heritage. Regular exhibitions and events ensure there’s always something new and exciting to discover.

Mukuvisi Woodlands

Escape the bustling city streets and immerse yourself in nature at the Mukuvisi Woodlands, a beautiful nature reserve in the heart of Harare. Home to a variety of wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, and antelopes, the woodlands offer a unique opportunity to experience Zimbabwe’s natural beauty up close. Take a guided walk, explore the scenic trails, or enjoy a relaxing picnic in the serene surroundings.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tanzania’s Bustling Coastal Metropolis

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city and former capital, is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and diverse cultural influences. From lively markets to beautiful beaches, Dar es Salaam offers a unique urban adventure in the heart of East Africa.

Kariakoo Market

Experience the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam at Kariakoo Market, the city’s largest and most vibrant market. Discover a treasure trove of local produce, colourful textiles, and handmade crafts, all while getting a taste of the city’s dynamic atmosphere.

Coco Beach

Located along the Msasani Peninsula, Coco Beach is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. The beach offers a picturesque setting for sunbathing, swimming, and people-watching. Sample delicious street food from the nearby vendors, or simply relax and soak up the lively atmosphere.

Entebbe, Uganda

The Gateway to Uganda’s Natural Wonders

Entebbe, situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, is a charming city with a laid-back atmosphere and a rich colonial history. Often regarded as the gateway to Uganda’s natural wonders, Entebbe is the perfect starting point for exploring the country’s diverse landscapes and wildlife.

Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Established in 1898, the Entebbe Botanical Gardens showcase a diverse array of flora from across Uganda and beyond. Wander through the beautifully landscaped grounds, admire the lush tropical vegetation, and keep an eye out for the many bird species that call the gardens home.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

For an up-close encounter with Uganda’s fascinating wildlife, visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. This conservation centre and sanctuary is home to a variety of rescued and rehabilitated animals, including lions, elephants, and chimpanzees. Join a guided tour to learn more about the centre’s conservation efforts and the animals that reside here.


From the stunning landscapes of Cape Town to the rich history of Addis Ababa, the lively markets of Dar es Salaam to the picturesque beaches of Durban, Africa’s bustling cities offer a wealth of urban adventures waiting to be discovered. As you embark on your next African journey with The Grown-up Travel Company, make sure to venture beyond the safaris and immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures, captivating attractions, and unforgettable experiences that these dynamic cities have to offer.

Ready for some urban adventures in Africa? Contact The Grown-up Travel Company today to start planning your unforgettable city adventure!

Join Me in Zimbabwe in May 2025!

A unique adventure through Africa’s untamed beauty in May 2025. On this 9-night itinerary we will start with a stay in Victoria Falls and then explore two world-renowned areas of wonderful Zimbabwe: Hwange National Park and Lake Kariba.

Staying at two legendary camps, Bomani and Musango, we will get to experience the thrill of the wilderness in two very different ways.

“This small-group safari, limited to just six guests, is designed to ensure a truly immersive adventure for those with limited time but very high expectations.” – Andy Higgs

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