Harare Zimbabwe is not only the nation's capital, but also its largest city and its political and economic capital. A pleasant, light-filled city, Harare has a laid-back atmosphere, several nice parks, and a range of artistic and cultural offerings such as galleries and museums. Unfortunately, due to political instability in recent years, much of the city has fallen into disrepair. Nevertheless, the city remains a must-see on any Harare travel and has several attractions for the tourist.
Founded in 1890, Harare now has more than 1.6 million residents and is the location of Zimbabwe's main airport, Harare International Airport. It is also the home of the University of Zimbabwe, an internationally recognized university with a history of producing successful students. The city of Harare Zimbabwe was designed with several open natural parks and spaces for residents to enjoy the outdoors. Those on Harare travel should consider going for a stroll in the National Botanic Gardens, which contains more than 900 species of wild shrubs and plants from around the country, and the Mukuvisi Woodlands, an expanse of preserved natural woodland housing wildlife such as giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, and impalas.
Those interested in the history and culture of Zimbabwe should also pay a visit to the Harare National Gallery, one of the top attractions in Harare. The gallery is internationally recognized with many traveling exhibitions, and it is also the best place in Harare to view exquisite authentic Shona stone sculptures. (The Shona are Zimbabwe's largest population group.) The Harare National Gallery played a key role in helping the country to develop an appreciation for its indigenous art culture by funding and encouraging artists in the 1960s and 1970s, allowing Zimbabwean art to be recognized on a global scale, and a visit here is an essential part of any Harare travel experience. Other historical and cultural institutions worth a visit include the Queen Victoria Museum, the Queen Victoria National Library, and the National Archives, which house some fascinating original explorer's accounts from famous explorers and missionaries.
For those who enjoy shopping, some of the best attractions in Harare will be the open-air flea markets that have sprung up in several neighborhoods around the city. Although the government tried to curb informal trading in 2005 by razing several market neighborhoods, many of these flea markets have returned, including one of the most famous street markets in Harare, the Mbare flea market. There tourists can browse the colorful baskets, handicrafts, food, clothing, and other souvenirs.
When shopping or exploring the attractions in Harare has tired you out, Harare Zimbabwe has an impressive array of restaurants and cafés geared toward tourists and expatriates such as diplomats or NGO workers. At many restaurants you can sample traditional Zimbabwean food such as sadza, a cornmeal porridge served with greens and/or meat, or enjoy American and European food. Several of the outdoor cafés are a great place to sit and people-watch, and many also have wireless internet, great coffee, and landscaped gardens. An excellent five-star hotel, the Meikles Hotel, is available, as are several other international chains such as the Holiday Inn and the Crowne Plaza.