Blantyre is the economic capital of Malawi.
The name Blantyre originates from the birthplace of the missionary Dr David Livingston, who was born in Blantyre, Scotland. Blantyre is the main commercial city in Malawi.
Get in edit
By plane edit
Malawi airlines has flights between Johannesburg (South Africa) and Blantyre. Air Malawi also flies to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Harare (Zimbabwe), Lusaka (Zambia), and Nairobi (Kenya). there are taxis to city centre. or you can walk to the highways and get a bus.(kwacha).
- 1 Chileka International Airport (16 km (9 mi) north of the city.).
By train edit
Rail services to Blantyre are close to non-existent and not practical at all for the everyday tourist. However, for the intrepid traveler, Central Eastern African Railways[dead link] offers some possibilities for arriving by train in Blantyre. The border with Mozambique at Nayuchi/Entre Lagos is a mere 22 hours away including a change at Balaka, and services are once a week. That there are no trains from the capital Lilongwe.
- 2 Blantyre railway station (Past the tracks, first exit to the right after clock tower roundabout).
By car edit
Take the M1 south from Lilongwe.
By bus edit
Get around edit
For the budget traveller there are basically two ways of getting around Blantyre: by foot or by minibus.
By day it is quite safe to walk around Blantyre provided you don't look like a rich tourist, in which case you may be unpleasantly tailed by street vendors and beggars. It is possible to explore the entire city of Blantyre on foot within a couple of days, and unless you are travelling to Limbe or to the outer suburbs of Blantyre, then it is unlikely you'll require even the minibus.
In the event that you do, then minibuses are very cheap, travelling between Blantyre and Limbe costs MK 350 (as of January 2018). Or you may consider hiring a bicycle if you are that way inclined.
It is unsafe to walk around Blantyre during the night and you should obtain the phone numbers of a few reliable taxi drivers (talk to some of the locals). Taxis are relatively more expensive, and the price also depends on how far the driver has to come to pick you up, but this is much preferable to being mugged in a dark Blantyre street late at night. As a general rule all taxi drivers begin at the Mount Soche Hotel.
- 1 Mandala House, Mackie Rd, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM–4:15PM, and Saturday mornings. One of the oldest buildings in Blantyre and has spacious grounds with a children's playground. Houses the La Caverna Art Gallery, with great carvings and a museum section upstairs. There's also a popular cafe at the grounds, the cafe serves US$6–8 lunches, various coffees, ice-cream, and cake.
- 2 Museum of Malawi (Chichiri Museum), Kasungu Crescent (Midwat between Blantyre and Limbe, a 500m walk from Chichiri Shopping Mall), ☏ . The national museum of Malawi. Artifacts includes a royal ceremonial stool from the 16th century and an exhibition of traditional dances, the Gule Wamkulu.
- 3 St. Michael and All Angels Church (Off old Chileka Road, up the hill from clock tower roundabout, past the bus station and private hospital on your left and then next left), ☏ . Described as the first permanent church between the Zambezi and the Nile, this church was designed by David Scott, a Scottish missionary, with help of local workers. Scott had no architectural or building experience at all and there were no written plans. This was just as well as The Church of Scotland would have stopped his plans had they known how ambitious they were. He was also writing a language dictionary at the time of building. This also is where Blantyre was founded when a local chief gave land to the Scottish missionaries and a slave freed by David Livingstone.
- Record a Song, Synod Offices, CCAP Blantyre Mission, Chileka Road (Get yourself first to St Michael and All Angels Church. From the front door face down the hill and ahead and on your left you will see some offices. Go in and check that they are the Synod Offices and ask for the recording studios or the music director). Daily 8AM-4:30PM. Did Malawi put a song into your heart? Why not go straight to a very reasonably priced recording studio and proceed directly onto stardom. Ask for the music director at the Synod offices and see the prices on offer.
- Society of Malawi (Situated above the Mandala House) is a great place to visit if you enjoy a quiet, historic place to research life both past and present in Malawi and Africa in general. The library and archives are open weekdays from 9AM to noon and the last Thursday of the month from 6-7:30PM. See their website for more updated details regarding special functions, a searchable index of scholarly papers available, etc.
Blantyre is the commercial center of Malawi and travelers come in from all over the region (including neighboring Mozambique) to stock up on supplies—food, construction materials, electronics, etc. The downtown area is full of Asian (Indian) run shops, as is nearby Limbe. A bustling market area popular with locals offers all kinds of fruits, veggies, used clothing, construction materials, etc. on the cheap. Newer Western-style shops are available for those who just want to get in and get out (i.e. Game hypermarket part of Walmart USA. and Shoprite South Africa, Chichiri Savers Choice is a well-stocked Asian run store heading toward Limbe that caters to the expat community with hard-to-find food items, a good bakery, an ice-cream bar and candy shop. Prices for the same thing can often vary from shop to shop and an abundance of counterfeited products flood the market, so it's best to shop around and stay on guard.
- Ecobank Victoria Aveune has a no withdwaw fee Mastercard and visa card atm.
- Vendors are all over the streets in Blantyre. They sell a range of food items from fried chips, chicken, to hard boiled eggs, bread (mostly milkscone variety and yellow buns), biscuits (locally made from Universal Industries), and so on. Plenty of ripe fruit and vegetables are also readily available for a good price. On the whole, however, street food is nowhere near as tasty as many other African countries tend to offer.
- Chez Maky, a delightful out-of-the-way respite from the city, is a great place to get together with business associates or a few friends (space is available for conferences). Situated on a multi-level wooden deck protected from rain, the proprietor is a delightful host originally from Cameroon who makes everyone feel right at home. Grilled meat is particularly well-done here (some of the best in the country) and real coffee with desserts are a nice addition to any meal. Located on Kabula Hill Road past Seventh Day Adventist Hospital (just go past the hospital, which will be on your right, go on the road straight till you see a sign on your left, go straight on that road, third house on your left. Open every day from 8 to 10PM. +265 9203029, +265 1833764
- China Da Restaurant and Lodge is a newly opened restaurant, the largest Chinese restaurant in town with an expansive menu. The roast duck is a must try. They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and meals can be had for less than 1000 MK. There are 5 private dining rooms for parties, complete with television and karaoke. A full liquor bar serves Western spirits as well as Chinese varieties. For a truly luxurious experience, go for a Chinese massage in the attached massage parlor before you enjoy dinner. The location is very convenient, centrally located between Blantyre and Limbe, directly across the street from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The address is Ginnery corner (Johnstone Road) behind People's Trading Center. Phone +265 888953333 or 1880882 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jungle Pepper, ☏ . W-Su 10:30-21:00. A wide assortment of pizza and Portuguese food. Very tasty!
- 21 Grill, at Ryalls Hotel. The attention the servers give you is alone worth a reason to go (far superior to most other places where 'service' is not really a thing people know about). +265 1 820 955.
- Bombay Palace, ☏ . Opposite Ryalls Hotel, offers delicious authentic Indian cuisine. Reservations are recommended as it can be busy on weekend evenings.
- L'Hostaria, ☏ . Authentic Italian.
- Basement. Very up-market bar/club located near KFC. Featuring an indoor swimming pool alongside the bar as well as a highly impressive and ever expanding collection of whiskeys.
- 1 Blue Elephant, Kidney Crescent, ☏ . Very busy bar at weekends, easily accessible from Doogles lodge by taxi for about MK700.
- Colony Club Casino, Amaryllis Hotel, Laws Road, ☏ .
- Mount Pleasant Inn, Mahatma Gandhi Td, ☏ . $107 (Mar 2022).
- Grace Bandawe Conference Centre, (old) Chileka Road (from the centre of town turn left (up the hill) from the Clock Tower roundabout onto Chileka Road. Pass the bus depot and Mwaiwathu private hospital on your left. Go straight through traffic lights and under a footbridge and it is next on your right - opposite Phoenix International Primary School), ☏ . A quiet place near St Michael and All Angels Church and run by the CCAP (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian). Nice place for a quiet coffee in their gardens and grounds even if you don't stop for the night. US$30-50.
- Casa Mia Lodge & Restaurant, Kabula Hill Road (past Blantyre Adventist Hospital), ☏ . Beautiful accommodation with gardens and views.
- 1 Doogles (Follow the dirt road past the bus station and taxis), ☏ . Check-in: 24 hours, check-out: noon. Mulonga place, near the bus station, this South-African run place is a travellers' meeting place. Very popular among expatriates and is quite lively around happy hour. Skyband Wi-Fi access, pool, convenient location. over priced double room US$50. Dorm US$15 per person..
- Kabula Lodge, Hardman Rd. An old family run establishment 10 minutes walking distance from the centre of Blantyre. Rooms start from 15 USD/night. Standard rooms have two single beds and common bathroom facilities. If you would like to have one of the cheap rooms it is recommended to book at least 6–8 weeks in advance and confirm by email, though they have been known to overbook. All rooms have ordinary mosquito nets (no permethrin). There is a laundry and ironing service (MK 1000), but take tough clothes, as everything is done by hand! Safe-keeping facilities are available and US dollars can usually be exchanged for Kwacha if necessary. Skyband wi-fi access on patio, though you must purchase access cards (MK 500 for 30 minutes). Turn left at the top of Victoria Avenue (where the Mount Soche Hotel is) and walk approx. 100m up Glynn Jones Road. Turn right onto Kabula Hill Road (follow the signs) and then turn left onto Hardman Road. Walk up then down the hill and you will reach two unsealed dirt roads proceeding left. Both are signposted, the second leads to Kabula Hill Lodge which is the second-to-last residence at the end of this road. Do not walk this road after sunset, call a taxi. Phone: +265 991 39 15 01 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Malawi Sun Hotel & Conference Centre, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-out: 10AM. A favourite among international and local guests alike. Malawi Sun Hotel & Conference is a unique blend of ethnic beauty, excellent cuisine and the warm service of Malawi (the Warm Heart of Africa). This hotel has secure parking, DSTV, wifi internet, laundry facilities, room safes, a fast food outlet, an ice-cream parlour, a convenience store, a gaming arcade and two exquisite restaurants. US $126+.
- China Da Lodge, ☏ . Single and double rooms with private bathrooms (clean hot showers) and cable television. Price of room inludes free western or Chinese breakfast. There is free wi-fi access in all rooms. An attached massage parlor is available. The location is especially convenient for physicians, as it is located directly across the street from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. It is advisable to book a room in advance. US$30 for a single room, US$35 for a double room.
- Villa 33, ☏ . Comfortable accommodation in renovated, en suite rooms. The premises has secure parking and each room is equipped with TV, fan, electronic safe and Queen size beds. All rooms can connect to the internet through a wireless hotspot. Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis.
Stay safe edit
Night time muggings or robberies do occur. Private taxis are cheap and readily available. Ask around and bargain.
There is an internet cafe (and library) near Phoenix International School. Come off Chileka Road either at St Michael and All Angels Church or at Phoenix School. From there ask around for directions to the 'Resource Centre and Library' - or failing that ask for directions to Phoenix School.
From the Phoenix International School entrance itself you would head down the gentle slope (away from the main road - which would be down a steeper slope) and there is a building directly in front of you. That is where the internet cafe, resource centre and library is located. The entrance to the school faces directly towards the Phoenix School gates.
Lewis (+265 999 220 572) is the manager and will quickly get you online for a modest fee.
- Greece, P.O. Box. 1740, Blantyre, ☏ , fax: .