Often overshadowed by the spectacle of Namibia’s more famous attractions, not everyone would agree that Windhoek is a destination in its own right.
But this German-influenced capital city is one of Africa’s secret gems. Windhoek is vibrant and refreshing; here, local culture meets Eurocentric modernism to create an irresistible vibe – if you’re willing to give the city a chance to reveal its authentic self, that is.
Settled by the Germans in the 1890s and sprinkled with colonial buildings (and even a few remaining castles), Windhoek feels like a slice of Bavaria in the desert. It’s a picturesque city surrounded by the Khomas Highland and the Auas and Eros mountains, offering tourists an urban, palm tree-lined respite from long days spent exploring Namibia’s wilder landscapes.
Windhoek lies almost in the exact centre of Namibia and boasts the only international airport in the country. For this reason, most travellers will find themselves bookending their Namibian journeys with a day or two spent wandering among the city’s historic buildings, sidewalk cafés and shady parks.
Best time to visit
Despite its name, which translates as “Windy Corner,” Windhoek enjoys a relatively wind-free, dry and pleasant climate for most of the year. Summer (December to February) temperatures often soar above the 35°C (94°F) mark while most of the city’s annual rainfall is recorded in January, February and March, with occasional showers in November and December.
Combine Windhoek with:
- Northern Namibia: head north for dramatic landscapes in Damaraland and unbeatable wildlife viewing in Etosha.
- Coastal Namibia: explore Namibia’s coastline from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay.
- Southern Sands: discover the red sands of the Kalahari and experience the mighty sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
Windhoek is the socio-economic, political, and cultural centre of Namibia.
English, Afrikaans and German are the predominant languages spoken in Windhoek.
Two airports serve Windhoek: Hosea Kutako International Airport (situated only 42 km east of the city) and Eros Airport, which accommodates smaller aircraft.
Currency: Namibian Dollar
Colonial Architecture: the Christuskirche (1896) and Tintenpalast (1912) are beautiful representations of German colonial architecture, which mixes art nouveau and neo-Gothic influences.
Katutura township tour: visit key landmarks and learn about Namibia’s fascinating political history and diverse cultures.
Arts, crafts & curios: stroll among dozens of stalls at the Namibia Crafts Centre and Post Street Mall; shop authentic Namibian craftwork such as woven baskets, beadwork, Caprivian pots and handmade jewellery.
National Gallery: showcasing both 20th Century German-Namibian painters and contemporary art by Namibia’s up-and-coming young artists, this small museum is worth a visit.
Windhoek on the Map
TOP TRAVEL TIP: Windhoek is a great city to explore on foot. Take a stroll downtown where many of the city’s main sights are clustered, including the National Gallery, Namibia Craft Centre and Christuskirche.