10 Best Places To Visit In Malawi, Africa

Wondering what are the best Malawi tourist attraction or best places to visit in Malawi? After spending three months in one of the most incredible countries we’ve ever been to, find out all of the best things to do in Malawi right here.

Malawi is known as Africa for beginners because of it’s ease to travel around, tourist charm and local friendliness. A lot of people volunteer in Malawi from the American Peace Corps to NGO’s and doctors. It might well be one of the poorest countries in Africa but Malawi packs a punch for it’s incredible landscape filled with mountains, beaches and turquoise waters.

And let’s not forget about the Malawian people. It’s true what they say, Malawian people are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!

1. Start At Malawi’s Capital City, Lilongwe

Mabuya Camp
Mabuya Camp, Lilongwe

If you are flying into Lilongwe, it’s the biggest city in Malawi and the place to stay as a traveller would be Mabuya Camp run by a British family.

We stayed at Longonots because it was cheaper for a double room and a bit nicer but Mabuya has a swimming pool and is more of a sociable place.

There’s not a huge amount to do in Lilongwe but you’ll find yourself heading back there often. The best thing are supermarkets where you can stock up on Western foods. Shoprite and Game are the big supermarkets, we even found a healthy cafe around the corner from Game which was so exciting! You’ll see that this is a total luxury!!

2. Visit Mzuzu In Malawi

Muzoozoo markets
Clothes shopping in Mzuzu

A good place to go to after Lilongwe would be to jump on a bus north to Mzuzu which will take about 6 hours. Buses can be a bit dramatic as you’ll often see about 20-30 people crammed into a 9 seater. Try to jump on one of the bigger buses if possible.

If you want to stay the night in Mzuzu then I recommend Muzoozoozoo for great food and friendly little place.

Mzuzu is brilliant for its brand new Shoprite and cracking clothes markets. I’ve found so many gems at these markets, from H&M to Levi’s, the list goes on. This is generally clothes donated from around the world which you’ll get for next to nothing. You’ll also find a lot of expats living here who are volunteering one way or another.

3. Relax In The Beautiful Nkhata Bay


Nkhata Bay in Malawi is a huge place for travellers and volunteers. A lot of volunteers flock here from all over Malawi for a good break from their work for the weekend or a week.

From Muzoozoo, jump on a mini bus for 1 hour’s drive to Nkhata Bay which is a small town right on Lake Malawi. The two top places to stay are next door to each other called Myoka and Butterfly Space which are both right on the beach. I’ve stayed at both places and ended up coming back to Butterfly Space to live for two months to I volunteered for them.

Mayoka Village is run by a British woman and her South African husband. It’s a gem of a place to stay and they hold amazing parties as well. It’s probably the best standard of accommodation I’ve seen in Malawi. We stayed in a bungalow right on the cliff, it was amazing and it’s a very sociable place to meet other travellers.

Our bungalow at Mayoka Backpackers

Butterfly Space is run by two British women who are so passionate about Malawi. They met as backpackers and have been living in the country for years and run Butterfly as a Nkhata Bay backpackers accommodation but also have many community projects for volunteers to get involved in.

We ended up staying at Butterfly Space for two months to teach primary school kids for their on site school. We also built them a brand new website to help them long term.

<em>Relaxing on the deck at Butterfly Space<em>

We had the BEST time at Butterfly Space and absolutely loved working for Alice & Josie. We also held a weekly pub quiz where most of the guests at Mayoka Village came over.

I would without a doubt recommend volunteering with Butterfly Space. It’s an experience we won’t ever forget!

view from room
View from our room at Butterfly Space, Nkhata Bay

teaching in Malawi
Teaching the kids at Butterfly Space, Nkhata Bay

birthday in Malawi
My Birthday at Butterfly Space bar, Nkhata Bay

Other top things to do in Nkhata Bay is to go cliff jumping. You can get a boat from either Mayoka Village or Butterfly Space to take you over to the cliffs for a fun day of jumping. You’ll see the local kids will pop out from nowhere and will join in!

On a Sunday there’s a beach party day in the town drawing in locals from Muzoozoo for a day of boozing on Chickale Beach. It’s definitely worth popping over to see how the locals party!

You’ll also notice that the lake has the clearest waters you’ll probably ever come across. It’s the biggest fresh water lake in the world and you’ll often forget that it’s not the ocean.

cliff jumping malawi Cliff Jumping in Nkhata Bay, Malawi

Lake Malawi, Nkhata Bay

Other things I recommend doing in Nkhata Bay is visiting local diving school Aqua Africa to learn to dive in Malawi!

4. Go Horse Riding On Kande Beach In Malawi

Kande Beach
Kande Beach, Malawi

A favourite with the overland tour buses, Kande Beach literally looks like it’s been taken from Australia and put into Malawi. The beach is so beautiful we went there for the backpacker’s 20th Anniversary and had a great time. Horse riding in the lake is a very popular option there too.

horse riding kande beach
Horse Riding on Kande Beach

 5. Stay At Zulunkhuni River Lodge In Ruarwe

Zulunkhini Travel lodge Zulunkhuni river lodge

This is one of my big regrets is that we didn’t go to Zulunkhuni River Lodge, a hidden gem only accessible by boat. We were told by many expat locals that this is as close to paradise as it gets. Expect amazing waterfalls to discover as well as the lodge nestled into a stunningly beautiful cove.

6. Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge, Livingstonia

The Mushroom Farm

This is another regret that everyone talked about how amazing The Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge is. I met the owners, a brother and sister from the US who also have a passion for Malawi. The views I’ve been told are spectacular which doesn’t surprise me from the pictures I’ve seen online!

7. Chizimooloo Island And Likoma Island In Malawi

The clearest waters in Chizimooloo

If you are wondering whether it’s worth jumping on the over night Illala ferry to the islands in the middle of Lake Malawi then yes, it’s definitely worth going to.

The famous bar at Nicks lodge

We stopped off at Chizimooloo Island first (took about 3 hours on the boat) and stayed at Nick’s lodge. Nick himself is worth staying with as he’s a British guy who’s been there for 20 years and is a right character. He has an amazing bar with the clearest waters I saw in the whole of Malawi.

It’s worth spending a few hours walking around the island as the locals are so friendly so I’d recommend 2 days is enough time to stay there.

The boat ride from Nkhata Bay to Chizimooloo

We then spent about five days on Likoma Island at Mango Drift. This place is without a doubt paradise. It’s just an amazing spot right on the beach with nothing to do but relax.

All of the Likoma Island accommodation is also on the beach but spread out enough that you’ll have enough privacy. We absolutely loved it here. If you have time, definitely visit this place!

Sunset outside outside room at Mango Drift, Likoma Island
Our room at Mango Drift, Likoma Island
Getting a boat to the main boat, Likoma Island
Make sure you get first class on the boat meaning you get top deck 

8. Visit Cape Maclear In Malawi

Sunset in Cape Maclear

If you head to the Malawian islands then the last stop on the boat is to Cape Maclear which will take a good 24 hours. I absolutely loved Cape Maclear. We stayed at Fat Monkeys and one of our highlights was hiring out a boat for the day between about 8 of us. It was so much fun and cost us $20 each including snorkel gear as well. We hired it from the diving shop on the beach.

We hired a catamaran for the day in Cape Maclear!

9. Mount Mulange

Tea plantations, Mount Mulanje

Don’t forget to add one of the best places to visit in Malawi, the highest mountain in Central Africa – Mount Mulanje!

If you need to get away from the heat then head to the Mountains in Southern Malawi. We spent a few days trekking around Mount Mulanje which is just beautiful. You can hire a guide which is probably the better option but we just did our own hikes around the tea plantations.


Trekking in the mountains, Mount Mulanje

10. Lake of Stars Festival In Malawi


Although it’s not technically one of the places to visit in Malawi, it would be so wrong not to mention the Lake Of Stars festival! It’s basically a music festival for expats at $30 a ticket. We had such a good time, you’ll be even surprised to hear previous musicians have included; Foals, The Noisettes and MisterJam which has been going for years. Find out more information about the amazing Lake of Stars Festival here.


Circus Performers at City of Stars Festival


City of Stars Festival, Lilongwe 2013

There are so many places to visit in Malawi let alone loads of Malawi tourist attractions too. We hope this post has inspired you to visit such a magical country!

Best places to visit in Lake Malawi


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