Malawi travel guide

Malawi Tourism | Malawi Guide

You're Going to Love Malawi

From exotic wildlife to wonderful beaches and colorful cities, Malawi offers activities to suit all travelers, from the more active ones to those looking for a bit of relaxation.

What to do in Malawi

1. Visit Lake Malawi

This lake constitutes nearly a third of Malawi's area. It is home to great beaches and some unique fish species, such as Chambo, which can be seen by snorkeling or diving.

2. Hike Up Mount Mulanje

This is a must for travelers – families and serious climbers alike - who love an active vacation. A variety of tracks with different levels of difficulty are available.

3. See Local Wildlife at Liwonde National Park

See hippos relaxing in water and elephants rejuvenating with a drink of water and having a bit of a play.

4. Explore Lilongwe, the Capital

Check out the arts and crafts market for some local souvenirs and gifts, the fruit and vegetable markets for local produce, and the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.

5. See St Peter's Cathedral at Likoma Island

This island is reachable by ferry and its cathedral is one of the main attractions. Traditional dance competitions are also held during weekends.

1. Visit Lake Malawi

This lake constitutes nearly a third of Malawi's area. It is home to great beaches and some unique fish species, such as Chambo, which can be seen by snorkeling or diving.

2. Hike Up Mount Mulanje

This is a must for travelers – families and serious climbers alike - who love an active vacation. A variety of tracks with different levels of difficulty are available.

3. See Local Wildlife at Liwonde National Park

See hippos relaxing in water and elephants rejuvenating with a drink of water and having a bit of a play.

4. Explore Lilongwe, the Capital

Check out the arts and crafts market for some local souvenirs and gifts, the fruit and vegetable markets for local produce, and the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.

5. See St Peter's Cathedral at Likoma Island

This island is reachable by ferry and its cathedral is one of the main attractions. Traditional dance competitions are also held during weekends.

When to visit Malawi

The best time to visit Malawi is during its dry and hot season between the months of July and October, the last two being the best for observing wildlife at the parks.

How to Get to Malawi

Entry requirements

Citizens of around 40 countries, including other African countries, can enter Malawi without a visa for up to 30 or 90 days. Citizens of other countries will need a visa, with some able to get it on arrival.

Plane

The main international airport in Malawi is in the capital Lilongwe. Malawian Airlines operates nonstop flights to five different destinations in Africa, while South African Airways, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways all operate nonstop flights to Lilongwe. Regional airline Swift Air operates flights from Johannesburg to both Lilangwe and Blantyre.

Train

Malawi is connected by train to Mozambique, with services running twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, starting from Blantyre, going through Liwonde and heading towards Cuamba and Nampula.

Car

Driving is possible from Tanzania going through Ipinda, and the M1 road in Malawi leads to Lilongwe. It is also possible to drive from Zambia through Chipata, entering Malawi through Mchinji, which is well linked with Lilongwe.

Bus

Direct buses are available from Lusaka in Zimbabwe and run to Lilongwe in Malawi. The trip takes close to 20h and can also be done in stretches. If crossing from Tanzania, direct buses are available from Dar Es Salaam heading to Lilongwe or Mzuzu.

Entry requirements

Citizens of around 40 countries, including other African countries, can enter Malawi without a visa for up to 30 or 90 days. Citizens of other countries will need a visa, with some able to get it on arrival.

Plane

The main international airport in Malawi is in the capital Lilongwe. Malawian Airlines operates nonstop flights to five different destinations in Africa, while South African Airways, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways all operate nonstop flights to Lilongwe. Regional airline Swift Air operates flights from Johannesburg to both Lilangwe and Blantyre.

Train

Malawi is connected by train to Mozambique, with services running twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, starting from Blantyre, going through Liwonde and heading towards Cuamba and Nampula.

Car

Driving is possible from Tanzania going through Ipinda, and the M1 road in Malawi leads to Lilongwe. It is also possible to drive from Zambia through Chipata, entering Malawi through Mchinji, which is well linked with Lilongwe.

Bus

Direct buses are available from Lusaka in Zimbabwe and run to Lilongwe in Malawi. The trip takes close to 20h and can also be done in stretches. If crossing from Tanzania, direct buses are available from Dar Es Salaam heading to Lilongwe or Mzuzu.

Popular airports in Malawi

Popular airlines serving Malawi

KLM
Good (837 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,556 reviews)
Air France
Good (984 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,113 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,988 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,406 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (413 reviews)
Kenya Airways
Good (165 reviews)

Where to stay in Malawi

Hotels of all budgets can be found in the main cities and touristic spots. Bungalow Hotels are typical of the country and usually offer all the basic amenities except for a Wi-Fi connection.

Where to stay in popular areas of Malawi

How to Get Around Malawi

Public Transportation

Minibuses are the most common mode of local transport, and a one-way trip from the center to the suburbs normally costs between around 250-400 MWK (0.35-0.55 USD).

Trains

Three train lines are available in Malawi. The Limbe to Balaka line operates on Wednesdays with returns on Fridays, the Balaka to Nayuchi line operates both ways on Thursdays, and the Limbe to Makhanga line operates on Saturdays, returning on Sundays.

Bus

AXA Coach Service is the main company used for long distance travel. All buses have air conditioning, reclining seats and televisions, but only the Super Executive buses have toilets on board. Cheaper and more frequent minibuses are also available for long distance travel, but trips are not always direct and might involve bus changes.

Car

Most car rental companies are in Lilongwe and Blantyre. If planning on heading into the rural areas, it is advisable to get a 4x4 as dirt roads are very common. Cars drive on the left side of the road.

Plane

Malawian Airlines and Swiftair both operate local flights between the cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu, with Swiftair also flying to and from Karonga.

Public Transportation

Minibuses are the most common mode of local transport, and a one-way trip from the center to the suburbs normally costs between around 250-400 MWK (0.35-0.55 USD).

Trains

Three train lines are available in Malawi. The Limbe to Balaka line operates on Wednesdays with returns on Fridays, the Balaka to Nayuchi line operates both ways on Thursdays, and the Limbe to Makhanga line operates on Saturdays, returning on Sundays.

Bus

AXA Coach Service is the main company used for long distance travel. All buses have air conditioning, reclining seats and televisions, but only the Super Executive buses have toilets on board. Cheaper and more frequent minibuses are also available for long distance travel, but trips are not always direct and might involve bus changes.

Car

Most car rental companies are in Lilongwe and Blantyre. If planning on heading into the rural areas, it is advisable to get a 4x4 as dirt roads are very common. Cars drive on the left side of the road.

Plane

Malawian Airlines and Swiftair both operate local flights between the cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu, with Swiftair also flying to and from Karonga.

The Cost of Living in Malawi

When eating out in Malawi, a cheap meal will cost around 5,000 MWK (7 USD), while a mid range meal will cost around 15,000 MWK (21 USD) per person. Though credit cards are not very widely used, Visa and Mastercard are accepted at some of the major hotels and establishments, typically with an added surcharge.