Swakopmund is a coastal oasis to the west of Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. It’s a great stop over town for travellers visiting the Skeleton Coast and the Namib Desert, but it is also a destination within itself. With a multidimensional appeal and a huge personality, this sea front town keeps most visitors here longer than they planned.
Being the largest coastal town in Namibia, is a fascinating place – it feels a bit like a mini Munich in the middle of a desert! Established by German colonists in 1892 there is a feeling of timelessness, with half-timbered German architecture, sandy palm-fringed beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean, wide seaside promenades, and a buzzy restaurant, café, art gallery and museum scene. It is known as the Activity Capital, as nowhere else in the country offers you such a variety of things to do. The dunes are perfect for outdoor activities such as quad biking, walking, hot air ballooning, horse riding, sandboarding and, for the adventurous, skydiving. The coastal front offers kayaking, dolphin and seal watching, catamaran cruises and coastal bird watching. There are also a huge selection of bars and restaurants, and the freshly caught seafood is outstanding. Souvenir and art shops are dotted throughout the town, and there is a good little craft market near the lighthouse which sells many unique items from the area.
The city’s colonial landmarks include the Swakopmund Lighthouse, the 'mole' (promenade) a sea wall created to enhance Swakopmund’s poor harbour, the Swakopmund Museum selling genuine artefacts from the 19th century, an aquarium providing an excellent introduction to the offshore Atlantic Ocean and the Swakopmund Railway Station, which is now a hotel. The Jetty, a popular landmark, was constructed in 1911 for German cargo and passenger landings. The stark remains are still there today and in 2010 an oyster bar was opened.
Swakopmund is a year-round destination, and the mild climate means it is a popular holiday destination for tourists and locals alike. The nearby surroundings are also of touristic importance, especially the dramatic coastal road, which runs from Walvis Bay, to the south of Swakopmund, to the Skeleton Coast in the north. The orange dunes flank the road on either side, and the crashing grey-blue Atlantic Ocean to the west makes for an incredibly impressive sight. Other day trips out of town include Walvis Bay, the fishing paradise of Henties Bay or to Cape Cross which has the largest seal colony in the world.
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