Coming to Windhoek? I’m excited for you!
Namibia is a unique place. It’s down in the southwest of Africa and quite different to any other country in the region. Windhoek, the capital, is a small but lively city, where development is rapidly taking place and is becoming more modern every day. All your western comforts are here – gyms, malls, gluten free cookies – you name it!
The one thing that makes Windhoek slightly difficult to navigate is the transport. It’s not very easy to get around here – the public transport system is basically non existent and the city, while small, is segregated into various different neighbourhoods. Most locals use “cabs” to get around, which look like regular taxis, but operate more like shuttles (I’ll talk about this later on).
This makes it important to choose the right area to stay. Whether you’re in Windhoek for a long term stay or just making an overnight stop before your safari, where you decide to spend the night will make a big difference to your impression of this charming city. Luckily for you I’ve got that all broken down in my guide below.
Map of Windhoek
There are really only 3-4 areas that I would recommend you stay. Somewhere central is obviously good, and you won’t be short of options. Luckily tourism has decent volume here, so tourist accommodation in Windhoek and Namibia is quite plentiful. While the map might make the city look very spread out, one thing you’ll discover is Windhoek is a very small city. To drive from Klein Kuppe up to Windhoek West only takes about 10-15 minutes.
It’s also quite popular to rent a car when travelling Namibia, and most places should offer free car parking as well. If you do rent a car, it’s probably a good idea to stay a little outside the city, maybe in Windhoek West or Klein Windhoek, just to avoid the busier roads.
Anyway, let’s go through each of the areas and the pros and cons of each.
City Centre / Independence Ave
Windhoek’s city centre is very sleepy. Even in the middle of a weekday there are very few people walking around (by capital city standards) and in the evenings it’s basically a ghost town. However, this is where I’d recommend staying if you don’t have a car. There are many affordable and comfortable places to stay, and you’ll be within walking distance of some great places to eat and shop as well. Windhoek’s centre is actually quite a pleasant city to go for a walkabout, with a few little malls, restaurants and cafes – it’ll probably surprise you!
Where to stay?
Chameleon Backpackers is your spot. Accommodation in Windhoek is quite lacking in the hostel department, as the backpacker culture hasn’t quite reached this city yet. Chameleon is one of the few. It’s a well-run hostel and walking distance from the centre of town – usually will run you between $10-$15 per night.
I’ve stayed here and it’s excellent. The location is about 10 minutes walk from the central Independence Ave, and it’s nestled down a safe and quiet side street which is perfect. There’s a great supermarket about 3 minutes walk away, plus their rooms are self catering so you can lay off the biltong and cook yourself a decent meal! Really great place if you’re looking for somewhere central.
If you want to splurge, look no further than the Hilton. It’s located right in the centre of town and sticks out like a sore thumb. Obviously it’s not cheap but if you’re after something lavish to round off your safari or sand duning, this is definitely your spot. What’s a holiday in the desert without a little luxury?
Windhoek West is just outside of the centre and is a more residential area. There are many guesthouses located in this suburb as it’s quiet, safe, and very accessible to the city. If you have your own car this is the ideal place to stay – close to everything but away from the central crowds. A lot of safari and tour companies book their guests into guesthouses in this area.
Where to stay?
One of the more popular choices for tourist companies; a lot of the major ones use Rivendell as their go-to. It’s a very clean and well run guesthouse with lovely rooms and great beds – perfect after a week of climbing dunes in the desert! It also has a pool and communal kitchen and a BBQ area. Ideal if you have a rental car, but it’s also just a short walk to the city if you’re so inclined. Walking around Windhoek is perfectly safe during the day time – if you don’t mind the sun!
Rivendell is often booked out, so a great alternative is Windhoek Gardens. This one of the top guest houses in Windhoek and is actually a step up from Rivendell in my opinion – beautiful rooms and enormous beds, plus the furnishings and bathrooms are really at four-star hotel standard. Really nice premises and perfectly located too. There’s also a pool and a great restaurant/bar where I’ve eaten at a few times – the food’s great! They have game meat and some great sides on the menu.
Klein Windhoek is a suburb a little south of the centre. It’s a safe and quiet area, although I wouldn’t really recommend staying here if you don’t have a car, as there really isn’t much around. The exception is if you want to try out one of the fancy accommodations in this area, of which there are several. If you’re just overnighting before a tour or safari then it’s a nice choice. Otherwise, I’d recommend staying in the centre or Windhoek West.
Where to stay?
If you need something affordable but comfortable check out Maison Ambre. It’s possibly the best rated guest house in Windhoek, with a pool, a lounge area and BBQ facilities. If you enjoy accommodations that have a homely feel but still give you all the privacy you need, this is the perfect spot. Very cosy and immaculately run – ideal for a holidaying couple.
If you’re looking to splurge and want something that’s going to impress, Hotel Heinitzburg is your place. It’s a lavish little castle with all the bells and whistles, again, a great place for a couple on vacation or honeymoon. The rooms are luxuriously furnished in classical style, there’s a beautiful pool, and the swanky restaurant should keep you fed and smiling. There’s no other place like it in Windhoek – if you’re looking for something unique and indulgent, this is the spot.
Klein Kuppe is a wealthy residential suburb of Windhoek. This is actually where I lived when I was based in Windhoek for a few months. It’s located quite a far way south to the centre, although “far” is relative in a city as small as Windhoek. A cab ride from Klein Kuppe to the city will take around 15 minutes. There isn’t much to see or do out in Klein Kuppe, although it is home to the Grove Mall – the best and biggest mall in the city. It’s not a bad place for a long-term stay in Windhoek, but for just a couple of days I’d be inclined to stay somewhere like Windhoek West instead.
Where to stay?
This is a beautiful nature-oriented guesthouse located in the centre of Klein Kuppe. It has a pool, restaurant, bar, and the premises is lush with greenery and friendly wildlife. It’s also walking distance to the Grove Mall, which has everything you could possibly need. If you’re looking for somewhere out of the central districts, this will probably be the place you’re after.
Getting around Windhoek
One of the best ways to get around Windhoek is to rent a car. Driving in Windhoek isn’t difficult and the roads are very well kept.
If you don’t have a car, Windhoek is walkable around the central districts. If you’re staying in Windhoek West or Windhoek Central, you should be able to walk around and find anything you need (supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants etc).
If you’re going anywhere at distance, you can use a cab. Cabs in Windhoek are shared, meaning that when you get in, the driver may also stop and let others in if they’re going in the same direction. You’ll often see the driver beeping at people standing on the side of the road, and may shout out the window asking where they want to go. Cabs are the cheapest way to get around the city, and it’s usually a flat fee of $10 NAD (about 70 cents USD). If you’re going somewhere very far from the centre, this can sometimes be raised to $20. They’ll drop you anywhere you want to go!
However, often locals will warn you against using shared cabs, especially at night. To be on the safe side, if you’re moving anywhere after dark it is a good idea to use Dial-a-cab. This is a private cab company and they work more like regular taxis. They will pick you up and drop of you off at the door. The number I have for them is 061 223531, although this changes sometimes, so it’s good to check with a local (your receptionist, travel agent etc).
Getting from Windhoek Airport to your accommodation
Windhoek Airport is about 40 minutes from the centre of the city. The easiest way is to get a taxi. You will pay around $300 NAD for a transfer from the airport to your accommodation (around $20USD). There will be many taxis waiting at the airport – just ask at the information desk if you’re unsure of who to go with.
If you’re on a budget, you could try the Tok Tokkie Shuttle. It’s $100 NAD (around $6 USD) from the airport to Windhoek city centre. From there you could walk or catch a cab.
Long term accommodation in Windhoek
If you’re planning on staying in Windhoek long term, the accommodation options are actually quite slim.
You can find non-furnished apartments rather easily, but this isn’t ideal if you’re not planning to settle in Windhoek. For someone staying for 3-6 months, a furnished apartment is ideal, and Windhoek is one of the few cities where I’ve really struggled to find this.
In the end I did manage to find a great place furnished place through Airbnb, and the price was 9,000 Namibian dollars per month, excluding electricity but including wifi and water. That’s rather expensive for southern Africa, but the apartment was excellent and very well furnished.
It’s essential to bargain, so make sure you do!
You can also use my referral link if you do end up using Airbnb, which will give you $30 off your first stay.
Questions? Leave them below. Enjoy Windhoek!