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Planning your trip to Angola with some Angola travel tips

by Catherine Carey | September 10, 2023
Luanda in Angola travel tips

Angola is a country of captivating beauty, rich history, and cultural diversity. Angola is a destination that invites exploration and discovery with fantastic and vibrant cities and natural wonders. Here, we give you some Angola travel tips in order to enjoy your trip to Angola to the fullest. 

Remember, if you are travelling to Angola as a tourist and your nationality allows it, you can apply for an Angola visa online. Also, ensure that you fulfill all Angola entry requirements

Do I need any vaccines to travel to Angola?

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all travelers visiting the country and is mandatory if the traveler comes from a country where the disease has not yet been eradicated. Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, MMR (measles, rubella and mumps), Hepatitis A and polio vaccines are also recommended. 

It is best to speak to your local tropic health care center for up-to-date healthcare advice.

Do I need a SIM card for Angola? 

Yes, you need a SIM card for Angola. You will be able to get it from the phone operators: Unitel and Movicel. We recommend you to avoid buying a SIM card in an airport and to go to an official store.

For example, you can get data packages for 5.000 AOA ($7 USD) with 3 GB data and for 10.000 AOA ($14 USD) with 8 GB data valid for 30 days from Unitel. From Movicel, you can get 5GB of data for 7.000 AOA ($11 USD), 15 GB for 15.000 AOA ($22 USD) or 30 GB for 25.000 AOA ($38 USD) for 30 days.

Angola travel tips to visit Luanda

What to pack for Angola? 

What to take with you for Angola? You should pack light and breathable clothes and items like a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. During the rainy months, you should also pack a raincoat and waterproof shoes. You should also consider carrying different types of shoes because you might need hiking boots to climb the hills to see the sights. 

It is recommended to pack anti- diarrhoea medicine, altitude sickness medicine, and medicine to prevent malaria. We further recommend to take hand sanitizer, water purification tablets and insect repellent.

Is tipping mandatory in Angola?

Tipping is not compulsory. If you want to tip in Angola, here are some references so you can have an idea on how much to tip: you can give between 5% to 15% in restaurants, you can round up the bill in bars and and you can tip 10% to your tour guide.

What is the currency of Angola?

The official currency of the country is the Angolan Kwanza (Kz). The currency exchange is usually from the dollar to the Kwanza, although it's also possible to pay in US dollars. If you pay in dollars, they must be current; old series dollars are not accepted. It's also possible to pay by credit card, especially in restaurants, well-known accommodations and international airlines.

In recent years, a network of cash machines has been installed from which you can withdraw money, although these have been known to run low on cash.

How to travel around Angola?

A very important thing to know before any trip, is how to get around a country. Here are our Angola travel tips when it comes to transport in Angola

  • Buses offer a good service with a variety of routes and schedules. The best-known company is Macon.
  • You should not rely on trains. The rail network is scarce and the train runs only one day a week.
  • Using a Moto-taxi is ideal for short trips and it is cheap. 
  • If you are thinking of using a Taxi, you should be aware that the service is quite chaotic and that on many occasions is best to use Allo-Taxi, the Uber in Angola. 
  • Minibuses or candongueiros are vehicles like vans that can take you along some routes. You pay a price for each trip and share the ride with other people. They don’t have fixed schedules, and start the trip when there is a minimum number of passengers on board.  
  • There are a lot of domestic plane flights offered by the company TAAG. The downside is that they are expensive. You should pay for the tickets with time in order to avoid super high prices. 

Angola tourist attractions

Although Angola has many things to do, we have compiled a list of our must-sees in Angola:

Luanda beaches

In the capital of Angola, Luanda, there are fantastic beaches to visit. Some of the most popular ones are Luanda Island, Mussulo Island, Santiago Beach and Sangano Beach.

Luanda Island offers a variety of beachfront bars, restaurants, clubs and golden sands with clear waters. It is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. Mussulo Island is a very quiet island with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. You can jet-ski and windsurf. 

Santiago Beach is a more secluded and less crowded option compared to other beaches. Sangano Beach is for those who are looking for more of a rocky beach. It has beautiful cliffs, rock formations, and pristine waters.

Red Cliffs in Angola beaches

Kissama National Park

Kissama National Park or Parque Nacional do Quiçama is a very important national park close to Luanda, and one of the largest conservation areas in the country with 9,600 square kilometers. There, you will be able to see elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffalos, lions, leopards, birds, and antelopes.

Apart from the animals, you will be able to see a mix of savannah, woodland, and wetland areas. Also, the Kwanza River, Angola's longest river, flows through the park.

Cidade Velha de Mbanza Kongo

The Old Town of Mbanza Kongo, also known as Mbanza-Kongo or São Salvador do Congo, is an important historical site located in the Zaire Province. This city was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kongo and was very important in pre-colonial Africa.

In 2017, the Old Town of Mbanza Kongo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its historical and cultural significance. If you go there, you will be able to see the ruins of the Church of São Salvador (built in 1549), palaces, residences, and administrative buildings.

Benguela and the Benguela Railway

If you go to Angola, you can discover Benguela, a coastal city with beautiful beaches, colonial-era architecture, and impressive local culture. Two of the most popular beaches you should experience are Praia Morena and Praia da Caotinha.

In Benguela you shouldn’t miss either the Benguela Railway, which offers scenic train rides along the coast. The railway is a testament to Angola's colonial past and a popular tourist activity.

When is the best time to travel to Angola?

One of the most important Angola travel tips is when is the best time to visit Angola. The best months to visit the country are from May to September inclusive. These are the months of the dry season, which, although it may not seem like it, are also the coolest months. The daytime temperature is about 25 degrees and can drop to 8 degrees at night.

Ideally, avoid the months from November to April, as this is when the most rain falls, with daily rainfall of up to 500 liters per square meter. There may be heavy downpours that cause problems. Poor infrastructure leads to flooding that can limit mobility.

National Bank of Angola

Is it safe to travel to Angola?

After the end of the war in 2002, conflict in Angola ceased, however, it is recommended that you travel with extreme caution if you are travelling in the provinces of Cabinda or Lundas.

Although there might be some minor clashes with inhabitants, traveling to Angola is generally safe. The biggest problem you may face is the number of anti-personnel mines that remain deactivated or unidentified.

You must be careful and aware of your surroundings at all times. In the past there have been episodes of forced detention of tourists. 

In addition, a large number of its population carries arms, so it is recommended not to move on foot, go out at night or visit conflict areas.

More Angola travel tips 

  • The official language of the country is Portuguese.
  • Angola is an expensive country. The prices can be up to three times higher compared with average European prices.
  • Luanda is the most expensive city in the world. Carefully plan all your expenses.
  • You must consider that power and water cuts are common, so it is advisable to take external batteries and charge them whenever you can to use them in case of emergency.
  • If you want to photograph historical monuments or state buildings, you must request an authorization offered by the Ministry of Interior. If you do not have this authorization and take photographs in prohibited places, you may be detained and your device confiscated.
  • Homosexuality is frowned upon. There is no law penalizing homosexuality, but socially it is not accepted. Avoid being affectionate in public. 
  • Cell Phone coverage in the country is quite limited and the signal is poor.
  • Traffic in Luanda is quite chaotic with continuous traffic jams. The streets are practically impassable due to poor maintenance and deterioration.