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Swakopmund

Population

44,725 (2011)

Founded

1892

Best time to visit

All year

The adventure capital of Namibia

Adventurous travellers come alive in Swakopmund. The towering dune belt behind Swakopmund is a huge playground for anyone looking for exciting outdoor activities.

Swakopmund jetty at sunset

Swakopmund: Namibia’s Favourite Holiday Town

From elegant art nouveau German architecture to sandy beaches, from interesting museums to excellent restaurants, you certainly will not run out of things to see and try in Swakopmund. Whether you find yourself amongst the high dunes of the Namib Desert, or on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Swakopmund offers something memorable for everyone.

Swakopmund was founded in 1892 by Captain Curt von François to be the main harbour for Germany’s newly acquired colony. The already existing nearby harbour at Walvis Bay belonged to the British and was therefore not as accessible to the Germans. Hence Swakopmund, only approximately 35 km north of Walvis Bay, was chosen for its availability of fresh water and relatively straightforward passageway to the inland, notably to Otjimbingwe and Windhoek. The town gradually grew, not only in size but also in importance both from an administrative and trade perspective. However, after the end of World War I, what is now Namibia was placed under South African administration and the barriers between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay were dissolved. This meant that the Swakopmund harbour became redundant, in favour of the better suited deep-sea harbour in Walvis Bay. So, Swakopmund started transforming itself, gradually becoming Namibia’s favourite holiday town.

Now Swakopmund offers a wide range of activities to all its visitors: exciting desert tours take you into the Namib and introduce you to different plants and animals which have adapted to survive these arid conditions. On quad bike tours you can ride up and down enormous dunes to get your adrenaline pumping. You could go sandboarding and even skiing down the dunes and for those in the mood for something more relaxed, camel rides in this beautiful desert landscape is also possible.

There are plenty of activities on the water too: catamaran tours will take you onto the Walvis Bay lagoon and show you some of the marine life nearby. Cheeky seals regularly jump onto the boats, hoping to score an easy, fishy meal. Dolphins, sun fish, leatherback turtles and whales can also be encountered on these boat trips. Maybe you would like to try some of the fresh local oysters whilst onboard, with a glass of sparkling wine or a couple of beers, as drinks and snacks are provided for during the excursion.

But Swakopmund offers more than just adventure activities. It has beautifully, brightly coloured buildings, many of which have an interesting story to tell.  You can go on a guided city tour of Swakopmund if you would like to learn more about the town and hear some of its many stories. The museums are fun too and give you a greater background not only to the town, but to the whole of Namibia. And then there are the cafes, bakeries, and restaurants. This is where the town’s German heritage can really shine and you can indulge in delicious German-style cakes. Due to the fact that Swakopmund is on the coast, its many restaurants often serve delicious fish and seafood dishes, all fresh from the ocean. Enjoying a delightful seafood platter, with a chilled glass of white wine and a view of the ocean after having spent the past few days deep in the desert is always a wonderful change of scenery.

As is usually the case with holiday towns, there is a wide variety of accommodation possibilities available. These range from Swakopmund camping options to large luxurious hotels. Our personal favourites, however, are the small intimate guesthouses and bed and breakfasts which are either located directly on the beach or alternatively, are only a short walk away. These welcoming accommodations are often owner-managed and will let you feel the charm of the town which the locals affectionally simply call ‘Swakop’.

Swakopmund is always worth a visit. It offers more activities than you could possibly do on a single stay, so whether you are going to Namibia for the first time, or you are a returner, there is always a reason to visit this delightfully attractive and exciting little town.

Namibia Swakopmund map
Dune Namib Desert

Dune 7

You can hike up one of the highest dunes in the world and be rewarded with tremendous views once on top. If you start early enough, you could even witness a glorious sunrise over the Namib Desert.

Moonlandscape

Moonlandscape

You can explore the desolate hills and valleys of the Moon Landscape and along the way, learn more about the lichen and welwitschia mirabilis which grow in this harsh landscape before visiting the oasis at Goanikontes.

Swakopmund jetty

Swakopmund Jetty

You can take a stroll along the popular Swakopmund Jetty, to enjoy a beautiful sunset whilst hearing the roar the waves of the Atlantic Ocean below, before heading to one of the nearby restaurants for a tasty dinner.

Desert and ocean meet in Swakopmund

Where the desert meets the ocean – Swakopmund is bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the one side and the Namib Desert on the other.

Chameleon tongue Living Desert Tour Swakopmund

One of the most popular activities in Swakopmund is the Living Desert Tour to see the Little Five of the Namib.

Architecture Swakopmund

You will notice the German colonial influences in architecture but also cuisine when visiting Swakopmund.

Moon landscape near Swakopmung

Enjoy a picnic overlooking the fascinating Moon Landscape formed by the Swakop River.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to go to Swakopmund

You can visit Swakopmund at any time of year and need not worry about the weather too much. Because if one word can be used to describe the weather in Swakopmund it would be ‘consistent’. The climate is considerably cooler than in the inland, which provides a welcome relief for many, especially during the summer months. Regarding rainfall, there basically isn’t any. Foggy conditions in the morning, however, are quite common.

Dry season

Dry season

All year

Pleasantly cool daytime temperatures

Rainy season

Rainy Season

Never

A rainy day in Swakopmund is very, very rare.

Why to go

Explore Namibia's most charming and incongruous coastal town

The high degree of German influence in Swakopmund is unique in Africa. It is undeniable and also fascinating. The historic buildings from the German colonial era make for an interesting city tour, with the Woermann House, the Old Magistrate’s Court and the Hohenzollern House all examples of this. Like the town’s architecture, much of the cuisine is still influenced by the town’s German heritage too, with many delicious cafés, restaurants, and bakeries for you to try.

German colonial architecture in Swakopmund
Mia Hald Travel Expert
It is officially a town, but Swakop feels almost more like a village. I like the tranquil atmosphere, the small shops and just taking a stroll along the ocean. After spending days and days in the sand, seeing the ocean is a very lovely sight!
Mia | Namibia Travel Expert
Seals seen on Catamaran tour
Catamaran Tour

Encounter some of the inhabitants of the Atlantic Ocean.

Chameleon seen at Living Desert Tour near Swakopmund
Namib Desert Tour

The Namib has its very own ‘Little 5’ which you can discover.

Scenic flight across desert and ocean
Adrenaline Activities

Sandboarding, skydiving, quad bike tours, scenic flights and more.

Things to do

One town so many activities

Swakopmund offers you a large variety of activities to explore, not only on land, but on water and in the air too. It’s the perfect place to go on a brilliant adventure which could be one of the highlights of your tour.

  • Catamaran tour
  • Namib desert tour
  • Adrenaline activities
Palmato gecko in desert
Palmato Gecko

These little geckos get their water intake by licking the moisture which has condensated on their eyes.

Desert adder burried under sand
Desert Sidewinding Adder

Bury themselves in the sand to camouflage, with only their eyes and the tip of their tail peering out.

Cape fur seal
Cape Fur Seal

Cape Cross is famous for its huge seal colony of up to approximately 250 000 seals.

Desert chameleon on branch
Chameleon

You can see these curious creatures on a Living Desert Tour in the Namib Desert surrounding Swakopmund.

WILDLIFE & PLANT LIFE NEAR SWAKOPMUND

The Desert Five and many more

The desert surrounding Swakopmund is alive with more wildlife and plant life than you might expect and on the other side, the Atlantic Ocean also boasts a rich ecosystem with many marine mammals which can be spotted on either a boot tour or even from land.

Where to stay in Swakopmund

Outdoor area Organic Square Guesthouse

Organic Square Guesthouse

Interior of a room at the Cornerstone Guest House in Swakopmund

Cornerstone Guest House

Brigadoon Guesthouse Swakopmund

Brigadoon Guesthouse

Swakopmund Guesthouse

Swakopmund Guesthouse

Atlantic Villa Swakopmund

Atlantic Villa Boutique Guesthouse

Location

Swakopmund is nestled between the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. North of Swakopmund lies the infamously rugged Skeleton Coast and to the south is the town of Walvis Bay, whose airport services local flights as well as flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg and is only a half an hour’s drive away.

Experience Swakopmund

Zebra closeup Namibia
Namibia travel expert
Sand dunes Namibia

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