Maputo, Mozambique, is an excellent addition to any travel bucket list because of its sunny beaches, eclectic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. As the co-founder of one of the country’s most successful fashion houses, Tatiana Ismael of Taibo Bacar knows this more than anyone. “Maputo is special,” she reveals. The remnants of the colonial era allow her to travel to the past, while the contemporary architecture and youth culture keep her in the present. Maputo is most notable for its cultural diversity, which reveals itself in the DNA of Taibo Bacar, a label that celebrates the African heritage and diversity that make Mozambique so unique. “We know how to celebrate differences,” she adds.
Her personal style is reflective of the city: colorful and classic with a retro influence, not too dissimilar from the offerings of Taibo Bacar’s signature feminine silhouettes and bold prints. Of course, the warm weather and seascapes provide the need for practicality, Tatiana’s favorite go-to’s being jeans, a white t-shirt, and flat, comfortable sandals, but when enjoying Maputo’s nightlight and expansive culinary scene, she loves to up the ante with draped, asymmetrical dresses, floor-length skirts, and silky textures. Acting as a tour guide, discover the ins and outs of Mozambique’s capital city from where to stay and eat, what to see and do, and how to style your adventures.
Southern Sun Hotel, Maputo. Photo: via Southern Sun.
Tatiana Ismael. Photo: via @tattusco.
The view at Campo das Acácias. Photo: via @campodasacacias.
Where to stay
For the luxury traveler
Located 5km from Maputo International Airport, the 4-star Hotel Cardoso is in the museum neighborhood—an area where you can easily access the natural history, arts, geology, and fishery museums. It’s located at the top of a hill overlooking the city, where you can get 360-degree views and enjoy Maputo’s stunning sunsets. “It’s in a central location, making moving around easier too,” Tatiana adds.
TERRA GUEST HOUSE
FOR THE CULTURE VULTURE
If you’re looking for a more affordable option with great access to the city, this guest house is in the residential neighborhood of Sommerschield, a 15-minute walk to the beach, where you can also find the Maputo Shopping Center. You can enjoy a full English breakfast with a view or walk to any of the restaurants and second-hand markets in the area.
SOUTHERN SUN HOTEL
FOR A BEACHFRONT VIEW
“This is right in front of the beach and surrounded by great restaurants,” Tatiana reveals. The Southern Sun Hotel features mosaic floors, vaulted wooden ceilings, and a 200-year-old fig tree in the beachfront courtyard.
Tatiana Ismael wearing Andrea Iyamah. Photo: courtesy of Tatiana Ismael.
Where to eat
“Some of the Mozambican dishes I love include Caril de Amendoim, a peanut curry with chicken or beef, Matapa, cassava leaves with seafood, and okra with coconut milk and prawns,” Tatiana says. Her favorite spots for authentic Mozambican dishes are 2+1 in Sommerschield and FEIMA, “filled with local artifacts and clothing for sale.” For seafood, Tatiana recommends Mercado Do Peixe. “It’s a great environment to try out not-so-fancy restaurants.”
Outside of traditional food, you can have sushi and grilled prawns with ocean views at Zambi. For fine dining, she recommends the braised lamb ribs and bao buns from LUMA. “I also enjoy a day out at Campo das Acácias. The restaurant is well known for its stunning views of Maputo Bay, and my daughter loves to play at the children’s park, which is open to everyone.”
Dhow Restaurant, Maputo. Photo: via Dhow.
Tatiana Ismael. Photo: via @tattusco.
Maputo Central Railway Station. Photo: via CFM.
Tatiana wearing Taibo Bacar. Photo: via @tattusco.
What to do
“There’s our famous train station, CFM Mozambique, the oldest standing fort in Maputo. For art, I would recommend Nucleo de Art which has a nice, trendy bar.” Mercado do Peixe, one of her favorite eating spots, is a great starting point for exploration, along with the blue-water beaches of the city, such as Ponta D’ouro, Santa Maria, and Inhaca. If you’d prefer something off-the-beaten-track with fewer tourists, there’s the Xipamanine Market, where Tatiana would take anyone looking for second-hand clothing.
On Friday nights, Tatiana suggests checking out the sunset from Dhow. “It’s a lounge and restaurant overlooking Maputo Bay and the Maputo-Katembe bridge, Africa’s longest suspended bridge.” For daytime views of Maputo Bay, there’s the Italian seafood fusion restaurant Maritimo where you can enjoy the Mozambican sun. Sunday mornings are best spent at Chez Fred for breakfast. The Parisian-style cafe is in the middle of the city. “It’s like going through a portal,” Tatiana adds. “They have the best cappuccino, amazing sandwiches, and great service.”