|Land Area (km²) / Rank||2,012 km² / 20th out of 28 districts|
|Population (2018) / Rank||1,251,484 / 2nd out of 28 districts|
|Population Density / Rank||622 persons/km² / 2nd out of 28 districts|
Blantyre is Malawi’s oldest city founded by Scottish missionaries in 1876 and named after the birthplace of explorer, Dr David Livingston near Glasgow in Scotland.
It has a pleasant midlands climate, set at an altitude of around 1,000m in a well-watered valley ringed by low hills, which made it a favourite of the missionaries and early settlers.
It was the most populous city throughout the 20th century in Malawi. Since then Blantyre has slipped behind Lilongwe into second place.
It serves as Malawi’s commercial and industrial hub and has the best and most diverse choice of restaurants, several decent bars, upmarket shopping malls, a fascinating library and archives.
Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), the country’s state broadcaster has its headquarters in Blantyre, and the Supreme Court is also located here.
Both by day and by night Blantyre is livelier than Lilongwe, presumably because it attracts a more inherently stringent business-oriented clientele than the free-spending government, organization and NGO industries that prop up the hospitality industry in Lilongwe.
Though Blantyre is not a tourist attraction in itself, it is a stimulating and very manageable city, and it is also the perfect gateway to the top national parks and reserves in Malawi’s deep south, Liwonde and Majete, and also to Zomba and Mulanje.
- Blantyre is Malawi’s oldest city and named after the birthplace of explorer, Dr David Livingston near Glasgow in Scotland.
- Blantyre serves as Malawi’s commercial and industrial hub.
- Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and the Supreme Court are located here.
Famous Person from Blantyre
Isaac Chilemba (Professional Boxer who held the IBO super-middleweight title)
Onesimus (Top Malawian Afro-R&B and Gospel Artist)
Fredokiss (Top Hip-Hop artist in Malawi)
Joy Nathu (Radio DJ commanding 2 million listeners)
Getting there and away
Chileka International Airport lies about 16km north of the city centre in Blantyre, acts as a major regional airport. Taxis from the airport to the city are available. The price can be negotiated down a bit if you’re going from the city to the airport. If your budget doesn’t include taxis, frequent local buses between the City Bus Station and Chileka Township pass the airport gate.
Bus & Minibus
Blantyre’s main bus station for long-distance buses is Wenela Bus Station, east of the centre. National Bus Company and AXA City Trouper buses run from here to Lilongwe (four hours), Mzuzu (nine to ten hours), Monkey Bay (five to six hours) via Zomba (one and half to two hours) and Mangochi (four to five hours), Mulanje (one and half hours) and Karonga (14 hours, change at Mzuzu).
AXA Executive buses depart from the Auto-motive Centre, where you’ll also find its ticket office, and call at the Chichiri Shopping Mall and just off Glyn Jones Road. They leave twice daily to Lilongwe (MK8,000 for Express, MK13,000 for Super Executive, four hours).
Long-distance minibuses go from the Limbe Bus Station; most leave on a fill-up-and-go basis. It’s often quicker to get a local minibus to Limbe bus station and then a long-distance bus from there rather than wait for AXA or other bus services in Blantyre. Routes include Zomba (one hour), Mulanje (one and quarter hours), Mangochi and the border at Muloza (one and half hours).
Long-distance minibuses to the Lower Shire including Nchalo (two hours) and Nsanje (four hours) leave from the City Bus Station near Victoria Ave in Blantyre, between 8am and 5pm.
The car park next to Blantyre Lodge is the pick-up and drop-off point for long-distance bus companies headed for Johannesburg. Intercape goes to Johannesburg daily (25 hours).
Blantyre is a compact city, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to use public transport to get around, apart from the minibuses that shuttle along Chipembere Highway between Blantyre City Bus Station and Limbe Bus Station.
You can find private-hire taxies at the Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel or at the bus stations.