|Land Area (km²) / Rank||6,159 km² / 4th out of 28 districts|
|Population (2018) / Rank||2,626,901 / 1st out of 28 districts|
|Population Density / Rank||427 persons/km² / 4th out of 28 districts|
Lilongwe is Malawi’s capital city and located in the central region of Malawi. It is an important economic and transportation hub for central Malawi.
The city was a small fishing village founded as a trading station in 1906 on the banks of the Lilongwe River and formally recognized as a town in 1947.
Lilongwe has been the nation’s capital since 1975 when it was moved from the colonial town of Zomba.
Lilongwe is divided up into more than 50 chronologically numbered areas. For example, Area 1 is the oldest part of town and Area 2 is the second oldest.
The city is mainly divided into two centres:
City Centre is home to ministries, parliaments, embassies, smart hotels, business offices and modern buildings.
Old Town is home to decent restaurants, guesthouses, bus station, new malls and energetic markets. The heart of Old Town is the market on Malangalanga Road. Just south of the market is the main bus station. Just north of the market is Devil Street, a narrow road lined with pubs, market, and some nightly activities.
City Centre and Old Town are 3km apart and Lilongwe wildlife centre which rescues and rehabilitates wild animals is located between them. Minibuses frequently run between the two centres.
- Lilongwe is Malawi’s capital city.
- Lilongwe is divided up into more than 50 chronologically numbered areas.
- City Centre is home to ministries, parliaments, embassies, smart hotels, business offices and modern buildings. Old Town is home to decent restaurants, guesthouses, bus station, new malls and energetic markets.
Shopping in Lilongwe
Getting there and away
Kamuzu International Airport lies 26km north of the city centre on the M1 to Mzuzu. Although most buses travelling north or south on the M1 will stop at the turn-off to the airport, they may not drive all the way in. Taxis between the city centre and the airport cost around MK15,000-20,000 and take about 30 minutes.
Several buses make the 14 hours run from Lilongwe to Lusaka directly, including KOBS. Buses depart from just outside the main station at 6:00am daily and tickets cost MK30,000 or ZK390. It is also possible to travel directly between Lilongwe and Mbeya or Dar es Salaam with the Taqwa or Falcon Bus services on Devil Street in Lilongwe and between them run on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, leaving Lilongwe at 19:00 and taking about 15 hours to Mbeya (MK17,000), about 28 hours to Dar es Salaam (MK30,000), and about 48 hours to Nairobi (MK55,000). Premier Bus is another great option for travelling from Harare or South Africa, or between Lilongwe and Blantyre.
(Price is as of November 2018)
During daylight hours, minibuses run back and forth pretty much non-stop between the Old Town and Capital City. The best place to pick these up in the Old Town is near the main bus station, opposite the Engen Garage and also from in front of Shoprite in Area 3. The fare is nominal and tourists are not overcharged.
There are plenty of taxi cabs in Lilongwe, and fares are low by international standards. Main taxi ranks in the Old Town are opposite the bus station, then also next to Shoprite, in front of the post office, and in the grounds of the Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel. In Capital City, you will find taxis in the ground of the Sunbird Capital Hotel. Taxies are also available at the airport.