Bulawayo is nicknamed the “City of Kings” or “kontuthu ziyathunqa”—a Ndebele phrase for “smoke arising”. This name arose from the city’s historically large industrial base. With its expansive landscapes, the country’s second-largest city offers several opportunities to get a deeper perspective of Zimbabwean history and culture through its friendly locals, museums, UNESCO sites, and much more. It is difficult to shortlist the tourist places in Bulawayo to narrow it to 5 Must Visit Places. However, an attempt has been made here and you could include as many in your itinerary.
- Museums in Bulawayo
- Art Gallery
- Tourist Attraction
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe’s largest and best museum makes for an essential visit. Set over three floors, it offers a great overview of the country’s natural, anthropological and geological history. Its highlight is its taxidermy display, which includes a monster elephant, shot 160km south from here. There’s also an impressive collection of gemstones, showcasing the country’s astounding wealth of natural resources.
Don’t forget: There is a collection of live snakes, including black mambas and cobras.
Bulawayo Railway Museum
Whether you’re a train enthusiast or not, Bulawayo’s Railway Museum rarely disappoints. Its passionate curator, Gordon Murray, will take you on a tour of the place, where you’ll get a fascinating insight into the colonial history of the country through Bulawayo’s extensive railway network. There are some wonderful Rhodesian Railways steam engines and carriages to clamber aboard, including the Jack Tar (1889), the first train to cross the Victoria Falls Bridge.
National Art Gallery in Bulawayo
Set in a beautiful 100-year-old, colonial, double-terrace Edwardian building, the National Art Gallery shows temporary and permanent exhibitions of contemporary Zimbabwean sculpture and paintings. A visit here wouldn’t be complete without dropping by the studios of the artists in residence, who you can meet at work and buy from directly.
Cost: Free to enter
Don’t forget: There’s a quality gallery shop and a lovely cafe too.
The Bulawayo Club
Located in the heart of Bulawayo’s historic centre but almost hidden in plain sight is the Bulawayo Club. Originally a high society gentleman’s club from 1895, The Bulawayo Club is now open to everyone. Stop by for lunch in the indoor/outdoor courtyard or a cocktail at the bar and later take a stroll through the public spaces of the establishment to admire the beautiful interior designs and historic facade.
Cost: Free to enter
Don’t forget: Visitors to the bar must remember to adhere to the dress code (men and women).
Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage
Situated on the main Joburg Road (A6), 23km east of Bulawayo, Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage provides a home for orphaned, sick or abandoned wild animals. There are lions, leopards, cheetahs, black rhinos and many species of antelope and a large collection of birds. Open daily except Mondays, and Christmas Day, from 10 am to 5 pm, visitors have an opportunity to have an educational tour and get to know more about the Zimbabwean wildlife.
Don’t forget: They also have a volunteer programme, where you can contribute to the project by helping out.