Bulawayo Travel Guide

Overview

Bulawayo city centre
Bulawayo city centre © Prince Phumulani Nyoni

Referred to as the City of Kings, Bulawayo is a multicultural hub in the southwest of Zimbabwe. The second-largest city after Harare, it is regarded as a business and industrial capital, partly due to its proximity to South Africa and Botswana.

Once a thriving city, Bulawayo has experienced a sharp decline in living standards and infrastructure over the past decade. The city was once home to a number of large business headquarters, including large manufacturing centres and transportation company hubs. But many of these have since closed or moved to Harare, leaving behind large-scale unemployment and poor service delivery.

Nevertheless, Bulawayo remains the country's cultural centre, with a large community of creatives and artists in the city. Various theatre and dance productions, classical and contemporary music events and open mic poetry evenings can be enjoyed here.

The scattered parks, low colonial buildings, minimal traffic, and wide tree-lined streets give Bulawayo a laidback atmosphere. Close to the Kalahari Desert, Bulawayo is hot and dry for most of the year, with enough rainfall in the summer to support the natural vegetation of open woodland that surrounds the city.

Bulawayo is the largest city near the tourist hotspots of Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Matobo National Park. The Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage for abandoned, sick or wounded animals is a great educational outing for the kids, as many exotic animals there are rescued pets and therefore perfectly tame.

If you're stopping in, make sure to visit the city's museums and parks. A good kid's attraction in Bulawayo is the Bulawayo Railway Museum, one of only a few of its kind in the world, which features some excellent colonial-era exhibitions.