Vilanculos Travel Guide

Read this guide to explore the best things to do, places to visit, food and drink scene, where to stay, and more in Vilanculos, Mozambique.

Introduction to Vilanculos

Located in Southern Mozambique, Vilanculos is a stunning coastal town that boasts of pristine beaches, clear blue waters, unique cultural attractions, and plenty of outdoor adventures. This town has recently become a tourist hub, attracting visitors from around the world for its natural beauty and unique experiences.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo trip, Vilanculos is a perfect destination for a thrilling and relaxing vacation. This guide will walk you through the best things to do, places to visit, and everything else you need to know before planning your trip to Vilanculos.

List of Places to Visit in Vilanculos

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  1. Machaon Community Museum – This museum showcases the culture and history of the local community through its collection of artifacts and exhibitions.
  2. Fortaleza of Sao Jose – Built-in 1794, this historic fort offers insights into Mozambique’s colonial past and Portuguese rule.
  3. Inhassoro District Museum – This museum displays traditional music instruments, artifacts, and offers guided tours.

Natural Attractions of Vilanculos: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  1. Magaruque Island – This pristine island offers the perfect setting for snorkeling, island-hopping, and picnics.
  2. Bazaruto Archipelago National Park – This protected marine park has some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs, clear blue waters, and rich marine life.
  3. Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary – This sanctuary is home to diverse bird species, marine life, and offers walk, snorkel safaris or sea kayaks in mangroves and channels.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Vilanculos

  1. Baobab Forest Trail – This trail takes hikers through the beautiful baobab forest, allowing them to enjoy the wonders of nature.
  2. Inhassoro Trail – This scenic trail leads hikers through the local villages and offers breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.

Best Things to Do in Vilanculos: Activities and Tours

  1. Dhow Safari Cruises – Explore the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago on a traditional sailboat.
  2. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving – Experience the beautiful coral reefs and rich marine life of Mozambique.
  3. Horse Riding – Ride along the beaches or through the local villages, experiencing the local culture, and enjoying beautiful views.

Week-Long Itinerary for Vilanculos

Day Activity
Day 1 Arrival and relaxation on the beach
Day 2 Island hopping to the beautiful Magaruque Island
Day 3 Explore the Machaon Community Museum and Fortaleza of Sao Jose
Day 4 Snorkeling or scuba diving excursion to the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park
Day 5 Horseback riding through the local villages
Day 6 Hike through the baobab forest or the Inhassoro Trail
Day 7 Departure day

Food and Drink Scene of Vilanculos

Must-Try Dishes

  1. Piripiri chicken – Grilled chicken marinated with a spicy sauce
  2. Matapa – Ground peanuts and cassava leaves stewed in coconut milk
  3. Pão de queijo - Cheesy bread rolls

Local Beverages

  1. Type of tea – A milk tea grain mix with sugar.
  2. Mozambique beer – sample the local beer, made with local ingredients.
  3. Cashew fruit juice – A refreshing fruit juice made with the local fruit.

Where to Stay in Vilanculos: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  1. Casa Rex Boutique Hotel – This hotel offers breathtaking views of the Bazaruto Archipelago, a beautiful swimming pool, and excellent amenities.
  2. Casa Babi – This guesthouse offers beautiful rooms, a stunning garden, and a communal pool.
  3. Baobab Beach – This hostel offers affordable accommodation and is located next to the beach.

What to Buy in Vilanculos: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  1. Kapulana – traditional wrap skirt of mixed colours.
  2. Wooden carvings – Handmade traditional wooden crafts.
  3. Cashew nuts – A popular product, and the towns namesake is the cashew. Mozambique’s cashews are famous worldwide for their unique flavour.

Local Culture and Customs of Vilanculos

Mozambique has a rich cultural history, influenced by the Portuguese, African, and Arab cultures. It is a traditional society, and you should dress appropriately and respect local customs and avoid tattoos or exposing too much skin. English is not widely spoken, Swahili and Portuguese tend to be the most commonly spoken languages.

Best Time to Visit Vilanculos

The best time to visit Vilanculos is during the dry season between mid-April to the end of September when the weather is milder, and the chances of rain are lower. In general, the climate is hot throughout the year.

Do’s and Don’ts of Vilanculos


  1. Respect the local customs and culture.
  2. Try the local cuisine and drinks.
  3. Use reef-safe sunscreen.


  1. Engage in illegal activities, including drugs and wildlife trafficking.
  2. Intentionally disrespect locals, especially in regards to their religious customs.
  3. Walk alone outside of town at night.

Safety and Health

Safety in Vilanculos

Vilanculos is a safe tourist destination, but you should take the usual precautions when travelling, including locking up expensive items and avoiding deserted areas at night.

Health in Vilanculos

Malaria is a risk throughout Mozambique, and travellers should follow appropriate preventive measures. It is advisable to also carry mosquito repellent and wear loose-fitting clothes that cover your arms and legs to avoid insect bites.

Getting to Vilanculos: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Vilanculos

The most common way to reach Vilanculos is through Vilankulo International Airport, located about 7km away from town. The airport has regular flights to major Mozambican and Southern African cities.

Bus Stations Near Vilanculos

There is no bus station in Vilanculos; however, there are several buses that connect the city to other parts of Mozambique.

Other Options

You can also reach Vilanculos by using car rentals or hiring a private driver.

How to Get Around in Vilanculos

The most common way to get around Vilanculos is by using local taxis, which are available for hire throughout the city. Car rentals are available, but driving conditions may be challenging, and walking is not advised outside of town.

Where to Go Next from Vilanculos: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  1. Maputo – The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, boasts of unique architecture, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant nightlife.
  2. Tofo – This small coastal town is famous for its beautiful beaches, exciting diving opportunities, and delicious seafood.
  3. Kruger National Park – Located in South Africa, Kruger National Park is a world-renowned wildlife sanctuary, offering incredible wildlife sightings and stunning natural beauty.


There you have it, a comprehensive guide to Vilanculos. With its beautiful beaches, unique cultural attractions and outdoor adventures, Vilanculos is a perfect destination for any traveller looking for a unique experience. Take your time to explore the town, enjoy the food, and immerse yourself in the local culture.