How to Plan the Best Trip to Apia
Lying in the centre of the north coast of Upolu, the city of Apia is the ultimate hub for culture, cuisine and even some natural attractions in Samoa. Unlike many capitals in the South Pacific where you’re advised to leave as soon as possible to experience the “real” island, Apia itself is a destination. Some of Samoa’s top attractions are here, while the boutique hotels and even a manmade island resort make staying for a while a tempting prospect. With cultural demonstrations, true Samoan hospitality, traditional food, crafts and more, Apia is a fair representation and worthy introduction to Samoa.
Whether you’re a couple or a family, on a budget or looking for something more upmarket, this complete travel guide to Apia is the best place to get started with planning the ultimate small city escape.
Frequently Asked Questions About Apia
We’re here to plan the best trip ever, so we won’t waste any time in this Apia travel guide in giving you the questions that most travellers have.
Is Apia Worth Visiting?
Apia is absolutely worth visiting! If you’re already visiting the islands of Samoa, then there’s enough to do in Apia, including some of the country’s biggest highlights, to warrant at least a day trip.
What is Apia Known For?
Apia is known for being the capital of Samoa, as well as for its attractions such as the snorkelling hotspot of Palolo Deep, historical sites like the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, and the rockslides of the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks. It’s also known for its flamboyant public buses, as well as its huge markets.
What Country is Apia in?
Apia is the country of Samoa, which is in the South Pacific approximately 3,000 km (1,864 mi) northeast of New Zealand and 3,700 km (2,300 mi) southwest of Hawaii. Learn more about the location of Apia and Samoa in Where is Samoa Located?
Is Apia American or Western Samoa?
Apia is in Western Samoa, simply known today as Samoa. The capital of American Samoa is Pago Pago; not Apia. Learn more about the differences between the two countries in What’s the Difference Between Samoa and American Samoa?
How Do You Pronounce Apia?
The pronunciation of Apia is “aa-pee-aa”. Learn more about Samoan pronunciation in our full guide, What is the Samoa Language?
What is the Population of Apia?
According to the Samoan Government’s 2021 census, the total population of Apia is approximately 34,960. Check out more population statistics in Who are the People of Samoa? Ethnicity, Population & More.
What to Do in Apia
Apia might be a hotspot for urbanite outings, such as museums, parks and shopping, but the city is also surrounded by lush natural attractions and incredible snorkelling.
The Top Experiences in Apia
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the Apia highlights:
- Immerse in local traditions at Samoa Cultural Village
- Discover the incredible snorkelling spot of Palolo Deep
- Experience culture, cuisine and crafts at Apia’s markets
- Slide down the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
- Learn about Samoan history at the Falemata’aga Museum of Samoa
- Hike up Mt Vaea to Robert Louis Stevenson’s tomb
- Explore Vailima Botanical Garden
- Potter around Matagialalua Friendship Park…
Rainy Day Activities
Being a tropical city, it’s no secret that Apia gets its fair share of wet weather. Although we’d advise just to “get on with it”, as the rain often passes quickly and the hot climate with dry you off in no time, some indoor alternatives include:
- Taking a tour of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
- Spending the day shopping
- Indulging in a spa day…
… And much more that we mention in the 12 Things to Do in Apia on a Rainy Day.
Things to Do at Night
From partying at the city’s bars and nightclubs to immersing in Samoan song and dance at a fiafia night, there are many ways to keep the holiday vibes fresh even after dark. Some things to do in Apia at night include:
- Delighting in some sundowners or partying into the wee hours at Apia’s nightclubs and bars
- Joining a fiafia night for a night of cultural dancing and Samoan cuisine
- Catching the Apia Night Market for street food and fairground fun…
… And find more after-dark entertainment in The Guide to Apia & Upolu Nightlife + 5 Things to Do on Upolu at Night.
Where to Stay in Apia
Aside from our top recommendations listed beside this complete travel guide to Apia (or below, if you’re reading this on mobile), we’ve compiled the best accommodations and hotels based on price, suitability for couples or families, as well as more boutique offerings. What’s more, each article is written by real travel writers; not some dodgy algorithm!
- 25 Best Hotels
- 10 Best Boutique Accommodations
- 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations
- 10 Best Holiday Homes
- 7 Best Motels
- 20 Best Budget Accommodations
- 10 Most Romantic Wedding & Honeymoon Hotels
- 10 Best Family Accommodations
And for a comprehensive list, see Where to Stay in Apia: The Best Accommodations in Apia.
Where to Eat in Apia
You’re in the best place for dining in Samoa with Apia brimming with international and local cafes, restaurants, takeaways, markets and bakeries. Whether you’re just looking for meals to complete your city escape or you’re seeking out a real foodie experience, The Food Guide to Apia: Places to Eat & Food Tours is your bible to all things food in Apia. Otherwise, here’s a quick dining rundown…
The Best Cafes and Restaurants in Apia
- Paddles Restaurant (Matautu-Tai)
- RiVaiv Cafe (Tanugamanono & Vaitele)
- Nourish Cafe (Mulivai)
- Bella’s Kitchen (Mulivai)
- Giordano’s Pizzeria (Moto’otua)
Things to Do in Apia for Foodies
- See an umu demonstration at Samoa Cultural Village
- Join Chef John for a food tour
- Take part in a Samoan cooking class
- Browse local produce and street food markets
- Try Samoan snacks from Sula’s Supermarket & Bakery…
… For elaboration on each activity, check out the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Apia.
Self-Catering in Apia
Apia has several options for large supermarkets, as well as many smaller convenience stores. These are typically stocked with a mix of local and imported brands from New Zealand and China, as well as local fruit and vegetables. Produce can also be purchased from roadside stalls and markets.
See a full list of the largest grocery stores, as well as other useful services such as banks and WiFi hotspots in our guide, Information, Shops & Services in Apia. As for accommodation with kitchens, check them out in the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Apia.
Prices are similar to supermarkets in New Zealand but more expensive than what you might experience in Australia and the US. See typical grocery prices in The Cost of Food in Samoa: Restaurant & Grocery Prices, as well as more advice for self-catering in A Guide to Supermarkets & Food Shopping in Samoa.
Budget Holidays in Apia
Apia shows that you don’t need to be staying in a beach fale to enjoy an affordable trip to Samoa. With hotels and guesthouses with warm and welcoming hosts, your stay here can be frugal yet enjoyable. Most importantly, almost all of Apia’s top sights and experiences are either free or have a small entry fee, as per the Samoan entry fee customs. We go through all of this, as well as some of the city’s cheap eats, in The Complete Travel Guide to Apia on a Budget.
Things to Do in Apia on a Budget
- Experience crafts, food and dancing at Samoa Cultural Village
- Check out Samoa’s best snorkelling spot, Palolo Deep
- Learn something new at Falemata’aga Museum of Samoa
- Hike up Mt Vaea to Robert Louis Stevenson’s tomb
- Take a tiki tour down the Mulinuu Peninsula to see its historical sites.
Find out more about each activity in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Apia.
Cheap Accommodation in Apia
Affordable accommodation is easy to come by in Apia between the reasonably priced yet quaint budget hotels to the welcoming guesthouses. Many have a communal kitchen for sprucing up your own meals, while others have shared bathrooms to reduce the room rate further. Check out the variety in the 20 Best Budget Accommodations in Apia.
Weddings, Honeymoons and Romantic Getaways to Apia
For couples seeking a city escape for a week’s getaway or even a special occasion, Apia offers a range of experiences and accommodations to enhance the romance. Boutique resorts and the city’s endearing parks and cafes effortlessly set the scene. All you have to do is open The Wedding, Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Apia to plan the ultimate couple’s escape.
Romantic Activities in Apia
- Enjoy a romantic stroll through Friendship Park
- Take a picnic to the Vailima Botanical Garden
- Indulge in a couple’s massage
- Dine at Apia’s cute cafes and restaurants
- Treat your loved one to a private dining experience at Taumeasina Island Resort.
Get plenty more ideas from the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Apia.
Romantic Accommodation in Apia
Boutique hotels with quintessential Samoan architecture set the tone for a couple’s getaway to Apia or you could opt for one of the city’s larger hotels/resorts for the full holiday experience. Whatever your vibe, we list the most romantic across the board in the 10 Most Romantic Wedding & Honeymoon Hotels in Apia.
Weddings in Apia
Your wedding is made as easy as an island breeze thanks to several hotels offering wedding venues for couples looking to tie the knot in paradise. Check out the hottest hotel and garden venues in the 10 Best Wedding Venues in Apia. Plus, learn about the rest of your wedding formalities in How to Plan a Wedding in Samoa.
Family Holidays in Apia
There’s never a dull moment in Apia, even if you’re travelling with little ones. With fascinating cultural experiences that captivate all ages, family-friendly restaurants and even some cool places to snorkel and slide down natural waterslides, a family trip to Apia is one that the whole tribe will never forget. Plan your visit to Samoan’s big smoke with the little ones with The Complete Travel Guide to Apia for Families.
Family Activities in Apia
- Experience a fiafia night
- Have a blast at the natural playground of the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
- Experience cultural and crafting workshops at Samoa Cultural Village
- Let them loose at the playground of Friendship Park
- Have a resort/hotel day by the pool.
We go into detail on all of those points and more in the 10 Things to Do in Apia with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Apia
Whether you seek that effortless resort holiday complete with a kids’ club, a low-key stay at an affordable hotel, or your own space in a holiday home, there are accommodations to suit a range of needs in Apia. Dive into some of the best in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Apia.
Luxury Holidays in Apia
Admittedly, Apia’s luxury offerings are few and far in between but there are a small number of ways to treat yourself if you’re looking for a more upmarket experience of the city.
Luxury Experiences in Apia
- Be treated to a private dining experience at Taumeasina Island Resort
- Indulge in a soothing treatment at Apia’s spas
- Delight in the city’s fine dining establishment, Bistro Tatau.
While the luxury activities in Apia are limited, the same cannot be said for the rest of Samoa. Check out some ideas in the 10 Most Luxurious Experiences in Samoa.
Luxury Accommodation in Apia
Although Apia doesn’t have any five-star hotels or resorts, its most upmarket offerings are the contemporary Lava Hotel and the private island resort, Taumeasina Island Resort. You will find more upscale stays around the greater island of Upolu, so be sure to also check out our 7 Best Luxury Resorts on Upolu and 10 Best Luxury Accommodations & Resorts in Samoa.
Adults-Only Holidays in Apia
Ensuring a tranquil tone is set for a South Seas escape is becoming more and more important across the South Pacific, and Apia is slowly catching on with at least one hotel with a no-child policy. Even if you’re staying in one of the larger hotels, there are plenty of ways to escape younger visitors for a more mature experience, whether it be at the city’s spas or golf courses. See what an adults-only getaway to Samoa’s capital looks like in The Adults-Only Travel Guide to Apia.
Activities in Apia for Adults
- Discover Apia’s vibrant nightlife
- Check out Whitestone Casino, Samoa’s only casino
- Tee off at one of Apia’s golf courses
- Revive at one of Apia’s spas
- Work on your wellness at a yoga class.
Learn more about these experiences in the 8 Adults-Only Activities in Apia.
Adults-Only Accommodation in Apia
More About Apia
That’s it for the complete travel guide to Apia but by no means the end of our Apia advice! Check out the following guides for more Apia goodness:
- A Self-Guided Trip Around Apia: One Day Itinerary
- Sightseeing in Apia: Top 10 Sights in Apia
- 5 Best Day Tours of Apia
- 10 Best Historical Sites in Apia
- The Top Cheap Eats in Apia & Upolu