Papua New Guinea: its main cities and towns


A guide to Papua New Guinea’s main cities and towns, featuring Port Moresby, Lae, and other major population centres.

Lae Port.

Port Moresby

Port Moresby is the capital city of PNG and the main point of entry into the country, with several international airlines flying into Jacksons International Airport. It’s a 20-minute drive into the CBD, however the city sprawls around Fairfax Harbour and points of interest are spread out.

It sits within the National Capital District but is also the administrative capital of Central Province.

The suburb of Waigani is the location of the National Parliament, as well as government agencies, embassies, the National Museum and Art Gallery, the Supreme Court and Royal Port Moresby Golf Club.

There has been much development in the past few years, partly driven by the country’s hosting of APEC in 2018. Waterside housing, business and retail developments include Harbourside, Harbour City and Paga Hill Estate. Ela Beach has also been revitalised and is the site of the impressive APEC Haus.

Hotels are plentiful, and include top-end properties such as Airways, The Stanley, the Grand Papua and the Hilton Port Moresby. Eating out options are also in abundance, including Mumu at the Hilton for traditional PNG-style cuisine and Bacchus at Airways for a fine dining experience.

Caution needs to be taken when moving about the city, especially at night.

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Key attractions include the POM City Markets, the Port Moresby Nature Park and Loloata Private Island Resort.

  • Population: 375,000
  • Warmest month: November (32.5C average)
  • Coldest month: July (22.4C average)
  • Elevation: 35m


Lae is PNG’s second-largest city behind Port Moresby and one of the country’s key industrial hubs. It also hosts PNG’s busiest international cargo port.

Its most popular tourist attraction is the annual Morobe Show.

The city is the capital of Morobe Province.

Lae Nadzab Airport (officially, Nadzab Tomodachi International Airport) is more than 40 kilometres from the city and has recently been upgraded, with plans existing to turn it into an Internaitonal airport. The Lae International Hotel is one of the key hotels in town and arranges airport transfers.


Madang, in Madang Province, is a picture-perfect holiday destination with turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and idyllic islands. It has some of the best diving and snorkelling in PNG and a number of lodges and resorts, including Madang Resort, which can arrange all activities.

The town is on Astrolabe Bay, with industries including tuna fishing. The giant Ramu nickel mine is also located here, along with the Divine Word University, one of PNG’s largest tertiary institutions.

Mount Hagen

Despite being PNG’s third-largest city and the capital of the Western Highlands Province, Mount Hagen feels and looks rural.

It’s in the fertile Wahgi Valley, which supports thriving agricultural communities. Produce, livestock and other goods are sold and traded at Mount Hagen market, where visitors are warmly welcomed. If visiting the market, exercise caution and be aware that you may be targeted by pickpockets.

The annual Mount Hagen Show is one of PNG’s cultural highlights.

There are a handful of decent accommodation choices in town (The Highlander and McRoyal among them) but for something special check-in at Rondon Ridge Lodge, where Rolling Stone Mick Jagger once stayed, about 40 minutes from town.

PNG is a country with few road connections, however Mount Hagen is connected to Lae and Madang by the Highlands Highway, PNG’s longest arterial road.


These twin coastal towns in East New Britain are about 30 kilometres apart, in a scenic part of the country with islands, jungles and volcanoes. The towns are the springboard to some of PNG’s best attractions: diving, snorkelling, war history, island homestays, dolphin watching, volcanoes and the National Mask Festival, which includes fire dancing.

Kokopo took over as the provincial capital when Rabaul was devastated by a volcano in 1984.

Kokopo has a number of resorts and hotels, but options are limited in Rabaul. The town has recovered and rebuilt, but it has never returned to its former glory and is kept afloat with its port facilities and associated industries, including manufacturing and engineering. Rabaul, with its deep harbour, is also a popular stopover for cruise ships.


Wewak is the capital of East Sepik Province in an isolated part of the PNG’s north coast. It has a population of about 25,000 and is the gateway to the Sepik River, one of PNG’s major tourist attractions.

There are turquoise waters to enjoy, palm-fringed beaches and waterfalls to explore, as well as the annual Crocodile Festival at Ambunti, which is about 100 kilometres inland.

The vibe in Wewak is relaxed and it is relatively safe. Most people live a subsistence lifestyle.


This small town and capital of the Eastern Highlands Province is best known for the annual Goroka Show where more than 100 tribes, including the Asaro mudmen, gather for singing and dancing in traditional costumes.

Goroka is connected with the Highland Highways and is a commercial and transportation hub for the region. Coffee is the main industry.

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