The Things to do in Nairobi make Kenya one of the most attractive tourist destinations Africa. Each year millions of tourist visits the country to enjoy the cool beaches and amazing national parks. All tourists and visitors to Kenya will most likely go on self drive in Kenya or a guided tour while visiting any of the national parks or coastal towns. Nairobi is one of the largest, most modern and fasted growing cities in Africa. Over 3.5 million people call Nairobi home and most speak English.
Although most tourists go to Kenya with the intention of visiting the coastal towns, islands and national parks, Nairobi is an attraction of its own. It is no perfect city. At first you may be irritated by the congestion and traffic jam that is typical of largest cities in developing countries but after a day or two you will begin to discover why it is so popular with tourists. The city has it calm and tranquil places. The nightlife is active and the people are very friendly. Nairobi is an excellent place to discover the way of life of the Kenyan people and their different cultures. The city is also an excellent place to study the opportunities and challenges that face major cities in Developing countries..
Tourist Attractions in Nairobi city
Climb to the top flow of the KICC building: This has to be the first place to go because it offers one an aerial view of the entire city and its important structures. The Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC) is the second tallest building in the city. It was built to host events, exhibitions, major conferences and meetings. KICC is located centrally and close to some of the best hotels in the city. By the end of your time there, you would have a new appreciation of the city and its size. From the top of the building, you can also spot the mist covered peaks of Mount Kenya.
The Nairobi Night Life and local beer: If you love to party and are wondering where to go during the late evenings for a full experience of the Nairobi Nightlife, then do not worry. Nairobi is a city that never sleeps. You will have many options to choose from. To start with, there is the Brew Bistro Westlands for occasional live music and beer. The Alchemist is also cool place for live music, cinema/movies, drinks and playing ping pong. J’s Fresh Bar & Kitchen is a trendy bar with great food and beautiful music. You can also checkout K1 Clubhouse, Bao Box and Live at the Elephant for great sounding live music. Other Pubs and clubs with a good reputation are Choices Pub, Gipsy and Nest at Tribe.
The Nairobi Safari Walk: The Nairobi Safari Walk is built 7 Kilometers away from the main city. This recreational Centre was built to give a taste of what Kenya has to offer in terms of wildlife. The facility was built in an area with incredible scenery. While at the Nairobi Safari Walk, you will spot rare creatures like the Bongo, Albino Zebra and White Rhino. Apart from spotting most of Kenya’s wildlife in a single place, the Guides will share information about wildlife conservation initiatives in the country.
Go to the Uhuru Park for relaxation: After a long day of touring the city, you might want to stop by the well-manicured gardens of the Uhuru Park. Uhuru Park is a very popular hangout for tourists and residents of Nairobi. It is also a popular venue for religious and political gatherings. You will see many of the local people relaxing by the scenic gardens while taking their lunch or sleeping on the lawns. Apart from marveling at the historic monuments in the park, several activities are organized in the park including picnics, camel riding and boat riding from an artificial lake. The park also has a children’s playground. If you get hungry, you can buy food and bottled from the shops or vendors moving about. Do not go to the park at night and be careful with your valuables.
Go to the Nairobi Arboretum Park: This public owned reserve was established in 1907 and sits on a 30-hectare piece of land along the Statehouse road. It is managed by the Kenya Forest Service, international partners and donors. The reserve is home to over 360 species of trees, birds, primates and other smaller mammals. The park has beautiful gardens which are often used for concerts, weddings and corporate events. Nairobi Arboretum Park is an excellent location for nature walks because of its relatively flat terrain. You don’t come out feeling sweaty or exhausted.
Muthaiga Country Club: In the early 1900’s, this is where the British colonial officers and expatriates gathered to pass time. It is still frequented by the rich businessmen and political class of Kenya. The Club has a golf course, a library (over 15,000) books, sports facilities and luxury suites for those who wish to spend the night. The Club has some of the best chefs in the city who prepare tasty dishes for members. Because of its history, the Muthaiga Country is one of the best places to learn about the political history of Kenya.
Religious Buildings: The people of Nairobi are deeply religious regardless of which denomination they belong. If you are on a pilgrimage and wish to visit some of the main religious Centre’s, churches, mosques and temples, then you will be spoilt for choice while in Nairobi. Most Kenyans are Christians but the country also has a large population of Muslims especially in the cities and major towns. The Arabs who first settled in the East African coast left a great legacy behind. Apart from converting many of the locals to the Islamic faith, several mosques were also constructed. The Bohra Mosque is one of the oldest in the country. It was built by the first Bohra Community in Nairobi including very influential figures like Jeevanjee – He is actually the founder of the city of Nairobi. Khoja Mosque is also very popular and was built in 1922 by the Shah Ismailia Community. The Jamia Mosque is located is one of the biggest religious buildings in the country. Christians have their own special places of worship with beautiful architectural designs. The Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family in Nairobi is built just next to the city square. It serves as the headquarters of the Nairobi catholic archdiocese. There are several other churches and worship Centre’s spread around the city that are worth visiting.
Visit the Railway Museum: The Railway Museum in Kenya was built to celebrate the great importance of the railway system to the people of Kenya. Kenya has always had a more advanced railway system than all her neighbors. The railway system is relatively well managed and has contributed greatly to the economy of the country and her neighbors. Many goods from Mombasa are transported by rail to Uganda and other countries within East Africa. The museum celebrates the rich history of the rail system in Kenya and showcases old train/ship models, photos of the original construction, railway magazines, drawings and maps. You will find some of the oldest steam engines including a famous carriage/Wagon where Captain Charles Ryall was dragged away by a man-eating lion in Tsavo.
Take a Matatu: Nairobi may be a city with several skyscrapers and all but Matatus are the main means of transport within and to other towns across Kenya. They are customized with large TV Screens, loud music and unique paintings. Taking a Matatu will bring you closer to the ordinary Kenyan. As you mingle with the locals, you might get to know the latest gossip or learn about the typical challenges they have to deal with in their everyday lives. It is important to be careful with your valuables and especially wallet when boarding these Matatus. You might want to read about the hangout places in Kampala Uganda.
Go shopping or visiting the Masai Market: The Masai are one of the most known indigenous cultural groups in the world. Every tourist comes into the country with an interest in interacting with the Masai. A cultural encounter with the Masai should not be postponed to when visiting the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Nairobi offers many opportunities to interact with this intriguing nomadic herdsman. The Masai Markets opens every Tuesday in various parts of the city offering a great opportunity to buy souvenirs, local drawings, paintings, necklaces (beads), wood carvings, curios, fabrics and jewelry.
Kenyatta Market: The Kenyatta market is found in Ngumo. The market is a favorite shopping Centre for all classes of people in Nairobi. It is a market where you can get almost anything you need for your household. Kenyatta Market is a collection of jewelry shops, saloons and second hand clothing outlets. You can also find meat, fish, fruits and vegetables in the market.
The Village Market: If you are looking for a more modern market, then you should visit the Village Market. The Village Market is a collection of over 152 shops offering restaurants, cafes, bars, waterslides, bowling alleys, stationary, clothing and everything else you will expect in a shopping Centre. The shops in the village are a mixture of African simplicity/conventions and modern lifestyle. The market has a modern cinema, a bowling alley and a water slide. The Village Market is a favorite shopping Centre for the Kenyan middle class, tourists and expatriates.
Panari Sky Centre: If the markets already discussed didn’t meet all your expectations, then you should visit the Panari Sky Centre. This hotel and shopping Centre houses the only skating facility in the city. The Centre is an excellent place for relaxation as you watch the day go by. You can also visit the shopping stores or any of the entertainment venues. If all these don’t appeal to you, then just sit down, order for juice and watch as people enter and leave.
Galleria Shopping Mall: This is simply the best retail destination in the city. The shopping mall offers a great shopping, entertainment and leisure experience. You will find high-end restaurants, departmental stores, fashion houses and children’s play areas. Most of the famous Kenyan brands like KFC, Bata, Safricon and ArtCaffe have service Centre’s or shops within the premises. Almost all the banks and other financial institutions have either ATM machines or branches here. Galleria Shopping Mall is excellent for relaxation or simple window shopping.
Sarit Center: This one other popular shopping Centre within the city worth mentioning. Sarit Center is built in the Westlands area and is also home to big brands like Safaricom, Lev’s, Bata, Airtel, Adidas, Bata and Truworths among many others. You can also find restaurants, cafes, artisan shops, toy shops, cinemas, clinics and gyms. If you have nothing to buy, you can just go window-shopping or observing how Nairobi’s residents do their shopping.
Go out for coffee or High Tea: Thorn Tree Café was established as early as 1902 and offers some of the best coffee in the city. The High Tea or afternoon tea culture was brought by the British and has been adopted by many Kenyans. Tea is usually taken between 3 and 5pm. There are countless places within the city where you can go and order for tea. For the best tea, you should visit the Giraffe Manor, Hemingways, K Lounge, The Lord Erroll and Fairmont The Norfolk to mention but a few. The tea is normally served with cakes, sandwiches or bread.
Dine at one of the restaurants: As a large city, Nairobi has got several restaurants where you can go and sample both local and intercontinental dishes. The Carnivore Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Nairobi. It is the place to go if you are interested in game meat and barbecue. The game meat includes that of Ostriches, Zebras and crocodiles. For the best local cuisines, check out Le Palanka. The Talisman restaurant on the other hand is popular for its organic food, African and Asian cuisines. If you are looking for more organic food offerings, then you should visit Brown’s Cheese Factory and Farm. The facility offers a variety of organic foods consisting of mainly tasty cheese which is mixed with chicken tacos, biscuits, homemade bread, salads and roasted vegetables. After lunch, you can tour around the factory for more details about how the cheese is made.
The Japanese and Chinese restaurants are August Moon, Bamboo and Taste of China. The continental restaurants are Half Past One Café, Jade Coffee and Tea House. For the best French Cuisines, you can visit Ambiance Restaurant and Le Rustique. The Italian restaurants are La Dolce Vita, La Prudna D’oro and La Grigla Restaurant. The Indian restaurants are Haandi Udupi, Open House Karen and Westlands. For the best Ethiopian food, check out Habesha and Abyssinia.
Visit OlePolos for the best Nyama Choma. OlePolos is considered the best place to go if you want fried goat’s meat (Nyama Choma). It is located away from the city center. Kenyans and people of all walks of life visit this place to try out the tasty roasted meat which they then wash down with beer or spirits. OlePolos is an excellent place to go to with family and friends. If you have a local friend, this is the place to take him/her provided that they love carnivore diets.
Gp Karting on Lang’ata Road or Ice Skating: If you are looking for a thrilling and adventurous activity with the kids, then you will find this facility amazing. Gp Karting lasts 10 minutes per session and involves speeding through a winding track. If Go Karting didn’t give you enough adrenaline rush, then ice skating at the Panari Sky Center will. This is the first and best ice skating facility in East African. The facility is close to the airport and offers an amazing experience for those who are not familiar with the sport.
Take the Kids to Splash Water World: This is the wettest water park in Nairobi. It has some of the largest swimming pools in Nairobi and water slides too. If you are a parent and wondering where else to take the kids while also having yourself, then this is an ideal place. They have some of the best water slides in Kenya. The facility organizes several other games for kids and parents including beach volleyball, horse and camel riding. You can join the kids as they have fun or sit and enjoy a beer and snack nearby. After having fun in the water and having enough of the other games, you can take the kids to the restaurant or enjoy ice cream.
Visit Local Artisans or buy Souvenir: If you are looking for the best place to buy African souvenir, then you will find no better place than Nairobi. Nairobi has got several art galleries which are run by some of the finest artists in East Africa. Before flying back home from your safari, you can stop by one of the prominent souvenir shops and buy wood-carvings or African fabric. A good place to start your tour is the Banana Hill Art Gallery. This gallery brings together great local talent to produce some amazing paintings and sculptures. If you love art, you will not be disappointed with a visit to this facility.
Attend plays organized by the local theatres: Phoenix Players, Kenya National Theatre and Alliance Francois organize plays on specific days of the week featuring some outstanding local and international talent. The plays can be very entertaining and tend to mimic family and political issues.
Goethe Institute: The Goethe Institute is a great place to go if you are interested in learning about the German culture and that of the local people. Several events are organized by the institute and include plays, local music, art and other culturally educative activities. Goethe Institute is located next to Alliance Francois which as we have already seen is one of the best places to go for local plays.
Visit the Parliament Building: Located within the city center, the Parliament building in Nairobi is one of the most impressively built structures. It is an imposing building with an eye-catching architectural design. You can register and get a permit to attend one of the open parliamentary sessions or simply tour the public galleries. Photos are not allowed anywhere within or outside the building. You will need to bring your passport or other identification documents in order to be allowed inside the building.
Visit the Nairobi National Museum and the botanical garden: The national museum in Nairobi was established in 1920 and shifted to its current location in 1929. It was revamped in 2008 and given a new and refreshing look. The Museum is the best place to learn about the history and cultural heritage of the people of Kenya. The large building displays exhibits of stuffed birds, mammals and Stone Age archeological discoveries by the famous Leakey family. You will also get information about the earliest man, the different tribes in Kenya, a collection of traditional art and craft items. The Museum also has modern shopping Centre’s, restaurants and a botanical garden. These gardens should be an attraction of their own. It has the Kaya forest and a nature trail which passes among impressive sculptures and vegetation.
The Bomas of Kenya: The Bomas of Kenya is a living museum which showcases artisan projects from all the cultural groups in Kenya. It is also an excellent place to go to if one is interested in learning more about the lifestyle, history and culture of the people of Kenya. The Centre hosts several cultural functions, traditional dance performances and local musicals. A typical day at the Centre involves a tour of the art and crafts Centre, attending the well-organized dance performances and mingling with other tourists. Don’t forget to take good photos including that of the model villages.
Go to the Karen Blixen Museum: If you found your visit to the Nairobi Museum fulfilling and are wondering if there is any other place where you can learn more about the history of Kenya and its colonial past, then you might want to check out the Karen Blixen Museum. This e colonial style building is where Karen Blixen, the lead character of the book and Oscar wining movie “Out of Africa” lived together with her husband before they separated. The Museum was established to remember her life but you get to learn a lot about Kenya’s past. While touring the facility, you can visit the bedroom, dining room and see all the furniture she used in the early 1900’s. Time has changed a few things about the house but the vast gardens remain beautiful and the views of the Ngong Hills remain as described in her books. If you are a fun of her movie and books, you can buy “Out of Africa” souvenir or spend part of the day reading her books in a nice environment. A Guide will take you around the facility including the large gardens. There is a small entrance fee which includes the services of a resident Guide. If you want to host a wedding or party from the vast gardens/grounds, you can make an inquiry.
The Ngong Hills: The Ngong Hills are located in the southwestern part of the city overlooking the East African Rift Valley. The Karen Blixen Museum is built at the foot of these hills. The hills are covered with green vegetation and trees which rewards nature lovers with beautiful scenery. The hills also have walking trails, sightseeing and camping spots. If you are in Nairobi for a week or more, this is one place you should visit. The Hills are excellent for hiking, nature walks and evening jogging. You will meet other tourists who have come to check out the place and city residents holding meetings on the slopes. The Ngong Hills provide some of the best sunsets you will see in Africa. You might be interested in reading about the top things to do in Juba South Sudan.
The National Archives and Public Libraries: The National Archives stores everything there is to know about the history of Kenya. It was built at the city center in 1906 and used to house the Bank of India. The National Archives are perfect places to go to if you wish to learn about the country’s past. Apart from the eye-catching British architectural designs, you can check out a whole collection of traditional weapons of war, drums, artifacts, musical instruments, masks, ancient clothing and so much more. The McMillan Library is the biggest public library in Kenya and has been run by the city council since 1932. It still retains the unique colonial era architecture which makes it very attractive to tourists. After visiting the McMillan Library, you can also visit the Rahimtulla Trust Library. It is also a public library and was built along the Mfangano Street.
Go to the Cinema: If you are interested in the latest blockbuster movies around the world, there is no better place to experience that than to go to the 7D Cinema located along Thika Road Mall. You will not miss your home cinema while here. The quality of the screen matches or betters any you have seen out there. You will see and hear audiophile grade sound with all the tiny details – Exactly how it was recorded. You can also check out IMAX Theatre for more movies while eating nicely made popcorn.