Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is a place of fascinating history, stunning architecture, and incredible cultural and ethnic diversity. The city has an active, busy vibe and it's a great place to have fun too. Several days of a Nairobi visit will allow you to explore a variety of sights and beautiful attractions.
Nairobi stands out not only as a magnificent city in Kenya, but in the whole of Africa. This city is populated with diversity in terms of ethnic composition, language, food, and more. There are several things to do in Nairobi, from safari tours to museum visits.
To get a fantastic feel of Kenyan life, Nairobi is the ultimate place. Not only is it a significant economic and educational hub, but it’s also filled with a variety of attractions and sustainable activities to try. If you want to tour Nairobi, this article is a handy guide for you. Read on!
Top Attractions in Nairobi
Nairobi has the kind of top attractions not often found in other capital cities, if ever! Nairobi’s places of interest are worth exploring, whether you are on solo travel or a group tour. Our top picks include:
Nairobi is the only capital city in the world to have a protected game park. Just outside the city is the expansive Nairobi National Park, home to hundreds of animals and plant species. This game park is also home to four of the Big Five animals: Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, and Leopard. There are also cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeest, and hundreds of migratory birds living there.
A day tour to the Nairobi National Park is one of the most thrilling things to do in Nairobi. The Park’s proximity to the city makes it easily accessible. You can access it with your own car, or a tour guide is a great way to see the Park. You can board a tour van at the main gate.
The Park is open seven days a week, and you can access it any day. The most exciting thing in Nairobi is witnessing animals in their natural habitat, while on the other side, towering buildings punctuate the city skyline.
There is nothing like the satisfying feeling of adventure when you visit the Karura Forest. A Karura Forest tour is an excellent way to escape the fast-paced side of the metropolis. The breathtaking waterfall, green scenery, and bird melodies provide the ultimate relaxation.
Located a few kilometers outside Nairobi, Karura Forest is a great place to hike and explore biodiversity. Here, you can engage in activities such as tree planting, horse riding, and adventure cycling.
Boma is a Swahili word meaning homestead, and the Bomas of Kenya is a cultural complex located off Lang’ata Road south of Nairobi. This center is a great place to learn about the art, lifestyle, crafts, and music of different Kenyan tribes. You can catch up with traditional dances performed each afternoon by multiple groups.
Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC)
Named after Kenya’s first post-colonial president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the KICC is an eye-catching landmark. From the top of this 28-storey architectural marvel, you can take in 360-degree amazing views of the city below. Carry some binoculars with you to explore the city's breadth, and Nairobi National Park beyond.
Top Things to Do in Nairobi
There are lot fun things to do in Nairobi:
Visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
If you are a lover of wildlife conservation, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a must-visit. Located at the Nairobi National Park gates, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a famous conservation area for endangered elephant and rhino species.
A visit to this park is beneficial for several things. First, it allows you to support wildlife conservation through donations that go directly to conservation efforts. Second, it gives you a closer view of animal species without interfering with them.
Shopping at Maasai Market
The Maasai Market is an open-air market with a wide range of items related to the Maasai culture. The Maasai culture, which traces back to the 15th century, is one of the most distinct cultures in the world. It’s punctuated by bright red and blue regalia and colorful neck and leg beads.
One of the most interesting things to do in Nairobi is a visit to the Maasai Market. You will find various cultural items such as clothes, fabrics, curios, jewelry, wood carvings, and more. The market moves around the city as follows:
- Tuesdays: Prestige Plaza rooftop, off Ngong Rd
- Wednesday: Capital Center Along Mombasa Rd
- Thursday: Along Ngong Rd at the Nakumatt Junction
- Friday: Village Market, Gigiri
- Saturday: Nairobi Law Courts parking lot
- Sunday: Yaya Center, Adams Arcade, Ngong road
Whichever day you choose, be sure you’ll get a wide variety of items!
Tour the Panoramic Ngong Hills
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, then you can think of the Ngong Hills. It’s one of Nairobi’s most under-traveled natural places. You can trek from Ngong Town up to the summit while exploring the spectacular scenery. This tour allows you to explore the windmills that add green energy to the country’s grid. At the top, you will be treated to panoramic views of the Great Rift Valley and the city itself.
Take a Road Trip to Tigoni, Limuru
Limuru is one of the most spectacular places to visit if you are looking for a great outdoor excursion. It lies a few miles from Nairobi and treats its visitors with amazing views. Limuru is famous for its endless fields of tea and dairy farms.
Limuru is a less-traveled area, and the majority of the roads are virtually empty, except for a few pickup trucks and matatus that ply the various routes. Matatu is a broad term for public transport that’s either a bus, minibus, or van.
The tea farms provide breathtaking scenery, especially during sunny days. It’s also a great place to cycle, given that most parts of Nairobi aren’t bicycle-friendly.
Nairobi is a bustling capital, and like most cities in the world, it has its extremes. Kibera is an impoverished, large informal settlement dominated by low-income earners. Through a Kibera Tour, you can contribute to some of the humanitarian projects such as the fight against HIV/AIDS, girl education, and more. There are various sustainable organizations that undertake these projects, and you can join hands with them to help make Kibera a better place.
Visit the Nairobi National Museum
There isn’t a better place to explore the history of Kenya than the Nairobi National Museum. Located about one mile from the city’s center, this museum allows you to explore.
You will find fossils of human beings and animals that date back to the prehistoric period, Stone Age artifacts, and more. You will also find skeletal discoveries of globally renowned archeologists Richard and Mary Leakey.
Visit the Karen Blixen Museum
The Karen Blixen Museum is the best place to learn about the history of colonial Kenya. This Museum, the home of Danish author Karen Blixen, has a collection of images, documents, and several colonial period items. These collections give an idea of what life was like when Kenya was under British Rule from 1895 to 1963.
Where to Eat in Nairobi
Nairobi typically has all sorts of foods you can think of, from international Mexican and Italian cuisines to local mouthwatering delicacies. Despite the wide variety of dishes available, the local varieties are by far the most impressive. Here are some of the best places to eat in Nairobi:
Fish at Mama Oliech and Osumo Bigfish
Mama Oliech is one of Kenya’s best places to eat fish. Despite being a local joint, it has attracted the world’s top individuals, such as Mark Zuckerberg. This joint, which is located in Hurlingham, will treat you to an amazing meal of fish, mostly Tilapia and Nile Perch.
Osumo BigFish is an upcoming fish joint ideal for its ever-fresh fish from Lake Victoria. It’s located in Nairobi’s Kasarani area and is accessible through the Thika Super Highway.
Meat (Nyama Choma)- Burma Market and Kamakis along Eastern Bypass
Nyama Choma (roast meat), as it’s popularly referred to, is one of Kenya’s most popular dishes. If you want to have some roast beef, Kamakis along the Eastern Bypass is the place to be. Nyama Choma is served with local dishes such as Mukimo, Ugali (Kenya’s staple food), potato chips, and more. Mukimo is made of mashed potatoes, green vegetables, and boiled green maize, and is predominant among the Kikuyu community. Ugali, on the other hand, is made from cooking maize flour in boiling water. These dishes are highly popular due to their delicious appeal and ease of preparation.
The Burma Market near City Stadium is another excellent place to eat. Beef sold here is sourced from local communities such as the Samburu, Pokot, Maasai, and Marakwet, whose economic activity is predominantly livestock keeping. This meat is highly healthy, as these animals feed exclusively on natural grass and leaves.
Foreign Dishes- Fogo Gaucho
The Fogo Gaucho is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse located along Waiyaki Way. It is a great place to eat salads, steak, and more.
What You Need to Pack in Nairobi
Nairobi isn’t an overly complicated city. It’s flexible in terms of food, drinks, accommodation, and more. When traveling around Nairobi, here are some essential things to carry around:
Sustainable Water Bottle. Whenever you are in Nairobi, never forget to carry a reusable water bottle that you can always refill whenever you come across a water refilling shop. This is because water is largely sold in plastic bottles that contribute a large percentage of the city’s waste. Also, not everyone provides clean drinking water, and it’s always a better idea to buy purified water from a certified refilling shop than drink water you are unsure of its source.
Cash and MPESA Payments. Cash payment is primarily accepted in Nairobi. However, some places may require MPESA only payments. Don’t worry, MPESA is a simple mobile wallet accessible through your mobile phone’s toolkit. All you need is to register a Safaricom Simcard at an agent and deposit some cash. It’s so simple you can get that done in under 10 minutes. Few places accept credit or debit card payments, so ensure you have some money in cash or in your mobile wallet.
Things You Should Know About Nairobi
Things are Relatively Cheap in Nairobi. You can acquire many things for under $20. Food in local joints, for instance, costs as low as $2. Public transport is very cheap, with most matatus going for less than a dollar. In low-peak hours, it can go as low as 20 Kenya shillings, equivalent to $0.2.
Overcrowding and traffic jams are common. Traffic jams are common, especially in the morning and evening hours. On Sundays, the city is largely empty, with no traffic jams or overcrowding. However, you may experience some traffic jams in the evening.
Learn Basic Swahili. Swahili is easy to learn. You can learn a few essential Swahili words to communicate with locals effortlessly.
The City Isn’t Without Its Downsides: Petty crimes such as mugging, phone snatching, and pickpocketing do happen sometimes. Always have your phone in your pocket and only take it out whenever you have to.
Nairobi Isn’t so Bike-friendly. If you want to ride a bike, try on the outskirts of Nairobi, in places such as Limuru.
The Bottom Line
There you have the top sustainable things to do in Nairobi. The city is full of adventure, and the more you discover its diversity and amazing places, the more you will find it a wonderful place to be.
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