Unmissable Attractions in Nairobi
Stick your neck out and embrace the varied, unmissable attractions of Nairobi | © Cultura Creative RF / Alamy Stock Photo
No trip to Kenya is complete without a stop in the capital. From spending time with animals to learning more about Kenyan culture and tasting local cuisine, here are the unmissable attractions in Nairobi.
Planning a trip to Kenya and want all the details taken care of? Book yourself onto Culture Trip’s seven-day Kenyan adventure, where you’ll venture into national parks on game drives, visit an extinct volcano and have the chance to explore the best of Nairobi.
Go to the top of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre
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As one of the tallest buildings in Kenya, the cylindrical Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is the best place for a 360-degree panorama of Nairobi and its environs. The rooftop helipad is open to visitors, and offers unparallelled views of the central business district and beyond – even as far as Nairobi National Park.
Learn about Kenyan history in Nairobi's museums
If you’re after a bit of culture, head to the the Nairobi Gallery, the Railways Museum or the Karen Blixen Museum. The Nairobi National Museum is a particular highlight, as it tells the story of Kenya’s rich heritage. After an extensive renovation in 2005, today you’ll find galleries dedicated to cultural anthropology, natural history and the 1300 bird species of East Africa.
Discover the culture of Kenyan tribes at Bomas of Kenya
Park, Natural Feature
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Bomas (homesteads) of Kenya is a living museum that displays traditional villages of the many Kenyan tribes. The aim is to preserve, educate and promote the heritage of the varied ethnic groups of Kenya through cultural performance, artefacts and research. With live percussion and a repertoire of over 50 dances, the Bomas Harambee Dancers energetically showcase Kenya’s past and present.
Boutique Hotel, Safari Lodge
This historic manor house in the Lang’ata suburb is an iconic Nairobi landmark thanks to its breakfast visitors. Each morning, the sunny terraces of this boutique hotel are visited by a resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes, who poke their long necks in through the windows in search of a treat. Book a stay to experience it yourself.
Visit Nairobi National Park
Natural Feature, Park
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For the chance to see the Big Five against a backdrop of skyscrapers, step across the raised wooden boardwalk of the Nairobi Safari Walk that cuts through this national park. Only 7km (4mi) from the city, Nairobi National Park is home to the rare bongo, albino zebra and wandering primates.
Zipline at The Forest
Tap into your sense of adventure and go hiking, ziplining and paintballing in the Forest activity centre, a one-hour drive from Nairobi. Here, you’ll be surrounded by the lush greenery of Kereita Forest, deep in the Aberdare mountain range. Other activities include mountain biking, tree planting, camping and archery.
Explore the Ngong Hills
The Ngong hills form a ridge in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, southwest of Nairobi. A walking trail winds across these hilltops, with the eastern slopes looking out over Nairobi National Park and the western ones dropping 1000m (3281ft) into the Rift Valley below. Visit the famous Ngong Hills wind farm and soak in some views.
Hike or cycle in Karura Forest
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This urban forest in the capital is a great place to hike
, with its woodland trails leading to a waterfall, bamboo forest and caves. Look out for the colobus monkey, bush baby, dik-dik and porcupine on your way around. The entrance on Limuru Road is best for access to the waterfall and River Cafe, while the Peponi Road entrance is best for the quieter side of the forest.
See the African Heritage House exhibition
Alan Donovan designed the African Heritage House, and within is displayed an exhibition of art, fabric, books and jewellery that tell the story of Africa. The house faces Nairobi National Park, and its structure was inspired by the mud palaces of Morocco and the Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali, as well as the Swahili architecture of the East African coast.
Visit the one-of-a-kind Kazuri bead factory
Kazuri bead factory started in 1975 as a small women-led workshop producing fine jewellery. Today, it hires over 300 skilled local women, and offers free tours to curious visitors. Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, and the beads are just that: a charming, unique reflection of Kenyan culture. Don’t forget to visit the shop afterwards.
Thrift shop at Maasai Market
© Thomas Cockrem / Alamy Stock Photo
This rotating, open-air market can be found in different places across the city on different days of the week, and sells affordable souvenirs, paintings, curios, handcrafted jewellery, clothing and utensils. You can expect inflated prices as a tourist, so be prepared to respectfully haggle.
See amazing glassware at Kitengela Glass Art
When you arrive at Kitengela, you’ll be greeted by incredible glass sculptures and mosaic ornaments adorning the entrance. Also present are the artisans who work to make glass into art and decor. There are activities, too, including horse riding, felting, swimming and mosaic classes.
Walk on the Scary Bridge of Rolf's Place
Rolf’s Place is a cliff mansion in the southeast of Nairobi National Park. If you’re brave enough, walk the suspension bridge and be rewarded with views of Mount Kenya and the Ngong Hills. The nearby restaurant also has good food.
These recommendations were updated on November 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.