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The Top Things to Do in Nairobi

Hand-feed giraffes and visit orphaned elephants in the city of Nairobi
Hand-feed giraffes and visit orphaned elephants in the city of Nairobi | © ImageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Trishna Shah
17 November 2021
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Kenya is most well known for its dazzling safaris in the Mara and picturesque beaches on the coast – but it is Nairobi, Kenya’s booming city, that is Africa’s culture capital. Here are the best things to see and do.

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 chance to explore the best of Nairobi.

Adopt an elephant at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Architectural Landmark
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A pair of elephants walking across a grass landscape at sunset
© Mylon Ollila / Unsplash

This wildlife trust is one of the most pioneering animal rehabilitation centres in the world. Young, orphaned elephants and rhinos, the victims of poaching and human-wildlife conflicts, are nurtured back to health. To date, it is the proud mother over 150 elephant calves. Between 11am and midday daily, visitors can watch the slurps and gurgles of young orphans being fed as their keepers skilfully administer their supersize feeding bottles. If you’re moved by this humble feat, adopt a young orphan elephant and follow its inspiring journey firsthand.

Picnic in Nairobi National Park

Natural Feature, Park
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A giraffe walks through grasslands
© Murad Swaleh / Unsplash
Which city can boast a fully fledged safari park that houses the Big Five of African wildlife? Nairobi of course. Located only 7km from the city centre, visitors are allowed to take their own car into a mass of highland greenery at a reasonable price. Nicknamed the Kifaru Arc, the park boasts the world’s biggest black rhino population. On weekends, the locals take full advantage of the unique range of picnic spots found within. Be sure to visit the Ivory Burning Monument, a national conservation site where former President Arap-Moi destroyed poached ivory in 1989.

Visit the Nairobi National Museum

Museum
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Entrance of the Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi, Kenya
© Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Alamy Stock Photo
Located 10 minutes from the city centre, Nairobi National Museum boasts a collection of rich, cultural artefacts that date back to the earliest prehistoric remains. Displayed are the incredible skeletal discoveries of homo habilis found by renowned archaeologists, Richard and Mary Leakey at Lake Turkana. There is also an extensive collection of native bird species that will amuse any bird-lover. Join the Kenyan Museum Society every Wednesday morning for a guided bird walk. The museum re-opened its doors in 2008 after extensive renovation and expansion efforts.

Feed giraffes at the Giraffe Centre

Zoo
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Langata Nature Education Centre, Giraffe Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
© DB Travel / Alamy Stock Photo

Get the chance to pet an endangered Rothschild’s giraffe at this world-class nature education centre. Located in Langata, only whispers from Nairobi National Park, this centre is run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. Standing atop a tall wooden platform, visitors can feed giraffes a tasty grub of pellet-shaped biscuits. Be prepared for a welcome dose of giraffe breath and the gentle lick of long, sandpaper tongues.

Take a morning jog in Karura Forest

Forest
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People walking at Karura forest in Kenya
© Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo
The hustle of Nairobi city life can be overwhelming, which is why the lush scenery of Karura Forest is the perfect escape. Early mornings are the best time of day to beat the hot African sun and the rowdy crowd. The forest sits upon a bed of one-million-year-old volcanic rock and houses a variety of indigenous animals such as the big-eyed bush baby and handsome bushbuck. Walk or jog through the ancient Mau Mau caves, remains of the Kenyan struggle for independence, or stop and take a selfie at the local waterfalls.

Explore the Karen Blixen Museum

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Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi, Kenya
© Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Alamy Stock Photo
Made famous by the Oscar-winning film Out of Africa, the Karen Blixen Museum tells an eye-opening story of colonial Kenya. The museum is in fact the house in which Karen Blixen, acclaimed Danish author, lived and wrote her famed memoirs in Kenya between 1917-1931. Frequent visitors included the then Prince of Wales, who she entertained and dined, and English aristocrat and big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, who she courted. Enjoy the splendid view of the surrounding hills and fauna as you explore the preserved belongings of this legendary author.

Feast on a Kenyan karoga at Nairobi Gymkhana

Sports Center, Stadium
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A bowl of fried chicken breast in stewed tomatoes served with wild rice in Kenya
© Sophy Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

A karoga is a Kenyan cookout that takes place in outdoor dining venues. Food can be ordered and cooked in a number of ways: diners can bring their own ingredients and equipment and cook at the venue or those not wanting the stress of cooking can order a la carte and have their food freshly prepared in front of them by the in-house chefs. The bottom line to these cookouts is to cook the food to the exacting tastes of the diners. Don’t miss out on this truly unique dining experience.

Sip a cold Tusker Beer at the Fairview Hotel

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Waiter and waitress carrying the most popular beer brands in Tanzania
© ImageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
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Nairobi’s all-year round great weather means that there’s always time to enjoy the famous local beer, Tusker. Its unique selling point is derived from its local heritage that incorporates barley sourced from the Maasai Mara, as well as local yeast and spring water from the Aberdare mountains. The best place to enjoy Tusker is no doubt by sitting in the vibrant gardens of the Fairview Hotel.
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Tour Brown’s Cheese Factory

Architectural Landmark
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Special knife and famous italian cheese pecorino on small wooden table
© Rostislav Glinsky / Alamy Stock Photo

It’s hard to find consistently good cheese in Nairobi’s supermarkets. That is, until Brown’s award-winning cheese came along in 1979. Everything from halloumi to Valençay is produced from the finest local, organic milk. Located just a half-hour from Nairobi, the factory neighbours the picturesque Rift Valley. Indulge in a tour of the factory coupled with a sumptuous offering of specialty cheeses and a variety of homemade breads and salads for lunch. This will delight cheese lovers.

Shop at the Village Market Curio Stalls

Shopping Mall
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City Market craft stall nairobi kenya
City Market craft stall - Nairobi, Kenya | © Thomas Cockrem _ Alamy Stock Photo

From beaded masks and brass earrings to Maasai spears, shoppers are offered unique, handmade Kenyan crafts at this ever-popular curio market. Be prepared to haggle down prices with your best poker face, or else you’ll be paying an arm and leg for everything. Don’t forget to take a water bottle and empty rucksack to safeguard all your hard-bargained goodies.

These recommendations were updated on November 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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