7 Things To Do In Huye

Cattle in Rwanda © World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
Cattle in Rwanda © World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
Photo of Molly Petrey
9 February 2017

Formerly known as Butare, Huye is the second most important city in Rwanda and commonly known as the cultural hub of this tiny East African country. Ravaged by genocide in the 1990s, Rwanda is gradually overcoming its past; however, it remains fairly untrodden in terms of tourism. However, this turbulent past and subsequent burgeoning recovery means there are some intriguing places to check out and things to do if you happen to be passing through.

Cathedral in Huye | © Adam Jones/Flickr

Visit the Cathedral

Constructed in the 1930s to commemorate the life of Princess Astrid, the cathedral in Huye is the largest in all of Rwanda. While it may not be the most traditionally spectacular structure, it is still impressive and well worth paying a visit to if you fancy hearing some loud and proud gospel singing which often takes place within. Constructed in red brick, the cathedral is an imposing presence in its bare surroundings, and right above the entranceway has an oversize cross built into the structure. Visiting would make a pleasant morning out.

Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre

For those with a strong stomach who want to learn more about the true extent of the atrocities committed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Genocide Memorial in neighboring Murambi is one of the best places to do so. Located some 30km outside of Huye, this moving and emotional site is easy to reach and absolutely unforgettable. Guides are available to show you around the site and explain the significance of each area, as the memorial is situated in the very school where thousands of Tutsis were found and massacred by Hutus. Most certainly not for the fainthearted, particularly as skeletons of the deceased are on full display, but definitely a powerful experience that will change your outlook on life.

Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre, Murambi, Rwanda

National Ethnographic Museum

Designed by the Belgian architect Lode van Pee, the National Ethnographic Museum (also known as the Nation Museum of Rwanda) is perhaps the most recognized tourist attraction located in Huye. Its modern exterior is elegant and attractive, but the real interest in this building lies within, because as with the cathedral, the historical and cultural significance helps add greater weight to the architectural achievements of the place. This specialist museum details Rwanda’s pre-colonial past and has an excellent collection of artifacts, as well as explanations and the possibility for guided tours in English.

National Ethnographic Museum, Huye, Rwanda

University of Rwanda, Huye Campus

Cattle in Rwanda
Cattle in Rwanda | © World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
Despite its prominence as the cultural hub of Rwanda, Huye is still a relatively small town, so finding live music spots – including bars and clubs – can be tricky. If you really want to search out live music during your stay, heading down to the University of Rwanda campus in Huye is your best bet. They have a mixture of both native and non-native performers, with one recent visit by the American bluegrass group, the Henhouse Prowlers, going down particularly well. Part of a cultural exchange, this group went on to perform at several other venues across Rwanda during their visit. Definitely the place to check out if you’re looking for live music in Huye.

King's Palace Museum

Actually situated outside of Huye in nearby Nyanza, the King’s Palace Museum is a no-brainer inclusion on our list for its great cultural significance in Rwanda. Tourist-friendly and well signposted in English, you’ll have no problem reaching this museum, which features an impressively detailed replica of the king’s palace. This dome shaped construction, crafted from reeds, is dominated inside by the bed, and the walls are lined with woven baskets for storage. Besides the replica, which is architecturally fascinating, there are several other buildings including the beer and milk houses, as well as enclosures filled with some impressively horned cattle adorned with beaded headdresses.

Check out Inzozi Nziza

This interestingly named ice cream parlor, developed initially as a women’s economic empowerment initiative, has had many a travel guide list dedicated to it, and so can often be found more populated by tourists than locals. Meaning “sweet dreams” in Kinyarwanda, Inzozi Nziza is a great place to drop into if you’re craving a refreshing soft serve in the Rwandan heat. If you’re not sure what to get, try out the regularly rotating flavors of the day. Sometimes you’ll get coffee, sometimes passionfruit. Run by an all-female cooperative, there is even a documentary about this place. The hours are irregular, but it’s generally open from 9am-9pm daily.

Inzozi Nziza, Huye, Rwanda

Try Rwandan coffee

If ice cream doesn’t take your fancy, then the place you need to check out is CXC Coffee, known interchangeably as Coffee Connection, C&C Café Connexion or Cox Coffee Shop. No confusion is to be had however, as this is pretty much the most well-known and best coffee in the city. Unassuming from the outside, this little roastery sells coffee beans by the kilo if you fancy taking some home, but is also a great café with friendly and welcoming staff that will gladly sell you smooth and rich coffee by the cup. Dominated by the huge and rather intimidating looking coffee machine, this café-of-many-names is one you should try.

CXC Coffee, Huye, Rwanda

By Lauren Cocking

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