How to Spend 24 Hours in Kigali

Boat rides in Kigali | © Courtesy of Leah Feiger
Boat rides in Kigali | © Courtesy of Leah Feiger
Photo of Leah Feiger
6 September 2017

Though Kigali deserves much more time than 24 hours, our travel guide will take you through the best Rwanda’s capital has to offer. Feast on brochettes, admire contemporary Rwandan art, and walk East Africa’s cleanest streets.

Begin your day at the bustling Kimironko market

Start your day wandering through the narrow corridors of Kimironko market, bargaining for avocados, gitenge fabric, and baskets. Begin on the right hand side of the market in the colorful fabric stalls, and marvel at the different patterns that hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and all over West Africa. Make your way through the seamstresses, used clothing, tourist items (don’t forget to buy a basket!), and household tools to get to the food market. Piles of potatoes, plantains, and beans in every color can be found here, and the fruit section is always worth a visit. Grab a banana, mango, or passion fruit as a mid-morning snack. If you ask nicely, you can always find a fruit seller to slice up your purchases for on-the-go eating.

Kimironko Market | © Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Check out Rwanda’s contemporary art scene

The Inema Arts Center is a fixture in Kigali’s creative scene. Home of the city’s best happy hour on Thursdays, the center was opened in 2012 by Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza. The gallery is open from 9am to 6pm, and features the work of 14 different Rwandan artists. Walk around the gallery, and check out their events and activities on offer; yoga classes, concerts, and more are always happening here.

Inema Arts Center | Courtesy of Inema Arts Center

Grab lunch and coffee at Inzora Rooftop Cafe

In addition to offering some of Kigali’s best coffee and baked goods, Inzora Rooftop Cafe is also home to one of Kigali’s best views. The cafe is located in the back of Ikirezi, Kigali’s main bookstore. Order a passionfruit natural soda or an iced coffee, a grilled cheese, and head to the roof. Inzora also sells bags, candles, jewelry, and pottery made by local artisans and designers.

Drinks on the Inzora rooftop | Courtesy of Kigali Eats

Learn about Rwanda’s harrowing past

Most visitors to the country are aware of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. The genocide lasted approximately 100 days, and although the country has come a long way, most tourists still visit Kigali’s genocide memorial to learn more about this terrible event in history. Spend your time walking through the museum, and be aware that it closes at 4pm.

Photos at the Kigali Genocide Memorial | © Trocaire / Flickr

Head to Kimihurura for Dinner

In the past few years, Kigali has seen its restaurant offerings increase dramatically. The Kimihurura neighborhood hosts many of these different and new restaurants that cater to all dietary restrictions and palettes. Enjoy upscale Rwandan brochettes (grilled meat, vegetables, or fish on a stick) at Repub Lounge, or walk around the corner for Belgian and French bistro cuisine at Poive Noir.

Repub Lounge | © Courtesy of Illume Creative Studio

End your day with drinks out on the town

Choma’D, a bar and restaurant located in Nyarutarama, is the spot du jour for many of Kigali’s glitterati and working professionals. Their cocktails are strong, the bar is often packed, and the view is beautiful. For other evening activities, keep your eye on Living in Kigali, a website about Kigali that is often up to date with the city’s best parties and events.

Choma’D in Kigali | © Courtesy of Dereck Kyaru

Enjoy a casual breakfast in Kiyovu

After a packed day and evening in Kigali, wake up and unwind at Baso Patissier, one of Kigali’s best bakeries. Snag an eclair, order an omelette and coffee, and check out the view over their cute garden. And with your last pastry crumb, you’re done – what a way to do 24 hours in Kigali.

Baso Patissier | Courtesy of Kigali Eats