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Despite its relatively small size, 24 hours isn’t really enough time to give Kampala the attention it deserves. But if you’re feeling spontaneous or merely passing through, here’s how to make the most of your time in Uganda’s capital.
Café Javas is a coffee chain famed throughout the city for its great tasting coffee and generously-sized meals. Try their special cappuccino with cardamom and ginger – you won’t find anything as good elsewhere. Take time to savour the filling breakfast as it’s enough to fuel your entire day. It’s best to be seated on the terrace so you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city as you people watch from above.
Strolling along Parliament Avenue, visitors can catch a glimpse of Uganda’s colonial-era parliament building. If you’d like you can go inside and explore this historic site, as parliamentary sessions are open to the public from Tuesday to Thursday from 2pm until 4pm. Watching the government at work is a truly unforgettable experience.
A few metres from the parliament building is the Uganda National Cultural Centre, commonly known as the National Theatre. It’s a relic of a building with a unique architectural design. There are opportunities to attend a daytime performance or even a rehearsal; take a look at the day’s program at the box office to see if there’s something that might interest you. The National Theatre is also home to the Crafts Village, a crafts market with a variety of merchandise and souvenirs ranging from sandals, handbags, shawls, hammocks, paintings, prints, woodwork, metalwork, postcards and more. You can even ask an artist to customise something for you while you wait, or it can be picked up later.
From the National Theatre, hop on a boda boda and head to the Uganda Museum. Like most cities, traffic in the city can be pretty hectic, with commuters having to spend unnecessarily long durations on short distances. Using either UberBoda or SafeBoda are the best options to stay safe and both of these services have apps for iOS and Android. While at the museum, marvel at the diverse cultural heritage on display. Get a photo standing next to Idi Amin’s car or visit the huts that represent the different cultures found across Uganda.
The only Bahá’í Temple on the continent is situated about three kilometres north from the Uganda Museum. The temple is open to believers and non-believers alike. Discover how it came to Uganda and what makes the Bahá’í faith so fascinating. One of the most photogenic buildings in the city, this temple is a must-see and one that’s sure to inspire your Instagram followers.
Grab a boda boda to Wandegeya, a university district, for a traditional lunch at Hajji Ssebankyaye’s restaurant. Stews and groundnut pastes are prepared in steamed banana leaves known as luwombo. It’s probably just a Ugandan thing because it isn’t the norm in ‘local’ restaurants to serve only rice or matooke (mashed and steamed green bananas). Instead diners are served a bit of everything: a slice of yam, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, rice, matooke and cassava, all with your chicken – it’s more like ‘everything in groundnut sauce’. If a heavy meal sounds exhausting, then try the TV Chicken. You will see it in the markets: revolving rotisserie chickens on display in ovens with a choice of a whole, half or quarter chicken served with vegetables and fries. Do not leave Kampala without trying the ‘rolex’, a well-known street snack that consists of a chapati, an omelette and vegetables all rolled up and eaten hot off the stove.
While walking off your food coma take the opportunity to explore Makarere University, Uganda’s largest and one of Africa’s top universities. Opened in 1921, Makarere University is the alma mater of a number of African leaders and was, at one point after independence, a focal point and inspiration for pan African culture.
Tell your boda boda driver to drop you off near Kisementi for a night at The Bistro. The Bistro is well-known for its assortment of cocktails (non-alcoholic included) and their raved-about ribs, while also taking special care of vegetarians and those with special dietary needs.
John Babiha Road, formerly and commonly known as Acacia Avenue, is the place to go for vibrant nightlife. Boasting unique clubs and bars all within walking distance, you’re sure to be entertained all through the night. In the event that you need a place to rest, Bush Pig – a budget hotel – is only a few metres from wherever you’re likely to end your night on the strip. If you’re not on a budget, Protea by Marriot Kampala is also in the vicinity .