17/06/2024

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25 Exciting Things To Do in Nairobi

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25 Exciting Things To Do in Nairobi

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Also known as the Green City under the Sun, Nairobi is one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. It’s a vibrant capital that’s home to a mixture of wildlife, nature, and cultural heritage.

With a national park situated on its outskirts and a Giraffe Centre and Elephant Sanctuary nearby, it’s easy to see why so many visitors are drawn to this city. Besides visiting museums, you can also take a walk along the busy streets and experience the Green City’s historical, cultural, and business side.

As a Kenyan native and someone who’s lived in Nairobi for many years, I love sharing my city and Nairobi secrets. Although some of my favorite spots include tourist attractions, I’ll also share with you some local places, superb nightlife joints, and hidden gems.

Here’s my list of some of the most exciting things to do while in Nairobi.

This post was updated in 2023 to include new Nairobi attractions and activities.

25 Things to Do in Nairobi

The stunning Nairobi city skyline and cityscape of Nairobi in Kenya

As a local Kenyan and someone who’s lived in Nairobi for a considerable amount of time, I’m excited to share with you my favorite Nairobi attractions, bars, restaurants, day trips, and more. Nairobi is one of the top places to visit in all of Kenya. Let’s get into it.

1. Explore the Nairobi National Park

A lone male impala takes shade under an acacia tree at Nairobi National Park, Kenya

Nairobi National Park is situated a few kilometers from the city center. Aside from being one of the best places to visit in Nairobi, the park is a good starting point for game reserve and safari trips in Kenya.

It’s accessible both by private and public means from the capital. However, the best way to experience this magical park is by taking a guided game drive.

During the 5-hour early morning game drive of the Nairobi National Park, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife like lions, black rhinos, cheetahs, buffalos, giraffes, and hippos, as well as many bird species.

Some people prefer doing the game drive only, but visiting the Safari Walk inside the park is also both educating and refreshing. The safari walk is home to rhinos, hyenas, and other wild animals. It ranks high up as one of the best places to visit in Nairobi for couples.

2. Visit the Nairobi Elephant Sanctuary

Young orphan elephant with a blurry background in Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya

Also known as the Nairobi Nursery, the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is a great attraction close to the city. It’s a sanctuary where orphaned elephants are taken care of before being re-introduced into the wild.

Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary is one of my favorite things to do on a day trip from Nairobi. The sanctuary is situated about 25 minutes by taxi from the city center.

There’s an entrance fee/donation of 1500 shillings ($15), and it’s only open to visitors for an hour: between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm. This is the time when the keepers bring the baby elephants to a feeding area where the public can see them.

The best way to experience the Elephant Sanctuary is by joining an organized tour. You not only visit the nursery but also the nearby Giraffe Center too.

Address: KWS Central Workshop Gate, Magadi Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

3. Visit the Giraffe Centre

Rothschild Giraffe entering gate and stone wall Giraffe Nature Center near Nairobi, Kenya

An initiative of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, (AFEW), The Giraffe Centre is a conservation, education, and breeding center for the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.

It’s open daily between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, including weekends and public holidays. Aside from the information center, there’s also an elevated platform that allows you to hand-feed the giraffes, an activity that quickly became a favorite of friends of mine I’ve shown around the area.

The center is one of the most popular day trip destinations in Nairobi. It’s also part of the Nairobi wildlife experiences which include a game drive at Nairobi National Park, a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary, and the Karen Blixen Museum.

Another option is to spend a night at this gorgeous BnB that’s about 1 kilometer (a quick walk) to both the Giraffe Centre and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust center.

Address: Duma Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

4. Experience Kenyan Culture at the Bomas of Kenya

Village of traditional round bomas of semi-nomadic Turkana people on shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya.

The Bomas of Kenya is a tourist attraction that displays different aspects of Kenyan culture and heritage. It’s another great option for a day trip from Nairobi due to its proximity to the capital.

If you’re curious about Kenyan communities and their heritage, then the Bomas of Kenya is a must-see. Even as a local, I still find this kind of cultural tour fascinating as a glimpse into another way of life.

On the tour, you’ll experience Kenyan diversity through traditional dances, food, and vernacular architecture.

Busy city street in Nairobi, Kenya

Nai Nami (Nairobi With Me) is an initiative started by youths and is aimed at creating awareness about Nairobi street children through walking tours.

Every city in the world has a story – fun, interesting, or dark – and Nairobi is no exception. Every traveler returns home with their own stories based on experience or speculation. 

One of the mysteries of the city is why it’s referred to as “Nairobery.” For many years, I never knew the reason either.

If you’re keen on unlocking the mystery, like I was, join the city walking tour and wander along the alleys. You’ll uncover and understand its past and present through the eyes of those who have lived here night and day.

The tours are run by a younger generation from slums and former street kids who know every corner of the city like the back of their hands, making this experience one of the best tours in Nairobi.

Some of the city attractions featured on the walking tour include famous landmarks, museums, monuments, and old architecture.

☞ SEE ALSO: 15 Best Things To Do and Places to Visit in Mombasa

6. Go Shopping at a Maasai Market

Maasai rungu decorated with beads in different colors and sold as a souvenir at a local Maasai market

As a local, I love the Maasai Market and still visit on a regular basis when I’m in Nairobi. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the top Nairobi attractions.

The Maasai Market is an open-air market in Nairobi that’s held in different locations throughout the week.

Travelers visit the Masai Market to see and shop for gifts and keepsakes like paintings, beads, jewelry, fabrics, and wood carvings.

The best days to visit are Saturdays and Sundays when the market is located in Nairobi city center, (at the high court parking lot).

An alternative to the Masai Market is the City Market which is open daily.

If you’re keen to test your bargaining skills, join this Maasai Market and skyline experience in Nairobi

7. Visit the Gikomba Market

Woman shopping for clothes at a market in Nairobi, Kenya

Situated on the outskirts of the city, Gikomba is one of the biggest markets in Kenya. Vendors in the market sell clothes, accessories, and other items.

Because of its size and many stores, it’s easy to get lost in the market, even for locals. I’ve probably gotten lost every time I’ve visited. Although somewhat daunting, this also makes it one of the most adventurous places to visit in Nairobi.

I recommend that you go with someone who knows the market well to guide you through the stalls and to avoid heading off course.

Address: Kamukunji Road, Nairobi, Kenya

☞ SEE ALSO: 10 Best Things To Do in Nanyuki

8. Experience the Nairobi Nightlife

The beautiful downtown district of Nairobi, Kenya, at dusk with city lights

Try out local food like Nyama Choma and Kachumbari, drink Tusker beer (an East African pale lager), and create some moments to remember by joining this amazing Nairobi nightlife experience.

Without experiencing the nightlife, a trip to any city or town is usually incomplete. In my younger years, I spent a lot of time enjoying late nights out in Nairobi and I can say from experience that the nightlife is truly excellent.

You can indulge in nighttime activities like partying, board gaming, karaoke, dancing, watching plays, or listening to live bands.

Exploring Nairobi at night is great, and it’s a fun and exciting way to experience the local culture.

If you’re planning on traveling around Kenya, make sure to have a look at our complete Kenya Travel Guide which offers lots of information on the things to do, costs of travel, places to visit, dos and don’ts, how to get around the country and much more.

9. Go Hiking at the Ngong Hills

The Ngong Hills are visible in stunning detail

Situated some kilometers from Ngong Town, the Ngong Hills are one of the best places to visit near Nairobi. The hills offer an amazing day hike outside the city with incredible views of the great rift valley.

For as long as I’ve lived in Nairobi, I’ve always considered Ngong Hills a great destination. The seven hills from the Ngong Forest Gate to Kona Baridi will test your fitness level and reward you with the most memorable experience.

There aren’t any wild animals in Ngong Hills, making it a great place for solo travelers and groups. The forest is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and the rates are affordable.

Please note that cash payments are not accepted at the Ngong Hills – only Mpesa or Card, (Visa or MasterCard).

The best way to experience the Ngong hills is to join a hiking trip. The climb takes about 5 hours from gate to gate, through open fields and natural forest trails. To top if off you can try ziplining over the forest canopy (optional).

10. Chase the Githiga Caves and Waterfalls

Woman seated near waterfalls near Nairobi, Kenya.

If you’re looking for waterfalls near the city, the Githiga Waterfalls should be at the top of your list.

Karuru Falls (in the Aberdares) and Ragia Falls are the most spectacular, but the wonderful thing about visiting the Githiga waterfalls is that the journey takes you through idyllic highlands and tea farms.

And at the end, you’ll see caves where Kenyan freedom fighters hid during the struggle for independence.

I love waterfalls, and as a tour guide, when planning my activities in Nairobi, I’m always sure to include destinations that offer beautiful waterfalls.

Do you like chasing waterfalls too? If yes, join this fun waterfall tour.

11. Experience Nature at the Karura Forest

A beautiful trail on a sunny day at Karura Forest

If you’re into nature and outdoor activities, you have a good enough reason to visit Nairobi – in particular, the Karura Forest.

Besides engaging in activities such as jogging and cycling, Karura Forest is a wonderful place for bird watching, walking, and relaxing.

The forest is open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm (gates close at 7:00 pm).

For first-timers, it’s best to visit and experience Karura Forest with someone who knows the trails well. They’ll be able to expertly guide you through the tracks, which is especially helpful when running or biking.

12. Visit a Local Farmer’s Market

Fruit for sale in a farmer's market in Nairobi, Kenya

Besides wildlife, safaris, and nightlife, there are other fun things to do in Nairobi, such as visiting a local farmer’s market.

There are many grocery shops in Nairobi neighborhoods, but for an adventurous and wonderful shopping experience, I prefer visiting the City Park Market.

This local market has everything from fresh vegetables and fruits, to meat and cereals. It’s situated close to a public park where locals and residents hang out in the evening.

13. Learn to Cook a Traditional Kenyan Meal

On the table is a Kenyan beef curry.

Buying, preparing, and cooking Kenyan food is one of the most fun activities in Nairobi, and this cooking class immerses you into the people’s way of life and their culture. It’s perfect if you’re a little adventurous and curious about creating some Kenyan meals for yourself.

If you’re not interested in the market portion of the tour, the same chef also has the same tour minus the market visit, and it’s a little bit cheaper. Learn more here.

If this is something that interests you, check out locals who offer such experiences, often from their own homes!.

14. Visit a Kenyan Coffee Farm

Coffee beans in a coffee roaster

One of the best things to do in Nairobi is to visit a coffee farm, and the most popular coffee farms near the city are Fairview Coffee Estate and Karunguru Coffee Farm.

A visit to either of these farms offers a chance to learn everything you could wish to know about Kenyan coffee. You’ll be taken on a journey of how it is grown, processed, roasted, and prepared. At the end of this wonderful experience, you’ll get to enjoy a cup of coffee whilst watching the everyday activities of the scenic farms.

If you’re the type of traveler looking for grassroots education, there’s no better place in Africa to immerse yourself in coffee than Kenya. Join a tour and learn how to roast your own beans for the perfect cup of coffee.

15. Visit a Tea Farm in Limuru

Tea estate in Limuru near Nairobi, Kenya

Tea is so much more than just a beverage. It’s also a culture, and for many Kenyans, a way to provide for their families. Touted as one of the world’s best tea countries, the Kenyan tea story is both beautiful and educational.

From picking the leaves to understanding the process of tea production, Limuru is one of the places you must visit near Nairobi.

A trip to one of the tea-growing farms in Limuru like Tigoni gets you out of the busy city and also takes you through the beautiful landscapes of the Kenyan highlands.

Besides, you get to interact with locals, learn the process, and get hands-on as you prepare your own cup of tea.

Several local hosts offer immersive tea farm tours near Nairobi, where you’ll be taken to a tea farm in a place like Tigoni.

16. Learn to Play the African Djembe Drum

Close-up of a man's hands playing on an African djembe drum; selective focus on hands with blurry background.

Just like in other countries, traditional music is a form of language for Kenyans. The accompanying beats and percussions are therapeutic.

Instruments such as the djembe drums, Litungu, and shakers speak about our cultures more than words can, and learning how to make music from these instruments is an art you’ll be pleased to share when you return home.

The Bomas of Kenya is one of the most unique places to go to in Nairobi where you can learn about Kenyan music. Just past the Utamadumi restaurant, there are shops that showcase and sell traditional musical instruments.

Alternatively, travelers can learn how to play African instruments like Djembe from professional dance artists in Nairobi.

17. Join a Tour of the Karen Blixen Museum

The Karen Blixen Museum outside of Nairobi, Kenya

Karen Blixen Museum Tour is one of our best for Nairobi sightseeing. It explores the life, love, struggles, and tragedies of Karen Blixen during her time in Kenya.

This museum is a beautiful farmhouse and park where Baroness Karen von Blixen, author of Out of Africa, lived from 1914 until 1931.

If you love history, this is a great place to learn about Nairobi during the early years of the 20th century. There’s a great deal of information, and every time I visit I learn something new and interesting.

The museum is open daily for guided tours and besides learning, you’ll also find Karen’s books as well as souvenirs in the gift shop.

Afterward, you can enjoy a cup of coffee at the Tamambo Restaurant or visit the nearby Kazuri Beads Factory.

Address: Karen Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

18. Take an Empowerment Walking Tour of Kibera

A walking tour of Kibera slum near Nairobi, Kenya

The Kibera Empowerment walking tour is one of the best things to do in Nairobi. This locally guided tour takes you through the largest slum in Africa.

Some of the experiences include visiting a crafts center and hearing powerful stories from dreamers and creatives who call the slum home – one of the most authentic experiences in Nairobi.

19. Listen to the Stories of Kenya at Pawa254

A group of happy children smiling at the camera in the streets of Nairobi, Kenya

If you love art, then Pawa254 is a must-visit. Go to this a creative space in Nairobi for artists, painters, and storytellers to listen to the stories of Kenya from Imbaka. Here, you can enjoy both vocal and visual tales.

We are all stories, or rather, our stories define us. Stories about Kenya – how we live, dance, play, worship, and more, are well worth exploring on your trip to Nairobi.

20. Walk in Search of Nairobi Monuments

A high-angle image of Nairobi's downtown at dusk, showing skyscrapers and traffic.

Nairobi wouldn’t be a leading tourist destination in Kenya without its monuments: Dedan Kimathi statue, Tom Mboya statue, war memorial pillars, Kipande house, Macmillan library, and many more.

All of these national monuments recount the colonial history of Kenya. It’s an adventure back in time to when Nairobi was just but a swamp. Past, present, and future representations of the city intermingle. New streets pop up, and old buildings are replaced, but some monuments still stand tall.

There are historical monuments, majestic architecture, and statues to gaze at on almost every corner. Taking a stroll through any part of Nairobi is a journey of discovery, one that I enjoy very much every time I hit its bustling city streets.

21. Get Lost at the Nairobi National Museum

Located a few minutes from the city center, Nairobi National Museum is one of the best places to visit in Nairobi. It’s a flagship of the National Museums of Kenya and houses collections of artworks, culture, and history of Kenya. 

The Nairobi National Museum experience is very popular with locals and international visitors. I know, having enjoyed it just as much as the international friends I’ve taken there.

Address: Kipande Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

22. Visit the August 7 Memorial Park

The August 7 Memorial Park is situated along Haile Selassie Avenue in the heart of Nairobi. It’s a peaceful outdoor space for remembering victims of the 1998 US embassy bombing.

The information center showcases photos and a documentary of events leading to the twin bombings in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam.

Address: Junction of Moi Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya

23. Go on a Day Trip to the Amboseli National Park

Elephants strolling through the African Savanna's Amboseli National Park.

One of the most amazing national parks near the city is Amboseli, one of my all-time favorites anywhere in the world for stunning panoramic views.

If you’re short on time but still want a safari experience outside Nairobi, you should absolutely consider a day trip to the Amboseli National Park.

Most safari trips to national parks and tourist attractions in Kenya are easily accessed from Nairobi, including Amboseli, located about 4 hours away.

You’ll get the chance to go on a game drive, spot Mount Kilimanjaro, visit a local Masai Village, and still make it back to Nairobi in time for a nightlife experience.

24. Explore the Railway Museum

The modern Nairobi Railway Station near the rustic Railway Museum

Another place worth visiting in Nairobi is the Railway Museum.

What I love about the museum is its contrast with the nearby railway station. While the station is new with modern amenities, the museum takes you through Nairobi’s rich historic past.

It houses facts and information about the railways of Kenya and how they were built, and exhibits the Kenya-Uganda railway. Outside the main building, there’s a display of old locomotives including the famous Garatts.

On your way to the museum, there’s a bridge from which a railway graveyard is visible. Old rolling stock from the 1900s is parked along the tracks and this experience brings about ideas of what life with the steam locomotives must have been like.

Visit the Nairobi Railway museum and take a tour of the history of railway transport in East Africa.

25. Cycle in the Wild at the Hells Gate National Park

Hells Gate National Park with the 'tower' in the distance and Lake Naivasha in Kenya.

After visiting attractions in Nairobi, you might want to spend a day away from the city in the great outdoors at Hell’s Gate National Park.

Situated about 90 kilometers outside Nairobi, the park is very unique and the only one in Kenya where you can walk or cycle in the wild. You can cycle whilst enjoying great landscapes, and watch wildlife such as giraffes, zebras, and gazelles.

After the activities in the park, go for a swim at the natural pool or visit the nearby Lake Naivasha for a boat ride.

See also: 15 Best Things To Do in Naivasha

Nairobi has many attractions that appeal to those who are interested in history, art and local culture, wildlife, nature, or shopping. Some of the other popular visitor attractions include the Nairobi Arboretum, Oloolua Nature Trail, the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Uhuru Gardens, and the African Heritage House.

Visit and explore authentic experiences in Nairobi.

Quick Travel Itineraries for Nairobi

Zebras in front of the Nairobi city skyline

Are you visiting Kenya’s capital soon and wondering what there is to do and see?

If yes, below is a list of fun things to do in Nairobi. It includes itineraries for Nairobi if you’re visiting for the day, three days, or a week.

1 Day in Nairobi Itinerary

If you’ve only got one day in Nairobi, you’ll have to plan efficiently. This itinerary allows you to get a good sampling of the top activities to do in the city.

Start your day by heading to the outskirts of the city. Visit the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary and the nearby Giraffe Center. Afterward, return to the city center for a walking tour.

A walking tour of Nairobi is a must-do. It takes you through historical buildings, monuments, and museums that you might otherwise miss alone. You also get a chance to test your bargaining abilities whilst shopping for gifts at the Masai Market (open air) or City Market.

There’s no better way to end your one day in Nairobi than to experience the city’s nightlife. There are a number of restaurants and bars worth visiting. There are many choices that offer good food, drinks, and occasional live bands.

2-3 Days in Nairobi Itinerary

It’s possible to cover some of the best things to do in Nairobi in a day. However, if I’m honest, 24 hours in the city isn’t sufficient to experience all the amazing activities the city is known for.

I recommended staying for at least 2 days in Nairobi to see all the main attractions. Below are the things you must do in Nairobi in 3 days.

The first day in Nairobi should be dedicated to a wildlife experience. It prepares you for safari expeditions if you have more time in Kenya. Your first stop will be the Nairobi National Park for a game drive. Later on, you can visit the Elephant Sanctuary and Giraffe Center.

There are several fun places to visit in Nairobi City Center. On your second day, you’ll start by walking along the streets of the city. Here, you’ll appreciate ancient architecture, see important monuments, and learn the history of Kenya. The last stop of the day is at a bar or restaurant to experience Nairobi’s vibrant nightlife.

The third day takes you to Bomas of Kenya where you learn about the rich culture and heritage of Kenya. Watch traditional dances, see homesteads, and enjoy local cuisine at the Utamaduni restaurant later on.

1 Week in Nairobi Itinerary

If you have a whole week in Nairobi, it’s possible to experience everything within the city and even enjoy fun day trips.

Monday to Wednesday: Go on a game drive at the Nairobi National Park and visit other wildlife centers like the Giraffe Center.

Thursday to Friday: Explore other places to visit near Nairobi. You can join a day trip to Amboseli National Park, hike Mt Longonot, experience Hell’s Gate National Park, and visit Lake Naivasha.

Saturday and Sunday: Your last 2 days in Nairobi should be spent exploring the city, visiting artists in Kibera, sampling traditional foods, and immersing in Kenya’s culture. End your weekend by experiencing the best of the city’s nightlife.

FAQs About Things to Do in Nairobi

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Nairobi. 

What are the best places to visit in Nairobi on a budget?

There are many cheap places to visit in Nairobi. These include the Bomas of Kenya, Giraffe Center, Masai Market, and Railway Museum. You can also experience the city on foot or explore its nightlife.

What are the top attractions in Nairobi?

Besides the Nairobi National Museum and Bomas of Kenya, the City Market, Karen Blixen Museum, and Ngong Hills are some of the top attractions in Nairobi.

What are the most popular activities in Nairobi?

Exploring Nairobi on foot with former street kids, eating traditional food at Ronalo foods, and visiting the Giraffe Center are considered the most popular activities in Nairobi.

When do I visit the Nairobi Elephant Sanctuary?

Visits to the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary take place every day between 11 am and 12 noon. The center is closed on December 25th. Entry fees are Kshs 1500 and tickets are available through advance booking only. However, if you’re joining a day trip to the Elephant Sanctuary, a booking will be made on your behalf.

What are the attractions close to Nairobi National Park?

There are several tourist attractions near Nairobi National Park like the Bomas of Kenya, Giraffe Center, Uhuru Gardens, and Mamba village.

What are the best places to visit close to Karen Blixen Museum?

There are several attractions and things to do near Karen Blixen Museum like Kazuri Beads Factory, Tamambo restaurant, and Olollua nature trail.

What are the nearest attractions to the National Museum?

There are several tourist attractions near Nairobi National Museum like the August 7th Memorial park, KICC, Railway Museum, and Nairobi Gallery.

How to get to Nairobi?

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, (NBO), is the major airport for arrivals. It’s located about 18 Kilometers from the city center and shared taxis like Uber are the cheapest and best option when it comes to transfers to your hotels in Nairobi. A trip into most neighborhoods costs about Kshs 2000.

Where to eat in Nairobi?

You can experience Kenyan cuisine at the Ronalo Kosewe Foods or Kilimanjaro restaurant located along Kimathi street. They have different Kenyan dishes like ugali and fish which starts at Ksh 500. Nyama Choma, (barbecue), is also available from roadside restaurants which goes well with a cold Tusker beer.

Now You Know What to Do in Nairobi

There are many places to visit and things to do in Nairobi. The activities are situated either near the city or just a short distance away, but they all offer you a worthwhile experience.

Whether you choose to go for a game drive, nature walks, or indulge in historical tours and nightlife, Nairobi will not disappoint.

Visit Kenya and discover the fun, the wild, and the cultural side of the Green City Under the Sun.

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