Have you ever been to a new location and had no idea what to do? Not in Nairobi. Besides being the largest city in Kenya, Nairobi features a hub of activities that will surely keep you occupied throughout your stay. The city is the safari capital of Africa with bursting wildlife and an eccentric nightlife incomparable to none. That said, the city comes packed with the best things to do in Nairobi Kenya, like sightseeing and hiking on the outskirts of the city. You’ll also notice that there are free things to do in Nairobi like window shopping at the largest mall in East Africa, and some of the best things to see in Nairobi like the largest Ferris Wheel at the Two Rivers Mall. Let’s jump right into these Nairobi things to do!
One of the best things to do in Nairobi Kenya is to explore and discover. Immerse yourself into the Kenyan culture through food, stories, and experiences as these will leave you with memories that last a lifetime. With the many things we’re about to talk about, you’re probably wondering if you’ll be able to do them all. Well, there’s no need to panic because some of the best things to see in Nairobi can also be free like a visit to the Nairobi Flea market. Keep reading to learn more.
In Kenya, one of the biggest tourist attractions is wildlife. Being able to see, explore, and experience wildlife overtakes the white sandy beaches of Diani and relaxed getaways in serene locations. However, what’s even better is a chance to view wildlife very close to the Central Business District of Nairobi.
Yes, with a day tour to the Nairobi National Park, you get the best of both worlds: a classic game reserve drive and access to many other fun-filled activities within the city. Located just a few kilometers from the city center, the National Park is a magical stop that offers guided tours to see the Hippopotamus, Blue Wildebeest, Cheetahs, spotted Hyenas, Impala, Buffalos, Lions, Leopard, Black Rhinos, common Eland, Waterbuck, Olive Baboons, Giraffes, Thomson’s Gazelle, and so much more. If anything, it’s not just fascinating to see these animals in their habitat, it’s also educational and refreshing to be one with nature and wildlife.
Other Nairobi things to do within the park would be to take the safari walk made of a raised wooden boardwalk where you can view animals, plants, and the various species of birds in the park. Lastly, the park also features three ecosystems: forestry, the savannah, and wetlands.
Next up, we have a trip to the elephant nursery at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage located amid the thick bushes of Karen, close to the Nairobi National Park to the south. Visiting the sanctuary is one of the most revitalizing things to do in Nairobi, Africa, because you don’t just visit to watch them, but you can play a hand in taking care of them. You can help feed them, bathe them, or even adopt them.
Open from 11 am to 12 pm, you can join the tour to visit the nursery and watch how these orphaned elephants get a chance to be in the wild again.
You could also take a trip across the sanctuary into the Giraffe Center between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm and hang out with the Rothschild’s giraffes. Watch how they stroll around and reach out to you to hand-feed them. Now that’s one of the best things to see in Nairobi. This was an initiative of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) to open a center that offers a home for these endangered giraffes and acts as its conservation and breeding ground.
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While exploring the Karen area, you can also pop in the Karen Blixen Museum as one of those free things to do in Nairobi. Take a trip down memory lane back to the early 20th century and explore how the Museum became what we know as Karen Blixen. It’s a fantastic location fit for events and personal getaways spread across thousands of acres. This is one of the best things to see in Nairobi!
At the museum, the best things to do in Nairobi Kenya, would be to learn about the old tools that were once used within the farm in the 18 century, now part of an exhibit. These are old plows, a tractor, wagons, and coffee factory equipment. If you’d like, you could also stroll around the luscious garden or purchase something at the souvenir shop. Some of the best things to buy would be posters, postcards, and other mementos.
A few kilometers from Ngong town, on the outskirts of Nairobi there’s an airy, green, and adventurous place that’s a must-visit. It’s a splendid location for hikes and picnics, thanks to its vast land and incredible views of the Great Rift Valley. The best things to see in Nairobi, precisely the Ngong hills, have to be the seven small hills you’ll have to climb to get to the peak.
As you ascend the hills you’ll see the eight wind turbines strategically placed within the Ngong hills wind farm. The hills, the trees, and the mills churning are certainly worth the trip up north.
One of the best Nairobi things to do is to immerse yourself in the Kenyan culture. And what better way you do that than take a tour with locals willing to share about life and experiences in Kenya? Nai Nami, to mean Nairobi with Me, is a youth initiative aiming to story-tell and create awareness about the bad, good, and ugly sides of Nairobi.
Run by a younger generation of previously street kids, you tour different parts of the city, including the slums, national landmarks, and other outright dangerous parts of the city to understand life through those who have lived it day in and day out. The stories are based on past experiences and speculations about the mysteries behind the city, and they hope to inspire or be inspired by people from different backgrounds and cultures.
The Maasai Market is one of the most culturally and socially inspired events in the city. It’s where people from different parts of the country, not just Nairobi, bring in different goods for sale and exhibitions to celebrate over 40 tribes in Kenya. It would be an understatement to say that taking a trip to the market is surely one of the best things to do in Nairobi, Kenya as it’s a top attraction.
From the open-air Market, you can buy many kinds of souvenirs such as African print gift bags, beads, jewelry, fabrics, paintings, the maasai rungu, wood carvings, and other bright and colorful handmade items. The Maasai Market is open in different parts of the city daily like the village market and the city center. Here’s a schedule with the exclusion of Monday as there’s no market on Mondays.
Tuesday: Prestige Plaza along Ngong Road
Wednesday: Capital Centre along Mombasa Road
Thursday: Junction Mall along Ngong Road
Friday: Village Market in Gigiri
Saturday and Sunday: High Court car park in the CBD
Sunday: Yaya Centre in Hurlingham
It’s open from 9 am to 6 pm.
For the longest time, malls have been a show of development within the city and Nairobi has plenty of them. With over seven large malls strategically located in different parts of the city, you’ll have plenty of free things to do in Nairobi, Africa, such as window shopping, face painting, and interacting with the locals.
Did we mention that the malls also provide the best things to buy in Nairobi from over 80 stores selling beauty and skincare products, clothing, toys, footwear, electronics, pet products, food, sporting accessories, and homeware items? What’s more, with the arcades and dedicated play areas, there are many cool things to do in Nairobi like taking Africa’s tallest Ferris wheel or watching a movie in the most advanced 3D cinema in the country at the Two Rivers Mall.
While the mall is great for shopping, dining, and other enjoyable activities, there are also business Malls you can visit. Business Bay Square (BBS), the largest mall in East Africa, houses about 3500 shops, a 7-star hotel, 12 banking halls, 32 restaurants, and three hospitals.
Another excellent pick for Nairobi things to do is to taste the delicacies served in the city. The best things to see in Nairobi are how locals have embraced different cuisines as part of their everyday meals. From modern to relaxed, classy to cozy, Chinese to Indian, Mexican to Italian; there’s a spot to enjoy all your different delicacies for as much or as little as you’d like.
You’ll find numerous restaurants serving nothing but finger-licking food throughout the city. To mention a few, there is Urban Eatery, Java House, Artcaffe, and Mama Rocks, which serve gourmet food. Then we have niche restaurants serving international dishes like About Thyme serving a mix of Asian and Mediterranean; Fogo Gaucho serving Brazilian-inspired meals; Asmara for Ethiopian dishes; Haandi for Indian-inspired restaurants; and For You Chinese restaurant, amongst other great options.
Finally, we have restaurants that serve homestay meals like Nyama Choma and kachumbari. These include the Carnivore restaurant, Amaica, Cultiva Farm, and Nyama Mama; to mention a few.
Like the Maasai Market, the K1 Flea Market is also a great place to get Souvenirs and indulge in food and conversations with locals and foreigners touring the market. The flea market is hosted at the K1 clubhouse in Parklands that’s open daily while the market is present only on Sundays. That means all the best things to do in Nairobi, Kenya will be open for exploration on Sundays.
What’s unique about this flea market is its basic Makuti-style structure with tiny umbrellas hanging overhead as if you’re in Chinatown. The market is affordable and a great location to pass the time.
In the hottest months of January, February, and March, there are many great things to do in Nairobi Africa, one of which is picnicking. Yes, whether it’s a solo picnic or a group experience, there’s nothing like being in Nature. The Nairobi Arboretum Gardens is a tranquil and green heaven, suitable for picnics.
It was established in the early 1900s as a forest reserve with dense forestry spreading across 30 hectares of trees, some of which are indigenous species. Over the years, the grounds have been open to the public for entertainment and leisure. The grounds offer various activities for adults and children like photography, exercises like yoga or walking, group games, camps, and cricket, amongst other activities.
Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, in Kiambu, Paradise Lost has one of the largest man-made lakes with over ten million liters of water trickling down the waterfalls. Paradise is a beautiful oasis that offers the perfect escape from the city’s busy life and a chance to discover more about Kenyan history.
Besides taking the trip to see the stunning waterfall, other best things to see in Nairobi include the anti-colonial caves that housed the Mau Mau fighters. The caves date back 2.5 million years in the stone age and contain old-age artifacts like the obsidian rock used for hunting. Exploring the caves and discovering these artifacts is one of the cool things to do in Nairobi.
While we’re still on the theme of nature, let’s talk about Karura Forest which provides several things to do in Nairobi Africa such as walking, biking, and picnicking. There is over 50km of nature trails at the forest site that you can use for exercise such as running or jogging. You could also bring your bike or rent one at the site and use it through the tracks.
While there, visit the Ragia falls, a beautiful site for relaxing, or birdwatch from the Quaint Cafe as you take in the cool breezy air from the forest.
The Nairobi Nightlife has got to be one of the cool things to do in Nairobi. This is because of how fun, adventurous, and mysterious this nightlife can be. A common trend amongst the youth is Club hopping, where you get a taste of different clubs in one night.
To top that experience, you could indulge in the tiny delicacies and bites served inside and outside the clubs during the wee hours of the night. From Choma sausages to hotdogs, boerewors to boiled eggs, kebabs to fried meat; there’s something for everyone. Of course, you’ll have to try the local Nyama Choma and Kachumbari served with Tusker.
Besides food, other best things to do in Nairobi Kenya at night would be to get in on those nighttime activities like karaoke, listening to live bands and gaming.
When reading about hotels in Nairobi you’ll notice that most hotels rave about panoramic views of Nairobi’s skyline, but the best place to view the city in all its glory is at the rooftop of KICC.
This can be one of the scariest Nairobi things to do because you’ll be standing over 29 floors to get onto a helipad-designed rooftop to enjoy the best city viewpoints. That said, it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Lastly, you can only say you’ve been to Nairobi, Kenya if you’ve explored the pride of Kenyan tea and coffee. It may seem like a boring activity, but visiting a coffee or tea farm is invigorating. The tour how the farmers grow the seeds, process them, roast them, and prepare them for sale or export.
If you’re looking for perfect gifts for yourself and others, the best things to buy in Nairobi are boxes of fresh tea leaves or roasted coffee beans from the Fairview Coffee Estate, Karunguru Coffee Farm, or tea-growing farms in Limuru.
Nairobi is truly an entertainment hub packed with numerous things to do, buy, and explore. From our review, you notice that some of the best things to see in Nairobi have historical, cultural, and social ties to the city. These Nairobi things to do include trips to museums, animal sanctuaries, markets, and restaurants; all of which come together to create the vibrant city of Nairobi.
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