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Explore Nairobi

Nairobi City County > Explore Nairobi

Location

Nairobi is the Capital City of Kenya. It is situated at in South-Central Kenya, 140 Kilometers (87 miles) south of the Equator. It is surrounded by 113 km² (70 mi²) of plains, cliffs and forest that makes up the city’s Nairobi National Park. It is adjacent to the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, and to the west of the city, are The Ngong Hills. Mount Kenya is situated north of Nairobi, and Mount Kilimanjaro is towards the south-east.

It is the most populous city in East Africa, with a current estimated population of about 3.5 million. This makes it the 14th largest city in Africa.

Being Kenya’s capital, and the arrival point for many visitors, it is well served by leading international airlines, and regional road networks linking it to other major East African urban Centres.

Tourism

Nairobi City boasts of many exciting tourist attractions and experiences in Africa. Recently, it was ranked the best city to visit in 2024 by Lonely planet. Nairobi is the safari capital of the world. It is the only Capital city with a national park within its boundaries. The city is home to many leading tour operators and travel agencies which can help you book your dream trip anytime.

It also has a rich culture being a historical city, which makes it desirable as a tourist destination. In addition, it’s a melting pot for many Kenyan cultures and is the home of many architectural landmarks.

Nairobi is also a commercial hub for Eastern and Central Africa, major airlines with a global network operate into and out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which is the gateway to the entire region. This is because Nairobi has one of the best connection distributions in Africa thus making it very accessible, in close proximity and with great connectivity to the rest of the world.

 Nairobi is one of the unique destinations in the world as it plays host to major international bodies like the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP, UNHABITAT), which is located in Gigiri. The city’s business friendly environment makes it suitable to host such international bodies and investors are scrambling for a share in the capital.

Nairobi is a city full of contrasts. It’s old enough that you can feel its past and multi-ethnic enough for you to experience its rich Kenyan culture. 

A visit to Nairobi provides an opportunity for visitors to enjoy rich culture and heritage, amazing wildlife, buzzling nightlife, delectable and tantalizing cuisines, unforgettable adventure and participate in meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. 

A tour of Nairobi will normally include visits to the Nairobi National Park, Nairobi Safari Walk, Giraffe Centre, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Karura forest, Mamba Village, Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi Snake Park and Botanic garden, Karen Blixen Museum, Railway Museum, Nairobi Gallery, Kenya National Archives, Nairobi Arboretum, Oloolua Nature trail, Uhuru Park, Central Park, Uhuru Gardens, Michuki Park, City Park, Kazuri Beads, Godown Arts Centre, historical monuments and buildings among others.

Where to visit

A visit to Nairobi provides an opportunity for visitors to enjoy rich culture and heritage, amazing wildlife, buzzling nightlife, delectable and tantalising cuisines, unforgettable adventure and participate in meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. 

A tour of Nairobi will normally include visits to the Nairobi National Park, Nairobi Safari Walk, Giraffe Centre, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Karura forest, Mamba Village, Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi Snake Park and Botanic garden, Karen Blixen Museum, Railway Museum, Nairobi Gallery, Kenya National Archives, Nairobi Arboretum, Oloolua Nature trail, Uhuru Park, Central Park, Uhuru Gardens, Michuki Park, City Park, Kazuri Beads, Godown Arts Centre, historical monuments and buildings among others.
National Park
                     A lioness with her cubs at The Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Museum

Nairobi National Museum showcases the beauty of Kenya’s history, culture and heritage. It acts as a one stop for visitors who seek to immerse themselves in Kenya’s rich culture and heritage for leisure or education purposes. The variety of attractions in the museum include a display of stuffed birds and mammals, fossil collections, exhibits of local arts, impressive collections of rocks and minerals and a collection of prehistoric bones. 

One can purchase a combination ticket for the adjacent snake park with live specimens of Kenya’s most common reptiles. Visitors are also treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities and a botanical garden that offers a serene environment. It is located along museum hill road and is open on a daily basis from 8.30 am to 17.30 pm east African time.

Bomas of Kenya

This is a living museum celebrating the colourful tribes of Kenya. It offers visitors the opportunity to be entertained and to learn about the lifestyle, art, music, crafts and the culture of different Kenyan tribes. The complex encompasses recreated traditional homesteads known as Bomas built in the traditional style, each one representing the culture of a major ethnic group. Every afternoon, a team performs traditional dances and songs in the large theatre. It is located in Langata, just 10km from the CBD.

Karen Blixen Museum was once the centrepiece of a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills owned by Danish Author Karen and her Swedish Husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke.  Karen Blixen is the author of the famous ‘Out of Africa’ novel later adapted into a movie. Karen and her husband bought the house in 1917 and she lived there until 1931. The author’s house is now home to the museum. 

Kenya National Archives is an architectural landmark that holds historical documents and artefacts, showcasing Kenya’s heritage.

August 7th Memorial Park at the intersection of Moi Avenue and Haile Selassie Avenue was the site of a bombing attack on the American Embassy in 1998. 

It features a beautifully landscaped garden, sculptures made out of the debris from the blast, and a wall bearing the names of those who perished in the blast. 

The park also has a Visitors’ Centre that features a Museum displaying images and exhibits that aim to sensitize the public on the need for peace and tolerance and an Auditorium that plays a documentary of the disaster in a true display of dark tourism.

Giraffe Centre

Giraffe Centre is a breeding ground for the endangered Rothschild giraffes. Visitors usually get the opportunity to interact by feeding them with pellets.
Girraffe Centre
Rothschild Giraffes at Giraffe Center


Nairobi Walking Tours

 The guided tour of the City gives historical information about the City.  It tells stories of how Nairobi has evolved from a railway depot to a modern metropolis.

Nairobi City is categorized into 4 key walking circuits to the rich heritage sites, monuments and buildings. The circuits comprise of Kenyatta Avenue, River Road, City Square and Harry Thuku Road as shown below:-
Walking Tour

 

At the National Railway Museum,visitors can learn about the history of Kenya’s railroads which are at the heart of Nairobi’s History and the Kenya-Uganda railway. It houses engines and rolling stock from the country’s colonial period.

Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is a distinctive cylindrical tower located at the heart of the city and the landmark of our Country. This iconic building is a leading destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibition (MICE) tourism. Key events such as the Africa Climate Summit, Africa Youth Connekt Summit and the East Africa Regional Tourism Expo were all held here in 2023. 

The Karura Forest Reserve is an urban upland forest on the outskirts of Nairobi. This remarkable geographical location and natural resource is one of the largest gazetted forests in the world fully within a city limits. 

The forest offers eco-friendly opportunities for Kenyans and visitors to enjoy a tranquil leafy green respite from the hustle and bustle of the city to walk, to jog, to bike or simply to sit quietly and experience the serenity of nature in all its diversity. 

Attractions to the forest include:

Karura Caves Waterfalls, Nature trails, Bamboo forest, Bike Trail, Friendly Colobus Monkeys, Bird watching, Picnic Site.

Nairobi the Eventful City

Nairobi city is an eventful city is also a host to major annual events that bring on a vibrant side of inhabitants. Among these events are festivals,

The Nairobi Festival

 ‘Vibe of the City is usually held every December in the Iconic Uhuru Park,
Nrbfestlogo 1

This is an opportunity for Nairobians to celebrate their City and showcase the Urban Culture that defines Nairobi, this is exhibited through Fashion, food, Music, Film, Performing and Visual arts, Kids festival Matatu culture and also offers a Festive season shopping experience like no other.

The City has something to offer any time of the year we have Concerts, Marathons, Exhibitions, Sporting events (Golf tournaments, football, Rugby) International Trade Fairs, among others that take. These events bring home international celebrities, prominent people and explorers to conduct their activities consequently benefitting the investors.

Parks and Recreation

Nairobi Recreation Parks offer beautiful getaways from the busy city life for leisure.

Uhuru Park and Central park are vibrant parks that echoes the city’s old slogan ‘The Green City in the Sun’. Nairobi residents, tourists, students and business people from all walks of life visit the park every day for picnics, study, rest and a host of other activities. The serene park is a great place to take a breath, read a book or catch up with family and friends.

Uhuru Park’s major attractions include:

  • Boat Riding
  • Amusement Park
  • Picnic Site
  • Historical Monuments
  • Assembly ground for meetings
  • Skateboarding Spot
  • Children’s Park (Road Safety Academy)

City Park’s major attractions include:

  • Bird Watching
  • Nature trails
  • Picnic Site
  • Indigenous forest
  • Historical site
  • Friendly troops of Sykes Monkeys
  • Over 988 species of flora and fauna
  • Tree and plant nursery

Uhuru Garden’s major attractions include:

  • Historical Monuments
  • Picnic Site
  • Recreational park
  • Secure jogging spot
  • Diversity of native flora and fauna

Take your time to visit these amazing leisure and recreation parks while on your visit to the city.

Night Life

Nairobi is the city that never sleeps. It is your ultimate nightlife destination while in Kenya. Nairobi has a vibrant and growing social scene buzzing with a wide variety of entertainment joints from hotels, restaurants, trendy clubs and discos. Most of these entertainment hubs are usually open all week but are most bubbly on Thursdays, Friday’s, and Saturday’s when Nairobians seek to get a break from the busy week. Nairobi Nightlife is characterized by a frenzy of music and dances, food and drinks, movies, cinemas and theatres, gaming and casinos, and festivals and concerts etc.

Where to Eat

Nairobi is home to international brands of hotels and restaurants where visitors can indulge their taste buds in some delectable and tantalizing cuisines. 

Accommodation

Nairobi is home to both locally and internationally renowned hotels giving you the best accommodation based on your liking. New hotels and resorts have sprung up around the city over the years to meet the high demand for accommodation both in the low and high end market through government incentives and other campaigns.

Where to Shop

Nairobi has the best diverse shopping areas in East Africa providing access to many local and international brands, products and services. Business Bay Square Mall in Eastleigh, is the largest shopping mall in East Africa, followed by Two Rivers and Garden City shopping malls respectively. Other key shopping Centres include Village Market, Galleria, Sarit Centre, Kazuri Beads among others.

Maasai Market in Nairobi provides a perfect chance for travellers to acquire a variety of Kenyan-made souvenirs and gifts. This sought-after market offers a diverse selection of items, including curios, paintings, drawings, clothing, fabrics featuring East African prints, jewelry, and wood carvings. 

Day Location

  • Tuesday Westgate Shopping mall
  • Wednesday Capital Centre along Mombasa road
  • Thursday Junction shopping mall
  • Friday Village Market, Gigiri
  • Saturday Nairobi Law Courts ground, CBD and Wilson airport.
  • Sunday Nairobi Law Courts grounds, CBD and Yaya Centre, Hurlingham.

Nairobi streets are lined with shops and stalls where visitors can buy almost everything.  Nairobi’s shopping district is a diverse ecosystem that caters for every budget and lifestyle.

For fresh food and great prices in Nairobi, visit the open air markets and supermarkets around the city.

The Gikomba market is Kenya’s largest flea market situated a short matatu ride from the city centre. It offers affordable second hand clothing, furniture, accessories, books, hardware, fresh produce and processed materials.

Other key markets include City Market, Muthurwa, Toi, Kamukunji, Marikiti among others.

How to get around

Visitors can use different convenient methods below to easily navigate through the city and its environs: 

Bus and Matatu Service

A matatu (public minibuses/commuter buses) is typically used for travelling between Nairobi and the suburbs. They are the most common form of public transport and provide a cheap way of getting around Nairobi.

Matatus vary in size, between the van size 14 seater Matatus and the larger 50-seat buses. The matatu’s destination is imprinted along a yellow stripe on the side of the bus, and matatus plying specific routes have specific route numbers. 

Matatus are at the heart of the vibrant city culture with elaborate urban graffiti, art and branding which depicts an enchanting Nairobi Matatu culture.  

There are a large number of long-distance bus companies in Nairobi that provide transportation to most areas of the country. Long-distance buses also provide service to major East African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. 

Commuter Rail Service

Nairobi was as a railway town, and the main headquarters of is still situated at Nairobi Railway Station, which is located near the city centre. The line runs through Nairobi, from Mombasa to Kampala. Its main use is freight traffic, but regular nightly passenger trains connect Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu.

A number of morning and evening commuter trains connect the centre with the suburbs. These include the Syokimau Station and those along Jogoo Road, Imara Daima and Makadara Estates.

Boda Boda

Popularly known as ‘Boda Boda’, Motorcycles are a convenient and affordable way to weave through Nairobi Traffic. Motorcycles provide a quick and safer means to navigate the city’s residential areas by night as they can easily navigate narrow foot-paths. This has helped open up transport to more remote parts of the city.

Regulations have been enacted that secure the riders safety through safety gear such as helmets and reflective jackets.

Taxi

Taxis are a more flexible mode of transportation than the matatus however, they charge higher rates than matatus. Usually, they are not metered and, like most other things in Nairobi, their fares are negotiable. Taxis are available in most parts of the city. They also include Uber, Bolt, InDriver and Faras which can easily be requested online through their mobile apps. They park outside hotels, at taxi ranks in the city centre, and at shopping malls.

There are several companies operating services with phone bookings, modern vehicles, competent drivers and reasonable rates. Several Taxi companies have airport booking offices.

Shared taxis operate on some routes and also take passengers to nearby towns.

Car Hire and rentals

Rented cars are a great way to get around in privacy or with locally experienced drivers; however, they cost more than other forms of transport. Many of the chains have franchises in the city and several rental options are available.

Local car hire firms in the city often request a full deposit but it helps to ask and read hiring contracts to get a good idea of what each company offers. These operators are cheaper and more flexible than the international brands.

Car hire and rentals have detailed information on available car hires and rentals.

Pedestrian Walkways

Walking is the best way to get around the CBD. The distances are short, and the streets are well marked.

New infrastructure including foot and bicycle paths, footbridges, and digital traffic lights have made the city a calmer and more orderly place to move around.

Convenient Parking in the City

To streamline and make parking in the city more convenient and friendly to motorists, the county has installed twenty booths all over the Central Business District (CBD) and Westlands from where the motorists can access and buy parking tickets.

Motorists can access and buy parking tickets. Motorists are further advised to make use of Seasonal Parking Tickets available at City Hall. Seasonal tickets are cheaper and time saving.

You can now pay for parking online through our new system.

Airports

Nairobi is served primarily by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airports. Wilson Airport is the busiest airport in East Africa with a plane either landing or departing after every 2 minutes. JKIA airport is situated 17 km (10 miles) from Nairobi’s Central Business District. The airport directly serves intercontinental passengers from Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as internal flights to Eldoret, Kisumu on Lake Victoria and Malindi & Mombasa on the Coast. In addition to Kenyan Airlines, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is serviced by a large number of international airlines.

Wilson Airport handles small aircrafts that generally operate within Kenya, although some offer services to other East, Central and North-east African destinations.

Highways

Nairobi is connected by tarmacked roads to Kenya’s other major urban centres, such as Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Eldoret and among others. Nairobi Expressway Way has significantly reduced the time taken from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to other parts of the city. 

The City is currently undergoing major road constructions to update its infrastructure network. Most roads are well lit and surfaced with adequate signage.

Banking

Nairobi is the leading economic hub in the East and Central Africa Region. Leading local and international banks have set operations in the city creating a vibrant and competitive financial ecosystem that is ever evolving.

Kenya’s largest Bank, Equity Bank, based in Nairobi County has received international acclaim for innovative banking solutions while another local brand Central Bank of Africa is changing the banking landscape through a fast growing mobile banking and credit system in partnership with Safaricom; Kenya’s largest Telecommunications Company.

Some of the leading international banks in the city include Barclays, Standard Chartered, Citibank and Bank of Africa.

In Nairobi, there is always something new to discover, new places to see, new friendships to be made, new joints to be sampled, new buildings to be adored, and something new just for you. 

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