When I first arrived in Nairobi I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Like many travellers arriving for the first time, I admit that I had some negative perceptions planted in my mind by the media and the few people I spoke to about my first visit.
However, I was very wrong and pleasantly surprised by what I found. The city is a bustling metropolis with countless things to see and do for everyone, on any kind of travel budget. The city has different areas, each with their own vibe. Due to the strong international presence, parts of Nairobi have a very westernised feel to them, while other parts have retained a more traditional feel.
From Past to Present
Nairobi comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which means cool water. The town was founded by the British in 1899 and took over from Mombasa as Kenya’s capital in 1907. The city later became a trade hub for the country’s coffee and tea exports and today is a major business hub for Kenyan, pan-African and international business.
The United Nations Headquarters for Africa and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is based out of Nairobi and the 140-acre UN compound accommodates over 2,000 UN employees.
Getting your Bearings
Travelling towards town from the airport, there is one main road that will take you through the Central Business District (CBD) area, which depending on the time of day can either be a pleasant drive or a hectic experience due to horrendous traffic jams and sometimes nasty accidents.
From the CBD, you can take roads towards other destinations within Nairobi.
Your Comprehensive Guide to East Africa’s Bustling Capital – Nairobi
You will see various guides on Nairobi with different places listed. I have focused on what I believe to be the most interesting and the best Nairobi has to offer for international tourists. There are places such as Uhuru Park or Nairobi Arboretum, which are less popular with tourists but which do feature in some guides you will find online.
I have tried my hardest to make this post a comprehensive guide, which is best suited to families. Most of of the places featured are based on my personal experience.
Nairobi is not a holiday destination for most people. It’s generally more of a business hub or somewhere to spend a few days before or after visiting other destinations in Kenya or the wider region. This guide has something for everyone – so feel free to just pick out whatever appeals to you or fits with your travel plans. You will be spoilt for choice!
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Just a quick comment before we get into it. The post is fairly long but to make it easy to follow, I have broken things down into broad categories.
So here goes…
Animals and Wildlife
You may think just because you’re in a city, there won’t be many opportunities to see animals and wildlife. Wrong!
And we’re not just talking about a city zoo – this is Africa! Check out #1 on our list – Nairobi has a National Park on it’s doorstep!
One thing to note:
For most of the following attractions, tiered entry fees apply for East African citizens, East African residents and non-residents. Methods of payment include MPESA (local Kenyan system) or VISA card. International visitors are advised to take passports with them and Kenyan visitors should have their valid Kenyan ID.
1. Nairobi National Park
This is the world’s only national park that borders a major city and the oldest national park in Kenya. The park features a beautiful wide open grass savannah, set against the city backdrop and is home to 4 out of the big 5 (no elephants), including endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. Activities include safari drives, hiking, camping, picnics, bush dinners and birdwatching.
2. Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) operates the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation programme in the world. The elephant orphanage is located near Nairobi National Park and is home to elephant calves that have been orphaned by poaching from all over Kenya. The baby elephants are cared for by the staff and fed special formula milk before being carefully reintroduced into the wild in Tsavo National Park.
Visitors to the orphanage can enjoy the magical sight of the baby elephants being fed at certain times. It is also possible to adopt a baby elephant.
I recommend checking the times before you visit and arriving early to be first in line and get a good spot to take photos.
3. Nairobi Giraffe Centre
The Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W.) is a Kenyan non-profit organisation created in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie-Melville, a Kenyan citizen of British descent, and his American-born wife, Betty Leslie-Melville. The centre is home to a number of Rothschild Giraffes.
You can get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures – feed, take selfies and even get a kiss from them if you wish! This is a great experience and a good option to tie in with a visit to Nairobi National Park, the elephant orphanage, Galleria shopping mall, Bomas of Kenya or Karen Blixen (for a ‘cheesy dribbler’ cheese burger at Tamambo – our favourite!), since they are all in the same vicinity.
4. Giraffe Manor
I’ve included this as it’s gained a lot of popularity on Instagram and travel programmes and maybe something that you wish to plan ahead for when you visit Nairobi. This is a beautiful and unique hotel set in 12 acres of private land.
Unfortunately, you can’t just visit for the day – you will need to be a guest in this high end manor house to get the full experience of giraffes joining you for breakfast or feeding them from the bedroom window. At upwards of $875 per person, rooms don’t come cheap and with only 12 rooms, it can get booked up many months in advance. If you are set on this once in a lifetime experience, then I would recommend planning well ahead and factoring it into your travel budget.
The best alternative is the giraffe centre mentioned above, which is part of the same 150 acre A.F.E.W. sanctuary, so allows you to see the same giraffes at a fraction of the price.
5. Nairobi Safari Walk
The Safari Walk is a showcase for Kenya’s Parks and Reserves, allowing visitors to discover what they can expect to see across the country and provides a great way to see the beauty of wild Kenya for those with time or budget limitations. The experience features a wooden boardwalk and childrens’ museum, there is also no shortage of animals and natural beauty.
Cheetah, lions, leopards, pygmy hippos, zebra, colobus monkey, bongo rhino and white rhino can be spotted across the major ecosystems (wetlands, savannah and forestry) and alongside many birds, insects and over 150 varieties of local trees.
6. Nairobi Animal Orphanage
The Nairobi Animal Orphanage is located in the Nairobi National Park and provides treatment and rehabilitation for wild animals. The centre is home to lions, cheetah, hyenas, jackals, serval cats, rare sokoke cats, warthogs, leopards, various monkeys, baboons and buffalo. Various birds can also be viewed including parrots, guinea fowls, crowned cranes and ostriches.
7. Nairobi Snake Park
Located within the Nairobi National Museum and surrounded by the botanical garden, the snake park is open to visitors of all ages. There are approximately 20 snake species as well as other reptiles and amphibians, such as crocodiles which are abandoned or confiscated from illegal collections.
Although my son loves to come here, I would not recommend making a special journey just for the snake park (unless you are majorly into snakes) but when combined with a visit to the museum, it can be an interesting morning or afternoon trip.
The entry fee is a combined fee for the Nairobi National Museum and the Snake Park.
Culture and Experience
8. Nairobi National Museum
This impressive museum showcases Kenya’s rich heritage and offers one stop experience for visitors to sample the country’s history. I found the exhibition on colonial times quite enlightening and was shocked to see how people were treated, not just in Kenya but across Africa.
The museum features various exhibits, an art gallery, temporary exhibitions, botanical gardens, nature trail, shopping and dining. The snake park is also set within the museum grounds.
9. Bomas of Kenya
A cultural experience designed to preserve, maintain and promote the rich diverse cultural values of the various ethnic groups of Kenya and showcase them in an authentic way.
Bomas features cultural artifacts, homesteads, dancing and a traditional Kenyan restaurant.
10. Riuki Cultural Centre
Learn about Gikuyu culture and traditions. The centre is situated about 25kms from Nairobi and offers tours to African homesteads, performances of African dances, story telling sessions and a treat of selected dishes from “Mumbi’s jiko’ – the traditional cuisine.
11. Karen Blixen Museum
This is the former home of Danish Author, Baroness Karen Blixen and her Swedish Husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke. Karen, author of “Out of Africa,” who made this her home between 1914 and 1931. In 1985, the farm house gained international fame with the release of the movie ‘Out of Africa’, an Oscar winning film based on Karen’s autobiography by the same title. The museum is now open daily to visitors, with guided tours.
12. Ride a Matatu
One of the most popular and effective ways of travelling for locals in Kenya is Matatus. These minivans are easy to spot – they are white with a yellow line running across them. This is quite the contrast from what they were previously, when they showcased artwork and brought attention to themselves with their blaring music. While they were notoriously known for overcrowding, Matatus are now more conservative. However, it is not an entirely dull experience. Taking a Matatu can be quite the experience as they manoeuvre around roads almost recklessly. This mode of transport may come with some entertainment value for short trips around the city and would be very easy on the pocket. However, I would observe caution about opting for Matatus for trips between cities. Its worth noting that you may want to keep your valuables safe and avoid displaying jewellery and using your phone if you happen to be seated by a window. Other than that, the best advice would be to buckle up, hold on tight and enjoy the ride!
13. Kibera Slum
Kibera is the largest slum in East Africa.This is a highly controversial one and I’m hesitant to include it here as there are two schools of thought around the growing slum tours. On the one hand, some residents object to it being seen as a tourist attraction and on the other hand, the tours help to show the positive side to life in Kibera, raise awareness and generate employment for the youth.
Probably not one for young children, although it can be a very educational experience for older children. Ultimately, this is a very personal decision and you will need to decide what sits right with you and your family.
If you do decide to visit, then make sure you join a recognised and established tour and a guide who is well known within the Kibera community.
14. United Nations Guided Tours
Join a guided tour through the United Nations 140 acre compound to learn about the current UN agenda and the work they are doing in Africa, to promote peace and sustainable development.Tours are conducted in English, and are available in French, German, Chinese and Swahili upon request.
Food and Drink
Often I read blogs online that tell me cuisine in Africa is nothing to write home about. I beg to disagree – and I hope you will too after visiting Nairobi. What is African food anyway? Sure, the staple food eaten by locals can be on the basic side. But the same was once said about English food. Yet, various cultural influences, especially from Europe, Middle East, Pakistan and India have added a unique mix of flavours and cooking styles. As a result, Kenya (especially Nairobi and Mombasa) offer a delicious variety of food. The western coffee shop culture has also hit the streets of Nairobi in a big way, so there are many places to relax, chill out or grab a take out coffee. In my opinion, Java House and Art Caffe beat the likes of Starbucks and Costa hands down – they have a better atmosphere, are kept clean, offer table service and fresh, hot food options. What’s more, they serve delicious Kenyan and East African coffee! Another thing I enjoy about the coffee shops in Nairobi, is that they are open until late in the evening and play a mellow role in the city’s nightlife.
Here’s a run down of my top places for food and drink in Nairobi. Enjoy!
16. Java House
A popular chain restaurant and coffee house that provides a casual dining experience at any time of day. Java serves top quality coffee from Kenya and East Africa as well as hearty and healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners in a relaxed setting. You can also buy bags of coffee to take home with you.
Much more than just a restaurant, Artcaffe is a popular and trendy lifestyle and social hub, where you can enjoy European style coffee, bakery, food and cocktails. They have branches at popular shopping malls throughout Nairobi
18. Planet Yogurt
A popular concept that kids and adults love. Planet Yogurt provides a fun and healthy way to create your own natural frozen yogurt delight with toppings of your choice. They have branches at popular shopping malls throughout Nairobi
A fun ice cream experience to enjoy with your family and a great way to round off your afternoon or evening. Select your favourite ice cream flavours and any chosen additions and watch it be mixed together on a frozen granite stone.
20. Connect Coffee Roasters
A concept that is built around connecting with farmers, customers and people to provide top quality coffee through sustainable and supportive methods of the seed to cup process.
There are currently three branches at Chiromo Lane, Limuru Road and Waiyaki way.
21. The Thorn Tree Café
A legendary open air, bistro style pavement café that is most famous for the acacia tree it’s heart, which in times gone by became a makeshift post box for travellers who left mail pinned onto its trunk. The café has long been the perfect meeting place for friends and features a varied menu, deli counter, pizzas, fresh juices, beers, and good selection of coffees.
H.R.H. Prince Edward, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, President Theodore Roosevelt, Sean Connery and Karen Blixen are among the people said to have enjoyed the Thorn Tree experience.
22. River Café at Karura Forest
The River Café is set inside Karura Forest and is a beautiful spot to enjoy all day, al fresco dining while enjoying the panoramic forest views.The menu features continental, à la carte fare including an all-day breakfast.
23. Nyama Mama
An unpretentious, fun, modern day African diner, featuring homestyle cooking and locally inspired dishes.
24. Carnivore Restaurant
Describing itself as a beast of a feast, Carnivore is a legendary restaurant famous for its unique approach to serving copious amounts of nyama choma (roasted meats), that has been highly successful in Nairobi since 1980, playing host to visitors and celebrities from all over the world.
25. Fogo Gaucho
Fogo Gaucho is an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse cooking up an amazing selection of charcoal grilled meats and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
One of my wife’s favourite restaurants, providing an authentic Ethiopian culinary experience, tucked away in a quiet, secluded street in the suburbs of Nairobi. We highly recommend the tibs, and the combination platters are a great way to try a range of Ethiopian delights.
Another popular Ethiopian restaurant located on Argwings Kodhek Road. You can read more about Habesha on Chick about Town – a popular blog about East Africa.
Asmara Restaurants are Eritrean/Continental restaurants established in 2009. Asmara offers a unique dining experience, infusing culture and culinary excellence in an Afro-contemporary setting.
Amaica provides an authentic Kenyan culinary and cultural experience, within a traditional African ambience.
30. Indian Food at Diamond Plaza
Kenya has some of the best Indian food and one place where you will be able to sample delicious Indian food, including biryani, bajias, snacks, vegetarian and meat dishes is Diamond Plaza in Parklands. There’s four places at the old Diamond Plaza that we have regularly visited:
- Chick Corner (chicken tikka)
- Maru Bhajia (bhajias)
- Chowpaty (vegetarian)
- Shangrila (meat and vegetarian)
You will also find various small shops selling all kinds of things here.
31. Hashmi BBQ food at Diamond Plaza 2
Hashmi is one of the best places in Nairobi for BBQ chicken tikka and has built a solid reputation over the years and one of our ‘must go to’ places when we travel back to Nairobi. They have recently moved into Diamond Plaza 2 after the original building they were in was demolished, along with other retail stores.
32. Madafu, Makai and Mogo
You will find street vendors all over Nairobi selling fresh coconut juice (madafu), roasted maize (makai) and cassava (mogo) from their carts.
33. Sugarcane Juice
Fresh sugarcane juice with ginger is a delight. You can get it in many places in Nairobi – the food court at Diamond Plaza is one such place.
Since it first opened in Kenya in 1991, Haandi, which also now has a branch in Knightsbridge, London has established itself as a well renowned restaurant serving some of the best Northern Indian cuisine in East Africa.
35. Koroga at Curry in a Hurry
A koroga is a uniquely Kenyan concept which has evolved from the influence and fusion of Indian and Kenyan cooking styles. Koroga, which means ‘mix’ or ‘stir’ in Kiswahili, is more than just a method of cooking. It’s a social culinary experience which involves people sitting around a jiko (coal fire pit), cooking, eating and enjoying the evening.
We often have a koroga at home in our garden but when in Nairobi, Curry in a Hurry is a firm favourite. For those new to koroga, the staff are there to help with whatever you need.
36. Tamambo at Karen Blixen
This is another favourite of ours when we are in the Karen area – specifically the cheezy dribbler, which is one of the best, gooey cheese burgers I’ve tasted. The menu has a nice variety of options and you can choose to sit inside, on the terrace or within the beautiful garden area.
37. About Thyme
About Thyme offers an intimate dining experience in a leafy, secluded area of Westlands. Guests can enjoy the ambience of the garden setting and sample international cuisine for either brunch or dinner.
38. Cafe Maghreb at the Serena Hotel
An all-day dining restaurant offering an internationally-themed buffet breakfast & lunch menu a dinner menu and 24-hour brasserie service. The Patisserie hosts a selection of traditional French pastries and gateaux, American muffins and spiced savouries. You can also enjoy a wide range of teas, coffee, authentic Italian gelati, shakes and sundaes.
Cedars Restaurant is the perfect place to indulge in the best of Lebanese cuisine. The Cedar tree is the national emblem of Lebanon and represents the Lebanese drive and passion to impress, excel and endure.
40. Tambourin at Villa Rosa Kempinski
I took my family here the night before my wedding. The restaurant features a beautiful rooftop lounge and restaurant designed to offer a unique dining experience to guests and featuring cuisine from Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. You can relax in the ambient setting with music and daily performances from a belly dancer.
41. Zen Garden
Zen Garden is based in Spring Valley and features an asian restaurant and a separate tea and coffee house, both located in stunning ‘zen’ style surroundings and urban gardens. This is a great place to come for a special occasion. Booking is recommended.
42. Taste of China
Situated in Parklands, Taste of China is a modern bar and restaurant serving Indo-Chinese food, The menu features dishes from all over China, including well know favourites like Gung Bao chicken, sizzling beef and crispy aromatic duck with pancakes – perfect for sharing with family and friends.
43. For You Chinese
A popular restaurant in Lavington, featuring an extensive menu of Chinese cuisine, with a choice of indoor or outdoor dining in the garden. The restaurant also has a play area for children. Ideal for a relaxed lunch or dinner.
Tokyo is a Japanese/Korean restaurant serving top class food in Nairobi, featuring a sushi bar, Japanese-style rooms, teppanyaki area and spacious garden.
45. Urban Eatery
A unique and contemporary eating space in the heart of Nairobi’s Westlands area at the PwC Tower, Urban Eatery is open from morning to evening and has extensive menus emerging from four different kitchens, including an all day dining cafe & bistro, noodle and sushi bar, Mexican, Mediterranean and Indian fare, a signature bar and frozen yogurts.
46. Mama Rocks Gourmet Burgers
A new concept in Nairobi, reflecting the city’s modern urban lifestyle vibe. Gourmet burgers, African style service from the Mama Rocks food truck. This place is fresh and vibrant, and uses fresh, natural ingredients to create a range of exciting and unique burgers.
47. Pizza Corner Cafe & Grill at Regal Plaza
A popular restaurant serving fresh pizzas as well as delicious meat and fish dishes. The Pizza Corner is a good option for a relaxed lunch as well as dinner.
A trendy Italian restaurant with a special ambiance, based in the Village Market shopping complex. This is where my wife and I had our first official date in Nairobi. You will find lots of fresh Italian food here from pizzas, to ravioli, spaghetti, meat, lobster and seafood.
With three branches across Nairobi, each boasting an outdoor dining area, Mediterraneo features an authentic Italian dining experience, from freshly baked bread served as you sit down, delicious Italian food and an exclusive wine list, taking inspiration from Italy and across the world.
50. The Lord Erroll
A multi award-winning, fine dining French and gourmet restaurant, you can visit for breakfast, lunch, high tea or dinner and choose from various alfresco seating areas within the enchanting green gardens, including ornate waterfalls, streams and ponds. There are also multiple dining rooms and private dining options.
A renowned 5-star hotel based in the Karen area of Nairobi Hemingways boasts delicious breakfasts with pastries and freshly baked bread, lunch and dinner options featuring home made pasta and fine quality steak and are also famous for their delectable English afternoon tea with scones and finger sandwiches.
52. Fairmont The Norfolk
A historical Kenyan landmark dating back to 1904, Fairmont The Norfolk features three restaurants, including Tatu – a steak and fish restaurant, The Lord Delamere Terrace, where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet, international and authentic Kenyan cuisine and the T Lounge for a traditional afternoon tea, sweet delights, and beautiful Kenyan coffee.
53. Mc Frys
Another of my wife’s favourites – McFry’s commonly known locally as ‘Mac’s’ is a fast food restaurant famous for its fried chicken and chips, complemented with their special pili-pili (chilli) sauce. Inexpensive and a great option for a quick, hearty feast.
54. Radisson Blu
A modern and stylish hotel in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area, Radisson Blu is home to two restaurants including Chop House, which provides à la carte dining, quality steak, seafood, vegetarian and a special tasting menu. The Larder offers all day buffet-style dining and is a good option for a relaxed Sunday brunch.
55. The Big Five Restaurant at Ole Sereni
The Big Five Restaurant boasts a large veranda to allow you to enjoy alfresco dining while observing views across the Nairobi National Park. This hotel can be a good option for lunch (for the views) or dinner but it is on the airport side of Nairobi, so traffic can be busy at peak times.
56. The Concorde
A relatively new, elegantly designed hotel in the Parklands area, featuring three restaurants as well as a coffee lounge and rooftop lounge. Choose from the Bonhomie featuring continental gourmet dishes paired with a superb range of fine wines, Umami boasting oriental cuisine including Chinese, Japanese, Thai & Korean dishes or dine at the Curry Flavours for a taste of India.
57. Jiko at the Tribe
The Tribe is a trendy, upmarket hotel next to the Village Market and close to the United Nations Headquarters. Their signature restaurant, Jiko, offers a contemporary dining experience influenced by seasonal fresh flavors that features a variety of salads, meat, fish and vegetarian options.
58. Windsor Golf and Country Club
A Victorian-themed hotel, golf and country club set in a stunning location within the leafy and serene Ridgeways area, Windsor was the venue of choice for our wedding in 2015. Choose from five dining spaces, designed to meet everyone’s needs.
59. Maasai Market
Kenyans are creative, innovative and quite entrepreneurial. This can be appreciated at Maasai Markets which are held at various malls on different days. The best way to find out times is to ask staff at the mall or call them first to check. You can buy Kenyan inspired jewellery, home decor pieces, handbags, souvenirs and so much more. This is a bargaining ground, however, it is worth noting that tourists usually will pay more than the average price. The bargaining is best done with some light-hearted banter and if nothing else, you walk away having a good laugh. Personally, if the price is affordable and within reason for me, I avoid over-bargaining. The reason is that Maasai Markets are avenues for the sellers to make an income. Many of the sellers are making below the minimum wage and under cutting them with harsh bargaining tactics seems rather unfair.
60. Village Market
This is a popular shopping and leisure complex, which has doubled in size in the last few years. A popular hangout with the expat community, there are all kinds of shops, many different restaurants, a supermarket, a bowling alley, trampoline and kids play centre.
61. Two Rivers
A recent addition to Nairobi in the last few years Two Rivers is more than a shopping mall, it’s a lifestyle centre incorporating 200+ stores, dining, family entertainment, dancing fountains, rides, games, a water park and all kinds of events. At 67,000 sqm, Two Rivers is the largest shopping complex in Sub-Saharan Africa, outside of South Africa.
62. The Hub
The Hub is a premier shopping, recreation and entertainment mall in the Karen area of Nairobi. The Hub opened in 2016 and has been designed with experience in mind, featuring an array of offerings for everyone from fashion, to entertainment, to fine dining.
Westgate is a premier, cosmopolitan shopping and lifestyle mall with international stores, a supermarket, eateries, a 3D cinema, pop-up market and large kids club and soft play area. Unfortunately, Westgate is internationally known for the 2013 terrorist attack that took place but has been extensively upgraded since and is still as popular as it once was.
65. Sarit Centre
The Sarit Centre was the first enclosed shopping mall in the country when it opened in 1983. The large mall has been remodelled recently and incorporates a range of retail stores, offices, eateries, medical facilities and an expo centre, which frequently accommodates international exhibitions and private functions.
66. Yaya Centre
A modern shopping mall based on Argwings Kodhek Road. The mall was founded in the late eighties in Nairobi and is home to over 100 shops, restaurants and offices.
67. Garden City
A large shopping and lifestyle mall, a short distance from the main areas of Nairobi city, toward Thika. This was one of our favourite weekend hangouts when we lived in Nairobi, as it has a relaxed and quiet feel compared to some of the city malls. There are numerous dining options and a central park area that features a children’s play area and mini water park.
68. Diamond Plaza
Besides the food options mentioned above, Diamond Plaza, located in the Parklands area also features a myriad of shops, independent traders, a small Maasai market (Fridays), rock climbing and a cinema. It has recently expanded, with the opening of a second building, Diamond Plaza 2.
69. Junction Shopping Mall
A well-established mall with 120+ local and international brands and a variety of dining options. The mall is also well known for their musical Maasai market, which features percussion instruments being played spontaneously by the vendors.
70. Galleria Mall
A vibrant modern shopping, dining and entertainment destination with recognised brands, including Carrefour supermarket. There is also a kids play area. The Galleria mall is a good coffee / lunch spot for us when we visit the Giraffe Centre, Elephant Orphanage or Nairobi National Park via the Langata gate. It’s also not far from Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi Safari Walk and the Animal Orphanage.
Until recently, Nakumatt was the prominent supermarket chain in Kenya but they went into administration in January 2020, following a few years of financial difficulty. Carrefour, a well renowned international supermarket chain now occupies many of the former Nakumatt locations and offers an international supermarket shopping experience.
Shoprite is a South African brand that has recently entered the Kenyan market with a branch at Westgate.
Sandstorm makes beautiful handmade leather and canvas bags that are built for safari. The company has been making bags in Nairobi for 20 years and now has stores in the major shopping malls. I personally love their products and own several bags and pouches.
74. Banana Box
Founded in 1991, the company works with communities to produce beautiful hand made crafts with a deep story and their ethos is on supporting the continent, local communities, the environment, sustainability, recycling and empowering women. With stores in major shopping malls, this is an ideal place to buy local crafts aside from the Masaai markets.
75. Blue Rhino
Blue Rhino has two branches (Village Market and the Hub in Karen) and sells an exciting variety of gift items, handicrafts, ethnic inspired housing items and accessories. Most items have an African theme with the majority made locally, in Kenya.
76. African Lily
African Lily was founded by two Italians with over 30 years experience in the leather industry. They produce exclusively designed hand-crafted Kenyan leather products & accessories. Their products are sustainably and ethically produced in Kenya. They have stands in Two Rivers, Westgate and Galleria malls.
77. Zinj Design
From their small workshop on the coast, overlooking the beautiful Takaungu creek and the Indian Ocean, Zinj Design uses natural, free range, Kenyan beef leather embellished with stunning East African beadwork to make beautiful handbags, sandals, belts, dog collars and other small accessories. You can see the latest products from the store in Village Market.
78. Spinner’s Web
A showcase for the best handicrafts, pottery, home decor, jewelry, accessories and much more in Kenya, featuring 500+ vendors and consignees showcasing their fabulous products — all under one roof.
79. Kazuri Beads
Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili and from its roots in 1975 as a tiny workshop, the company has grown to 340 women, skilled in the crafting of beautiful ceramic bead jewellery and a unique range of pottery. You can visit the factory in Karen or one of the stores in Village Market, The Junction or Westgate.
80. Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass
Innovative, artistic and beautiful creations made from scrap glass from the Athi Kapiti plains in Kenya. You can visit the studio for glass blowing demos or the outlets in Village Market or The Junction to buy beautiful products such as drinking glasses, vases, jugs, bottles, bowls and furniture.
81. Safari Boots from BATA
The legendary boots that say you know Africa! The design has remained unchanged over the years. These hand stitched boots are built for the African bush and are comfortable and quiet – ideal for your Kenyan safari.
Luxury skincare, bodycare and spa products in Kenya using the healing essences of some of the best available natural oils, butters and botanicals alongside cutting-edge technology. You can buy from the outlets at Aromatics Spa or at the Hub in Karen.
Leisure and Relaxation
83. Karura Forest
Karura Forest Reserve covers around 1,041 hectares and is home to a multitude of wildlife, flora and fauna. The forest is a great place to take walks, cycle, run, enjoy a picnic or look for wildlife. Popular features include caves, scenic waterfalls, rivers, open spaces and a café (which is mentioned below). There is also a small children’s play area close to the café parking area.
84. Walk at SSD Temple
If you are in need of some exercise, you can take a walk at the SSD temple. There is no entry fee. In fact on some days they have yoga sessions which cost a minimal amount. This temple is off the Lower Kabete Road. It is usually quiet with plenty of space for children to run around or even play a few ball games. Many families spend time there on weekends playing football or cricket. Kenyans are generally very friendly, so do not be afraid to ask a group if you can join in.
85. Aromatics Spa
For anyone who would like some pampering, Aromatics Spa offers top quality massages, facials and hair care. Being in Africa does not mean that you have to rough it out, you can kick back and enjoy a treat too! Massages and facials cost an average of 5,000 shillings.
86. Kaya Spa at the Tribe
The Tribe is a high end hotel that also offers guests relaxation. Kaya Spa allows clients to enjoy an out of the city feel. Their massages are possibly one of the best in Nairobi costing an average of 7,000 shillings (USD 70). At the end of the massage, clients can continue to unwind with a refreshing drink within the Spa.
Featured by Condé Nast Traveller 2011 as “One of the Hottest urban retreats in the world…”
87. Serenity Spa
Serenity Spa, which is close to the UN also offers relaxing massages by well trained practitioners. It is located in its own premises within a serene environment. Massages here cost an average of 7,000 shillings (USD 70).
Central (CBD) Area, AKA ‘Town’
88. Nairobi City Tour
As the CBD area of Nairobi is usually busy and congested, the easiest option would be to arrange a tour (from most hotels or malls) to take you to places such as Nairobi Railway Station Museum, City Market, Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Parliament buildings, the National Museum and Nairobi Snake Park. If you don’t want to book a full tour, you can always explore these places separately, if you wish.
89. Top of Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC)
The KICC offers a stunning, unrivalled 360-degree view from the rooftop helipad. On a clear day you can have amazing views of Nairobi’s CBD area and beyond. Be sure to check the opening times and take a jacket, as it can be cool at the top.
A Short Drive from Nairobi
90. Escarpment – View over Great Rift Valley
For stunning views over the Great Rift Valley, you can take a drive out to the escarpment. This is a common stopping point en-route to places such as Naivasha, Nakuru and Narok. This is an easy one to do if you have a rental car – but then, why not make a day trip or overnight trip to Lake Naivasha (see next option).
91. Lake Naivasha
A bit more than a short drive but well worth it for a full day trip, overnight stay or even a short break – ideal if you are in Nairobi for a while, or over a weekend if you’re there for business. Here’s a post I put together about Naivasha.
92. Limuru Tea – Kiambethu Tea Farm
Kiambethu Farm at Limuru provides tours around the farm, which has passed through five generations.The farm house is set within beautiful gardens surrounded by acres of tea and indigenous forest – home to the Colobus monkey. You can book a tour, which includes lunch and enjoy cream teas in the garden.
93. Brown’s Cheese
Based in Limuru, Brown’s are renowned in Kenya for producing various varieties of high quality cheeses using local milk traditional methods. The company has won awards in South Africa and the UK. You can buy their cheese in supermarkets in Nairobi but what better way to sample it, than to visit the cheese tasting room at the farm? Bookings by appointment.
94. Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost Resort in Kenya was discovered in 1996 by coffee farmers in Kenya. Today, Paradise Lost is a tourist attraction where visitors can enjoy activities such as exploring the stone age caves and waterfall, picnicking, fishing, boat rides, visiting the coffee farm, horse or camel riding, nature trails and bird watching.
So there you have it!
I hope you enjoyed this whistle stop tour of Nairobi!
I did warn you it was a long one! But, hopefully it’s given you plenty of inspiration for things to do if you’re planning a visit.
Please do let me know your feedback or questions via the comments box below, I would be very happy to hear from you.
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Finally, just to mention that new places spring up all the time in Nairobi. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is also hitting the Kenyan tourism industry hard, as many businesses rely on custom from international tourists. I will do my best to keep this updated with new places or any amendments regularly. If you do come across anything that is inaccurate or you would like to suggest a place, let me know in the comments section below.
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