Nairobi is one of the most exciting cities on Earth. Vibrant, diverse, a little chaotic – there’s always something to do here, every day of the week.
Whether you’re looking for delicious food, exciting adventures, arts, music, or relaxation – this city has it all!
Check out this list below as a small taste of things to do in Nairobi.
This is just the start. I’ll be adding to it regularly – so bookmark the page and come back soon.
Location: The CBD
Nai Nami is a social enterprise that hires and trains tour guides from the Mathare slum in Nairobi.
You’ll be taken on a 3-hour storytelling tour of downtown Nairobi, as your guides share their experiences growing up in the city and tell the stories of the people living in the city.
Nai Nami takes you to some fantastic ‘hidden’ spots in Nairobi, before finishing up with a local lunch at the end of the tour.
Nairobi National Park
Location: Nairobi National Park
Maybe you’ve heard, Nairobi is the only city in the world that has a national park.
Nairobi National Park is a short drive from the city centre and gives you a taste of the natural beauty and diverse wildlife that lies beyond the capital.
On an early morning game drive, you’ll get close to plenty of lions, rhinos, and giraffes waking up, emerging from the bush, and looking for food and water.
And you’ll be back in Nairobi for lunch.
Nairobi National Museum
Location: The CBD
Don’t come to Nairobi National Museum expecting to see beautiful artifacts and cultural treasures from Kenya’s many tribes, dating back centuries into the past – they were all stolen and taken back to London.
What you will get is a surprisingly insightful account of life under British rule in the late 19th century, the construction of the ‘lunatic express’ and the eventual struggle for independence.
The museum also has a nice and quiet outdoor cafe if you want to eat a snack after your visit.
Read More: When you’re finished at Nairobi National Museum, check out five more amazing museums in Nairobi.
The Giraffe Centre
Have you ever wanted to kiss a giraffe?
Now’s your chance!
The Giraffe Centre is a fun way to spend a couple of hours, getting up close with the strangely majestic creatures, learning their personalities, and doing plenty of people watching.
Combine the Giraffe Centre with other Karen activities, or add it to a lazy lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants nearby.
Location: The CBD
I swear every time I visit the top of Kenyatta International Conference Centre Tower (KICC), three new skyscrapers have been added to Nairobi’s skyline.
If you’re in downtown Nairobi, KICC is an excellent way to get a birds’ eye view of the city and take in Nairobi’s various landscapes, from the increasingly packed CBD to the lush green gardens dotted throughout the city and the rolling hills just beyond it.
With a cool breeze blowing, you can easily spend a lot of time up here just hanging out.
Karen Blixen Museum
Karen Blixen was the original Nairobi expat, and still the most (in)famous – thanks to her memoir Out of Africa. Part of the notorious Happy Valley Set, Blixen had quite the time living in Britain’s Kenya colony.
Her vast, stately home in Karen (yes, she has a whole neighbourhood named after her) has passed through many hands and is now managed by the Kenyan government.
Today, it’s preserved as a ‘celebration’ of ye olde Colonial Kenya. There’s also a delightful garden cafe on the grounds.
For a less romantic portrayal of British rule and colonial life in Kenya, check out Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya.
David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary
When you’re finished kissing giraffes, how about frolicking with baby elephants?
David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is only open for an hour a day to limit crowds. So it’s worth combining with other activities in Karen and the National Park.
Nature and Gardens
Nairobi is a surprisingly green city, and in between all the madness and hustle, you can easily escape to some quieter corners and reconnect with nature.
Karura Forest is one of the world’s biggest urban forests, offering total tranquility just 15 minutes’ drive from Westlands.
It’s a popular spot for cycling, jogging, family trips, or just lazily strolling along 50 km of pathways, crisscrossing varied landscapes and secluded hideaways.
Bring comfortable shoes and give yourself a few hours to take it all in. You can also get lunch at The River Cafe, one of Nairobi’s best restaurants.
Read More: Check out our complete guide to Karura Forest for all the details about visiting.
Nairobi Arboretum Gardens
Wedged in between Nairobi’s central residential neighbourhoods, the Arboretum is a popular ‘getaway’ from the city – without actually leaving.
The first time I lived in Nairobi, I went to the Arboretum at least once a week to chill out, snooze, decompress, or enjoy a picnic with friends.
One of the few parks in Nairobi that doesn’t feel under threat from overdevelopment, on weekends, the Arboretum gets quite crowded with families, church groups, gospel choirs, and the occasional dance troupe.
But there’s always a quiet patch of grass for you to lay down a blanket and read a book.
Read More: Check out our complete guide to Nairobi Arboretum for all the details about visiting.
Oloolua Nature Trail
Just opposite the Giraffe Centre, you could easily miss the Oloolua Nature Trail if you’re not looking for it.
Hidden behind a thick tree line, Oloolua doesn’t look like much from the outside. But once you enter, it opens up into a beautiful, dense forest trail, meandering through streams, waterfalls, caves, and much more.
There’s also a picnic spot to chill out and enjoy lunch.
Food and Drink
Nairobi is home to some great restaurants and coffee shops, blending traditional African cuisine with modern food culture.
Check out some of my favourite places to eat and drink in the city.
Check Out Nairobi’s Coffee Scene
Coffee might be Kenya’s no.1 export, but until recently, Kenyan’s themselves weren’t interested.
But times have changed, and Nairobi has established a healthy coffee scene, with new cafes opening in every neighborhood, offering delicious brews in beautiful settings.
Sitting down with a cappuccino or a cold brew is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the modern, diverse, young, creative (and corporate) scenes in Nairobi.
My favourite Cafes in Nairobi are below.
Chekafe, Lavington: A Japanese sweet factory and ramen restaurant that also serves delicious coffees in a beautiful, quiet garden setting.
Tin Roof Cafe, Karen: Far away from the crowds in Nairobi, Tin Roof Cafe is somewhere you can just disappear for an entire lazy Sunday afternoon.
Pallet Cafe, Lavington: Pallet Cafe hires much of its staff from Nairobi’s deaf community. So, you’ll learn to order a tasty French Press in sign language while chilling out in its beautiful garden.
Artcaffe, various locations: A high-end chain of cafes, Artcaffe has branches all over Nairobi. Some are nicer than others, but they all offer exceptional service, comfortable settings, and good coffee.
Lava Latte, State House Rd: Since opening as a small cafe, Lava Latte has quickly grown into a full restaurant, event space, creative centre, and so much more. The atmosphere is fun but chilled, with a wide selection of coffee and food to choose from.
Read More: Check our guide to the coolest coffee shops in Nairobi.
Nairobi Nightlife Highlights
Nairobi’s nightlife is legendary throughout East Africa (and beyond).
There’s something happening seven nights a week, 365 days a year. And not only do Kenyans love to party and dance, but they’re also incredibly friendly and welcoming to anyone who wants to join in.
While the nightlife has taken a severe hit from Coronavirus, it looks like things are already picking back up. It won’t be long before Nairobi has its dancing shoes back on.
The place to be (and be seen) most nights of the week, when people say they’re going to ‘Alchemist,’ they probably mean the small collective of bars and restaurants that make up Nairobi’s most popular nighttime hangout.
The Alchemist is the biggest, with two levels and a big dancefloor, but there’s also a rotating cocktail bar upstairs, a bunch of food trucks, and Brioche restaurant if you’re looking for something more chilled out.
Thursday at Dagoz Artist Bar
Location: Ngong Rd.
Dagoz hasn’t been around long, but it quickly established itself as Nairobi’s best live music dive bar.
It’s run by a group of local musicians, who’ve built a loyal following with their weekly open mic nights (held every Thursday) and focus on hosting quality music and fostering local talent.
Some Honourable Mentions
Salsa Socials, Fridays @ Artcaffe Oval: Afro-Caribbean dance is super popular in Nairobi, with small classes and events held throughout the week. Friday is the highlight, when much of the community comes together to dance and catch up.
K1 Flea Market, Sundays @ K1 Klubhouse: Now, this is where the seriously cool kids of Nairobi come to be seen. K1 Flea Market is an all-day affair, starting as a harmless shopping experience and quickly turning into a massive party that goes on late into Monday morning.
Board Games at Bao Box
Bao Box will help you to rediscover fun outside technology. As one of the premier board game cafes in Nairobi, Kenya, it provides a variety of popular local indoor board games that will help you socialise. In addition to that, you can enjoy some of the delicious food served, all prepared with local ingredients.
An outdoor fun leisure park situated in Kiganjo, Nyeri county, just outside Nairobi. This is perfect for a family weekend getaway. Chaka Ranch offers an overwhelming variety of outdoor activities including go-kart riding, quad bike riding, paintball games, water parks, and many more. The luxury tented camp and culinary experience make it an all-rounded destination you will probably want to add to your bucket list.
Art and Culture
Tucked away on a quiet corner of the CBD, Nairobi Gallery is the most underrated museum in Nairobi.
Housed in an tiny old British Colonial office, it doesn’t look like much from the outside. But once you step inside, you’ll be treated to an amazing collection of traditional and contemporary African art. Spend an hour perusing the exhibitions and then take a short walk to CJ’s Coffee House or The Collective for lunch.
Kioko Mwtiki Art Gallery
Boasting over 25 years of art collection from across Africa, Kioko Mwtiki provides an exhibition platform for the collection of contemporary African paintings, sculptures, and literature. Therefore if you are an art enthusiast or just a curious visitor who loves history and culture then why not plan a visit to the gallery.
Zanji Art is a fascinating antique art dealership and jewelry workshop run by Njee Muturi, a charismatic and art collector and jewellery maker working from a small studio at Pallet Cafe. He collects and sells an incredible mix of masks, artwork, furniture, and curios from across Africa – and can tell you the stories behind them all.
Read More: get your fill of Kenyan art and culture at the best art galleries in Nairobi.
What’s Your Favourite Thing To Do in Nairobi?
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list!