A super quick guide to Nairobi
Need to know where to stay, what to eat and the best things to do in Kenya's capital? We've got you covered
Kenya’s capital is a thriving metropolis that continues to evolve and grow. Along with having up-and-coming food and creative scenes, Nairobi is also home to the regional HQs of major international companies such as Google and Microsoft, earning it the nickname ‘the Silicon Savannah’. A welcome respite is the huge amount of nature that juxtaposes the cosmopolitan centre. Nairobi is surrounded by plains, hills, and mountains, and Nairobi National Park is right on its doorstep – this is a city where residents and wild animals live in close proximity. Nairobi’s name comes from a Maasai phrase meaning, ‘the place of cool waters’, which aptly describes how refreshing a visit here can be.
If you’ve got Instagram, you’ll most likely have seen pictures from this amazing luxury hotel, where giraffes live among the guests. The eponymous animal residents make regular appearances at breakfast, craning their long necks through the windows to greet diners. It’s not cheap, but if you’re able to splurge, a stay here is a once in a lifetime experience.
Gogo falls Road
Kenya is well known for its locally brewed Tusker larger. It’s made from 100% African ingredients that are all locally sourced. The barley is from the savannah and the Maasai Mara and the spring water from the Abardare Mountains, for example, making you experience the feel and connection to the brands origins and roots – Kenya. Try it at Brew Bistro, one of the country’s leading mini brewers.
Brew Bistro and Lounge, Ngong Road; Brew Bistro Fortis, Woodvale Grove Westlands
If you want to whizz around like a local, hop on the back of a Boda Boda. Essentially a motorcycle taxi, it’s the most convenient means of transport to navigate Nairobi’s traffic snarl-ups. Mostly used at night, you can usually hail one from the roadside or at a bus stop or designated area. There are also apps, such as SafeBoda, that you can use to request one.
This cylindrical landmark offers one of the best views in the city. Head up to its rooftop, from where you can see the entire city and its environs.
City Square, along Harambee Avenue
A high-end spot in the heart of Nairobi, Mawimbi is officially the world’s best seafood restaurant, according to the World Luxury Restaurant Awards 2021. Dishes include smoked seasonal fish carpaccio, sauteed calamari with Swahili spices and motoke crisps, and a variety of indulgent sharing platters, loaded with the likes of lobster, prawns, octopus, and mangrove mud crab meat. If seafood’s not your thing, head to Asmara for incredible afro-contemporary Eritrean cuisine, or rooftop restaurant Spasso for hearty comfort food (think steak, ribs, burgers and pizza), good music and even better views.
Longonot Place, Kijabe St
With a national park just 7km south of the city, it would be rude not to go. Sprawling grass plains dotted with acacia bush are home to endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes, and more than 400 species of birds. Visitors can go on a game drive, hike the walking trials, and stop of for lunch at one of the many picnic sites. You can even camp in the park and enjoy the sound, sights, and smells of wildlife at night.
Lang’ata road, Nairobi
Visitors can gain a real insight into the country’s broad history and culture at this museum located on Museum Hill, approximately 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre. Its exhibits are divided into four themes: nature, history, culture, and contemporary art. Once you’re done, take a wander round the Botanical Gardens and admire their array of outdoor sculptures.
Watch as young elephants are hand-fed by their carers, have fun in their mud bath and take part in soil dusting at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (also known as the Elephant Orphanage). As one of the leading conservation organisations in East Africa, the Sheldrick Trust is focused on looking after the animals as opposed to tourism, so places are limited and you must book in advance to visit between 11am and midday. The whole experience is heartwarming, entertaining and educational, with one keeper giving mind blowing lectures on the issues that face elephants in the wild and the practicalities of raising wild animals by hand.
KWS Central Workshop Gate, Magadi Road, Nairobi
K1 Club house has redefined Nairobi’s food, nightlife and entertainment scene for the last 24 years and it is still growing. K1 isn’t just for weekends – it has stuff going on every single day. Mondays are BOGOF night, for example, Thursdays are reggae night, Fridays are Flashback night, and every Sunday there’s a flea market. Expats, tourists, and locals alike come here for tasty food, good music, and plenty of dancing.
Ojijo Road, Parklands/Westlands area in Nairobi