Kenya gets many visitors from abroad, most of whom are safari enthusiasts, though the country is now attracting lots of business people and investors. A large number of visitors also come to visit family.
Most visitors tend to skip Nairobi, viewing it as just another big city, with lots of frantic traffic, noise and congestion. A few business visitors will visit the Nairobi National Park in between meetings, but on the whole the charms of the city are largely ignored.
And Nairobi does have its fair share of charm. With good planning, you can get to see a completely different side of Nairobi, which you probably didn’t know existed.
Nairobi has many other eateries and places of interest, however here, we have listed down our favorites, hoping to entice you to spend a couple of nights in Nairobi, getting to feel the vibe of the city.
We haven’t included any safari related activities as we are saving that for another time!
Early mornings at:
- Karura Forest – Located within the city, there are marked 5kms, 10kms & 15kms trails for walking and cycling. You can also visit the waterfalls, or simply park yourself on a bench and listen to the morning birdsong.
- River Café – Located within Karura Forest grounds, this open air café has fantastic views of the forest with soft jazz music playing in the background
- Le Grenier a Pain – Little known French bakery & restaurant in a quiet suburb of Westlands, serving authentic French pastries and delectable coffees.
- Kitengela Hot Glass Factory – Watch artisans blow hot glass into small & large objects such as beads, vases, champagne flutes and even chandeliers. Create your own masterpiece. You will also have the opportunity to purchase items from the factory if you so wish.
- Kazuri Beads Factory – Visit the factory that provides employment to disadvantaged Kenyans, making top quality hand-made & hand-painted ceramic jewelery and pottery.
- Maasai Markets – These street style markets are where you can buy souvenirs of your visit to Kenya. There’s a Maasai Market daily, in different shopping malls, depending on the day of the week. This is definitely a place to bargain and collect colorful trinkets, gifts and souvenirs.
- Utamaduni – Unlike the Maasai Market that moves, Utamaduni is an old Kikuyu house converted into 18 shops with diverse African crafts, antiques and art. Here, bargaining may not be encouraged and credit card payments are accepted. Staff are on hand to assist with packing and/or shipping arrangements if required.
- Nairobi National Museum – The Museum houses celebrated collections of Kenya’s History, Nature, Culture and Contemporary Art. Adjacent to the Museum is the Snake Park where you can see varieties of these reptiles.
Lunch/dinner (Thursdays – Sundays) at:
- Cultiva Farm – A seasonal restaurant based on the farm to fork principle – the menu is changed almost every week. Serving delicious fusion food & drinks, largely undiscovered by Nairobi’s populace.
- Chez Sonia – This is mostly a wine bar with many different private/hidden indoor & outdoor seating areas. Charcuterie & cheese boards, duck pate, burrata are then norm, but they have a pop up kitchen every once in a while.
Lunch/dinner (daily) at:
- The Wine Shop – Set in a lovely garden, with ample indoor & outdoor seating space – it gets busy, so reservations are recommended. This is also primarily a wine bar with larger meal portions.
- Boho Eatery – Set in a quirky outdoorsy area, Boho Eatery is a café, restaurant and cocktail bar. Interesting meals like shiitake & tofu dumplings, mushroom poke, shakshuka and tostones among other dishes can be found on their menu.
- Nyama Mama – With 4 different locations around the city, they call themselves an unpretentious, fun, modern day African diner. Fusion food dishes include Chapatti wraps, Mama’s stews, Ugali fries, Mandazi doughnut and Mama’s choma tray.
- Hashmi BBQ – Closed on Tuesdays & Fridays lunch time, but open for dinner daily except Tuesdays. This is a family favorite, get your hands wrist deep into poussin fries, chicken chooza and kebabs. It’s one of those places where you should skip breakfast (or lunch if you’re going there for dinner). Tasty food, most people eat and leave, to allow other diners waiting outside. No reservations are made here, first come first served.
- Inti – a Nikkei experience. Undoubtedly, this has to be one of the best views of Nairobi. Watching the evening traffic while sipping on your Pisco cocktail, is somewhat soothing from so high up. Nibble on appetizers that could include ceviche, Tiradito or your choice of sushi from the extensive menu