Nairobi is the largest city in Kenya and its capital. The name Nairobi comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi meaning “place of cool waters” referring to the Nairobi River. Whether you want to experience a modern city with more than 2.7 million people or be transported back to the ancient past of Africa by standing on the coast of Lamu, a trip to the vibrant city of Nairobi is incomplete without its rich heritage and culture.
Top Things to do in Nairobi to Experience the Kenyan Culture
• Revel in the Beauty of Nature
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park, the first national park in Kenya, is only 7 km from the city centre. The park is a haven for wildlife and also serves as a rhino sanctuary protecting more than 50 exotic species. Along with the rhinos, you can also see lions, cheetahs, zebras, etc. Also, it is home to more than 400 species of birds. What are the Nairobi national park charges? It is $43 for non-residents and 430 KSHS for residents.
The Nairobi Safari Walk is a wooden boardwalk at the main entrance of Nairobi National Park. It is one of the best things to do in Nairobi and features a variety of birds and other species like a hippo, bongo, etc. The Elephant Nursery at the main gates of the Nairobi National Park is a rescue and rehab centre for elephants and rhinos, open to the public for viewing mud baths & feedings.
Uhuru Gardens Memorial Park
There are many things to do in Nairobi but these gardens are the largest memorial park in Kenya and provide a serene place for solitude. The grounds are lush and offer great learning, making it the perfect location to unwind or have a picnic. Two memorials to Kenya’s independence are located on the grounds. It is a popular meeting place with a variety of spaces for public events.
Nairobi Giraffe Centre
Don’t worry if a stay at Giraffe Manor is out of your price range and you wish to experience the best cultural things to do in Nairobi. The Nairobi Giraffe Centre, which is a part of the same sanctuary as Giraffe Manor and is located right next door, still allows visitors to meet giraffes. Visitors can interact with the giraffes either from an elevated platform or directly on the ground while spending time with them.
• Indulge in African Heritage & History
Karen Blixen Museum
Are you looking for top cultural things to do in Nairobi? The Karen Blixen Museum, home to the Danish author of the well-known “Out of Africa” book and movie is located 6 miles from Nairobi city centre. The 19th-century farmhouse has lush outdoor gardens and antiques from the movie. Guided tours are offered till 6:00 pm on weekdays and weekends, providing visitors with an insight into colonial life in the 20th century.
Nairobi National Museum
If you are a history buff or traveling with kids, the National Museum is an educational way to spend a few hours in Nairobi. The cultural exhibits at the museum include 900+ stuffed birds and mammals, ethnic displays from tribal groups, and more. Learn about the volcanic life cycle while exploring an amazing range of rocks and minerals at the Geology Gallery.
African Heritage House
Overlooking the Nairobi National Park, the African Heritage House was founded in the early 1970s by Alan Donovan, an officer for the U.S. State Department. It houses more than 6,000 unique pieces of traditional art and crafts now from all over Africa. The Kamba beading by the Kamba tribe of Kenya, masks from the Ibo in Nigeria, and plenty of more heritage pieces are found here. It makes African Heritage House one of the best things to do in Nairobi.
Nairobi Railway Museum
Opened in 1971, The Railway Museum in Nairobi celebrates the rich history of Kenya’s railroad and its impact on the nation’. The museum features a charming range of train and ship models, photos of Uganda Railway designs, railway magazines, maps, etc. Also with a model of the German MV Liemba, which is still in use at Lake Tanganyika.
• Visit the Art & Cultural Centres in Nairobi
Are you an art lover? This should be on the top of your list of things to do in Nairobi. Nairobi Gallery features artifacts and texts from the personal range of the late Joseph Murumbi, former Vice President and curator of African heritage. This vast range is split among The Nairobi Gallery and the National Archives and both are within the city center. Both of these should be your top choices if you value getting a close-up view of Kenyan culture and history.
GoDown Arts Center
Founded in 2003, look no further than the GoDown Arts Center for a modern take on Nairobi’s thriving arts scene. It features more than 10,000 m of space to support modern art in Africa. This space is intended to display a wide range of creativity of Kenyan and East African artists across many mediums.
Kenya National Archives
Founded in 1965, the Kenya National Archives in Nairobi is a museum that is crucial to the history of Kenya. It has artifacts and over 40,000 records and papers dating back to Kenya’s colonial era. The artwork of one of Africa’s best living artists Bruce Onobrakpeya is on display at the museum.
• Try Nairobi Street Food
Wondering what to do in Nairobi to experience Kenyan culture? The vibrant cuisine scene in Nairobi is an extension of the city’s artistic culture. Nyama Choma in Nairobi known as “roasted meats” is the most popular street food. But as Nairobi has grown to become a truly global city, there has been an infusion of cuisines from all over the world. As a result, there is now a blend of European, Pan-Asian, and African cuisines, which is sure to satisfy the appetite of any hungry traveler.
Stroll Through the Popular Maasai Market
Don’t forget the famous Maasai Market in Nairobi, which takes place at a new location every day of the week. Travelers can find 30 to 60 vendors or artisans offering a variety of baskets, jewels, home decor, etc. Young people eager to interact with foreign customers may be found across the lively and crowded market.
It’s crucial to note that prices may be slightly inflated. Respectful bargaining is required in order to get the best price. Keep smiling, and you can agree on a deal that satisfies both parties. The cultural experience at Maasai markets is one of the best things to do in Nairobi.
Transcend to another world with the Matatu Experience
In Kenya, public transport goes beyond just getting people from one place to another. It is a method of expression and a way of living. The public transport sector is well-known as “matwana culture” and is a unique part of urban life. See matatu culture photos above.
The matatu is an old minibus that has eye-catching graffiti on the exterior. Speakers and LED lighting in the bus keep commuters amused during the journey. Nairobi also has bikes called Boda Bodas that will take people to their desired location for a small fee. It is a unique way to experience the best things to do in Nairobi.
• Tour the Ancient Villages of Nairobi
Bomas of Kenya
The Bomas of Kenya is a visitor village in Nairobi. It became a part of the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC) in 1971 to protect the rich heritage of Kenya. You can’t miss the exciting traditional dance and music shows held on a daily basis. The Bomas are known for being adorable hosts and offer savory local cuisines and opulent amenities to the guests. Without a doubt, it is one of the best things to do in Nairobi with your friends and family.
Image credit – Shutterstock
Your trip will be incomplete without seeing Lamu because it is one of the best places to visit in Nairobi. It is a popular tourist hotspot for foreigners and locals alike. Lamu Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the oldest and most preserved Swahili town in East Africa. This oldest inhabited town in Kenya was founded in 1370. Visit Lamu Fort if you want to retrace the historic steps of Portuguese explorers, Omani Arabs, and Turkish traders.
With Swahili architecture, Islamic influences, and narrow alleys hiding shops and eateries, Lamu is the perfect place for a visitor to walk. Lamu offers delicious and spicy Swahili cuisine. Shela beach is a 12 km stretch of white sand that’s perfect for sun lovers and anyone looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of town life.
• Explore Religious Tourist Places
Jamia Mosque in Nairobi
Built in the early 19th century by Syed Abdullah Shah, the Jamia Mosque is located in CBD, Nairobi. The Jamia Mosque in Nairobi is a gorgeous structure with elements of the Arabic Muslim style. It features exquisite marble and engravings from the Quran. It has 3 silver vaults, two twin minarets, and a library.
All Saints Cathedral
All Saint’s Cathedral is the biggest Anglican church in Kenya and the second biggest in terms of the number of followers. Its mission is to transform people through the word of God. All Saints Cathedral was devoted to the glory of God on 21st March 1952 by Bishop R. P. Crabbe.
Shri Swami Narayan Mandir
Shree Swaminarayan Temple is located in the Parklands, Nairobi. This newly built temple was opened by His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree in the year 2000. It is the epitome of Indian architecture. Do you have one more day in the city? Visiting this temple is on the top of our list of the best things to do in Nairobi.
Stay at Emara Ole Sereni – One of the Best Things to do in Nairobi
Looking for a luxury hotel in Nairobi? Why staying at Emara Ole Sereni is one of the best things to do in Nairobi? Emara Ole Sereni is the perfect getaway in Nairobi with breathtaking views of the Nairobi National Park. It is a perfect blend of excellent service, lavish rooms, and impeccable wedding and conference facilities in Nairobi. Being one of the top Nairobi 5 star hotels, it is only 12 km from JKIA airport, 6 km from Wilson Airport, and 10 km from City Centre through the Nairobi Expressway.
One of the best things to do in Nairobi is to experience luxury and comfort in the lap of nature. Located just off Mombasa road, near Nairobi National Park, Emara Ole Sereni’s rooms and apartments offer serene views of the Nairobi National Park and warm hospitality with lavish comforts, generous amenities, and designer furnishings.
Experience a delightful culinary journey at Emara Ole Sereni hotel in Nairobi with our gourmet chefs and carefully curated menus from Africa and the world. Looking for the best restaurant in Nairobi? From Acacai restaurant and Oasis bar to Karibu Café, savor a range of delectable delights with a glass of your favorite scotch or a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Acacai is one of the most exquisite fine dining restaurants in Nairobi.
Sky Lounge – One of the Best Bars in Nairobi
Is there a more perfect way to end your day than with a cocktail and a spectacular view? With unmatched views of the Nairobi National Park and animals gathering near the waterhole as the sun sets behind the Ngong Hills, the Sky Lounge is a sleek affair with an infinity pool. It is the most happening rooftop bar in Nairobi and is packed on the weekends.
Stunning Conferences & Weddings
Looking for the perfect venue for conference facilities and weddings in Nairobi Kenya? With our wide choice of event venues like Mara Ball Room and Almasi Banquet Hall, we can host small sales meets, convocations, and conferences to big destination weddings. Indulge in beautiful views of the Nairobi National Park and world-class features like audio-visual equipment, sound-proof walls, etc. It is one of the best wedding venues in Nairobi.
With Maasai markets, historic places, street food, and more that show what the modern Kenyan city has to offer, today Nairobi has a diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Whether you prefer art exhibits or something else, there are infinite things to do in Nairobi to experience Kenya’s culture. Make sure you stay at the Emara Ole Sereni, one of the best hotels near Nairobi airport to make the most of it.