One Day in Kigali Itinerary – Top things to do in Kigali, Rwanda

Miles-long rolling hills lead to valleys and hillsides dotted with houses. Small skyscrapers mark the city skyline. Motorcycles buzz around. People walk about, dressed well, with friendly smiles on their faces. Kigali, the heartbeat of Rwanda, is a wonderful city and unlike most capital cities in Africa. This bustling metropolitan area in Rwanda is very clean and safe. There are several sights of interest to see during your one day in Kigali that will definitely leave an impression on your trip.

One day in Kigali itinerary

 

Guest post by Timon Peskin
Blog: Beard and Curly

 

What’s the best time to visit Kigali?

Kigali is best visited during the dry months of June through September. There is also a shorter window of dry months between mid-December and early February. Typically, Rwanda is a jumping point to visit mountain gorillas, which is best to do during the dry months.

 

What’s good to know about Kigali?

With a population of over 1 million people, Kigali is the center of transportation, culture and arts in Rwanda. Kigali hit global news in 1994 because of the genocide that took place there. Over 1 million people were massacred in just 100 days. Since then, the country has united and prospered more than many of its African neighbors. The rolling hills of Rwanda do not cover a large area, as each corner of this country can be visited in just a few hours’ drive. Many come to Kigali to head to Volcanoes National Park, home of the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Whether you stop for one day or multiple days, Kigali is the place to learn more about the unique history behind Rwanda and experience a true African culture.

Kimironko Market, Author: Timon Peskin
Kimironko Market, Author: Timon Peskin

 

One Day in Kigali Itinerary

Top things to do in Kigali, Rwanda

Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Kigali.

 

Start of your day with a stop at the Genocide Memorial

While it is a sight hard to see, the Genocide Memorial cannot be missed. Be prepared for a gut wrenching and extremely sad experience. It is an amazing museum as well as burial grounds for an estimated 300,000 people. It does an excellent job explaining the issues in Rwanda – what led to the genocide, why it occurred and the results. It also goes beyond Rwanda to talk about other past genocides as a memorial for victims all over the world.

Genocide Memorial, Author: Timon Peskin
Genocide Memorial, Author: Timon Peskin
Genocide Memorial, Author: Timon Peskin
Genocide Memorial, Author: Timon Peskin

Stop at the Belgian Memorial

10 soldiers who protected the Prime Minister were taken by rebels to a military compound and slaughtered. They fought back with only two handguns and the standoff lasted for hours. The Belgian Memorial stands where the massacre occurred, with the building untouched showing the damage done by the rebels. There are 10 stones that represent each of the brave soldiers.

Belgian Memorial, Author: Timon Peskin
Belgian Memorial, Author: Timon Peskin

Walk to Hotel Rwanda

This famous hotel is actually named Hotel des Mille Collines, but known as Hotel Rwanda from the critically acclaimed movie released in 2005. The movie depicts some brief history, but turns to the story of this hotel acting as a refuge and safe house during the genocide of 1994. The management and workers risked their own lives by helping save so many, giving shelter inside the hotel. Nearly 1,300 people took refuge here. Come walk around the hotel grounds and stop in for a coffee. Rooms start from $280 USD.

 

Grab lunch at a traditional Rwandan buffet

Rwanda is known for their lunch buffets. They cook an assortment of food for a set price. Typically, you can get chicken, meat stews, vegetable soup, fried fish, rice, french fries, potatoes, saute vegetables, and a cabbage salad. Kigali buffets are usually priced between 2,000 Franc to 3,000 Franc (~$2.50 – $3.50 USD).

 

Spend the afternoon at the Kimironko Market

The excellent Kimironko Market has it all. Enjoy the many rows of fresh fruits and vegetables. Food stalls are separated by category like aisles in a supermarket. Apart from the food, there are hundreds of stalls for home gadgets, electronics, clothing, crafts, and eventually at the far end, fabrics. Fabrics are a specialty in Rwanda with beautiful bright patterns and excellent tailors for women’s dresses and clothing. Buy one sheet of fabric for 5,000 franc ($6) and have it made into a dress, skirt, or tops for an additional 5,000 franc.

Kimironko Market, Author: Timon Peskin
Kimironko Market, Author: Timon Peskin

 

Where to stay in Kigali?

Kigali has several neighborhoods to explore. With a wide range of accommodation, we recommend staying in the Remera neighborhood.

There is an abundance of restaurants, budget guesthouses and high end hotels. Most offer shuttle services to and from the airport, a 10-minute drive. While there are several hostels in Kigali, guesthouses function very similarly with dormitory rooms and breakfast included.

Dorm beds typically start at $10 USD and a budget double room starts from $20 USD. For a budget stay, we recommend Keva Guest House or Gisa Stay.

For a mid-range stay, we recommend Five to Five Hotel with rooms from $75 USD.

Book here
Five to Five Hotel
Five to Five Hotel

For a high-end hotel, we recommend Hotel Chez Lando with rooms from $130 USD.

Book here
Hotel Chez Lando
Hotel Chez Lando

Find the Best Hotel Deals in Kigali

 

Extra tips for visiting Kigali

– Days can get hot in Kigali, so be prepared for the hot sun (bring your sunblock). However, once the sun goes down, the temperature drops in the evening due to the higher elevation of Kigali. It is good to bring layers or a light jacket/hoodie for the evenings.

– Kigali has local mini-bus transportation called matatus. They have many routes and cover all of Kigali, but it could get confusing and timely. It is best to hire a taxi or moto-taxi while in Kigali between all of your sights.

– Nighttime in Kigali is safe and you should not feel in danger if you are out after dark. With that said, there are always opportunists, so be cautious about where you are after dark.

– Make your trip to Kigali even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for all the activities and organized tours in Kigali or around the area. Make sure to purchase your tickets to all the attractions right away to skip the queues.

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MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED

Here are some of the top travel items you must bring to your next trip. These items will make your trip a lot more relaxing and you’ll surely get rid of some extra hassle.

Make sure to travel light, safe and stylish following our travel item guide for 2018.

Timon Peskin
Travel Blogger at

Timon and Yana are a traveling duo who quit their jobs in 2015 to travel the world. They spent months backpacking through Africa and the Middle East. They continue to venture to new places with upcoming backpacking destinations in New Zealand, Australia and South America. Follow their story at www.beardandcurly.com

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