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

One day in Kigali itineraryRolling hills for miles lead to valleys and hillsides dotted with houses. Small skyscrapers mark the city skyline. Motorcycles buzz around. People walk around, 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 a stay in Kigali that will leave an impression on your trip.

 

Guest post by Timon Peskin

 

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 the mountain gorillas, which is best to seen 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. Over 1 million people were massacred in just 100 days. Since that time the country has united and prospered better then many of it’s 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 your stop is 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

 

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 those 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 hours. This memorial stands where the massacre occurred, with the building untouched showing the damage done by rebels. There are 10 stones that represent their brave lives.

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

This excellent market has it all. Enjoy the many rows of fresh fruits and vegetables. Food stalls are separated by category like aisles in a supermarket. Following 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

 

Some 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.

 

Guest post by Timon Peskin

 

In case you have more than just One Day in Kigali check out Tripadvisor for detailed list of all the top things to do in Kigali.

 

Find the Best Hotel Deals in Kigali

Cheap Flights to Kigali

Get Kigali Lonely Planet Guide

 

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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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