A city that’s alive with energy, colour, and culture, Nairobi is a fascinating destination that will leave you breathless with its charm and diversity. From the iconic wildlife that roams its outskirts to the bustling markets that pulsate with local life, Nairobi is a melting pot of modernity and tradition, where skyscrapers share the skyline with acacia trees, and Maasai warriors walk alongside business executives. Get ready to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavours of Nairobi as we take you on a thrilling journey through this dynamic African metropolis. Whether you have 24 hours or more, Nairobi promises an adventure like no other, where you’ll discover the heart and soul of Kenya’s capital city. Let’s dive in and explore Nairobi’s vibrant spirit!
Best Time to Visit Nairobi
The best time to visit Nairobi is during the dry season, which runs from late June to October and from late December to March. The weather is pleasant, and wildlife viewing is at its best during this time. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so prices may be higher and crowds may be larger. The rainy season runs from April to June and from October to December. While the landscape is lush and green, the rainy season can make wildlife viewing more challenging and some roads may become impassable. January and February should be avoided due to the long rains, which can cause flooding and disrupt travel plans.
A Few Facts About Nairobi
- The name Nairobi comes from the Maasai phrase ‘Enkare Nairobi’ which means “cool water”. The name refers to the Nairobi River, which flows through the city.
- As the city grew, the Maasai people who owned the land were pushed further south to make way for its expansion.
- Nairobi has a growing coffee culture, with numerous coffee shops and cafes serving up delicious Kenyan coffee. Kenya is known for its high-quality Arabica coffee, and Nairobi is a great place to sample some of the best locally roasted brews.
- Nairobi is the only city in the world that has a national park within its borders. Nairobi National Park is located just a few kilometres from the city centre and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including lions, leopards, buffaloes, and giraffes, making it a unique destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
What to do in Nairobi, Kenya in 24 Hours
If you have limited time and want to make the most of your day in Nairobi, Kenya, here are some top recommendations for things to do in Nairobi in 24 hours:
Start Your Day Early With the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Check in to your hotel and start your day early! Go to the sanctuary, established in memory of renowned conservationist David Sheldrick by his wife Daphne, located within Nairobi National Park. The sanctuary provides care and is home to orphaned baby elephants and rhinos from all over Kenya. The trust conducts daily public feedings at 11:00 am, where you can watch as the youngest elephants are fed bottles by the handlers, play in the water and dirt, and roam around the fenced-off area. It’s an awe-inspiring experience to see these adorable baby elephants up close (you can book the tour here).
During the feeding, a staff member provides information about the trust’s mission and shares stories about the individual resident baby elephants and rhinos. However, it’s also a sobering reminder of the challenges these animals face, as many of them are orphans due to poaching and human-wildlife conflict.
Head to The Giraffe Centre
If you’re looking for a unique and educational experience during your visit to East Africa, the Giraffe Center is a must-visit destination. Upon arrival, you’ll be given a handful of pellets to feed the giraffes from a raised viewing platform. Standing face-to-face with the adult giraffes, you can offer them pellets by hand, an unforgettable experience.
Don’t forget to also look down and spot the resident warthogs, and take a walk along the Giraffe Centre Nature Trail, located just across the road. In addition to the giraffe feeding, the Giraffe Center offers free educational talks and lectures, providing insights into the conservation efforts and the unique features of the Rothschild’s giraffe. It’s a great opportunity to learn about these beautiful animals and the work being done to protect them.
Visit the Karen Blixen Museum
The Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi, Kenya, is a must-visit destination for literature and history enthusiasts alike. This museum is dedicated to the renowned Danish author Karen Blixen, who lived in Kenya from 1914 to 1931, and whose memoir “Out of Africa” has captivated readers for decades. Housed in the former home of Karen Blixen, the museum provides a unique glimpse into her life and times.
Visitors can explore the beautifully preserved rooms that still contain the original furniture, photographs, and personal belongings of Karen Blixen, offering a window into her fascinating life as a coffee farmer in Africa. The lush gardens surrounding the museum are also a delight to wander through, showcasing the natural beauty that inspired Blixen’s writing. The museum provides a rich cultural and literary experience, allowing visitors to delve into the world of this iconic author while immersing themselves in the history and heritage of Kenya.
Explore The Nearby Kazuri Beads Factory
Founded in 1975 by Lady Susan Wood, Kazuri Beads is a socially responsible business that empowers local women by providing them with fair wages and stable employment. At the factory, visitors can witness the intricate process of handcrafting beautiful ceramic beads, which are made from local clay and painted by hand with exquisite designs. The factory tour offers insights into the traditional techniques used by skilled artisans and provides an opportunity to learn about the cultural significance of beadwork in African traditions.
Visitors can also shop for exquisite beads and jewellery created by talented artisans, with a wide range of colours, patterns, and styles to choose from. The Kazuri Beads Factory is not only a fascinating destination for those interested in arts and crafts but also a meaningful way to support women’s empowerment and community development in Kenya.
Stroll The Bomas of Kenya
Located just 10km from Nairobi’s Central Business District, Bomas of Kenya is a must-visit tourist village in Langata. At Bomas of Kenya, you can immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Kenya through traditional dances, music, and crafts. Experience the warm hospitality of the Kenyan people as you interact with the locals and learn about their way of life. Take a stroll through the traditional villages, each representing a different tribal group, and marvel at the authentic architecture, artifacts, and customs.
You can even witness live performances of traditional dances and music, including the famous Maasai jumping dance. Don’t miss the opportunity to shop for unique souvenirs and handicrafts at the on-site gift shop, where you can find traditional Kenyan jewellery, textiles, and artwork to take home as a memento of your cultural adventure.
End The Day With a Dinner at a Local Restaurant
As the day comes to a close, why not end it with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant in Nairobi? The city is known for its diverse culinary scene, offering a range of flavours and cuisines to tantalize your taste buds. One popular option is Carnivore, an open-air restaurant in the Langata suburb that specializes in meat. Located in the charming Langata suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, Carnivore is a renowned restaurant that has become a must-visit destination for meat lovers. With its specialty in meat and a reputation for its all-you-can-eat meat buffet, Carnivore is a haven for food enthusiasts seeking a carnivorous feast.
Another fantastic option is The Talisman Kenya- a culinary gem that has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 90s. What once was a small old house, originally occupied by the renowned wildlife photographer and author, Alan Root, has now become an award-winning restaurant that is synonymous with fine cuisine and unbridled eclecticism. From succulent steaks to fresh seafood and vegetarian options, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
Where to Stay in Nairobi
Gigiri Lion Villas
74 United Nations Crescent, 00100 Nairobi
Gigiri Lion Villas Nairobi is a stunning hotel located in Nairobi, Kenya, known for its luxurious accommodations, beautiful surroundings, and exceptional service. Situated in the peaceful Gigiri neighbourhood, the hotel offers a serene and tranquil escape for travellers seeking comfort and relaxation. The hotel boasts a variety of room options to suit different traveller preferences. The well-appointed rooms are tastefully designed with modern furnishings and offer a range of amenities, including air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and private bathrooms. The rooms are spacious, providing ample space for guests to unwind and relax after a long day of exploring the city or conducting business. One of the highlights of Gigiri Lion Villas Nairobi is its beautiful outdoor spaces. The hotel features lush gardens and a terrace where guests can enjoy the natural beauty and tranquillity of the surroundings. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or unwind with a book in the afternoon.
Acacia Tree Lodge
Acacia Tree Lodge is a charming hotel located in Nairobi, Kenya, known for its cozy ambience, warm hospitality, and beautiful natural surroundings. Nestled amidst lush green gardens, this lodge offers a peaceful and serene retreat for travellers seeking a tranquil getaway. The lodge features a range of comfortable room options to cater to different traveller preferences. The rooms are tastefully decorated with African-inspired decor, creating a unique and authentic ambience. Each room is well-equipped with modern amenities, including comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi, ensuring a comfortable stay for guests.
Dreamfield Nest By Skynest Apartments
Mkungu Close Skynest Residences, 00100 Nairobi
The aparthotel is conveniently situated near popular attractions such as Kumbu Kumbu Art Gallery, Eden Square Office Block, Habitat for Humanity Kenya, and Museum Hill Centre. The apartments are well-equipped with modern amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. Each unit features a terrace with city views, a cozy seating area, a flat-screen TV, and a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge and a microwave. The private bathroom includes a bidet and complimentary toiletries, and some apartments even offer access to a sauna, perfect for relaxation. Guests can enjoy dining at the on-site restaurant, which serves delicious American cuisine. For families travelling with children, there is a children’s playground available on the premises, and a shared lounge area for guests to relax and socialize.
Day Trips From Nairobi
Amboseli National Park
The Amboseli National Park Guided Full-Day Tour is a thrilling safari experience near Nairobi, Kenya. Led by a knowledgeable local guide, you’ll embark on a game drive in Amboseli National Park, known for its stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro and its abundant wildlife, including elephants, lions, cheetahs, and more. With opportunities for close-up encounters with wildlife, picnic lunches, and breathtaking photo opportunities, this tour promises an unforgettable adventure for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts!
Hell’s Gate and Lake Naivasha
The Hell’s Gate and Lake Naivasha Day Tour is an adrenaline-pumping adventure that takes you to two of Kenya’s most stunning natural attractions. Explore Hell’s Gate National Park on foot, by bicycle, or on a scooter, and marvel at the towering cliffs, deep gorges, and hot springs. Hike through narrow gorges, spot wildlife, and learn about the area’s geology and history. Then, relax with a boat ride on Lake Naivasha, home to diverse bird species and hippos. Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant and make lasting memories of an exhilarating day in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley!
Kiambethu Tea Farm
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Limuru Highlands, learn about the farm’s conservation efforts, and have the opportunity to purchase high-quality teas as souvenirs. This tour promises a memorable and informative journey into the world of Kenyan tea, perfect for tea enthusiasts and those interested in local culture and cuisine. Learn about the history and process of tea-making, explore the lush tea fields, and indulge in a delicious lunch made with fresh farm ingredients. Enjoy panoramic views, spot local wildlife, and taste different types of tea. With a knowledgeable guide, breathtaking scenery, and culinary delights, this tour offers a unique and educational experience of Kenya’s tea culture!
Extra Tips for Visiting Nairobi
- Hire a driver for the day and negotiate a fair price. This way, you’ll have someone to take you around and wait for you at each stop.
- Safety first: Nairobi has a reputation for being unsafe, so it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking around alone at night, and keep your belongings close to you at all times.
- Dress appropriately: Kenya is a conservative country, so it’s important to dress appropriately, especially when visiting religious sites. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and men should avoid wearing shorts in public.
- Stay hydrated: Nairobi can get quite hot, so be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. It’s also a good idea to carry a reusable water bottle with you, as tap water is not safe to drink.
- Don’t forget to apply for your visa online beforehand using E Visa to avoid any complications upon arrival in Nairobi.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Romi is a llama coach from Split, Croatia. This sounds made up but it’s true. She lived in Toronto, Canada for about ten years, give or take, but she wasn’t working with llamas. She was working in PR, restaurants, daycares, one yoga clothing store. She doesn't know how she got that job as she has never done yoga at that point. She taught English in Colombia and Vietnam. Traveled the world for two years. Then she got into writing. Actually, she was always writing, but then someone paid her to write. Then more people paid because they saw she was making them money. Then it became a thing she does for a living. And here we are now. Specializing in travel, real estate, and digital nomad guides, familiar with SEO, and always ready to learn something new so she can branch out and take over the world.