What links lions, skyscrapers and railroads? If you answered Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, then you would be exactly correct! Nairobi is a startling metropolis situated on the savannahs of East Africa. It is a modern, comfortable and convenient place to live that happens to share its space with giraffes, lions, zebras, elephants and other exotic animals. This makes Nairobi one of the nicest places to visit because you can experience the greatness of nature along with a city break with all of its associated comforts and convenience.
A giraffe is an animal designed by a committee!
Nairobi quickly became a centre of commerce as important commodities like coffee (the famous Kenyan Blue Mountain is my favourite), tea and sisal (a fibre used in ropes) were brought to the rail depot for export. Today, Nairobi is the capital of a free Kenya and a metropolis of more than 10 Million residents.
Here’s a Pro Tip: The currency used is the Kenyan Shilling. About 200 Kenyan Shilling is equal to one British Pound, though the rate regularly fluctuates.
Most travellers touch down in Nairobi at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which sits just 18km east of the city. This modern facility is quite convenient as it is new since a fire destroyed the old airport in 2013. From the airport you can take a taxi, minibus, public bus or hotel car to reach the city in about 40 minutes. My preferred mode of transport is a hotel car but taxis are also convenient. The trip into town will cost about 6000 Shillings (about £30) one-way.
Here’s Another Pro Tip: I wouldn’t advise drinking the tap water. Bottled water can be purchased from most convenience stores, and hotels all provide bottled water in the guest’s room. Use the bottled water to brush your teeth as well as to drink.
Safari, so good!
- Karen Blixen Museum – Dedicated to the award-winning Danish author, this museum showcases the romantic story of one author and her love of Nairobi.
- Nairobi National Park – Safari time! Leave the city behind and spend the day amongst wildlife at the Nairobi National Park. The parks wide open grass plains sit just a short drive out of Nairobi’s CBD (Central Business District) and is home to giraffes, lions, elephants and cheetahs! This park is much closer to the city than Kruger Park in South Africa!
- Giraffe Centre – If you can’t get enough of the giraffes in the National Park, head north of the city to this giraffe rescue and rehabilitation centre. The centre has dedicated feeding times, and visitors can feed their long-legged friends!
- Kenya Railway Museum – Complete with a miniature railroad, the Kenya Railway Museum casts a light on the countries transport history and is home to one of the locomotives used in the 1985 classic film ‘Out of Africa’.
- Bomas of Kenya – Enjoy a culture-filled morning exploring a traditional Kenyan village. The exhibition is home to one of the largest auditoriums in Africa where local dances and concerts are held.
Don’t Maasai the market at Bomas!
- Golfing – Nairobi has excellent golf courses that benefit from the high altitude and cooler temperatures compared to other locations in Africa. The golf is relaxing and the pros and caddies are all good natured – even if your kills are limited! Fore!
Traditional Kenyan cuisine includes everything from spiced rice to collard greens and roasted meat, but you’ll also find a sprinkling of South-East Asian restaurants in the capital too. The large Indian population that originally immigrated to the region to start businesses in the early 20th Century ensures that flavours of the Sub-Continent are a special treat in Nairobi. Check out my favourite places to eat below:
- Carnivore – This is a must-visit location that is as much a show as a meal! Carnivore features exotic meats, grilled to perfection, in a colourful open-air environment right outside of the city. You must try “Dr. Dawa’s Special Elixir”, an alcoholic drink made with local spirits, pineapple juice and honey that will keep you partying well into the night!
Curry up, I’m hungry
- Talisman – Described as a “Cosmopolitan African hideaway’, Talisman is a restaurant that does not disappoint. The colonial decor welcomes hungry guests, and the menu features global cuisine with lots of South Asian influences. The seafood is brought in fresh daily from nearby Mombasa on the coast.
- Tatu – Speaking of seafood… If, like me, you’re a big fan of seafood then Tatu should be on your list to visit. This minimalist restaurant boasts African decor and serves delicious seafood dishes using fish sourced from the Coast. They also have an excellent wine list!
From cocktail bars and microbreweries to late-night music venues and hidden taverns, Nairobi has a nightlife to please every visitor. Check out my these must-visit venues:
- Brew Bistro and Lounge – Nairobi has an excellent microbrewery and its part of Kenya’s Big Five Breweries chain. Take a seat at the outdoor bar and settle in for an evening of trying different local craft beers.
- The Alchemist – The cocktails are calling, and we must go! The Alchemist is one of the best bars in Nairobi for cocktails and innovative concoctions. The bar is hip, trendy and adorned with potted plants!
- Dagoz Bar – This is Nairobi’s premier live music venue and it’s here that locals and visitors gather to enjoy the latest sounds from the city’s up and coming artists. The bar is open till midnight, so it’s a great way to end an evening in the capital.
If you claim you’re roughing it, you’re a cheetah!
- Giraffe Manor – A night at Giraffe Manor isn’t cheap, but how could I not recommend a hotel where you enjoy breakfast in the company of giraffes?! This luxury hotel sits inside a beautiful 1930’s manor house and shares its gardens with a heard of nosey Rothschild giraffes. This hotel is frequently featured on Instagram and, if you stay there, you’ll have plenty of material for your own posts!
- Tribe – A more affordable hotel, Tribe is one of Nairobi’s coolest hotels. Rooms at Tribe are contemporary and chic; each one adorned with expressionist art and boutique furniture.
- Hemingway’s Nairobi – This elegant 5-star hotel boasts an outdoor heated pool, a state of the art fitness centre and an onsite spa. This is one of my favourite hotels in East Africa for its comfort, hospitality and style.
Nairobi is so much more than a gateway to a safari; it’s a city with a beating heart and an eagerness to show hospitality. From microbreweries to sushi restaurants, this startling metropolis will forever be one of my favourites!