During my first visit to Nairobi, I had no idea what I was going to do. I booked a stay at a lodge and that was all the plans that I had! Fortunately I met many amazing people on my solo travels who gave me some wonderful ideas of places to visit in the amazing city of Nairobi. From wildlife to forests to waterfalls to horse back riding to hiking, the list in Nairobi is endless.
1. Karura Forest
A lovely little surprise in the middle of the city, Karura Forest is a gem of Nairobi. With over 50 kilometers of walking, biking, and nature trails, this is one of the best places to visit for a taste of nature while still staying in the city. There are orange waterfalls, picnic areas, walking and biking trails, and the most adorable, quaint café.
View the full post here: KARURA FOREST – NATURE TRAILS, ORANGE WATERFALLS, AND CAFE | NAIROBI, KENYA
2. Elephant Orphanage
One of the main tourist attractions in Nairobi is the elephant orphanage of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The highlight being the ability to see orphan baby elephants come out for a milk feeding and a mud bath in the morning. Visiting times are very limited and therefore it is always quite busy. They are only open to tourists from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm so be sure to plan accordingly!
3. Giraffe Center
Have you ever been kissed by a giraffe? Now is your chance! Or for the less adventurous, you can at least feed the giraffes from your hand at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. It is certainly quite the experience. Unfortunately you cannot sit down and eat in the restaurant with the giraffes peaking in unless you stay the night in the (very expensive) hotel.
4. K1 Market
Did you imagine Nairobi to have an upscale flea market? Well they certainly do and it’s called K1 Flea Market. A hip and popping place to sit for a drink or lunch, K1 will give you a great feel for the vibe of Nairobi. The flea market, which features traditional Masai goods, handmade items, and second hand goodies, is only on Sunday’s although the market itself is open all week.
5. Skyline of Nairobi – Kenyatta Tower
It would be a shame to visit any city without getting a good glimpse of it’s skyline. And Nairobi, the hub of East Africa certainly has a skyline to boast of. If you travel to the CBD of Nairobi, located near most of the government offices, you’ll find Kenyatta Towers. An elevator ride and a short climb later and you’ll be gazing with a bird’s eye view of Nairobi.
6. Ngong Hills – Horse Ride or Hike
If you’re looking for a hike near Nairobi, Ngong hills are just about your only option. A guide is usually recommended as there are no paths and you pass through Masai land. Even if you’re not looking for a hike, these hills are a truly beautiful sight. There are also options to go for a few hours of a horse back riding through the red and fertile hills. Malo stables offers amazing rides if you’re up for the adventure!
7. Nairobi Arboretum – Picnic
Although it is lesser-known among tourists, the Nairobi Arboretum is a lovely place to spend the day. Take along a book, a picnic blanket, and a picnic and you’ll be set! Shaded by trees and flowers, you may even be visited by a monkey or two (or 15).
8. Village Market/Two Rivers Mall
If you want to experience a bit of Nairobi’s fancier side, Village Market is the place to go. A semi-outdoor shopping area located right near most of the city’s embassies and the UN, it is quite a beautiful place to visit. Extremely safe and secure, you’ll see many expats and tourists roaming the fountain-lined paths. Filled with cafes and shopping areas, it’s a wonderful place to relax during the night or also have a fancy dinner at night.
Two Rivers Mall, the largest mall in East Africa, is only a few minutes drive away. Containing all the best shopping opportunities in Kenya if you need western goods, Two Rivers is a great place to know about. They even have a small amusement park connected to the mall!
9. Rooftop Swimming – Trademark Hotel
Sometimes all you need is a relaxing day by the pool! As most of Nairobi’s natural streams or waterfalls are not clean enough to swim in, a little bit of clear water can be a comfort. Trademark Hotel, adjacent to Village Market, offers a stunning pool with lovely views of the city and delicious dining options. There are many hotel rooftop swimming pools in the city, but this was by far my favorite. A lovely place to relax!
10. Masai Market
Experiencing the local and native cultures is one of the most important aspects of travel. Especially when the culture is as unique and well preserved as the Masai Tribe in Kenya. There are over 40 tribes within Kenya but the Masai are by far the most famous as they have preserved their warrior tribe with most of it’s traditional aspects. Bright, colorful clothing, unique handmade products, and endless bangles and jewelry. Nairobi offers Masai Markets in multiple places throughout the city. The best are at Village Market on Fridays or the CBD on Sunday.
11. Kibera Slum Tour
Kibera is known as the largest and poorest slum in all of Africa and among the largest in the world. With no electricity or running water for it’s over 250,000 dwellers, it is an incredibly humbling experience to take a tour through the area and learn from the people who live there and hear their stories. A family of 8 will live normally in a 12×12 mud home, bringing a bucket of water per day from the communal center. My guide, Winnie, was born and raised in Kibera and she runs a school in the slum while also trying to bring awareness to the community.
12. Paradise Lost
This place isn’t called paradise for nothing! A beautiful little oasis around 15 minutes outside of the city, Paradise Lost should certainly be on your list! A stunning waterfall, Mau Mau (anti-colonial freedom fighters) caves, picnic spots, a zipline, and more! A magical little haven just outside of the city!
13. Tigoni Tea Farms
If you want a little excursion into the countryside while still not wandering too far from the city, Tigoni is perfect for you! With endless fields of green tea farms (tea is Kenya’s second largest export) it’s certainly a stunning place. Horseback riding, picnic spots, and of course some hidden waterfalls adorn this almost untouched area.
View the full post: TEA TIME? STUNNING TEA FARMS, HORSE RIDE, AND PICNIC IN TIGONI – NAIROBI | KENYA
14. Karen Blixen Museum
If you have ever read the book or seen the film Out of Africa, this museum is a must. Karen Blixen who lived in Kenya from 1914-1931 and wrote her famous autobiographical book about time in colonial Kenya, has an entire suburb of Nairobi, “Karen” named after her. The museum sits on her original farmland “at the foothills of Ngong” as she was known to write and her original home. Although just a short visit, most history lovers will enjoy!
15. Nairobi National Park
Did you ever consider doing a safari within a city? And not at a zoo! Nairobi has an entire national park within its borders. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and more all just a few minutes drive from the city itself! Although it certainly is not as extensive and full of animals as some of Kenya’s more famous safari parks (Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo, etc) it’s still a great place to get a taste of Kenya’s incredible wildlife.
Have any more questions about traveling to Kenya? Check out our ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TRAVEL IN KENYA | TIPS & TRICKS FOR FIRST TIME TRAVELERS.
Looking for more fun things to do in Kenya, outside of the city? 11 AMAZING THINGS TO DO ON YOUR TRIP TO KENYA – NOT JUST A SAFARI
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters