Top 27 Things To Do In Kigali, Rwanda
Rwanda’s landscape is quite unique, mainly composed of a union of rolling hills inhabited by both people and eucalyptus trees. Kigali city is no exception as a walk in any of its neighborhoods will have you going up and down horizontal lines. Due to the economical rise and safety of the country, Rwanda is slowly becoming a travel destination on people’s minds, and although the country has many gems to experience, the capital offers some of its own. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or a romantic interest, Kigali city has ample experiences and things to do to fill up many of your days.
1.stroll around Sunday Park
Although many of Kigali’s neighborhoods are covered or surrounded by grass, trees, and occasional flowers, there’s something especially peaceful about walking around a designated park. With plenty of green spaces, a mini-golf area, cafes, well-manicured grass, and direct views of the river, Sunday Park is perfect for a nice and quiet day for family gatherings, friendly picnics, or romantic strolls. The park also serves as a wedding venue, so it’s always kept in top-notch quality.
2.Visit Ntarama Genocide Memorial
Many of the Rwandan genocide massacres took place inside of the sanctum of churches where people flocked over to hide. Ntarama church saw 5000 souls perished inside of its land, and since then, the grounds have been mostly left untouched. One can still see bits of clothing scraps hanging onto the walls, fractured skulls, as well as mass graves sites. If you want to learn more about the genocide and pay your respect to the Rwandans who lost their lives on that day, this is a horrible and horrendous but essential place to visit. You can go there by your means, but consider booking a tour as you’ll also get to talk to genocide survivors still living near the church and hear their testimony.
Opening time: Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
3.eat to your heart's content
So I might get hate for this, but Rwanda hasn’t been the most fabulous culinary experience of my life. As part Congolese, I found most dishes there not seasoned or spicy enough to my liking. My Rwandan cousin confirmed this and told me Rwandese cuisine is more straightforward and usually uses fewer spices than its neighboring African countries. With that being said, you still need to try out their dishes as they are good, and be sure to also swing by some cool restaurants - the fusion ones are delicious. A fair warning to you before you attempt to dine out: the service is probably going to be way slower than you’re used to, so enjoy the wait.
Traditional Rwandan dishes recommendations: 12 Delicious Traditional Foods to Sample in Rwanda
4.OBSERVE Rwanda’s hillS FROM A BIRD’S PERSPECTIVE
Calling all rich people: This one's for you. There is something special about helicopter rides over a city like New York or Tokyo, but there is something even more special about them across fields and mountain rolls of long grass and eucalyptus trees. Since Rwanda is a small country with relatively short buildings, you can even tour Kigali from a short distance to the ground and go as far as its surrounding volcanoes, twin lakes, Lake Kivu or Nyungwe National park, all in one day. If you're short on time, or if you love photography and sights, this is a great way to observe and experience the whole of Rwanda from an exceptional vantage point, observing the various green hues, rivers, houses, and rolling hills of this beautiful country. Currently, only one company offers helicopter rides. Their pilots have experience working with professional photographers - which can mean door-off flights to ensure you get the best possible experience. If you have the money, this is definitely a worthwhile experience.
5.Ride a horse on Mt. Kigali
Mt.Kigali is one of the highest hills of Kigali and consequently offers some of the best views of the city and surrounding area. Fazenda Shenga, an outdoor recreational center, is conveniently located atop the mount and offers 1-hour horse trail rides throughout nature. Grab a friend, sibling, or date and gallop around the valley to your heart’s content.
6.TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE at Sole Luna
Italian restaurant Sole Luna hosts a quiz night every Monday, and it tends to get pretty competitive (in an excellent way) because the winning teams get complimentary meals and drinks. The quiz encompasses many subjects and changes themes every week with both international and national questions and participants. This is a great place to go to if you’re looking for some pizza and social interactions - people are very friendly and will even let you join their team if you’re coming alone or short of participants.
When: 8:30 pm on Mondays
Cost: Participation is free, but you will need to order drinks at least
7.Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Rwandan genocide took place during a period of 100 days in 1994 and saw the slaughtering of around 800 000 people [Numbers vary, some estimates point to 1 million]. Like many events that have taken place in Africa, this is usually not something that is given much light in western education curriculums. If you want to understand the history of events leading up to the genocide, why it occurred, and its consequences, this memorial does a perfect job of laying down the facts and acts as a place of remembrance of the victims and their families. The format used to relay most information is through video interviews with the survivors of the genocide. This is an emotional and very moving place, so come prepared.
Opening Hours: Every day from 8 am to 4 pm.
Guided tours are available, Many of the guides are survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
8.Visit the Camp Kigali Memorial
This is the untouched building of the military compound where rebels slaughtered 10 UN soldiers during the start of the Rwandan genocide. The soldiers initially deployed to protect the Prime minister, made a stand, and held out for hours until they succumbed to grenades and machine-gunned fire. The Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial/Camp Kigali Memorial contains ten stones, each marking the soldiers' lives.
Opening Hours: Every day from 6 am to 7 pm.
9.paintball away the adrenaline at mt.kigali
There’s nothing like a paintball session in the outdoors to get your heart pumping with excitement. Fazenda Sengha recreational center will provide you with a bullets vest, a helmet, and a gun for their two parts game. The first one involves hunting people in a typical game of paintball team A vs. team B, while the second one will test out your shooting skills in the range.
10.pay a visit to pools (apparently that’s a thing)
I have family in Kigali, and when I asked my cousin what there was to do there weekly as a normal hangout, his first answer was ‘‘Partir à la piscine’’ which basically means ‘‘Go to the pool’’. Kigali tends to get pretty hot. Although it has a couple of rivers running through it, these rivers are sometimes home to crocodiles, and these aren’t exactly the friendliest of creatures - unless your definition of friends is to be eaten by them. Consequently, pools are a big part of the Kigali social scene. As with the restaurant recommendations, feel free to check out some of the best pools the city offers in the map below, which you can also download.
11.walk and discover
I've been to a myriad of different countries, from exotic luscious jungles to densely packed cities. I still maintain that the best experience you will ever have is just to walk around and discover things as you go - as long as doing so is safe. As such, I strongly urge you to discover Kigali's neighborhoods, and you can even book a walking tour.
Cool neighborhoods to check out: Here.
12.Buy anything at Kimironko Market
Kimironko Market is one of Kigali’s most popular and most prominent markets, where you can find a variety of goods like clothing, handmade crafts, souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, spices, meat, and fish. Housed in a large warehouse complex containing hundreds of vendors, this is the place to visit to experience authentic Kigali day-to-day life or alternatively get a custom-made-to-measure clothing attire. For all my picture-loving friends: make sure to ask locals for their permission before you snap pictures away as they usually prefer not to be photographed.
Opening Hours: 8 am to 7:55 pm
13.experience authenticity at the Nyamirambo Women's Center
The Nyamirambo Women’s Center offers free classes to the Nyamirambo neighborhood women, centering around English, Literacy, Computer, sewing, and handicraft. The center was founded to develop income-generating activity and serve as a community-based tourism project where you have the chance to dive into the culture, history, and daily life of their neighborhood through cultural walks in Nyamirambo and Umutima. Tours take travelers through mosques, tailors, agricultural businesses, and even salons. They also offer workshops and ethical shopping of traditional-made Rwandan goods such as hand-woven baskets, patterned placemats, crocheted rugs, and beaded jewelry. This is one of the most insider-views into Rwandan culture that you can partake in, and all profits obtained from the tour go back into the center.
14.Drive an ATV on the hill of MT. KIGALI
Driving an ATV is going to be fun in the majority of the places you do it, but it’s extra fun when you’re in an environment you’re not used to with cool, slightly uneven terrain. At Fazenda Shenga, you’ll get to drive in Rwanda’s red soil, surrounded by trees, the occasional house and villager, and a couple of cows and sheep.
15.Pay a visit to inema arts center
The Inema Arts Center is a contemporary art center in Kigali, founded in 2012 by two self-taught painter brothers. If you’re interested in seeing a modern intake on traditional African crafts in various mediums, there is always a mix of artists on display during the weeks. There are also multiple events such as art-yoga classes, concerts, and dance performances.
Opening Hours: Friday to Wednesday from 7 am to 6:30 pm. Thursday from 7 am to 11:30 pm
16.AND then pay a visit to the rwanda art museum
The Rwanda Art Museum is the country's only contemporary art museum as of date. Like the Inema Arts Center, it showcases local and international artists, focusing on Rwandan creativity and traditional African art interpretation into modernity. These grounds also contain the presidential jet debris that got shot and crashed on April 6, 1994. Kids are sure to enjoy this activity as the museum is equipped with a kid's art studio to put their creativity to work.
Opening Hours: Everday from 8 am to 6 pm
17.Take a specialty coffee masterclass
Rwandan coffee is renowned in the specialty coffee world, solicited for its delicate yet rich aroma. If you’re a coffee-lover, first, I welcome you to my blog with a warm caffeinated heart. Second, it would be an interesting experience to learn how world-class Rwandan coffee is harvested, evaluated, roasted, and served. In this coffee workshop, you’ll get to pick coffee cherries straight from the trees, learn about the roasting process, transform them into a beautiful cup of coffee, and (the best part) drink it. This experience includes a deep dive into coffee history, and your host will probably be able to answer the majority of coffee-related questions you might have.
Link to the workshop: Here.
18.drink milk at a milk bar
The idea of a milk bar is rather odd, but it is very popular in Kigali. Most milk bars serve you hot, cold, or fermented milk, with the option of banana, sweet cake, eggs, samosas, muffins, and chapati, and leave you ready to tackle on the day. These milk bars exist only in Rwanda, popularized by the significant part that milk plays in the Rwandan diet and the fact that Kigali residents do not have the space to keep a cow in their home. If you are not lactose intolerant, make sure to pay a visit to either a local Milk bar like Kuruhimbi, or a corporate milk bar chain like Inyange Milk Zone.
Location suggestion: Kuruhimbi Milk bar
19.treat your ears to some live music
There’s nothing like African beats to elevate the status of any evenings. Whether you’re looking for Congolese rumba or Rwandan Igisope, the live bands at Fuscia Lounge or Hotel des Mille collines are sure to play something to your taste.
20.enjoy the taste of coffee
You shouldn’t stop your coffee degustation at just a masterclass experience. If you’re craving more cups or simply a place to relax in or get some work done, check out these coffee shops below. As always, the map is downloadable.
21.Take a Motorcycle ride over the hills of kigali
If the best way to immerse yourself in a city is by walking in it, the second-best way is to experience it the way the locals do. In Kigali, this means taking a motorcycle ride throughout the city. Enjoy the breeze as you ride along with a guide (or alone if you’re up for it), and feast your eyes on one of the greenest cities of Africa. My personal recommendation is to either do this with a guide or hire a taxi to drive you around up and down the hills during sunset, as the skies make the whole sight even more noteworthy.
I won’t recommend anyone in particular because prices are crazy on the internet.t Just talk to a moto-taxi driver in Kigali and let him recommend someone to you.
22.hike Mt. Kigali [you might as well]
Mount Kigali isn’t the most challenging mount you’ll ever hike. The fact that it contains a fair amount of houses scattered throughout its greenery also doesn’t make its remote wilderness. Nonetheless, the hike to the top has its charm, and as you are probably not used to the kind of architecture and nature present in Kigali, the walk makes for an interesting stroll with pleasant views. People usually start their hike either from the Sun City Hotel or the Stade Nyamirambo.
23.admire traditional Rwandan crafts at Kigali Cultural Village
The Kigali Cultural Village serves as an exhibit showcasing traditional Rwandan heritage, culture, and history. The facility is equipped with an indoor and outdoor auditorium where they plan on hosting conferences, a botanical garden, restaurants, and other small spaces. The main completed space is that of a market where Rwandan artisans and food vendors sell goods. Many designers are showcasing their work if you’re looking for clothing, jewelry, or even art. The KCV also hosts entertainment and music events.
Social Media: @KcvVillage
24.Bowl and make new friends at Mamba Club
Mamba club is a sort of entertainment center offering volleyball, table tennis, pool tables, and a swimming pool. It is home to Kigali's only bowling alley, with human hands reaching out to reposition the pins instead of a machine - so you know you're in for some fun. Mamba club is also located inside of a hostel (Mamba Rwanda Youth Hostel); if you're looking for a great social atmosphere: this is it.
25.Get a massage because you deserve it
Listen, if you're anything like me, you like massages - and I do mean this in the purest noncarnal way. I'm the kind of person with multiple muscle knots in my body, so I regularly go to get massages, especially when I'm traveling. One of Rwanda's great things is that spa services have low prices: a deep tissue 1-hour massage will set you back around 15$, and a 1.5 hour of hot stone massage should cost around 35$. And no, the drop in prices is not followed by a decline in quality.
Spas I recommend:
26.READ A BOOK OR TWO AT THE Kigali public library
Call me a bookworm because I am one, but even if you’re not into books, the Kigali Public Library is worth a visit. If not for the knowledge and culture contained in its shelves or the quiet work areas, then at least for the beautiful view and delicious deserts that the Shokola coffee shop offers on its top floor.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm. Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 8 am to 12 pm.
27.TAKE A TOUR OF 1000 Hills Distillery
Two Coffee-liqueur-Vodka-Spiced-Rum-Dry-Gin-Single-Malt-Whisky-Loving Gentlemen founded 1000 Hills Distillery. The establishment offers their own triple distilled liquors (the same they love), serve cocktails, food, and bbq, all atop one of Kigali’s many hills overlooking a green valley. The tour offers a history of the business and craft of the distillery, as well as a tasting of their many liqueurs. The place itself is worth a visit even if you don’t plan on partaking in the tour, as good cocktails are still hard to come by in Kigali.
Instagram: @thedistilleryrw [contact them here]
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day