We want to share a guide to the top things to do in Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya. The city has grown from a rail depot in 1899 to a city of millions. It is the business, finance, and cultural hub of Kenya.

Most safari-bound visitors in Kenya spend at least one night in Nairobi, which is known as the “Safari Capital of the World”. However, many travelers spend little if any time actually exploring the city itself. The city is often used just as a place to stay before or after a flight rather than as a destination to explore.

We think there are two main reasons that people don’t explore Nairobi. One is lack of time. Many plan a packed safari schedule focused on wildlife viewing with no time set aside to explore Nairobi. The second is fears related to safety and crime. Nairobi isn’t the safest city in the world, but you can safely explore the city if you take precautions.

Nairobi has a lot of visitor attractions, including museums, wildlife attractions, markets, cultural performances, parks, hiking trails, and great dining options. If you are interested in history, African art, wildlife, music, hiking, food, crafts, trains, gardens, or shopping, you are sure to find something of interest to do and see in the city.

It is also a city where you can really learn about Kenya, whether you are interested in colonial history, Kenyan independence, or modern life in Kenya’s capital city. From the ritzy suburbs to the busy Central Business District to Africa’s largest slum area, Nairobi is a multi-faceted city worth exploring.

We’ve been lucky to have visited the city a few times now and have had the chance to visit a lot of the attractions in Nairobi. We have really enjoyed exploring the city and find it provides a nice change from spending time on safari. So we are excited to share our experiences and tips with you to help you plan your own visit to Nairobi. In this post, we’ll cover the top things to do in Nairobi and tips for visiting each. We’ll include the most popular tourist spots as well as some lesser known places. We’ll also give you information and tips on getting to Nairobi, how to get around the city, where to stay in Nairobi, where to eat in Nairobi, how to book tours, and how to stay safe in Nairobi.

Getting to Nairobi

The main way that most international visitors get to Nairobi is by flying into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), Kenya’s main international airport. But you can also reach Nairobi by train, car, or bus.

By Plane
The main airport in Nairobi is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). It is likely that this is where you’ll be arriving into Kenya. But if you are arriving from elsewhere in Kenya or East Africa, your flight may arrive at the smaller Wilson Airport in Nairobi.

To get from the airport to your hotel or downtown, you can take a taxi, a shared shuttle bus, an Uber, or book a private transfer.

Your hotel may offer a free or paid airport shuttle, or you may already have a driver arranged with your safari company. If not, we recommend booking your airport transfer in advance as it tends to be the most hassle-free way.

If you decide to take a taxi, be sure to set a clear price with the driver before agreeing to the trip. Or consider booking an Uber in advance.

By Train

Currently, the railway system in Kenya only connects a small area of Kenya, mainly the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. So the main travelers arriving by train into Nairobi are those who are arriving into Mombasa by plane or ship.

Historically, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya were connected by train but the rail connections have been closed for many years.

You can find out information about routes and stations and book train tickets on the Kenya Railways website.

By Bus

Buses are by far the cheapest way to travel around East Africa. There are long distance buses that arrive into Nairobi from throughout Kenya as well as from Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda. So I’d check online for options depending on where you are wanting to travel from or two.
For example, MASH bus, Modern, and Tahmeed Express are a few of the main bus companies that operate international routes around East Africa.

By Ship

The Port of Mombasa is the main international seaport in Kenya and the biggest port in east Africa. Most international passenger and cruise ships arrive into this port. From Mombasa, you can then take the train, a bus, hire a private driver, or drive to Nairobi.

By Car

If you have a driver and are arriving on a safari that begins in another country or you are driving yourself, then you may be arriving into Kenya via one of its land borders.

Kenya borders Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. However, the only countries you can currently enter Kenya from by land are Tanzania and Uganda. The open land borders change fairly regularly and if driving yourself, we recommend keeping updated on which land borders are open and the current requirements. You’ll also want to check the legal driving requirements for Kenya to ensure you have the proper documentation to drive in the country.

Getting Around Nairobi

You have a lot of options for getting around Nairobi including taxis, public transportation, hiring private drivers, joining a tour, renting a car, and walking. We talk about each option below.

Taxis and Ride Sharing

Apps Taxis and ride shares are very popular ways for visitors to get around Nairobi. Although more expensive than public transit, these tend to be easier, safer, and more comfortable.

Taxis can usually be found waiting at the airports, train stations, street corners in the city center, and also around popular hotels, tourist sites, and shopping centers. Licensed taxis in Nairobi are either yellow or marked with a yellow stripe.

Just note that many don’t use meters so you will want to agree on a price before you get in the taxi.

You can also use a ride-hailing app like Uber or Bolt to get a taxi. This makes the paying process much more secure as you can pay through the app without needing to exchange any cash. Options in an app may include private car rides, shared rides, and boda boda (motorbike) rides, so just make sure you choose the option you want.

We personally have used Uber multiple times in Nairobi without incident. We find this is often the best option for us, especially at night.


Walking is a particularly attractive option in the central parts of Nairobi, particularly the Central Business District. Many attractions are within walking distance and there are good sidewalks in most areas. If traffic is bad, it is often faster to walk than take a taxi or bus.

However, it is harder to walk in other areas of Nairobi where attractions are much more spread out and there is often a lack of good sidewalks. For those areas you are likely going to need to take a taxi, bus, or hire a driver. This is particularly the case when trying to visit the popular sites in Langata and Karen.

However, you want to be sure to take safety precautions if walking around the city as pick pocketing and robberies do occur (see Safety section). You should also be prepared for people, including children, coming up to you to try to sell you things, ask you for money, etc. These people are normally harmless but they can be annoying.

We don’t recommend walking around the city at night or walking in the higher crime neighborhoods. If unsure if walking is a good idea in a particular area, ask hotel staff, a driver, or your tour operator for advice.

For instance, on our last visit we stayed in the Kilimani neighborhood for several days and walked around Kilimani and the Central Business District a lot during the daytime. But we avoided walking around at night and chose to take taxis after dark.

Public Transportation

There are several forms of public transportation available in Nairobi, including buses, matatus, tuk tuks, and boda bodas. Most tourists don’t take public transit in Nairobi but it can be an inexpensive option for budget travelers and those wanting to experience more local transit options. Public transit can sometimes be the quickest option (e.g., boda bodas) but is not always the safest option.

Prices are often not regulated so prices can vary. Most of these options require cash to board and you’ll want to carry small bills as some may not offer change. Boda bodas can be paid for digitally if you use a ride hailing app. Some services, such as the public buses, may also accept local payment apps such as M-Pesa.

Public Buses

There are a few bus companies operating the city routes with the main one being the Kenya Bus Service (KBS), but newer operators like Citi Hoppa also offer bus services in the city. This is probably the safest of the public transit options for tourists.

Routes are generally noted on the side of the bus and the buses run many of the same routes as the matatus. You can check out routes and how to get from one place to another using apps and websites like Moovit. Google Maps is another option but seems to show fewer options compared to Moovit.


Matatus are privately-owned shared minibuses that operate along set routes and can legally hold up to 14 passengers. They are the most common form of public transit taken by locals in Kenya.

They are also probably the most noticeable of the forms of public transportation in Nairobi as they are often colorfully painted and decorated around a theme (e.g., sports teams, cartoon characters, famous rappers, Biblical scenes) and playing loud music.

These shared minibuses make a number of stops along set routes and the route is noted on the side of the buses. You can find out about the routes on this website. You pay the driver or conductor upon boarding in cash or by Mpesa.

The city is trying to phase out matatus due to poor safety records and so many of them are old and not in the best shape. The one we took in 2022 was rusting and seemed like it was on its last legs.

Generally, this is not a form of public transit that tourists take but it is an inexpensive option. You might also travel by matatus as part of a walking tour with a guide.

Boda Bodas

The boda boda, or motorbike taxi, is a common form of transportation throughout Kenya as the motorbikes are inexpensive and can move through traffic faster than cars or buses. We’ve seen everyone from students to businesspeople using them.

Motorbikes are a very important form of transportation in Kenya; however, they are not the safest form of transit. The government has been trying to better regulate them in recent years.

Personally, I can’t really recommend boda bodas as I have seen too many horrible motorcycle accident injuries working in hospitals to recommend them. However, if you do want to give them a go, I’d recommend using an app like SafeBoda or Uber to hail rides to better guarantee a licensed and safe driver. A driver should offer you a helmet and vest to wear and I would not recommend jumping on without a helmet. Some tours may include transport by boda boda but it is not common.

Tuk Tuks

A tuk tuk or auto rickshaw is another public transit option in Nairobi. These 3wheeled vehicles are perhaps a safer alternative to the boda boda. However, they are slower and seem to mainly operate for those going shorter distances outside the city center. We for instance took one in Kibera with our guide to get from one side of the neighborhood to the other.

Driving Own Car

Driving is of course another way to get around if you have your own car or plan to rent one in Nairobi. You’ll want to ensure you are knowledgeable about local driving rules and regulations and we recommend choosing a hotel that offers secure and monitored parking.

There is normally free parking at most major tourist attractions and shopping centers; however, you’ll likely need to pay for parking in more central areas. You can find out more about paying for parking in Nairobi.

We generally don’t recommend driving in Nairobi if you can avoid it. Nairobi is a busy and congested city and traffic in the city is often bad. Most of the main roads are in good condition; however, there is almost always roadwork going on and some of the roads away from the city center are in fairly poor condition with lots of potholes. Private

Drivers & Tours

Joining a tour or hiring a private driver is another common way for visitors to get around Nairobi. If you are visiting as part of a tour or safari, you may have a driver/guide for your time in Nairobi who will handle all your transport.

There are a lot of tours which you can join and be part of either a group or have a private guide who will take you to see Nairobi’s attractions. These generally include pick-up/drop-off from your accommodation as well as all transport throughout the day. These are convenient options that are perfect for people who don’t want to deal with public transit or taxi services. You can see a lot of Nairobi tour options.

Hiring a private driver can be a good idea if you need a driver to visit several places. For instance, we hired a private driver on Laurence’s birthday as we had a day’s itinerary planned out with several stops over an 8-hour period. This made our day really stress-free and easy and our driver was great.

If you have just one day in Nairobi, you which details each of the places we visited on our first trip. It also includes a number of small group tour and private tour options if you want to do a similar trip.bitten is typically very low in the capital according to the WHO and other health organizations. The number of mosquitoes fluctuates based on rainfall, temperature, and time of year.

However, while the risk of getting malaria may be low in Nairobi, it is much higher in many other parts of Kenya. If you are visiting other parts of Kenya, you should talk to your doctor before your trip about antimalarial medications. Most visitors to Kenya take antimalarial medication during their trip and we have always done so.

But even if you are not worried about the risk of malaria in Nairobi, mosquito bites are annoying, itchy, and can transmit other diseases (e.g., yellow fever, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, and chikungunya). We were bitten a few times on our 2023 trip in Nairobi because we forgot to use a mosquito net one night.

The best ways to prevent mosquito bites include using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, and using mosquito nets. Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn.

Suites – This great mid-range option in Kilimani offers both suites and private apartments. The
property offers an on-site restaurant, fitness center, and swimming pool. The Social House – This mid-range 4-star hotel is located near the Lavington area and offers an onsite restaurant, swimming pool, fitness center, and garden. Margarita House – This guest house located in Karen offers an on-site restaurant, swimming pool, and garden. A reasonably priced option in the pricey Karen area.

Lavington Hill House – This 3-stars guesthouse in Lavington has an on-site restaurant and bar and is surrounded by leafy gardens. Before it became a boutique hotel, it was the official state residence of the President of Southern Sudan. This was the very first place I stayed in Nairobi years ago.

Pori City Hotel – This budget-friendly 3-star hotel option in the Langata area offers an on-site restaurant, bar, business center, and a 24-hour front desk.