The Green City in the Sun: Complete Guide to Nairobi, Kenya

Advisor - Nicole London
Curated By

Nicole London

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  • Kenya

  • International Travel

  • Nairobi

  • Active Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Safari

  • Outdoors

  • Shopping

  • Wildlife

tall buildings with pink and blue skies
Curator’s statement

Many visitors who come to Kenya for world-class safaris and pristine beaches make a critical mistake: they treat Nairobi as a mere transit point. By spending as little time in Kenya’s capital city as possible, they use it only as a stop-over to their main destination. As a resident of Nairobi for the last three years, let me tell you: there is so much to see, do, eat, drink and experience here. Known as "The Green City in the Sun", Nairobi has 4.4 million people and is a regional (if not continental) hub for arts and culture. We have one of the largest United Nations campuses in the world and a booming tech and start-up scene. At 5,500 ft. above sea level, the weather is temperate all year round and it’s easy to take advantage of this climate as you explore. With two to three days, you can get a taste of what Nairobi has to offer and make your time here a wonderful part of your trip to Kenya.

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Where to stay in Nairobi, Kenya

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Palacina The Residence & The Suites

Family-run property in Kenya on tree-lined grounds with refined rooms and apartments.

The Social House Nairobi

Trendy design-forward hotel featuring local artwork and three restaurants on a tree-lined street in Nairobi.

Tribe Hotel, Village Market

Refined high-end hotel with warm rooms near The Village Market, one of Nairobi's most popular shopping destinations.

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  • Welcome note & amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Things to do in Nairobi, Kenya

two elephants eating during daytime

What to do in Nairobi

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage - Visit this world-renowned rescue center for orphaned elephants, where you can watch as they are bottle-fed for lunch and learn about the incredible rescue and conservation efforts led by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Giraffe Center - Feed the endangered Rothschild giraffes being bred and protected at the Nairobi Center and then released into the wild to help build the dwindling population. These are the same giraffes that visit the Giraffe Manor hotel and you can get a great interactive experience without sleeping on the property!

Karura Forest - Take a walk or jog through this large forest, which makes you feel transported a million miles from the bustling city. There are 5km, 10km and 15km loops, waterfalls, caves, lakes and the River Cafe for a meal or drink after your stroll.

Shopping - From fine clothing and leather goods produced by local designers at mall-based shops in Village Market, to hand-woven baskets on the roadside and original pieces produced by artists-in-residence at the Kuona Artists Collective, you can find everything here. Stores that offer many things all in one place include: Spinner’s Web and Langata Link and there are often weekend pop-ups and designer fairs - the options are endless!

Half-day excursions near Nairobi

Nairobi National Park - You don’t have to leave city limits for an amazing safari experience! The park is 45 square miles and is home to rhinos, lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes, crocodiles and much more. With just a couple hours of driving across the park, you’ll get up close to abundant wildlife and feel like you’ve traveled far from town.

Limuru - Just an hour from Nairobi, you’ll be in Limuru, where you’ll have sweeping views of Kenyan tea farms - one of the country’s most important crops! You can do walks and hikes through the farms and to beautiful waterfalls, or book a tour and lunch at the lovely Kiambethu Farm.

Ngong Hills - If you’re seeking a little cardio activity before or after a safari, you can hike the Ngong Hills, a set of hills that resemble the knuckles on a closed fist. Less than an hour from the city center, you’ll get in a good workout and breathtaking views.

Kitengela Hot Glass - Head outside the city to the studio where you can watch masterful glassblowers create incredibly unique vases, cups, light fixtures and much more from recycled glass. You can take a short class or shop at the on-site store and enjoy a gelato in the whimsical garden filled with colorful glass furniture.

Places to eat & drink in Nairobi, Kenya

fruits hanging on a wooden structure during daytime

Where to eat & drink

Talisman - A classic Nairobi institution with consistently excellent international food and a beautiful covered patio, sure to please all tastes.

Cultiva Farm Kenya - A Latin-inspired restaurant that uses fresh produce grown onsite, you can always count on Cultiva for delicious, creative dishes and great vibes whether day or night.

Unseen - One of the very few rooftop bars and restaurants in the city, with an eclectic menu and an indie movie theater in the back.

Beit e Selam - A courtyard bar and restaurant with great food and even better cocktails, a perfect destination for a weekend evening.

Hob House - Just on the outskirts of Nairobi, this gem offers excellent Middle Eastern cuisine in a jungle-like garden.

Open House or Clay Oven - You can’t leave Nairobi without trying the world-class Indian food, and these are two of my favorites.

Le Grenier À Pain - This might sound crazy, but here you can get the best croissant I’ve ever had outside of France, along with lots of other breakfast and lunch options.

Kesh Kesh - Get the Eritrean coffee experience at this coffee shop and cafe in the heart of the city (and buy some beans to take home).

Advisor - Nicole London

Travel Advisor

Nicole London

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Kenya.