Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda, a small but beautiful country in East Africa. Kigali is known for its clean streets, green hills, and friendly people. It is also a city of history, culture, and innovation.
Whether it’s wandering on the clean and safe streets or visiting the historic monuments, a couple of nights in this city are worth it. Here are some of the best things to do in Kigali that you should not miss.
Things to do in Kigali Rwanda
1. Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is an important site that commemorates the victims of the 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 people in Rwanda. The memorial features a museum, a garden, and mass graves where more than 250,000 victims are buried.
You can learn about the history and causes of the genocide, as well as the stories and testimonies of the survivors. The memorial also promotes peace and reconciliation through education and outreach programs.
2. Explore the Nyamirambo Women’s Center
The Nyamirambo Women’s Center is a community-based organization that empowers women through education, training, and income-generating activities. You can support their work by taking a guided tour of Nyamirambo, one of the oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Kigali.
These tours are led by local women who show you around their community, including a market, a hair salon, a mosque, and a traditional milk bar. You can also learn how to make Rwandan dishes or weave baskets at the center. The tours are a great way to experience the culture and life of Nyamirambo and support the women’s center.
3. Hike Mount Kigali
Mount Kigali is the highest point in the city, offering panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. You can hike or drive up to the summit, where you will find a zipline park, a restaurant, and a picnic area.
The zipline park has six different lines that let you soar over the forest canopy and enjoy the scenery from above. There is a restaurant that serves local and international dishes, as well as drinks and snacks.
The picnic area has tables, benches, and grills that you can use to have your own barbecue. You can also rent bikes or scooters at the park and explore the trails around the mountain.
4. Discover the art scene at Inema Arts Center
Inema Arts Center is a hub for contemporary art and creativity in Kigali. It was founded by two brothers by two brothers who are self-taught artists.
The center showcases their work as well as other local and international artists, featuring paintings, sculptures, installations, and more. You can also join workshops, classes, or events at the center, such as yoga, dance, music, or poetry.
5. Taste Rwandan Cuisine
Rwandan cuisine is a fusion of African, European, and Asian influences, featuring staples such as beans, potatoes, cassava, plantains, maize, and rice.
You can sample some of the local dishes at various restaurants and cafes in Kigali, such as brochettes (skewered meat), isombe (cassava leaves with peanut sauce), ugali, matoke (cooked plantains), and sambaza (fried sardines). Even better is the fact that you can also join a walking food tour to learn about the culture and history behind the food.
6. Explore Kimironko Market
Kimironko Market is the largest and busiest market in Kigali, where you can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to clothes and accessories, to souvenirs and handicrafts. You can bargain with the vendors, chat with the locals, and immerse yourself in the colorful and lively atmosphere of the market.
Furthermore, you can also sample some of the local delicacies, such as sambaza (fried fish), chapati (flatbread), and brochettes (skewers). You can also buy some of the famous Rwandan baskets, which are woven by women using natural fibers and dyes.
7. Visit Niyo Art Gallery
Niyo Art Gallery is another place to admire and support local art in Kigali. It was founded by Pacifique Niyonsenga, who is also an artist and a former street child. He uses his art to raise awareness and funds for street children in Rwanda.
The gallery displays his paintings as well as other artists’ work, featuring colorful and expressive scenes of Rwandan culture and nature. You can also buy some of the art pieces or souvenirs at the gallery.
8. Local Shopping
While in Kigali Rwanda, don’t miss out on the amazing bespoke designs which you can find at the Kigali Cultural Village. There are a number of stalls stocked by Rwanda’s top designers of clothes, jewelry and Art.
Haute Baso is a trove of locally made wares, from summery dresses to colorful bags, and House of Tayo is a must-visit, especially for menswear. Abraham Konga sells jewelry made from old padlocks and recycled materials, and you can support three women’s cooperatives at The Shop.
9. Visit Historical Sites & Monuments
Kigali also has other historical sites and monuments that showcase the rich and diverse culture and history of Rwanda. The Kandt House Museum, a former residence of the first German colonial governor of Rwanda displays exhibits on the natural and cultural history of Rwanda, as well as the colonial era.
The Rwanda Art Museum is a former presidential palace that was converted into a museum of contemporary Rwandan art. The museum showcases the creativity and diversity of Rwandan artists, as well as the remains of the presidential plane that was shot down in 1994, triggering the genocide.
These are just some of the many things to do in Kigali that will make your trip memorable and enjoyable. Kigali is a city that has a lot to offer to its visitors, from cultural attractions to natural beauty to historical sites.
You can also explore other places nearby, such as the Volcanoes National Park, where you can see mountain gorillas, or the Nyungwe Forest National Park, where you can hike through the rainforest and see chimpanzees. Whatever you choose to do in Kigali, you will surely have a wonderful time.