Kigali Travel Guide

Discover the beauties of Kigali, Rwanda with our comprehensive travel guide featuring must-see attractions, hiking and biking routes, food and drink scene, where to stay, local culture, safety and health, transportation options, and nearby destinations.

Introduction to Kigali

Located in the heart of Rwanda, East Africa, Kigali is a rapidly growing city known for its blend of modern cityscape and traditional African culture. It is the country’s capital, and the most populous city in Rwanda. More than just a stopover for tourists heading out to national parks and gorilla treks or on business, Kigali has plenty to offer, from museums and historical sites to natural attractions and outdoor adventures. This comprehensive tour guide will help you plan your trip to Kigali, Rwanda.

List of Places to Visit in Kigali

There are plenty of places to visit in Kigali, from culturally important attractions, to outdoor adventures and scenic views. Below is a list of top attractions in Kigali.

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Kigali Genocide Memorial: This is the final resting place of more than 250,000 victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It also has a museum and education center that documents the events leading up to the genocide, its aftermath, and the efforts to rebuild the country.
  • Presidential Palace Museum: This museum showcases the history and lifestyle of Rwanda’s former president, Juvénal Habyarimana. The museum houses his presidential plane that was shot down, triggering the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
  • Ntarama Church: This church was used as a site for the genocide, and now serves as a museum and memorial to the victims.
  • Inema Art Center: This is a place for contemporary art and cultural expression. It serves as a platform for local artists to showcase and sell their artwork, and also offers workshops and classes for art enthusiasts.

Natural Attractions of Kigali: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Mount Kigali: This is the highest mountain in Kigali, and is a popular site for hiking and mountain biking.
  • Nyamirambo Women’s Center: This is a community center that offers guided tours of the Nyamirambo neighborhood, which is known for its vibrant culture and traditions. The center also has a women’s handicrafts and traditional products shop.
  • Kigali City Tower: This is the tallest building in Kigali, and has a viewing deck on the top floor that offers panoramic views of the city. It is also a shopping mall with international and Rwandan stores.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kigali

Kigali has many hiking and biking routes that offer scenic views of the city and the surrounding hills. Some of the popular routes include:

  • Mount Kigali Trail: This trail takes you to the summit of Mount Kigali, and offers scenic views of the city and the valleys.
  • Nyamirambo Tour: This tour takes you through the Nyamirambo neighborhood, and offers a unique insight into the local culture and traditions.
  • Kimironko Market Tour: This tour takes you through the Kimironko market, which is the largest market in Kigali and offers a lively and colorful atmosphere.

Best Things to Do in Kigali: Activities and Tours

Kigali has plenty to offer in terms of activities and tours. Below are some of the best things to do in Kigali:

  • Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
  • Take a guided tour of the Nyamirambo neighborhood with the Nyamirambo Women’s Center
  • Visit the Presidential Palace Museum
  • Explore the Inema Art Center
  • Take a scenic drive around the city and the surrounding hills
  • Climb Mount Kigali
  • Take a city tour that covers all the important landmarks and attractions
  • Visit Kimironko Market

Week-Long Itinerary for Kigali

A week-long itinerary for Kigali could look like this:

Day 1: Arrive in Kigali, and check-in at your hotel. Day 2: Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and spend the afternoon in the Nyamirambo neighborhood, taking a guided tour with the Nyamirambo Women’s Center. Day 3: Visit the Presidential Palace Museum, and in the afternoon, explore the Inema Art Center. Day 4: Take a scenic drive around the city and the surrounding hills, and stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Day 5: Spend the day climbing Mount Kigali. Day 6: Take a city tour that covers all the important landmarks and attractions, and in the afternoon, visit Kimironko Market. Day 7: Depart Kigali.

Food and Drink Scene of Kigali

Kigali has a vibrant food and drink scene, with a mix of traditional Rwandan and international cuisine. Below are some must-try dishes and local beverages in Kigali.

Must-Try Dishes

  • Ugali: This is a cornmeal porridge that is a staple food in Rwanda.
  • Ibihaza: This is a dish made from cassava leaves, and often eaten with meat and beans.
  • Brochette: This is grilled meat on a skewer, and is a popular street food in Kigali.
  • Isombe: This is a dish made from mashed cassava leaves, beans, and plantains.

Local Beverages

  • Urwagwa: This is a traditional Rwandan beer made from bananas or sorghum.
  • Inka: This is a hot drink made from traditional Rwandan tea and milk.
  • Ikinyomoro: This is a fermented drink made from sorghum and water.

Where to Stay in Kigali: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Kigali has a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses. Some of the popular hotels in Kigali include:

  • Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre
  • Marriott Kigali Hotel
  • Kigali Serena Hotel
  • Kigali Marriott Hotel
  • The Manor Hotel

There are also many budget-friendly options, such as:

  • Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel
  • Downtown Backpackers Hostel
  • Five To Five Hotel
  • Chez Lando Hotel

What to Buy in Kigali: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Kigali has many souvenirs and local products that you can bring home as mementos of your trip, including:

  • Traditional Rwandan clothing and accessories, such as woven baskets and pottery
  • Handmade crafts and artwork from the Inema Art Center and other local markets
  • Coffee and tea from the local plantations
  • Spices and sauces, such as akabanga, a popular hot sauce in Rwanda

Local Culture and Customs of Kigali

Rwandan culture is deeply rooted in traditions, and as a visitor to Kigali, it’s important to respect the local customs and beliefs. Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Dress modestly, especially when visiting cultural attractions and religious sites.
  • Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, temple, or other religious places.
  • Greet people with a handshake or a nod of the head.
  • Ask permission before taking pictures of people or their property.

Best Time to Visit Kigali

The best time to visit Kigali is during the dry season, which runs from June to September and December to February. During this time, the weather is cool and dry, with plenty of sunshine. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect higher prices and crowds. The rainy season is from March to May and September to November, and while the weather is wet, it is also lush and green.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kigali

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Kigali:


  • Respect local customs and traditions.
  • Learn a few words of Kinyarwanda, the local language.
  • Take a guided tour of the important landmarks and attractions.
  • Try local foods and beverages.
  • Visit the markets to support local businesses.


  • Ignore local customs and traditions.
  • Dress inappropriately when visiting religious sites and cultural attractions.
  • Take pictures of people without asking for permission.
  • Haggle too aggressively in the local markets.

Safety and Health

Safety in Kigali

Kigali is generally a safe city for tourists, with low crime rates. However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe. Some tips include:

  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Keep your valuables in a safe place, such as a hotel safe.
  • Use a taxi service recommended by your hotel or a reputable company.

Health in Kigali

Kigali has good quality health facilities, with many private hospitals and clinics. However, it’s important to take precautions to stay healthy during your trip. Some tips include:

  • Drink bottled water, and avoid untreated tap water.
  • Avoid street food and other foods that may have been contaminated
  • Bring mosquito repellent, as malaria is a risk throughout Rwanda.

Getting to Kigali: Transportation Options and Logistics

Kigali is well-connected to other parts of Rwanda and East Africa through air, road, and rail transport. Below is an overview of transportation options to Kigali.

Airports Near Kigali

  • Kigali International Airport is the main airport serving Kigali, and is located about 12 km from the city center.
  • Kamembe International Airport is another airport in Rwanda, located in the southwestern part of the country, near Lake Kivu.

Bus Stations Near Kigali

  • Kigali Bus Station is the main bus station in Kigali, with several bus companies operating between Kigali and other parts of Rwanda and neighboring countries.
  • Nyabugogo Bus Station is another bus station in Kigali that serves destinations to the north and west of the city.

Other Options

  • Taxi services are readily available in Kigali, and can be booked through your hotel or a reputable company.
  • Rental cars are also available in Kigali, but driving can be challenging due to the traffic and road conditions.

How to Get Around in Kigali

Getting around Kigali is relatively easy, with many transportation options available. Some of the popular ways to get around include:

  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Kigali, and can be booked through your hotel or a reputable company.
  • Bus: The Kigali Bus Station has several bus companies operating between Kigali and other parts of Rwanda and neighboring countries.
  • Motorbike taxi: Known as moto taxis or boda bodas, these are a popular way to get around in Kigali, and are often faster than cars during rush hour.
  • Walking: Kigali is a walkable city, and many of the attractions and landmarks are within walking distance of each other.

Where to Go Next from Kigali: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Kigali is a great base for exploring the rest of Rwanda and neighboring countries. Some popular nearby destinations and excursions include:

  • Volcanoes National Park: This park is home to the famous mountain gorillas of Rwanda, and is located about 2 hours from Kigali.
  • Lake Kivu: This is a large freshwater lake located on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is a popular place for water sports and relaxation.
  • Akagera National Park: This park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda, and is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, and hippos.


Kigali, Rwanda is an exciting and vibrant city that offers a unique blend of modern cityscape and traditional African culture. From museums and historical sites to natural attractions and outdoor adventures, Kigali has plenty to offer visitors. This comprehensive tour guide will help you plan your trip to Kigali, Rwanda, and make the most of your time in this beautiful part of East Africa.