Explore Kampala: A Guide to the City’s top 15 Best Attractions
Kampala is a city that truly represents the heart and soul of Uganda, with its bustling streets, diverse communities, and rich cultural heritage. As the country’s capital, it offers a range of exciting attractions that are sure to delight visitors of all ages and interests. In this guide, we will showcase the top 15 best attractions in Kampala, providing a comprehensive itinerary for tourists who are eager to explore the city’s vibrant culture and natural beauty.
From historical landmarks and religious sites to modern shopping malls and outdoor activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, our guide to Kampala’s top attractions is sure to help you make the most of your trip and leave you with unforgettable memories of this dynamic and exciting city.
Explore the Uganda Museum
For those interested in learning about Uganda’s rich cultural heritage, the Uganda Museum is an absolute must-visit destination. This fascinating museum is a treasure trove of artefacts and exhibits that showcase the country’s past and present, offering visitors a glimpse into the diverse cultures that make up the Ugandan people. From traditional art and crafts to archaeological discoveries and ethnographic collections, the Uganda Museum is a veritable feast for the senses, providing an immersive and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
Visit the Kasubi Tombs
For those with an interest in history and architecture, the Kasubi Tombs are a must-see attraction. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a sacred burial ground for the kings of Buganda, one of Uganda’s largest ethnic groups. Visitors can explore the impressive architecture of the tombs and learn about the fascinating history of the Buganda kingdom. The tombs are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Uganda and provide a unique and insightful experience for those interested in the country’s past. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about different cultures, the Kasubi Tombs are an attraction that should not be missed.
Enjoy culture at the Ndere Center
For those looking to experience the vibrant culture of Uganda, a visit to the Ndere Cultural Center is a must. This unique and engaging centre is a hub for traditional music and dance, featuring regular performances by talented local artists. Visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant rhythms and colourful costumes of Uganda’s diverse cultural heritage, experiencing the passion and energy of the country’s most cherished art forms.
Whether you’re a music lover or simply interested in learning more about Uganda’s rich cultural heritage, the Ndere Cultural Center is a wonderful destination. The centre showcases a variety of traditional dance styles, including the famous Kiganda dance, and offers visitors an authentic and immersive experience of Ugandan culture. From the colourful costumes and infectious rhythms to the joyous energy of the performers, a visit to the Ndere Cultural Center is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation of Uganda’s vibrant and diverse cultural heritage.
Explore the Owino Market.
For a truly authentic Ugandan experience, a visit to Owino Market is a must. Located in the heart of Kampala, this vibrant and bustling open-air market is one of the largest in East Africa, offering visitors a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and smells. From the colourful array of secondhand clothing to fresh produce and local handicrafts, Owino Market is a true reflection of Ugandan city life.
Visitors to the market can immerse themselves in the energy and excitement of the local culture, bargaining with vendors and exploring the winding alleyways of the market. With so much to see and experience, it’s easy to lose yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Owino Market for hours on end.
Whether you’re searching for unique souvenirs or simply looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, Owino Market is an unforgettable destination. From the vibrant energy of the bustling crowds to the eclectic mix of goods on offer, this open-air market is a true reflection of the spirit and vitality of Uganda.
Go shopping at a mall
For those looking for a more modern shopping experience, Kampala offers several malls that are worth visiting. Acacia Mall, Village Mall, and Arena Mall are three of the city’s top destinations for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Acacia Mall is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering a wide range of stores, restaurants, and cafes. The mall is home to several high-end fashion retailers as well as a cinema, making it a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.
Village Mall is another popular shopping destination, with a wide range of stores catering to all tastes and budgets. From clothing and electronics to home goods and groceries, Village Mall has something for everyone. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of dining options, including both local and international cuisine.
Arena Mall is a newer addition to Kampala’s shopping scene, offering a modern and spacious environment for shopping and dining. The mall features a wide range of stores and restaurants, as well as a cinema and a bowling alley, making it a great place to spend time with family or friends.
Overall, Kampala’s malls offer a convenient and modern shopping experience, with a range of options for dining and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for luxury fashion or everyday essentials, these malls are sure to have something to suit your needs.
Tour the Baha’i Temple, the only one in Africa.
The Baha’i Temple is a stunning architectural marvel nestled in the serene surroundings of Kampala’s landscaped gardens. This beautiful temple is an embodiment of the Bahai faith, a religion that emphasizes the unity of all people and religions. Visitors can bask in the tranquil ambience of the temple while learning about its history and significance in the community. The Bahai Temple is a must-visit destination for those seeking spiritual enlightenment and a sense of peace amidst the hustle and bustle of Kampala.
Explore the Old Kampala Mosque Landmark
The Old Kampala Mosque is Uganda’s national mosque, a breathtaking example of Islamic architecture, and a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in religious history and culture. The mosque’s a towering minaret and expansive prayer hall are truly awe-inspiring, and visitors can take a guided tour to learn more about the mosque’s intricate design and the role of Islam in Ugandan society.
With its peaceful atmosphere and stunning vistas of the city below, the Old Kampala Mosque is a serene retreat from the bustling streets of Kampala.
Visit the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine
The Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo is a must-visit attraction for those interested in religious history and architecture. It commemorates the 22 Catholic Ugandan Martyrs who were killed between 1885 and 1887 for refusing to renounce their faith. The shrine is an impressive structure with a modern design, built to hold up to 5,000 worshippers. Visitors can explore the shrine’s stunning architecture and artwork, including a series of murals depicting the Martyrs’ final moments.
The site also offers a museum where visitors can learn more about the history of the Catholic Church in Uganda and the story of the martyrs. Overall, the Uganda Martyrs Shrine is a fascinating place to explore and a testament to the enduring power of faith in Ugandan culture.
Tour the Lubiri Palace
The Lubiri Palace, also known as the Mengo Palace, is a historic landmark located in Kampala that served as the royal palace for the Kabaka (king) of Buganda. The palace has a rich history dating back to the 13th century when the Buganda kingdom was founded. The current palace was built in 1885 and has undergone several renovations over the years, including a major reconstruction in 1966 following a fire that destroyed much of the palace.
Today, the palace serves as a symbol of Buganda’s cultural heritage and is open to visitors who are interested in learning about the history of the Buganda kingdom.
Visitors can explore the palace grounds and see the traditional thatched-roofed buildings, including the royal court, the parliament, and the prison.
The palace also houses a museum that showcases the cultural artefacts and royal regalia of the Buganda kingdom.
One of the most popular attractions at the Lubiri Palace is the Buganda King’s Lake, a man-made lake located on the palace grounds that was created by Kabaka Mwanga II in the late 19th century. Visitors can take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery and serene atmosphere.
The Lubiri Palace is also the site of several important cultural events and ceremonies, including the annual Buganda Kingdom Coronation Ceremony, which attracts visitors from all over Uganda and beyond. Overall, the Lubiri Palace is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of Uganda and offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Buganda people.
Relax on the Shores of Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is not only a natural wonder but also a hub for tourism and recreation in Kampala city. There are several resorts and hotels located along the lake that offer stunning views, luxurious accommodations, and a range of activities for visitors to enjoy.
One of the most popular resorts on Lake Victoria is the Speke Resort Munyonyo. This five-star resort offers a range of accommodation options, including villas and apartments, and boasts a private beach, multiple swimming pools, and a full-service spa. Guests can also enjoy a variety of water sports and activities, including fishing, kayaking, and boat rides.
Another top resort on Lake Victoria is the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa. This luxurious resort is located in Kigo, just outside of Kampala, and features a championship golf course, a full-service spa, and several dining options. The resort’s stunning location on the lake offers panoramic views and the opportunity to take part in water sports and boat rides.
For a more secluded experience, travellers can head to the Pineapple Bay Resort, located on a private island in the lake. This eco-friendly resort offers comfortable accommodations in traditional thatched-roof cabins and features a private beach, swimming pool, and a range of water activities.
Lake Victoria offers a range of resorts and accommodations for visitors to enjoy, each offering its own unique experience and amenities. From luxurious spas and championship golf courses to private islands and secluded beachfronts, there is something for everyone on the shores of this stunning lake.
Explore Mabira Forest Reserve.
Mabira Forest Reserve is a true gem in Uganda’s natural landscape, offering visitors a chance to explore a lush tropical rainforest ecosystem. As one of the largest remaining forests in Uganda, Mabira provides habitat for countless plant and animal species, some of which are endemic to the area.
Visitors to Mabira can embark on guided nature walks to explore the forest, where they may spot primates such as monkeys and baboons, as well as a variety of bird species. The forest is also home to many species of butterflies, reptiles, and mammals, making it a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts.
In addition to its natural beauty, Mabira also has cultural significance for the local Buganda people. Visitors can learn about the history and traditions of the Buganda kingdom through guided tours of the forest.
Mabira Forest Reserve is easily accessible from Kampala, making it a great day trip or weekend getaway for those looking to escape the city and immerse themselves in nature. Whether you’re a birdwatcher, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Mabira Forest Reserve is sure to impress.
Enjoy Kampala’s Nightlife
Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, has a vibrant and diverse nightlife scene. It’s known as the city that never sleeps. From lively nightclubs to chilled-out bars and lounges, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
For those who enjoy dancing and music, Kampala offers a range of nightclubs and music venues. Some of the most popular include Club Guvnor, which has hosted international acts such as Snoop Dogg and Sean Paul as well as local artists, and Sky Lounge, which offers stunning views of the city skyline and a mix of African and Western music.
If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, Kampala also has a variety of bars and lounges. For a taste of the local brew, head to one of the many pubs that serve Uganda’s popular beers, such as Nile Special or Bell Lager. For a more upscale experience, check out the speakeasy-style bar The Alchemist or the elegant rooftop lounge, The Terrace, at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
In addition to nightclubs and bars, Kampala also has a thriving street food scene. After a night out, locals and visitors alike flock to food stalls and trucks offering delicious and affordable bites, such as roasted meat skewers, chapati wraps, and samosas.
It’s important to note that while Kampala’s nightlife scene can be exciting and fun, it’s important to stay safe and aware of your surroundings. Always travel with a group, keep your valuables secure, and be cautious when accepting drinks or invitations from strangers.
Kampala’s nightlife scene offers a diverse range of options for locals and visitors alike, with something to suit every taste and budget.
In conclusion, Kampala is a vibrant and diverse city with plenty to offer visitors. From cultural landmarks like the Ndere Cultural Center and the Old Kampala National Mosque to natural attractions like Lake Victoria and the Mabira Forest Reserve, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The city’s rich history and traditions are reflected in its landmarks and cultural institutions, such as the Uganda Martyrs Shrine and Namirembe Cathedral.
Visitors can also experience the lively nightlife scene and indulge in the local cuisine, from street food at Owino Market to fine dining at top-rated restaurants. With a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Kampala is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the beauty and diversity of Uganda.