Best Places to Visit in Kenya

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Kenya, situated in East Africa, is highly popular among tourists for its vast natural beauty and diverse cultural heritage. It is also home to some of the most iconic wildlife reserves in the world, making it a popular destination for travellers looking to experience the thrill of a safari and observe animals in their natural habitats. The country is also famous for its stunning beaches along the Indian Ocean, where you can relax and soak up the sun.

In this blog, we will explore the different facets of Kenya tourism and the best places to visit in Kenya. Join us on a journey to discover Kenya’s wonders!

Best Places to Visit in Kenya - An Overview

Given below is an overview of some of the best places to visit in Kenya -

Best Places to Visit in Summer Best Places to Visit in Winter Best Places to Visit with Family
Nairobi Malindi Nakuru
Mombasa Kisumu Naivasha
Kisumu Eldoret Eldoret
Lamu Archipelago Nairobi Lamu Archipelago

1. Nairobi

Among the top places to visit in central Kenya, Nairobi, the capital city of the country, is a popular tourist destination owing to its rich cultural heritage, diverse wildlife, and stunning natural scenery. You can also explore the city's vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries and museums showcasing traditional and contemporary African art.

Here are some of the top tourist attractions and activities in Nairobi worth checking out -

  • Nairobi National Park: Nairobi National Park, established in 1946, is also the oldest national park in Kenya. What’s remarkable about the park is that it is also home to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, a facility that cares for orphaned and injured animals including lions, cheetahs, and elephants. Another interesting aspect of the Nairobi National Park is that it is one of the few parks in the world located within a major city.
  • Giraffe Centre: Established by the late Jock Leslie-Melville and his wife, Betty in 1979, the centre was set up to save the Rothschild giraffe, an endangered subspecies of giraffe that is found only in East Africa. The Giraffe Centre is also home to the Giraffe Manor, a luxurious hotel that allows you to interact with the giraffes that roam the property.
  • Karen Blixen Museum: The museum showcases the life and work of Karen Blixen, best known for her memoir Out of Africa, which chronicles her time in Kenya. This is a great place for the bibliophiles out there, who can visit the museum and see many of Blixen's personal belongings, including her furniture, photographs and artwork. The museum also features a collection of documents and photographs that provide an insight into colonial life in Kenya.
  • Karura Forest: A protected urban forest in Nairobi, it is named after the Karura river, which flows through it and is an essential source of water for Nairobi. This place is ideal for people preferring the outdoors, as they can engage in hiking, jogging, and nature strolls here. It also has the iconic Mau Mau Caves, which were used by Kenyan freedom fighters.

2. Mombasa

Mombasa, located on the Kenyan coast, is a popular tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and historical significance. The city has a mix of Swahili, Arabic, and European influences, which is reflected in its architecture, cuisine and way of life.

Mombasa is also one of the most fascinating places to visit in Kenya, Africa for the beach-lovers. The city has several pristine beaches where you can swim, snorkel, or simply relax and sunbathe.

Here are some of the top tourist attractions and activities in Mombasa -

  • Fort Jesus Museum: This is a 16th-century Portuguese fort that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. It is located on the edge of a coral ridge overlooking the Indian Ocean. You can explore the fort and learn about its history as a trading hub while also catching a glimpse of the awesome sea view. It is also one of the most affordable or cheap places to visit in Kenya.
  • Mombasa Old Town: This historic neighbourhood is home to traditional Swahili architecture, narrow streets, and colourful markets. You can take a walking tour and explore the vibrant culture and history. Many buildings here are built from coral stone, giving them a unique charm.
  • Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve: This park is home to diverse marine life, including colourful coral reefs, dolphins, and turtles. Notably, it has over 600 species of fishes. One unique feature is that you get to tour on a glass-bottomed boat around the national park.
  • Nyali Beach: It is a popular beach destination situated on the north coast of Mombasa. The best time to visit the beach is during the dry season, which runs from January to March and July to October. You can also visit nearby cultural attractions, including Fort Jesus and Mombasa Tusks.

3. Kisumu

Kisumu, located in western Kenya, is a lively city that offers visitors a range of cultural and natural attractions. The city has several museums and cultural centres, including the Kisumu Museum and the Kit Mikayi cultural site, where you can learn about the region's history and traditional way of life. It is recognised among the best places to visit in Kenya, owing to its location on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Discussed below are some of the major things to do and see in Kisumu -

  • Kisumu Impala Sanctuary: This is a great place if you wish to witness impalas, baboons, cheetahs, and other primates in their natural habitat in this wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary offers scenic views of Lake Victoria as well, where you can enjoy a fine boat ride.
  • Kit Mikayi: This unique rock formation in Kisumu is about the height of 120 metres and consists of three rocks – one large and two smaller – balanced on top of each other. The formation is revered by the Luo community and has cultural and spiritual significance.
  • Kisumu Museum: This museum showcases the culture and history of the region, including traditional Luo homesteads, fishing gear, and agricultural tools. It also exhibits the natural history of the Lake Victoria region. 
  • Dunga Hill Camp: Among the best places to visit in Kenya for camping, it is an eco-camp that offers several activities for visitors to enjoy, including fishing, canoeing, and birdwatching while being committed to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. It also has an onsite restaurant that serves a variety of delicious local meals.

4. Eldoret

Eldoret is a town in western Kenya primarily known for its athletic training camps and proximity to the Great Rift Valley. The town is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, including the Eldoret Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the Kalenjin people, the dominant ethnic group in the region. 

Discussed below are the top things to do and see in Eldoret -

  • Hindu Temple: Established by a group of Hindu families living in Eldoret, the temple is dedicated to several Hindu deities including Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, and Goddess Durga. The temple is built in the traditional Indian architectural style, with intricate carvings and decorations. The temple has a central prayer hall, surrounded by smaller rooms for various purposes.
  • Kapkuro Bandas: This is a group of cottages surrounded by farms and forested hills. Kapkuro Bandas offers simple, no-frills accommodation in basic cabins or "bandas" made of wood and thatch, with basic furnishings and shared bathroom facilities.
  • Benterville Spa and Wellness Centre: It is a relaxing spa at Elgon view, Eldoret. You can enjoy several services, including pedicures, manicures, and executive boardroom services. This centre has beautifully tailored gardens and free Wi-Fi and also offers kids’ grooming facilities.
  • Sosiani River: It is a tributary of the larger Nzoia river, which flows into Lake Victoria. This river is a popular spot for picnics and camping and offers you a great opportunity to swim, fish, and bird watch.

5. Malindi

Malindi, a popular coastal town in Kenya, offers you a range of attractions such as beautiful beaches, historical sites, and cultural experiences. One of the best places to visit in Kenya, Malindi has numerous restaurants and cafes serving traditional Swahili dishes as well as international cuisine.

Here are some top things to do and see in Malindi -

  • Portuguese Chapel: Also known as the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier after the revered Catholic missionary who spread Christianity in Asia, it is a small, rectangular building made of coral stones and lime mortar. It is associated with another known name, i.e., Vasco da Gama, who is credited with the establishment of this chapel. The Portuguese Chapel is an important cultural landmark, representing the early interactions between Portuguese explorers and the local Swahili people.
  • Malindi Marine National Park: Located just off the coast of Malindi, this park is home to various coral reefs, turtles, dolphins, and more. It has over 600 species of fish and 110 species of coral.
  • Vasco da Gama Pillar: This historical monument is named after Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who landed in Malindi in 1498 on his journey to India. Other historical sites near it are the Portuguese Chapel and Malindi Museum.
  • Sawa Sawa Dhow Excursions: The ‘dhow’, as people from the UAE might be familiar with, refers to a traditional wooden sailing boat or vessel. Dhows have been used for centuries in Malindi waters.

In this particular excursion, you can have a whole-day tour on a dhow known as Sawa Sawa, which gives you ample opportunities for sailing and snorkelling. Once done with this, you can also head for sunset trips and take in the majestic sunset views from your dhow.

6. Nakuru

Another one on the list of the best places to visit in Kenya is Nakuru, a city in the Great Rift Valley region of Kenya which has stunning natural scenery and wildlife. On top of that, Nakuru is also home to several cultural institutions, including the Menengai Crater and the Hyrax Hill Museum, which showcase the region's history.

Let’s have a look at some of the top places to visit in Nakuru, one of the best places to visit in central Kenya -

  • Lake Nakuru National Park: This national park is located on the shores of Lake Nakuru and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. It is popular for thousands of flamingos that flock to its shores. You can take guided game drives and nature walks, or enjoy camping in the park. This stunning lake is also one of the cheap places to visit in Kenya.
  • Lord Egerton Castle: This castle was built in the early 20th century by Lord Maurice Egerton, a British aristocrat who settled in Kenya. The castle has a variety of architectural styles (Gothic, Tudor, Baroque, and more) and features turrets, battlements, and a drawbridge. The view of Lord Egerton Castle is enhanced by the beautiful gardens that surround it, which were designed by Lord Egerton as well. The gardens feature a variety of exotic plants and trees, as well as a large lake and a waterfall.
  • Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum: This is an important archaeological site in Kenya, dating back to the Neolithic period. It also serves as evidence of the region having trading activities with other parts of Africa and the Middle East during the prehistoric era. You can explore the museum and take a look at more than 400 artworks that illustrate the history of the region.
  • Lake Elementaita: This is a soda or saline lake located near Nakuru and is known for its stunning scenery and diverse birdlife. It is a Ramsar site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This lake is easily accessible by road from Nairobi. You should include it in your itinerary if you want to watch its large populations of flamingos and pelicans, enjoy hot springs, engage in quad biking, and enjoy various other activities.

7. Naivasha

Naivasha is a town in the Great Rift Valley region of Kenya. It is a popular bird-watching destination, with over 400 species of birds recorded in the area such as pelicans, cormorants, and fish eagles.

Besides the great populations of flamingos and hippos, the town is also famous for its hot springs such as the Olkaria Hot Springs, primarily known for their therapeutic quality. This is one of the best places to visit in Kenya if you want to birdwatch or simply unwind.

Here are some things and sites worth exploring in Naivasha -

  • Lake Naivasha: This freshwater lake is among the major attractions in Naivasha and has incredible scenery and diverse birdlife. Lake Naivasha is home to various bird species, with the popular ones being the African fish eagle, pied kingfisher, and yellow-billed stork.
  • Hell's Gate National Park: As interesting as the name! This national park is located just outside Naivasha and is a great place for outdoor recreational activities. You can take a guided hike or bike ride through the park, rock climb, or visit the geothermal hot springs and obsidian caves. Interestingly, the area still has ashes as a result of the Longonot eruption, which took place more than a century ago.
  • Crescent Island Game Sanctuary: This sanctuary is located on a small island in Lake Naivasha and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, and waterbucks. The island is also a popular filming location and has been featured in several Hollywood films, including Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Out of Africa, and more.
  • Crater Lake Game Sanctuary: This sanctuary, which covers a volcanic crater lake, houses a large number of gazelles, elands, and hyenas. You can take a guided walking safari around the lake and engage in birdwatching as well, with around 170 species of birds being observed here. The sanctuary also offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, including Lake Naivasha, Mount Longonot, and the Aberdare Mountains.

8. Lamu Archipelago

Among the oldest inhabited settlements close to the Kenya-Somalia border, the architecture of Lamu old town presents a unique blend of Swahili, Arabic, and Indian styles and reflects its diverse cultural influences. This archipelago is a part of Kiunga Marine National Reserve which has coral reefs and diverse marine life.

You can check out the following major attractions here -

  • Lamu Old Town: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is known for its distinctive Swahili architecture, which features intricately carved wooden doors and traditional Arabic-style buildings. This includes the Lamu Museum and Lamu Fort, both of which are major town attractions.
  • Manda Island: Manda Island is home to several historical sites and attractions, including the Manda Ruins, Takwa Ruins, and more. It is also a great place if you simply wish to lay by the beach and enjoy the fabulous sea view.
  • Donkey Sanctuary: Established in association with the Donkey Sanctuary of the UK, this organisation is dedicated to the welfare of donkeys in the country. You can volunteer and assist the management of the sanctuary with their work and contribute to animal care, community education, and fundraising efforts.

Why You Should Visit Policybazaar UAE Before Your Trip

As we saw in the article, Kenya has a wide array of places to visit for tourists of different tastes and plans. You can easily use the list of the best places to visit in Kenya from the article above as a starting point.

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