The sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Nairobi are a full sensory experience. The elaborately decorated Matatu busses painted ornate graffiti, the dynamic array of restaurants, food carts and cafes, and a steady rotation of arts and cultural venues all fuel a distinct coolness only found in Kenya’s capital. Add in its namesake national park teeming with wildlife within easy reach of the city center, and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable trip.

Experience what it’s like to visit Nairobi.

Want to know all the places our Lonely Planet crew visited in this video so you can see them on your trip? Here they are. Make sure to save this article to your Lonely Planet account so you can find it later. 

Parks and Nature

Nairobi National Park — Nairobi National Park is set on the city’s southern outskirts and is one of the only national parks on earth that borders a capital city. At just 117 sq km, it is also one of Africa’s smallest parks, but has abundant wildlife including lions and rhinos. The park is only fenced on three sides to allow natural migration, so the animals seem undisturbed by the proximity to the city and the skyscrapers in the background. 

Karura Forest — This park is beloved by locals as an escape to nature from the bustle of the city.  Here you’ll find people walking, cycling, running and even horse riding under its lush canopy of trees. The Sigiria entrance now has a sweet little cafe, children's obstacle course, bike rental and yoga platform.

Uhuru Park  — Another favorite local escape, this park blossoms on the weekend, with picnicking families enjoying the games and rides.

The Opportunity Factory has many of the items you'd find in open-air markets.  © Jack Pearce/Lonely Planet

Art and Shopping

The Opportunity Factory - A collective for artisans, here you’ll find many of the items you’d find in open-air markets in Nairobi or on the roadside. By bringing their craftwork under one roof, you can see some of the artisans creating as you browse all the different wares. 

Kuona Art Space - In this collection of artisan spaces, you’ll find Nairobi artists exploring new techniques in street art and streetwear by using materials they find that represent Nairobi. 

Maasai Market - If you’re looking for a place to pick up traditional-style souvenirs like beaded jewelry, sandals, wooden bowls and hand-woven baskets, head to the Maasai markets. Started by Maasai women (one of the indigenous ethnic groups that settled in Kenya and Northern Tanzania) so they could sell directly to tourists, here you’ll have a chance to interact with the artisans as they craft their handiworks. The market changes location daily. 

A collection of delicious cuisine you can find at Cultiva. © Jack Pearce/Lonely Planet

Restaurants and clubs

Mama Rocks Burger — Created by sisters Natalie and Samantha Mwedekeli, Mama Rocks Burger opened in 2016. According to the restaurant, the menu marries the “American-style gourmet burger with African flavours from across the continent.” 

Cultiva — Locals describe this spot as cozy and homey, with a wide range of amazing dishes to sample.  Everything is grown in gardens in the same space you eat it from. (The pork belly tacos come highly recommended.)

Mama Nilishe — traditional Swahili food offers a chance to experience the flavors of Kenya. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands!)

Bridges Organic — A favorite organic health food restaurant loved for its warm chapatis made with pumpkin and carrot.

Muze  — A blend of cocktail bar and nightclub, Muze champions up and coming artists and sounds. Come here to feel beat of the city. 

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