Self-Guided Tours

  • Start Lamu main jetty
  • Finish Lamu main jetty
  • Length approximately 4km; one to 1½ hours

The best, indeed only, way to see Lamu Town is on foot. Few experiences compare with exploring the far backstreets, where you can wander amid wafts of cardamom and carbolic and watch the town’s agile cats scaling the coral walls. There are so many wonderful Swahili houses that it’s pointless for us to recommend specific examples – keep your eyes open wherever you go, and don’t forget to look up.

Starting at the main jetty, head north past the Lamu Museum and along the waterfront until you reach the door-carving workshops.

From here head onto Kenyatta Rd, passing an original Swahili well, and into the alleys towards the Swahili House museum. Once you’ve had your fill of domestic insights, take any route back towards the main street.

After you’ve hit the main square and the fort, take a right to see the crumbled remains of the 14th-century Pwani Mosque, one of Lamu’s oldest buildings – an Arabic inscription is still visible on the wall. From here you can head round and browse the covered market then negotiate your way towards the bright, Saudi-funded Riyadha Mosque, the centre of Lamu’s religious scene.

Now you can take as long or as short a route as you like back to the waterfront. Stroll along the promenade, diverting for the German Post Office Museum – the door is another amazing example of Swahili carving. If you’re feeling the pace, take a rest and shoot the breeze on the baraza ya wazee (‘old men’s bench’) outside the stucco minarets of the Shiaithna-Asheri Mosque.

Carrying on up Harambee Ave will bring you back to the main jetty.