Mombasa in detail

Self-guided Tours

Mombasa Old Town

Start Fort Jesus

End Fort Jesus

Length About 1.5km

Duration One hour

Mombasa may not have the medieval charm of Lamu or Zanzibar, but the Old Town is a unique architectural blend of all who've influenced Swahili history and culture.

Start at Fort Jesus. From here head past the colonial Mombasa Club onto Sir Mbarak Hinawy Rd, once the main access road to the port and still a lively thoroughfare.

On the left, Africa Hotel was one of only three hotels in the city at the turn of the 20th century. If you take a quick jaunt to your right you’ll hit the water and see the restored facades of old houses.

Turn the corner at the end of the street and you’ll enter Government Sq, the largest open space in the Old Town. The buildings lining the square used to hold some of the city’s key administrative offices.

Heading out of the square you’ll need to hang a right towards Mombasa Harbour. Here you’ll find the Leven Steps, which lead down past a great view of the ships docking in the harbour to Vasco da Gama’s Well, a reservoir that supposedly never dries.

Returning to Ndia Kuu Rd, the final stages of your route can be as direct or as tangential as you wish – diverting into side streets is highly recommended. The winding alleyways linking Old Town towards Digo Rd are lively with market traders. Heading this way will eventually land you in the city spice market.

If you do stick to Ndia Kuu Rd, you’ll see a lot of nicely restored traditional buildings, including the Balcony House, so named for obvious reasons; Edward St Rose, the former chemist, which retains its original engraved-glass panel; and Ali’s Curio Market, one of the better-preserved balcony houses. Pass the Muslim cemetery and you’re back at Fort Jesus.