Nairobi in detail

Flights & getting there

Air

Nairobi is the main arrival and departure point for international flights, although some touch down in Mombasa as well.

Airports

Nairobi has two airports:

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Most international flights to Nairobi arrive at this airport, 15km southeast of the city. There are two international terminals and a smaller domestic terminal; you can easily walk between the terminals.

Wilson Airport Located 6km south of Nairobi’s city centre on Langata Rd. It has some flights between Nairobi and Kilimanjaro International Airport or Mwanza in Tanzania, as well as scheduled and charter domestic flights. Note that the check-in time for domestic flights is one to two hours before departure. Also be aware that the baggage allowance is only 15kg, as there isn’t much space on the small turboprop aircraft.

Airlines

Major international airlines connect Nairobi with destinations across the region and further afield.

The following airlines connect Nairobi with regional Kenyan towns and airstrips:

African Express Airways

Airkenya

Fly540

Jambo Jet

Kenya Airways

Mombasa Air Safari

Bus

In Nairobi, most long-distance bus-company offices are in the River Rd area, clustered around Accra Rd and the surrounding streets, although some also have offices on Monrovia St for their international services. You should always make your reservation at least 24 hours in advance and check (then double-check) the departure point for the bus.

The Machakos Country Bus Station is a hectic, disorganised place with buses heading all over the country; it serves companies without their own departure point. However, if you can avoid coming here, do so as theft is rampant.

Departure Times

Most long-distance bus services (to Mombasa or Kisumu, for example), leave in the early morning or late evening. If you have a choice, choose the former, as travelling after dark on Kenya’s roads increases the chances of being involved in an accident.

Buses from Nairobi

DestinationFare (KSh)Time (hr)Company
Eldoret12507-8Easy Coach
Kakamega1450Easy Coach
Kisumu14007Easy Coach, Modern Coast Express
Malaba14009-12Easy Coach
Malindi1100-220010-13Dream Line, Modern Coast Express
Mombasa500-22006-10Modern Coast Express, Dream Line

Bus Companies

Dream Line A reliable company connecting Nairobi to Mombasa and Malindi.

Easy Coach Long-standing company serving western Kenyan destinations as well as running international buses to Uganda.

Modern Coast Express With a good safety record, these reliable and slightly more expensive buses link Nairobi to Mombasa, Malindi and Kisumu. There are also international links, including Mombasa–Dar es Salaam and Nairobi–Kampala.

Riverside Shuttle Mostly international services to Arusha, Moshi and Kilimanjaro International Airport (Tanzania).

Matatu

Most matatus leave from the chaotic Latema, Accra, River and Cross Rds, and fares are similar to those for buses. Most companies are pretty much the same, although some aim for higher standards than others. Mololine Prestige Shuttle, which operates along the Nairobi–Naivasha–Nakuru–Eldoret route, is one such company.

Major Matatu Routes

DestinationFare (KSh)Time (hr)Departure Point
Eldoret8006Easy Coach Terminal
Kericho7503Cross Rd
Kisumu700-10005Cross Rd
Meru7504Main Bus & Matatu Area
Naivasha4002cnr River Rd & Ronald Ngala St
Nakuru250-4003cnr River Rd & Ronald Ngala St
Namanga5002cnr River Rd & Ronald Ngala St
Nanyuki5003Main Bus & Matatu Area
Narok5003Cross Rd (Narok Line)
Nyahururu500cnr River Rd & Ronald Ngala St
Nyeri500Main Bus & Matatu Area

Peugeot (Shared Taxi)

As with matatus, most of the companies offering Peugeot shared taxis have their offices around the Accra Rd, River Rd and Cross Rd area. Departures vary according to demand, but you can usually find cars heading to Eldoret, Isiolo, Kabarnet, Kericho, Kisumu, Kitale, Meru, Malaba and Nakuru. Fares are about 20% higher than those for the same journeys by matatu. Most services depart in the morning.

Train

A brand-new high-speed Nairobi–Mombasa railway line costing US$13.8 billion opened in 2017 and it has begun to revolutionise travel in Kenya, cutting the exhausting journey between Kenya's two biggest cities from 18 hours to just 4½. The line – operated by Kenya Railways – will eventually extend to Naivasha as well, and then on to Kampala in Uganda, if all goes to plan.

Services on the Madaraka Express are expected to increase over the coming years, but there's currently one 9am departure in each direction every day. In Nairobi, trains depart from and arrive at Syokimau Railway Station, 19km southeast of the city centre, and stop at Mtito Andei (one way 2nd/1st class KSh360/1490, 2¼ hours) and Voi (KSh510/2130, 3½ hours) en route to Mombasa (KSh900/3000, 4½ hours). Over time, scheduled stops will also include Emali.