Must see attractions in Rwanda

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kigali

    Kigali Genocide Memorial

    In the span of 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically butchered by the Interahamwe army. This memorial honours the estimated 250,000 people buried here in mass graves and also has an excellent exhibition that tries to explain how it was that the world watched as the 1994 genocide unfolded. This is an intensely powerful and moving memorial for which you should dedicate at least half a day.

  • Sights in Southwestern Rwanda

    Murambi Genocide Memorial

    Nyamagabe (formerly called Gikongoro) and the satellite town of Murambi was the site of one of the most unforgettable horrors of the 1994 genocide. Refugees flocked to Murambi, the location of a half-built technical college, after being told that they would be safe there. It was merely a ploy though and on 21 April the army and Interahamwe militia moved in and, depending on whose doing the counting, between 27,000 and 40,000 people were murdered here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northwestern Rwanda

    Volcanoes National Park

    Volcanoes National Park, which runs along the border with the DRC and Uganda, is home to the Rwandan section of the Virungas. Comprising five volcanoes, the Virungas are utterly spellbinding and few would argue that this is not one of the most exciting national parks in Africa. We probably needn't remind you, but of all the extraordinary sights and attractions around the Virungas, the one that really draws people here are the famous mountain gorillas.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Southwestern Rwanda

    Nyungwe Forest National Park

    Nyungwe Forest National Park is Rwanda’s most important area of biodiversity and has been rated the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa. Despite its huge biodiversity, Nyungwe is little known outside of East Africa. Nyungwe's strongest drawcard is the chance to track chimpanzees, which have been habituated over the years to human visits. Another highlight is the simple pleasure of hiking along well-maintained trails over the lush, green valleys of the equatorial rainforest.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Huye (Butare)

    Ethnographic Museum

    This outstanding museum was given to the city as a gift from Belgium in 1989 to commemorate 25 years of independence. While the building itself is certainly one of the most beautiful structures in the city, the museum wins top marks for having one of the best ethnological and archaeological collections in the entire region. The seven exhibition halls contain some very interesting items and everything is unusually well lit and presented.

  • Sights in Eastern Rwanda

    Akagera National Park

    Akagera is Rwanda's answer to the savannah parks of Kenya and Tanzania, and is utterly different in landscape to anywhere else in the country. Prior to the genocide, when much of the wildlife was slaughtered or driven over the border, this was considered one of the better parks in East Africa. Today, thanks to outside investment, wildlife numbers are increasing and most people get to see zebras, impalas, topis, giraffes, masses of hippos and crocodiles and even elephants, lions and rhinos.

  • Sights in Nyanza (Nyabisindu)

    King's Palace Museum – Rukari

    Situated on a hill 2km southwest of town, this fascinating museum is less about ancient history and more about royal residences. The displays centre on a replica king's ‘palace ’. Inclusive in the ticket price is a guided tour that helps explain some of the architectural idiosyncrasies inside the royal compound, including why the royal beer brewer’s hut had an entrance without a lip, and other curiosities such as why the woman who looked after the king’s milk was never able to marry.

  • Sights in Gisenyi (Rubavu)

    Rubona Peninsula

    Roughly 6km south of town (about RFr1000 by moto-taxi), along a lovely lakeshore road, the Rubona Peninsula is Lake Kivu at its finest. Hills rise steeply from the lake foreshore and are a patchwork of garden plots and small homesteads. The shore itself is often rocky, although there are enough sandy spots and places suitable for swimming. It's a very popular weekend destination, with a smattering of beach resorts.

  • Sights in Musanze (Ruhengeri)

    Nkotsi Village

    Nkotsi village (also known as Muko) is a small village 7km southwest of Musanze. It's home to the Red Rocks camping and hostel, which, through the Hands of Hope organisation and Amahoro Tours, organises a lively and interesting package of cultural activities open to all. These range from basket-weaving demonstrations (free) to learning how to brew (and yeah okay, drink) banana beer (US$25). Other activities include village walks (US$10), bee keeping (US$30), drumming lessons (US$25) and learning about traditional medicine (US$30).

  • Sights in Volcanoes National Park

    Gorilla Guardians Village

    While most of the focus of Volcanoes National Park falls squarely onto the animals, this 'cultural village' puts the spotlight back onto the people. Visitors get to experience Rwandan village life by grinding seeds, firing bows and arrows, taking part in a traditional intore dance and even partaking in the marriage of a king to his queen.

  • Sights in Rwanda

    Ntarama Church

    Some of the most horrific massacres during the genocide took place inside the sanctums of churches throughout Rwanda, including inside Ntarama church, about 25km south of Kigali, where more than 5000 perished. The church has almost not been touched since the genocide ended and the bodies were removed. Today, there are many bits of clothing scraps as well as skulls on shelves, and three mass graves next to the church.

  • Sights in Rwanda

    Nyamata Church

    Nyamata church, about 30km south of Kigali, is a deeply disturbing genocide memorial where some 50,000 people died. Today the skulls and bones along with clothing scraps of the many victims are on display. While the visual remains of the deceased are a visceral sight, their inclusion here is to provide firm evidence to would-be genocide deniers.

  • Sights in Nyanza (Nyabisindu)

    National Arts Gallery – Rwesero

    Rwanda's most prestigious art museum is housed inside what was meant to be King Mutara III Rudahigwa's new palace (he died before the building was completed in somewhat mysterious circumstances after a routine vaccination went wrong). Today it houses mostly contemporary paintings and stylistic sculptures on themes dealing with the genocide, unity and brotherhood. Keep hold of your ticket, as admission to this museum entitles you to a 30% discount at King's Palace Museum – Rukari.

  • Sights in Gisenyi (Rubavu)

    Gisenyi Public Beach

    The strip of sand beneath the main town is a justifiably popular place to take a dip. That said, some travellers imagining Caribbean sands are disappointed to discover the waters are grey-green and the sand coarse and yellowish. There is, however, plenty of it and, after days on the road, Lake Kivu represents a welcome opportunity to throw down a beach towel or do as the locals do and spread a picnic blanket under one of the many shade trees.

  • Sights in Musanze (Ruhengeri)

    Musanze Caves

    These four caves, 2km from the town centre along the road to Gisenyi, were created when different lava flows joined to create the Albertine Rift Valley. Bat roosts are a significant feature of the caves, as are huge roof collapses that create vast arrays of coloured light shafts.

  • Sights in Kigali

    Inema Arts Center

    Opened in 2012, the privately run Inema Arts Center is a collective of 10 resident artists and guests. It's quickly established itself as the foremost modern art gallery in Kigali. As well as paintings, sculptures and contemporary takes on traditional crafts, there are dance and music performances several days a week and courses. Much of the art is for sale (and can be shipped internationally), but if you're not buying, you're welcome just to admire. There's a small on-site cafe.

  • Sights in Gisenyi (Rubavu)

    Pfunda Tea Estate

    During the rainy season, at the height of production, the Pfunda Tea Factory processes up to 90 tonnes of tea from the surrounding plantations daily. Guided tours follow the tea production from arrival of the green leaf through to the withering, cutting, drying and sorting stages, before it is packaged for shipment to Mombasa (Kenya). The factory is about 9km from town on the road to Kigali and most easily reached by moto-taxi (about RFr1000).

  • Sights in Eastern Rwanda

    Rusumo Falls

    At Rusumo, right between the Rwandan and Tanzanian border posts, the gorgeous Rusumo Falls are the largest waterfalls in Rwanda and a good side trip from Akagera National Park. As you would expect, the falls are at their best during the wet season. They're not tall, but you can expect an impressive rush of muddy water. You're allowed to drive (or walk) until the bridge between the two border posts – the best vantage point.

  • Sights in Kigali

    Museum of Natural History

    Kigali's best museum has exhibits on Rwanda’s natural wonders and is housed in the 1907 residence of explorer Richard Kandt, reputed to be the first building in Kigali. The view from the garden is sensational and, looking over the urban sprawl, it’s hard to imagine that it all started with this rather modest home. Few moto-taxi drivers have heard of the museum. Ask for Richard Kandt's house instead.

  • Sights in Musanze (Ruhengeri)

    Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International – Karisoke Research Centre

    Right in the centre of Musanze, this high-quality research centre features an exhibit that comprises interpretive panels about mountain gorillas and the conservation efforts that Dian Fossey pioneered. It also shelters Dian Fossey artefacts, a 3D interactive model of the Virunga mountains and casts of real gorilla noseprints. Overall it makes a perfect introduction to a visit to the gorillas.