Far from simply looking at buildings and listening to a few anecdotes, you will learn about life in Kigali only when you decide to walk, drive or ride to places.
The Tour of Kigali gives to the visitor an exclusive understanding of the history of Kigali itself and Rwanda at large and its recent development.
It takes a whole day to tour Kigali and to start, the tour guide will give you an experience of housing and life in Kigali’s home, starting with old residential areas in the West of Kigali, commonly known as Nyamirambo.
In this area, you mainly understand the muslim culture and how the place attracted the first dwellers who had to walk to work in the adjacent Kigali city centre in the heart of central business district.
From this side, one is driven to the new residential areas commonly known as new Kigali which include new premium residential places like Gaculiro vision city, Kagugu, Nyarutarama and others which show Rwanda’s transformation in the wake of national tragedy, the Genocide against Tutsi.
After residential areas, tourists are driven to museums, starting with historical sites and what they call ‘tragedy’ the Kigali Genocide memorial where one has to first consent.
The trip of museums starts with Richard Kandt House museum, the first home of Rwanda’s colonial ruler- the Germany’s Dr. Richard Kandt, the first resident governor.
Dating from the late 1800s, it is arguably the first modern house of Rwanda’s capital Kigali in Gitega sector, Nyarugenge district.
The Campaign against Genocide Museum, codenamed CAGA, is another important museum. Located in Rwanda Parliament, it shows how the Rwanda Patriotic Army(RPA) Inkotanyi led a struggle to stop the Genocide in the middle of an intense struggle against a huge army of Ex-Forces Armees Rwandaise and won.
“It is an important component in Kigali tour, actually, we call it chapter two after Kigali Genocide memorial,” says Richard Mutunzi, a tour operator from Kigali.
After museums, they focus on commercial area mainly Kigali’s business district, then the markets and malls. This will lead the visitors to markets of the city, preferably Kimironko market which offers a variety of country delicacies.
At this market, you have the African dressing choices, and an idea on Rwanda’s food baskets.
From this general market, the tourists head to handcraft markets or galeries. This will lead them to places like KAPLAKI in Remera’s shoping mall commonly known as Sarl Motors building.
Galeries include Ivuka Art Centre and Inshuti in Kacyiru.
To conclude it all, one will be led to Kigali City view in either Rebero, Nyanza or Mount Kigali.
“We basically tour the city in general in the morning then break for lunch before going to a place where you can enjoy the city view,” says Mutunzi.
Of recent, the city of Kigali introduced more components that one may not afford to miss while in the city.
Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park is composed of ornamental ponds, gallery forests, medicinal plant gardens, paved walkways and bicycle lanes, restaurants, an information center and other biodiversity services.
Rwanda Art Museum- located in Kanombe 4 kilometers from Kigali International Airport is the former Presidential Palace Museum changed into Rwanda Art Museum- displaying contemporary artworks produced by both Rwandan and international artists.
Young visitors also enjoy the Art Kids’ Studio where they are given the opportunity to put their art skills to work.
The Gisementi and Biryogo Car- Free zones in Kigali cannot be missed out. These are new areas where you can breathe fresh air and listen to music as you sip a special coffee cup in Biryogo or hang out in Gisementi to a variety of music, and drinks and meet young Rwandans.
In Biryogo one can see artistic murals, a very vibrant and busy entire street with different restaurants set up on the road with different colors painted on the ground.
The two car-free areas in Kigali have been designated for evening concerts to entertain attendees of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 who wish to spend their leisure in the city, from 6:00 pm up to 10:00 pm.
Fourteen concerts have been planned from 20th to 26 June 2022, when CHOGM will close, according to renowned concert organizers− Sensitive Ltd.
The horse ride and outdoor games at Fazenda Sengha- you can enjoy trail rides, horseback riding, zip-lining, badminton, paintball, archery, and barbecuing. Located on Mont Kigali, this outdoor and recreational center offers a range of exciting activities and chances to enjoy nature.
Umusambi Village is a beautifully restored wetland area, providing a sanctuary for endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade. The nature reserve is also a peaceful haven for visitors to enjoy the walking trails and learn about conservation work and the importance of protecting the natural environment.
Eat, Drink and Hang Out
There are so many restaurants and bars in Kigali but to save you from looking deep, we selected a few that are famous or have specialties or are visited frequently among the hot spots in the city.
Cocobean Restaurant & Coffee Shop in Kimihurura offers the best of West African cuisine, also known for open space dancing.
Hadassah Gardens Restaurant, the First Israeli Kosher Restaurant in Rwanda offers Mediterranean Cuisine and is located in Kimihurura.
Sakae Japanese Restaurant is a place behind Sushi for all mankind. Ever tried sushi or Japanese cuisine? Try this one and you will walk out hooked on their food as the new comfort food.
At Sakae, you won’t be overwhelmed with Asian decor and music. What you will encounter is a casual atmosphere with today’s hottest music playing, and staff welcoming you through the doors.
Ariana Afghan Restaurant has a great taste of Rwandan and Afghan foods and a great view of Kigali city from the rooftop 5th floor at Athene building Opposite Makuza Plaza in the city center-town
Lalibela Ethiopian restaurant- this is one of the oldest specialty restaurants that has been in Kigali since 2003 and only serves pure Ethiopian foods. The restaurant is currently located in Kimihurura.
Taco Birria Rwanda near Amahoro stadium has specialized in Indian foods and has become an attraction for other Asians like Pakistanis who are all brought together by the taste of food.
Pili-Pili – the famous bistro has labeled itself as the city’s most vibrant and iconic bar and restaurant located in Kibagabaga- an outskirt in Kigali’s high-end residential area.
The vast outdoor seating area, a huge bar, with a restaurant view of the city, sunset, and the music ambiance at this spot is hooking.
Inzora Rooftop Cafe is another that provides locally sourced foods, great coffee, and an amazing view of Kigali and the sunset than anywhere.
Cucina Restaurant- known for exotic wines and Italian food, offers flavorful, authentic dishes from mouth-watering pizzas to classic pasta, and complements your meal with a glass of specially selected wine. It offers flavorful, authentic dishes from mouth-watering pizzas to savory risottos to classic pasta but be sure to save room for dessert.
Meanwhile, Masterpiece Rwanda, located in Nyarutarama’s high-end residential area is a family-oriented shopping mall, whereby friends and family can spend a whole day in leisure.
They offer luxury brands, restaurants, salons, markets, groceries, service stores, and even a beautiful pizza (garden-place) to hang out on top of live bands and performances including traditional African routines of Amaraba, Rumba, and Congolese music.
Shaly’s Restaurant Bar and Grill with its romantic ambiance and superb food offering, invites you to savor the best of West Africa in Kigali. Come for the food and stay for the fun!