Parliament Avenue with the view on Parliament building, Kampala
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda with a current population around 4 million people.
Kampala’s nickname is "City of Seven Hills" and it is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. This busy city is a hub for business, a buzzing nightlife, and vibrant culture.
Located in the central region of Uganda, north of Lake Victoria between the major cities of Entebbe and Jinja. From Entebbe International Airport it is approximately 45 km to Kampala.
The city is home to the East African Development Bank and the oldest and most prestigious university in the country, Makerere. There are only seven Baha'i Temples in the world, and one of them is located in Kampala.
The local language spoken in Kampala is Luganda. English is one of the official languages of Uganda. It is widely spoken and understood in Kampala, especially in larger businesses, restaurants, hotels, and tourist areas.
Kampala is not a destination for someone looking for wildlife and the traffic can be very overwhelming. When visiting Kampala, it is better to avoid weekdays and rather visit the city on Saturdays or Sunday.
There are plenty of interesting things to see and do in Kampala.
17 Amazing Things to do in Kampala:
1. Walking Tours
If you want to see all of the major sites in Kampala and need a little guidance, Kampala Walking Tours or Immersion Uganda is a great choice. Their walking tour stops at the most well-known attractions in Kampala, which will leave you feeling like a local.
2. Visit the Owino Market and taste the street food
Owino Market is the busiest market in Kampala. As a first-time visitor to Owino, you may find the market chaotic and overwhelming.
Despite its appearance, there is some order and organization to Owino. It is a great place to find the best deals on clothes, fruit, vegetable and household items. You should be prepared to bargain for the best price.
3. Visit craft markets
Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, home goods, or clothes, you will likely find it at one of the craft markets in Kampala. A visit to one of the local craft markets is also a fun way to try your bargaining skills.
Craft Village is located behind the National Theatre at Uganda National Cultural Centre, and Exposure Africa is on Buganda Road. There is also a weekly Friday craft market on Old Kampala Road behind the Gaddafi Mosque near Fort Lugard that has items from Uganda as well as neighboring countries in East Africa.
4. Visit the Kasubi Tombs
The Kasubi Tombs were inscribed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Made of traditional organic materials, the hut is a former royal burial place of the four Buganda kings and members of the royal family.
The tombs are an impressive example of traditional architecture and offer another opportunity to learn about the Buganda Kingdom.
5. Visit the Kings Palace
Also known as Lubiri and Kabaka’s Palace, Mengo Palace is the historic residence of the Buganda King (Kabaka). While you can not go inside the palace, you can view the lush garden, get a history lesson on the Buganda Kingdom and you can also view the tunnels that Idi Amin used to imprison and torture political prisoners.
Royal Palace of the King of Buganda in Kampala
6. Climb the minaret of the Gaddafi Mosque
Uganda National Mosque, also known as the "Gaddafi Mosque", is one of the most interesting attractions that can be explored in Kampala. The colorful structure with beautiful artistic elements, was built and designed based on a mixture of cultures of Arab, European and an African touch.
The Gaddafi Mosque was build on Old Kampala Hill, which is one of the seven hills in Kampala.
A gift from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the Gaddafi Mosque is a treat for both Muslims and non-Muslims. The tour guides can give you an in-depth history tour of the mosque and Kampala city. Make sure to climb the 272 stairs to the top of the minaret were you will have spectacular 360° view on Kampala city.
7. Visit Uganda's National Museum
One of the oldest museums in East Africa, the Uganda National Museum provides an extensive look into the country’s past. At the National Museum, you will find exhibits showcasing traditional musical instruments, pre-colonial African history, ethnography, and traditional lifestyles of various tribes in Uganda.
8. Kibuli Mosque
The Kibuli Mosque is one of the biggest and oldest mosques in Uganda located in the southern part of the city on the Kibuli Hill close to Muyenga Hill. Kibuli Mosque can be easily accessed and enjoy a beautiful view of Kampala and see the towers at the mosque.
The biggest part of the hill was owned by the colonial collaborator Prince Nuhu Mbogo who donated the land on the hill for construction of the Kibuli Mosque. Later, Prince Mbogo's son, Prince Badru Kakungulu donated a further 80 acres in order that additional institutions could be built.
9. Namirembe Cathedral
Uganda's oldest cathedral, also known as Saint Paul's Cathedral, which was build on the Namirembe Hill.
Walking towards the cathedral, you will be able to enjoy the city spread out on the hillside. Many beautiful birds will keep you company. Sundays are busy and noisy. A guided tour is available for foreigners. The tour takes you through the history of the cathedral.
10. Baha'i Temple
The Baha’i Temple was the first and only Baha’i house of worship on the African continent until early 2021. Sitting on top of Kikaaya Hill in Kampala, this religious site offers a quiet retreat from the chaos of the city. You will spend an afternoon learning about the Baha’i faith, have a picnic on the lawn, or sit in on a service during your visit.
11. Ndere Cultural Centre
Ndere Cultural Centre hosts the dance shows in Uganda. You will be able to experience the cultural dance and tribes music from all over the country.
In addition to the music and dancing, the show provides a delicious dinner buffet and barbeque for attendees.
12. Uganda National Cultural Centre
The Uganda National Cultural Centre in Kampala is home to the National Theatre and Nommo Gallery. The Centre provides a space for performance, including a stage and cinema, as well as a gallery that exhibits local and foreign artists. You will also be able to buy local crafts at the Centre in Craft Village.
13. Art Galleries
Kampala is a great place to visit some amazing art galleries and to see the beauty and soul of Uganda. I can recommend Nommo Gallery located at the Uganda National Cultural Centre, Asante Art Gallery, AKA Gallery, Umoja Art Gallery, and Afriart Gallery.
14. Boda Boda Tour
The fastest ways to explore Kampala city is hop on a local motorcycle (Boda Boda).
15. Social Innovations Museum
Uganda is a hotspot for entrepreneurs. At Social Innovations Academy they have created a space for young social entrepreneurs to explore and find creative solutions to the education, employment, and other social problems facing them.
16. Take a Chocolate Tour
Have you ever wondered how chocolate was made? If you’re looking for a unique and fun activity, make your way to Moonbean Chocolate in Kampala.
While most of their cocoa trees are located in Western Uganda, you can see some trees at their workshop and get an in-depth look at the chocolate-making process from bean to bar.
17. Take a local cooking class
Food making and tasting is one of the best ways to learn about another culture and get to know people. If you are in Kampala and want to experience shopping at the market and preparing a local meal, then check out Immersion Uganda. You will prepare a local speciality including matooke, mingling posho, or frying fresh-caught Tilapia.