Things to do in Kigali

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Looking for the best things to do in Kigali? Since Rwanda became independent of Belgium in 1962, its capital, Kigali, is roughly in the middle of the country. This makes it easy for visitors and a great place to start exploring the country’s best sights. If you have time, plan to stay in the city for a few days instead of just passing through. I recommend the Kigali City Tour for a great experience in Kigali with a tour guide.

The Rwandan Genocide destroyed Kigali in 1994, but it has been rebuilt and is now one of Africa’s safest and cleanest capitals. The beautiful green hills around the city make the skyscrapers and new businesses stand out. Modern art galleries, coffee houses, and restaurants add to the city’s global appeal. Plan your trip with this guide to the best things to do in Kigali.

Tourist Attractions in Kigali

1. Kigali City Tour

Take a tour of Kigali with a local to learn more about the city. You can ask questions about the culture and hear stories about the places you visit. Yamba Tours & Adventures provides a variety of private tours, such as food-themed tours with culinary courses that emphasize the city’s old town, art galleries, markets, and history. The Kigali Genocide Memorial, the Inema Arts Center, and the Kimironko Market are just a few of our list that can be seen on a guided tour with the Kigali City Tour.

2. Kigali Genocide Memorial

In April 1994, the Hutu majority in Rwanda’s government began a genocide against the Tutsi people. This was after the two groups had been fighting for decades. By mid-July of that year, about a million people had been killed.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial has three permanent installations. The largest one is a memorial to the victims and events of the Rwandan Genocide, and it has mass graves for 259,000 of them. Take a moment to believe what you’ve learned in the peaceful gardens of the Memorial after you’ve been moved by the horrors that have shaped Rwanda’s recent history.

3. Nyamata Church

The Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial is about an hour’s drive south of the city. Here, you can learn more about what happened during the Rwandan Genocide in a very real way. Around 10,000 Tutsi tried to find safety in the church compound, but they were killed when Hutu extremists used grenades to open the church’s locked doors.

At Nyamata, the bodies of more than 50,000 people who died are buried today. There are still bullet holes in the chapel’s roof and walls and the victims’ bloodstained clothes, belongings, and some of their bones are kept inside as a horrible reminder as to why the events of 1994 must never happen again.

4. Hotel Rwanda

The story of Hutu manager Paul Rusesabagina, who hid hundreds of Tutsi refugees here during the Rwandan Genocide, was told in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda. The movie was based on Paul Rusesabagina, who hid hundreds of Tutsi refugees here during the Rwandan Genocide. Even though Rusesabagina’s role is now questioned, the hotel is a fascinating part of Rwandan history.

Even though it’s not as beautiful as it used to be, it’s still a great place to have drinks by the pool or eat delicious international and local food in the restaurant on the fourth floor. As you sip your drink among the beautiful plants, think about how the pool used to be the only water source for the refugees trapped in the hotel.

5. Kimironko Market

Kimironko Market is the busiest and also the most popular market in town. It is a large warehouse complex with shops selling goods from all over Rwanda, East, Central, and West Africa. Here, you can find cheap souvenirs, arts and crafts, and large pieces of kitenge fabric sewers at the market can be used to make one-of-a-kind clothes.

Kimironko is also a Rwandan market, with sections for colorful fruits and vegetables, clothes, household goods, and smelly seafood and meat. The mix of sights, sounds, and smells gives a real look at what life is like in Kigali. It’s busy, loud, and often overwhelming.

6. Nyamirambo Women’s Center 

The Nyamirambo Women’s Center is a non-profit organization that helps Rwandan women get the education and skills of those who need to find work. It is in Kigali’s cosmopolitan Nyamirambo district. The women who work here use their skills to make high-quality children’s clothes, accessories, and home decor out of traditional kitenge textiles. These beautiful keepsakes help support the center’s community projects and make a nice gift.

ALSO READ: Tourist Attractions in Rwanda 

Also, remember to sign up for one of their famous walking tours. After a traditional snack and a lesson in Kinyarwanda, a local guide will take you on a tour of Nyamirambo’s homes, small businesses, and mosques. Then, go to one of the ladies’ homes for a traditional lunch. Workshops on making sisal baskets and traditional cooking classes can also be booked online.

7. Inema Art Center 

Inema Arts Centre
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The Inema Art Center was started in 2012 by two brothers who wanted to support and show off the work of new Rwandan artists. It is now one of the best contemporary art galleries in the city, showing the work of new and established artists from all over the world and providing studio space for ten artists who work in different mediums.

At the Inema Art Center, there are workshops and skills training for the next generation of Rwandan artists. These include weekly art classes for orphans who are good at it, traditional dance programs for kids, and a crafts program for women. People can look at their work in the gallery or buy jewelry, linens, and leatherwork created by the center’s students in the gift shop. Keep an eye out for dancing and music shows that happen often.

8. Inzora Cafe Kigali

Behind Ikirezi Bookshop, where the Inzora Rooftop Café is, is a great example of Kigali’s thriving café culture. The house coffee comes from a cooperative that helps more than 2,000 farmers, and the rooftop terrace has a great view of the city and the hills around it. Food like macadamia, chia seed granola, and gluten-free brownies are perfect for a Western hipster hangout.

Everything, from the food to the furniture, comes from the area. There is also a playroom and a kitchen for the kids. The café is a fantastic spot to go for brunch or drinks in the evening while looking at the view. Don’t miss the cocktail and tasting board event at the café every Friday. Both tourists and people who live in Kigali like to go to Repub Lounge to relax after a lengthy day.

It is decorated with kitenge textiles and hand-made African furniture to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can get an astonishing view of the city lights from the outside deck. The menu is mostly made up of grilled meats and has dishes from Rwanda and East Africa. The curry coconut fish stands out, and the African-style ability to share plates is great for big groups. Order a glass of wine or a local beer from the long list of drinks, then sit back and enjoy the live Afro-inspired music.

9. Bowling in Kigali

You can head to Kigali’s only bowling alley and have an amazing night with friends; either the ones you bring or the ones you make there. Mamba bowl is such a fun activity in a cool area of town. The funniest part of bowling in Kigali is that there are guys who are behind the lanes who pick up the pins when they fall. So, from your lane, you’ll see hands reaching down, but they always move just in time to get out of the way. It makes for a great laugh.

10. Swimming in Kigali

Kigali’s climate stays pretty much the same all year round except for the rainy seasons. Though it doesn’t get as hot as other parts of Africa, the hot days can really get to you. So, what I love to do is grab a towel and head to one of the many hotels that offer poolside lounges, preferably with a cold Fanta or glass of white wine to accompany me.

My favorite poolside lounge is at The Manor Hotel in Nyarutarama because the pool offers incredible views of the city, the pool itself is quite large, and the service is usually good. Another great place that you can go swimming in Kigali is Nyarutarama Sports Center.