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Of course most travelers visit Rwanda for the Gorilla Trekking and dubbed “The Land of a Thousand Hills”, Rwanda’s green landscape and diverse wildlife are the star attractions. But if there is one piece of solid advice, we want to give you, it’s do not skimp out on your stay in Rwanda’s Capital City, Kigali.

What’s got us so excited… things to do in Kigali:

Kigali is a proud city where energetic, courageous, and stunningly effective reconciliation practices have transformed the country into a remarkable success story that needs to be broadcast far and wide. It is a good introduction to Africa, especially for first time visitors to Africa. The city is modern, incredibly clean (plastic is banned) and safe; there is a thriving arts, fashion, and foodie scene; a social conscience seldom seen elsewhere and a city that others in Africa, and indeed the world can look up to.

A typical Kigali City tour may include a trip to the top of Mt. Kigali for views of the city and the countryside, a milk bar, a neighborhood market, a mural walk, a great Rwandan lunch, the best coffee around, a ride on a water taxi, a neighborhood drive-though, ending at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

Understand it's History

The Genocide Memorial is the right place to start your Rwanda travel because it will also set straight a lot of the traditions, customs and way of life in modern-day Rwanda. It also provides an explanation and foundation for everything that you will see and notice as you travel across the country. In 1994, few would have thought the country could bounce back from the Rwanda genocide. It was one of the darkest times in modern African history.

A visit to the Genocide Memorial provides a fascinating insight into Rwanda’s post-genocide recovery. It is an emotional visit, so be prepared. It does an excellent job explaining the issues in Rwanda – what led to the genocide, why it occurred and the results. It also goes beyond Rwanda to talk about other past genocides as a memorial for victims all over the world. It gives context and is all the more incredible how the locals have recovered and found peace, and today Rwanda is known for its progressive policies, is a role model in gender equality and conservation, and a pioneer in eco-tourism.

Thriving arts scene

The excellent Kimironko Market has it all. Enjoy the many rows of fresh fruits and vegetables. Food stalls are separated by category like aisles in a supermarket. Apart from the food, there are hundreds of stalls for home gadgets, clothing, crafts, and eventually at the far end, fabrics. Fabrics are a specialty in Rwanda with beautiful bright patterns and excellent tailors for women’s dresses and clothing.

If there are any art lovers that are wondering what to do in Kigali, then a visit to the Inema Arts Center is your answer. Inema Arts Center provides space for artists in residence to explore their creative talent. Specializing in contemporary African Arts, Crafts, Music, and Dance, Inema’s artists produce paintings, sculptures, and mixed media expressions showcased in the Gallery at Inema Arts Center. The Center is home to programs, projects, and initiatives that expand creative arts in Rwanda. Through workshops, training, and hands-on classes, the Inema Arts Center provides a space to fuel creative expression.


Don’t expect large shopping malls, this is not Dubai or Singapore. But there are a few really nice items you can take home with you and which will always remind you of your trip to Rwanda. We recommend the traditional woven baskets that come with a high cover. They are called  agaseke in the local language and they have a historically long tradition in Rwanda. You can get these at the Kimironko market which has it all – you can buy the beautiful handwoven baskets that come in bright colors or perhaps a piece of fabric to make a table set or a sarong. We also recommended Gahaya Links  a Rwandan handicraft company dedicated to women’s economic empowerment through enterprise design. Their bespoke home decor, jewelry, and textile collections reflect the beauty and resilience in each of their weavers.

If you’re looking for something more upscale and pretty, Heaven Restaurant has a nice shop called Azizi Life Boutique  where you can buy local handicrafts or honey made in the area around Kigali. The Marriott Hotel’s souvenir shop run by the Go Kigali team also stores a lot of the best souvenirs in Kigali.

Fashion and Jewellery

For incredibly vibrant fabric and trendy designer numbers, visit Kigali’s top designers’ stores from Moshions, Haute Baso, Rwanda Clothing and if you were a fan of the Black Panther film, House of Tayo, made global headlines with its bespoke “Wakanda Secret Service” three-piece suit which was worn by the brother of Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o to the premiere of Black Panther. more. You can also find bespoke jewelry and accessories, as well as interior décor work at Inzuki Designs.

Community Involvement

Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandese women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training on their own, so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.

The last Saturday of each month is Umuganda, which is a national day of community service, during which most normal business services are closed from 7 to 11 am to allow all citizens to clean the city and help community. The first and third Sunday of the month, the city has a car free morning between 7 and 10 am to promote exercise and to reduce carbon emissions.

Foodie experience

Who doesn’t love a good market? After all, this is where locals shop and the perfect place to understand a country’s cultural heritage.

Kimironko Market is a large complex where all sorts of items are available for sale. Here you can find handicrafts and souvenirs, colourful baskets, fabric and seamstresses ready to make you a dress, fresh vegetables and exotic fruits and a host of other household items. Pretty much anything you may ever need can be found here.

A really special experience that we offer is to buy produce and ingredients at several markets, where you will then visit local resident Aminatha’s home. There you get to work at a wooden table in her courtyard, chopping vegetables and starting the charcoal stoves. Under the guidance of Aminatha six traditional, delicious, and gratifying dishes are prepared and then shared by all involved.

Coffee Masterclass

Immersive, one-of-a-kind coffee experience, Question Coffee offers an amazing master class on the coffee supply chain that doesn’t require taking a step beyond the cafe. Class Guests will be taken through a short coffee history lesson, harvest cherries from the trees in our garden, taste coffee from all over Rwanda, and create their own custom blend.

Courtesy of Meza Malonga

Top 7 Restaurants in Kigali:

Kigali is abuzz with bars, restaurants and hotels, all backed by a towering skyline. Here are a few restaurant recommendations – keep in mind, we can also arrange for you to meet a few locals and dine with them at their favourite spots.

1. Repub Lounge

A Kigali institution that is as good for a meal as it is for an after-dinner drink, Repub Lounge has an African lounge feel and weekly jazz nights on Saturday. There is a happy hour every Wednesday and performances are available almost daily so this is a great place to enjoy African beats and music.

2. Poivre Noir

Dining at Poivre Noir’s upscale gourmet bistro is a treat. The elegant dining room is decorated with earthy tones and classy furniture and the imaginatively prepared, French-inspired cuisine (with a bow to local ingredients) makes Le Poivre Noir justly revered.

3. L’Epicurien

The Epicurean Restaurant opened its doors in 2013. Located in Kimihurura between the New Papyrus and the Mamba Club, the restaurant is open every day except Saturday at noon. Olivier Béal develops a neat and inventive French cuisine. You will find a thousand eggplant leaves with cheese, seafood and duck breast with passion fruit, but also sausages and beef tripe Caen style. 

4. Lavana Restaurant

Lavana Restaurant is an artisan-style pizza cooked in their beautiful wood burning oven. The menu also includes eclectic Street Food from around the globe as well as a few East African creations. Taco Tuesday & A Movie on Rwanda’s biggest HD Screen in the dining room theater. Game Night on Wednesdays in support of a different local charity. Watch NFL, NBA, Football (all leagues), Rugby, and MLB in our lounge or on the big screen in the dining theater. Live Music every Friday Night. Spoken Word Night the last Thursday of the month.  

5. Heaven Restaurant

Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel is an American-owned, private, serene property in the lovely neighborhood of Kiyovu. Started as a social enterprise to improve service levels in the hospitality sector and create employment, Heaven is consistently ranked one of the country’s top restaurants with a spectacular ambience on a custom-built outdoor terrace overlooking the entire city. Make sure you read ‘A thousand hills to Heaven’ by Heaven owner Josh Ruxin.

6. Afia Organics

Afia Organics is the first & only vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Kigali, Rwanda. The Restaurant prepare fresh non-dairy milks and other products for order. Some which are ready made and can be picked up from their fridge.

7. Meza Malonga Lab

Meza: “ table” in a local language. MEZA Malonga invites you to share an Afro-fusion cuisine experience in Kigali. The team are storytellers of the history of the people and lands behind each ingredient. The lush District of Musanze, Rwanda is the soil of our homegrown fruits and vegetables. With Maasai, Bantu, Zulu influences and beyond, chef Dieuveil Malonga’s cuisine reveals the splendor, uniqueness and complementarity of African nations. With culture and travel at the core of their inspiration, their curated gastronomic experiences are an invitation to a journey without borders throughout Africa.

In this article
  • Things to do in Kigali
  • Understand it's history
  • Thriving arts scene
  • Souvenirs
  • Fashion and Jewellery
  • Community Involvement
  • Foodie experience
  • Top 7 Restaurants in Kigali

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