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Kampala is a bustling metropolis in between the vast savannah of east Africa and the tropical banks of Lake Victoria. It’s a gateway city to Uganda’s adrenaline-filled activities like rafting down the River Nile, bungee jumping and safari hopping through national parks. But exploring the heart of city is not to be missed – as the seat of the Buganda Kingdom, Kampala is a mix of cultural history and modern-day thrills, where you can visit historic tombs or dance until dawn in its bars.
You'll find Kampala hostels in the city centre, or towards the banks of Lake Victoria for a little more peace and quiet. Expect to find stays that have city-view rooftops, or cosy balconies full of tropical plants. Some hostels in Kampala have a party vibe with an on-site bar and music, while others embrace a chilled atmosphere with barbecues and reading corners. If you need inside info on the best things to do in town, look out for a Kampala hostel that can help you organise tours and trips.
At the centre of Kampala you’ll find the city alive with the bustle of markets, high-rises and traffic. Buganda Road is home to craft markets, as well as a bunch of tailor shops. The largest market in the city, Owino, is nearby. Most of the nightlife is found in the districts of Bukoto and Kabalagala. For the city’s history, you’ll need to head up into the hills. Kasubi, Mengo, Kibuli and Namirembe Hills are all within a 15-minute drive of the centre and hold Kampala’s sacred sites like the Kasubi Tombs.
Head up Kikaaya Hill to see the Bahá'í Temple and views of the city below, or for a slice of history visit the Uganda Museum. If you wander through the city, you'll find lots of markets selling fresh, African produce. You may also come across the city’s kafundas – a makeshift roadside bar often pumping with Ugandan reggae music and beer. For day trips, visit Lake Mburo National Park or Entebbe for safaris and rapid riding. Kira Road is the best place to book a tour.
The nearest international airport, Entebbe, is 35km southwest of Kampala and there are various shuttle services you can catch into the city. You can also get a bus from cities around the country, including Arua, Fort Portal and Jinja. Popular ways to get around town include boda-bodas (the city’s network of motorbike taxis) or matatus (minibuses that follow a set route), as well as larger city buses.