Kigali, Rwanda's flourishing capital, stretches across lush hills and valleys. It has an intriguing history, which can be explored through its numerous monuments and museums. The city also thrums with creative energy, with independent art centres, innovative start-ups and a vibrant music scene. Visitors will find bustling streets lined with a wide selection of bars and restaurants, dishing up everything from Rwandan to Italian and Indian flavours.
Hostels in Kigali include a large building with its own pool, a volleyball court, as well as a bowling alley. There's also a hostel with a rooftop terrace and café for meals with a view. Some places serve up free breakfasts comprising pancakes, fruits and smoothies – the perfect fuel for a busy day of sightseeing. For a taste of local life, choose a Kigali hostel that encourages guests to join in the monthly Umuganda (a Rwandan practice that sees locals sprucing up roads, buildings and public gardens), or one that organises tours around the region.
Bustling Nyamirambo is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Kigali. Situated in the heart of the city, it's a multicultural district with colourful markets, shops, and restaurants serving up skewers of grilled fish. For nightlife, head to the Kimihurura neighbourhood, where you'll find the city's best bars. Scenic Lake Kivu is located around a 3-hour drive from Kigali, with several laid-back spots along its shores. These include Kibuye (also known as Karongi), a pretty little town surrounded by verdant greenery.
Visitors can climb Mount Kigali for panoramic views of the cityscape, or hike the more challenging Mount Bisoke to see the region's largest crater lake. Alternatively, discover the city's burgeoning creative scene at Inema Arts Center, which is run by a collective of Rwandan artists. Besides exhibiting artwork, it also hosts drumming and dance workshops, as well as a weekly happy hour. Located around a 2-hour drive from Kigali, Akagera National Park is a sanctuary for wild animals such as lions, elephants and leopards.
Kigali International Airport is located around 11km from the city. From here, there's an hourly shuttle that takes visitors directly to the Union Trade Centre in the heart of town. Within Kigali, it's best to hop on a matatu (minibus) or hire a motorcycle taxi instead of walking or cycling, thanks to the hilly terrain. From Nyabugogo Bus Terminal, you can get buses to elsewhere in Rwanda and even other major cities in East Africa, such as Kampala.