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Travel guide: Things to do in Kampala for tourists

Go White Water Rafting, visit the Rhino Sanctuary or mediate at the Hindu Temple and more with many things to do in Kampala!

Manuel M.

January 23, 2024

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One of the most vibrant and important cities in Africa brings along a blend of culture, history, and excitement. We’re going to dive into all the things to do in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. From thrilling safaris at the Rhino sanctuary to traveling in the past at the National Museum, you’ll be able to experience this city like never before. Let’s explore the top things to do and places to visit in this bustling East African city.

What to Consider Before Traveling to Kampala, Uganda?

Before leaving on your journey to Kampala, it’s crucial to understand the city’s conditions and determine if it aligns with your travel plans. The city has a tropical climate, with temperatures rising to the mid-30s, so pack accordingly. Stay hydrated, stay safe, and stay connected. We’ll look into options to get data later throughout this post!

Although Kampala, Uganda, offers captivating tourist experiences, caution is advised due to warnings from the U.S., U.K., and Australia advising against or reconsidering non-essential travel. Petty theft and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation pose safety concerns. Weigh these risks against your itinerary and comfort level, and thoroughly research, purchase travel insurance, and take precautions before deciding if this adventure fits your travel style.

Best Places to Visit in Kampala for Tourists

Let’s begin by checking the best places to visit in Kampala, where you can look into the past and beliefs of this metropolis and the region.

Baha'i House of Worship in Kampala.
Baha’i House of Worship in Kampala. Source: Pexels.

1. Kasubi Tombs: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Step into history at Kasubi Tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the royal burial grounds of Buganda kings, marvel at the traditional architecture, and absorb the rich cultural heritage. This site is located on a hill and is divided into the main tomb, the buildings, and the graveyard. The entrance fee is around $10. You can get there by taxi, around 25 minutes from the city center. There are guided tours that include this attraction for about $50 per person,

2. Uganda Museum

As the largest in Uganda, the Uganda Museum has an impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits. From ethnological displays to archaeological finds, this museum offers an in-depth overview of the country’s diverse cultures. The museum doesn’t only offer art; there are also occasional performances of traditional music. Entry tickets cost around $8 for international visitors, and the museum is located close to the city center, so it’s easily accessible by public transportation or taxi.

3. Uganda Martyrs Shrine

A visit to the Uganda Martyrs Shrine is a spiritual and cultural experience. Located on Namugongo Hill, the shrine commemorates the 22 martyrs who faced persecution for their faith. This basilica was constructed in 1968 and was consecrated by the Roman Catholic Church. Mass is three times daily in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Take one day to experience the spiritual connection at this church. Remember to dress appropriately and respectfully.

Uganda Martyrs Shrine
Uganda Martyrs Shrine. Source: Staticflickr.

4. Nakasero Market

With a bit of chaos but all the authenticity, the Nakasero Market boasts delicious produce of every shape, color, and aroma. The friendly vendors and farmers will let you in on the delicious dishes that give you a taste of the fantastic natural food. Bargaining is customary, so don’t be shy to negotiate for unique souvenirs, even if you’re alone. Entry to the market is free, and tours are available for around $50 per person, which includes a stop at this top tourist site.

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5. Uganda National Mosque

Visit this majestic religious construction located just 2 km from the city center. Inside, you’ll find beautiful city views and intricate Islamic embroidery. Anyone can enter the mosque, and is frequently part of day-tour packages in Kampala that cost around $50 per person. The fee to enter the Mosque is just around $5, so remember to add that to your budget.

Uganda National Mosque
Uganda National Mosque. Source: Pexels.

Tourist Activities in Kampala

Up next, read about the exciting tours offered in Kampala, from the local cuisine to the safaris and sanctuaries.

6. Kampala Restaurants: Try Local Flavors

One day won’t be enough for you to try everything on Kampala’s menu. Explore the city’s diverse and flavorful cuisine from Matoke (cooked banana) to Rolex (rolled chapati with eggs). No matter the time of day, you can find breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Prices start as little as $4 and can go to $11, which is still very inexpensive. Here are a few foods to ask for while you’re there:

  • Posho (Ugali): Maize flour and water mixture, cooked to a dense consistency and served as a staple alongside stews and meats.
  • Matooke: Boiled and mashed green bananas, commonly served as a side dish with sauces or stews.
  • Rolex: Rolled chapati filled with eggs, vegetables, and sometimes meat, popular as street food.
  • Luweero Kaveera (Luweero Triangle Pork): Grilled or roasted pork marinated in a spicy sauce and beloved street food from the Luweero Triangle region.
  • Matoke Stew: Green bananas (matoke) cooked in a tomato and onion-based sauce, often with meat.
  • Ekitobero (Vegetable Stew): Traditional Ugandan vegetable stew with pumpkin leaves, spinach, and groundnut sauce.
  • Kikalayi (Fried Grasshoppers): Deep-fried and seasoned grasshoppers a popular snack during the rainy season.

7. White-Water Rafting on the Nile River

Experience the rush of adrenaline as you navigate through challenging rapids. Several tour operators offer packages, ensuring a safe and exhilarating adventure. You’ll learn about the Nile River and how to navigate the waters, as well as its historical and cultural significance. These tours often take up your entire day and cost around $135 per person for the entire experience, including a guide and transportation.

8. Bat Cave Visit

Explore an ecosystem that brings adventure and wonder together. Visit the Bat Cave, a natural wonder that provides a glimpse into the lives of snakes, birds, bats, and monkeys. Guided tours offer insights into the ecological importance of bats in the region. Tours can take from an hour and a half up to half a day, depending on how deep in the forest you wish to endeavor, and rates go for as little as $10!

9. Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary Walking Safari

Here, you’ll see the Rhinos in all their glory. In this sanctuary, these docile animals are kept safe and secure. Besides admiring the Rhinos, go on birding tours, shoebill trekking, nature and nighttime walks. Remember that the Park entry costs $50 but does not include all activities. The other activities mentioned cost around $20 each, and make sure to check the availability so you can plan your day and tours accordingly. But besides the tours, you can camp in the reserve for just $20 per day!

10. Discover Shri Sanatan Dharma Mandal Hindu Temple

Part of the heritage property of a historical site in Kampala and the first Shikha Baddha Temple outside India, this is one of the best places to visit while in Uganda’s capital. The temple is beautifully decorated and has unique architecture similar to the temples in India. Entry is free and the doors are opened to visitors from anywhere. Attend the events and learn about this culture’s influence on the local area.

How much does it Cost to go to Kampala?

Now for some serious talk, money. Uganda is a cheap country and even though Kampala is the capital, tending to be a bit more expensive, overall, it’s still pretty cheap. Take a sneak peek of the table below, where you’ll know how much you might spend when traveling to Kampala for five days.

Expense CategoryEstimated Cost (USD)
Accommodation$300 – $500
Transportation$50 – $100
Meals$100 – $150
Sightseeing/Activities$50 – $100
Miscellaneous$50 – $100
Total$550 – $950
Table N°1 Summary of general costs of travel to Kampala.

What should I pack?

Packing is always vital when leaving your home country, even just your city. Kampala might have a very different environment and weather than where you’re coming from. Make sure you pack essentials and somewhat more things so that you have a spectacular experience. Check the list below and include these on your own packing list.

  • Lightweight and breathable clothing
  • Modest attire for religious sites
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Malaria prophylaxis and mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses
  • Passport, visa, flight tickets, travel insurance
  • Ugandan Shillings, credit/debit cards
  • Day pack, insect repellent, umbrella
  • Modest swimwear, respectful clothing
  • Smartphone, camera, chargers, power bank and adapter
  • Data Connection

General Tips for Tourists in Kampala

As with any other travel destination, there are several tips to remember, like staying safe and aware of your surroundings. For solo travelers, check out our guide on safety tips and essential items to pack for international travel. Additionally, carrying water with you is important, especially when you go on long tours to isolated areas.

Get in touch with the locals to discover the nuances of the region and the best recommendations for where to stay and eat! Finally, it’s vital you stay connected to let those back home know you’re safe and to show them all your adventures.

eSIM for the Kampala Experience

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Kampala famous for?

Kampala is renowned for its vibrant culture, historical sites, and one of the fastest growing cities in Africa.

Is Kampala worth a visit?

We know it is! Kampala offers a unique and enriching experience for all types of travelers. You can go on tours and experience extreme sports like never before!

How do you spend a day in Kampala?

Spend your day exploring historical sites, enjoying local dishes, and engaging in thrilling activities like white-water rafting.

Can you walk in Kampala?

While walking is possible, using local transportation is recommended for a more comfortable and efficient experience. There are also taxis available and share ride services.