Our amazing 1 day Kampala city tour gives you a unique insight into Uganda’s capital city. You’ll visit many of its fascinating cultural, religious, historical and commercial centers. While touring these landmarks, you will get many opportunities to mingle with the friendly local people and purchase mementos in the vibrant local markets and craft centers.
Lunch will be included and our guide will ensure that you eat some local food like Luwombo, Matooke or the delicious Ugandan Rolex. Traveling will be by car but you will walk on foot to most of the sites. By the end of this 1 day Kampala tour, we hope you would have had a good understanding of the unique culture, traditions and lifestyle of Ugandans.
Once called the city of 7 Hills, Kampala now sprawls over 20 hills till the northern shore of Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest lake.
Located in Central Uganda, the metropolis has been the de facto capital since the 14th century, when King Kato Kintu, the founder of the Buganda Kingdom, chose the area as his administrative base. Future Buganda kings welcomed Arab traders and British explorers.
Before the British and Arabs arrived in Uganda, Kampala was a hunting ground for the Kings. It had one of Uganda’s largest populations of Impala and that is where the name Kampala comes from. Kampala is today Uganda’s major industrial and commercial city.
Kampala City Tour Highlights
- Kabaka’s Palace
- The Royal Mile and the clans of Buganda
- Buganda Royal mile
- Bulange Building
- Gadhafi Mosque (Uganda National Mosque)
- Bahai’ Temple
- Uganda National Museum
- Local Markets and craft centers
- Makerere University
- Uganda Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo
- Kasubi Royal Tombs
- Ndere Cultural Centre
- City taxi parks
There is variety of places visit in Kampala. We can tailor this one day Kampala city tour basing on your preferences and needs. If you only want certain activities or visiting certain places, we will change the program according to your interests. If you have a full day, you can visit like five places but if you have few hours, you can tour three prominent places. Here are the details of the best sites you can visit:
Details of The Fascinating Sites You Can Visit On This One Day Kampala City Tour:
1. Kabaka’s Palace
The Kabaka’s Palace on Mengo hill commands 360-degree views over Kampala City. The palace was the official residence of the king of Buganda.
Buganda is a geographical region of the biggest and most prominent tribe in Uganda– the Baganda. It is the gateway to Uganda, and Buganda gave Uganda her name. When you fly into Uganda, you’ll arrive through Buganda. Therefore before continuing on your wildlife safari in Uganda, a tour of this palace will introduce you to the history and culture of Buganda and Uganda.
You’ll learn about the impeccable political and cultural organizational structure of the Buganda kingdom. It is little wonder that the colonial British were blown away by a political organization so well organized and somewhat similar to theirs, that Uganda was not declared a colony like their many other African countries. It was declared a protectorate and the Buganda kingdom’s structures were used by the British to govern and conquer the rest of Uganda.
2. Bulange Royal Building
Bulange building gate is exactly 1 mile from the Kabaka’s Palace gate. Its compound features a small souvenir shop that has been named the “cultural corner”. The cultural corner contains many traditional items that were used back in the day before modernity in the day-to-day lives of the people. These include Omweso (board game), Olubugo (Backcloth), local drums, and others.
Bulange Royal Building houses the Lukiiko which is the parliament of Buganda Kingdom. Your tour here will also be an educating experience on the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial history of Buganda and Uganda, giving you a lesson about the rich cultures of the black people. It is a revelation into the wonderful administration systems of a people that are absurdly portrayed to have lived a primitive wild life before the white man arrived.
3. The Royal Mile & the Clans of Buganda
The Buganda Royal Mile is a straight path exactly 1 mile long from the gate of the Bulange Building to the gate of the Kabaka’s palace.
After exiting Bulange tour you can set out to walk the 1 mile to the Kabaka’s Palace just like the Kabaka’s used to do back in the day. This one mile walk on the royal mile is also a fascinating journey through Buganda history and culture. The path is lined by 52 trees known as kabaka anjagala which represent the 52 clans of Buganda.
Buganda kingdom is a clan-based society. You’ll learn about the different clans and their different roles in the Kingdom as well as their totems. Along the mile are also important houses or buildings that date back since the 1800s, one such includes the first storied building in Uganda, Butikiro which was the official residence of the Katikiro (prime minister) etc…
4. Ntawetwa – the King does not bend
Ntawetwa is a roundabout at a junction along the Royal mile which was modified with a continuous passage of the royal mile through the round-about with a gate that is only opened for the Kabaka.
This was done so that the Kabaka does not go round the roundabout since he is not supposed to face any obstacle on his way from the palace to Bulange and back. It is a very interesting structure on the royal mile.
5. Idi Amin’s Torture Chamber
Inside the Kabaka’s Palace is the infamous torture chamber where Idi Id Amin Dada Oumee (one of the grievous dictators in African history) brought political victims and suspected rebels for interrogation and execution.
When Amin took over the Kabaka’s palace and turned it into a military post in the 1970’s he invited the Israels to build him an armory which they did. After a few months he turned it into an interrogation and torture chamber where it is believe more than ten thousand victims faced their death. As we speak now, Idi Amin died in 2003 but the torture chamber still exists as a testimony of his brutal life on power.
6. Kabaka’s Lake
Once the palace and Bulange visit is over you can slope down to the Kabaka’s lake to refresh and shake off the sad mood after torture chamber story. The Kabaka’s lake is one of the few known man-made lakes in the world. And what is even more special is that it was dug with rudimentary digging tools.
The lake was made by the youthful flamboyant king, Kabaka Mwanga, who wanted a channel of water from the palace connecting to Lake Victoria which he enjoyed visiting. The channel would serve for recreation but also a route for easy escape via Lake Victoria in case the palace was to be attacked.
7. Kasubi Royal Tombs
Another popular cultural and historic site you can visit on the Kampala city tour. The tombs are a burial site, the resting place of the last four kings of the Buganda Kingdom, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a rich cultural attraction that harbors rich history about the Buganda kingdom and several traditions about kingship.
8. Namugongo Marty’s Shrine
The Uganda martyrs shrines tour in Kampala is one of the most spiritually nourishing experiences for a Christian pilgrim. It is also a great source of history about religion in Uganda.
The site is where several converted Christian pages (helpers) in the King Mwanga’s Palace were burnt alive. The pages had disobeyed the Buganda Kingdom king’s orders that were contradictory to their faiths and accepted to die for their beliefs when the king ordered their killing.
9. Gadaffi Mosque – Uganda National Mosque
A gift from the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the Gaddafi Mosque is a treat for both Muslims and non-Muslims. A visit to the mosque was voted by TripAdvisor as the #1 thing to do in Kampala. Also called Uganda National Mosque, this impressive, copper-domed building is one of the largest mosques in East and Central Africa. It is capable of holding almost 20,000 worshippers.
It is found on old Kampala hill close to the central business district. The huge prayer hall is decorated with stained glass from Italy, an enormous blue and red woven carpet, and intricate chandeliers from Egypt. It is mostly visited for its 60m high minaret. Climbing the 306 steps to the top of the minaret rewards you with a stunning 360° view of Kampala city – the perfect way want to capture an aerial shot of Kampala city without flying a drone.
7. Bahai Temple
During your Kampala city tour, you can also visit the Mother Temple of Africa, also known as the continent’s only Baha’i faith house of worship. The temple is one of nine Baha’i Temples across the globe and was East Africa’s tallest building when it was built in 1961. Standing majestically on the top of Kikaya Hill, it’s one of Uganda’s most beautiful buildings, with stunning architectural design. Like all Baha’i temples, it’s a circular 9-sided dome.
Inside, fixed mosaic tiles from Italy line the dome’s arched roof, with coloured glass in the wall panels that came from Germany. The green, amber and pale blue glass tinted windows filter the light coming into the temple, lending itself to an effect of lightness that bounces off the floor, well adorned with Persian carpets. The temple is set in the middle of lush, green gardens with fields of brightly coloured flowers where many birds flutter. Bahai temple welcomes visitors of all faiths to pray and meditate in a serene environment.
8. Uganda National Museum
The Uganda National Museum is located within the Kampala central division on Kitante road near the British High Commission. It was created in 1908 by the then British Colonial Officer George Wilson. It is the oldest museums in East Africa and provides an extensive look into the Uganda’s past.
At the National Museum, you will find exhibits showcasing traditional musical instruments, pre-colonial African history, ethnography, and traditional lifestyles of various tribes in Uganda. The museum contains historical artifacts that tell the origin of Uganda, information on the peoples and Uganda wildlife etc.
9. Ndere Cultural Centre
Ndere Cultural Center has the biggest and one of the oldest traditional dancing troops in Uganda. This highly professional dancing troupe was founded in 1986 as a Uganda cultural organization for universal unity through music, dance and drama. The centre organizes performances of over 40 different authentic dances and songs of the many tribes in Uganda, accompanied by various indigenous percussive, stringed and wind instruments.
Ndere Cultural Centre is one stop center to see Uganda’s diverse cultures showcased through the different traditional dances and songs. The shows take place in the evenings on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It is a perfect place to end your day after a Kampala city tour.
10. Saint Pauls Cathedral – Namirembe
The history of Christianity in Uganda originated on Kampala’s Namirembe Hill, which today serves as the provincial seat of the Uganda Anglican Church. St. Paul’s cathedral is the oldest Anglican Church in Uganda. Namirembe is a Luganda word meaning ‘mother of peace’, but the history of its foundation was not always so.
11. Saint Mary’s Cathedral – Rubaga
Rubaga Cathedral is located on Rubaga hill near Mengo hill. It is the seat of the Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda. The cathedral has a long history dating back to the heyday of the Buganda Kingdom.
12. Local Markets & Craft Centers
Uganda is a self-sufficient country which grows a lot of food so you will have a great opportunity to taste and observe different fruits at Nakasero Market. You can also visit Owino Market, the biggest market in Kampala that is very popular in selling second hand clothes and everything. When in Kampala, you must also take the time to go shopping at the Craft Village on Buganda Road. You can browse around the varied stalls selling fantastic curios and knickknacks to take home as mementos of your vacation in Africa.
13. Makerere University
Makerere University is Uganda’s oldest, largest and most prestigious institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922. It is one of the best universities in Africa.
Makerere University has also produced over 7 presidents including Ugandan president Milton Obote and Tanzanian presidents Julius Nyerere and Benjamin Mkapa. The former president of DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, and former Kenyan president the late Mwai Kibaki are also Makerere alumni.
Also some of the most prominent writers in Africa, including Nuruddin Farah, Ali Mazrui, David Rubadiri, Okello Oculi, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, John Ruganda, Paul Theroux, Nobel Prize laureate V. S. Naipaul, and Peter Nazareth, were at Makerere University at one point in their writing and academic careers.
Further Reading: Things to do in Kampala.
1-Day Kampala Tour Inclusions
- Entry and admission fees
- Parking fees
- Transport and fuel
- A driver
- Drinking water
1-day Kampala city tour Exclusions
- Air tickets and Visa
- Alcoholic drinks and cigars
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses on telephone calls and shopping
What To Pack on this one Day tour of Kampala?
While on this 1 day Kampala city tour, make sure you have some cash with you. The cash is important if you plan on buying souvenir from the national Museum and other craft shops.
You’ll also need a good camera, good walking shoes, modest clothing, drinking water, medication, a hat, and sunscreen and sun glasses. It is important to dress appropriately in order to avoid attracting unnecessary attention or stares. Skimpy dresses are also inappropriate when visiting religious and cultural centers.
Remember to put on light clothing because the weather in Kampala can be warm. Sunglasses will protect your eyes from the afternoon African sun while the sunscreen will offer a protective shield against strong rays from the sun.
More Important Information to Note On While Planning Your Kampala City Tour
Kampala is generally safe for travelers but you have to be cautious especially when carrying expensive electronics. Our company Guide will let you know what to do to remain safe and that your property is secured.
The traffic Jam in Kampala during morning, mid-day and late afternoon can be chaotic. This is where our driver will be very helpful. Our drivers are very experienced in navigating through the city traffic jam and will ensure that you get to the different landmarks on time.
Feel free to ask our company driver/Guide for assistance. If you want to go to the bathroom, he will know exactly where to take you. We choose Guides/Drivers with a pleasant character and who are experienced dealing with travelers from across the globe.