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Kigali City Tour Rwanda

Many tourists on Rwanda safaris choose to forego the Kigali city tour on their way to go gorilla trekking adventure in Volcanoes National Park or in the nearby gorilla parks of Uganda. However, if you have the time, a Kigali city tour is one of the top things to do in the country.

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. It is an incredible, lively, and beautiful city that has been dubbled the Singapore of Africa. Kigali city is also setting an example for many other cities in Africa and even around the world with its thriving art scene and social conscience, which includes the banning of plastic bags and monthly community city cleanups.

The Cleanest City In Africa

Kigali is one of Rwanda’s oldest cities.

In an area controlled by the Kingdom of Rwanda from the 15th century, and then, by the German Empire in the beginning of the 20th century, Kigali city was founded in 1907 when Richard Kandt, the colonial resident, chose the site for his headquarters, citing its central location, views and security.

Belgium took control of Rwanda during World War I and Kigali remained the seat of colonial administration for Rwanda. When Rwanda gained its independence in 1962, Kigali was appointed the country’s capital. Today, Kigali still has a wonderful central location. Rwanda is often called the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ and anyone who’s been to Kigali city, will understand why.

Besides the colorful, bustling and lively African atmosphere, Kigali now largely consists of modern shopping centers, high-rise office buildings, and highly rated hotels. It has therefore developed strongly as the political and administrative heart of Rwanda.

Kigali City Tour

What is special about Kigali is how clean and green it is. In 2008, the city was declared the cleanest city in Africa! Every month the entire country, including the president, take part in a compulsory community cleanup called Umuganda. Choose not to participate and you could be fined.

An aggressive plastic bag ban, in place since 2008, and recent investments by Rwanda’s Green Fund to turn Nyandungu wetland into an urban recreation and ecotourism park are examples of the city’s continued commitment to environmental initiatives.

For tourists on Rwanda tours, Kigali provides an impressive glimpse into Rwandan history, but also a good introduction to African city life. It is a nice place to start or end a Rwanda trip!

Geography and Climate of Kigali

Kigali City Tour

Home to around 1.6 million people, Kigali is located in central Rwanda.

Like the rest of country it uses Central Africa Time, and is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +02:00) throughout the year. Kigali lies in an area of rolling hills, with a series of valleys and ridges joined by steep slopes. It is situated between Mount Kigali and Mount Jali, both of which have elevations of over 1,800 m (5,906 feet) above sea level.

Like the rest of Rwanda, Kigali has a temperate tropical highland climate, with temperatures that are cooler than typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. The city has an average daily temperature range between 15 and 27 °C (59 and 81 °F), with little variation through the year.

There are two rainy seasons in Kigali city annually, from February to June and from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February.

The wettest month is April, with an average rainfall of 154 mm, while the driest month is July.

Things To Do & See on A Kigali City Tour

A visit to Rwanda’s Kigali city entails learning about the impressive history of the country, exploring the colorful markets, touring impressive art galleries, and interacting with friendly locals. View an overview of the best things to do and see in Kigali city below:

1. Kigali Genocide Memorial Tour

10 Days Rwanda and Gorillas of Uganda safari

In 1994, long-standing tensions between the Tutsis and Hutus led to the most horrific event in Rwandan history: the Genocide against the Tutsi. In the span of 100 days, almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically slaughtered by the Interahamwe army.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum in the northern Gisozi district of the capital honors the estimated 250,000 people buried here in mass graves and has an exceptional exhibition that tries to explain how it was that the world watched as the atrocities unfolded.

To enjoy the beautiful streets, staunch security, and lively nightlife of Kigali city today without understanding the wider context of the history of the land is doing yourself a disservice, and it is appropriate to spend the first part of your day in reflection.

This intensely moving memorial museum is the perfect place to come to terms with Rwanda’s tragic history and the history of genocidal violence around the world.

Consider spending a couple of hours here, both to gain insight into the events 30 years ago, and to commemorate the lives lost in these remarkably powerful and moving exhibitions.

2. Visit the Presidential Palace Museum

Just outside Kigali city is the impressive Presidential Palace. This is the residence of the former President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, whose plane was shot down on 6th April to spark the genocide.

It is highly recommended for visitors to Rwanda to take a look here. Not only does one learn more about the lifestyle of the former president, it also expertly explains how the decisions of the president contributed to the 1994 genocide that took place.

In the backyard of the house are the remains of the plane that crashed President Habyarimana.

Visitors to the Palace are shown around by an English-speaking guide and are allowed to take a look at all rooms of the house. It is a special experience, because the house suddenly seems to be deserted. Everything is still the same as it was back then!

3. Explore Caplaki Craft Market

For visitors who would like to stock up on souvenirs at the end of a Rwanda safari trip, Caplaki Craft Market is the perfect place to visit. This handcraft market has over 40 small stalls: all individual companies that together form one market.

There is a large selection of Rwandan handmade items for sale, as well as beautiful paintings, intricately woven baskets, carved woodwork, colourful beaded jewellery and tribal masks.

4. Visit one of Kigali’s wonderful art studios

A visit to one of wonderful art studios of Kigali is an ideal way to get to know the soul of the city.

Niyo Arts Center, Indiba Arts Space, Kigali Deaf Art Gallery and Choose Kigali each offer unique glimpses into the Kigali city experience and consciousness through the eyes of brilliant local artists.

It is hard to go wrong with any of these galleries, but our favorites might be Kigali Deaf Art Gallery and Choose Kigali. The former features (and is run by) talented deaf artists who have become known for their intricately beaded portraits and accessories.

Meanwhile, Choose Kigali is a luxury experience – it is home to Rwanda’s celebrated and a self-taught painter Emmanuel Nkuranga’s personal collection.

5. Visit Nyamirambo Women's Centre

This is a non-profit project that was started in 2007 by a handful of women living in one of Kigali’s oldest neighborhoods called Nyamirambo. The founders of Nyamirambo centre wanted to address gender-based violence, inequality, and discrimination while empowering local women.

Today, the center has grown into a self-sustaining organization that offers artisan goods made with the traditional kitenge fabric, walking tours in Nyamirambo, cooking classes at one of the women’s homes, and more. Nyamirambo Centre employs over 50 women from the community.

6. Explore Kimironko Market

Kimironko Market is the busiest and biggest market in Kigali city where almost everything is sold from fabrics, clothing to foodstuffs. This is an economic landmark which should not miss out on your Kigali city tour itinerary. Here you can have your measurements taken by a skillful tailor and get a colorful African wear made for you in a matter of hours.

7. Tour Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Park

Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Park is the first finished project in Kigali city in its attempt to restore the biodiversity of urban wetland ecosystems.

The 121.7 hectare Ecotourism Park was opened in 2022. It features serene pathways through parks, bamboo-lined lanes, flower gardens and over 100 bird species.

There is even a space dedicated to highlighting the medicinal plants Rwandans traditionally used for different ailments. Bicycles are available for rent if that’s more your speed, and signs labeling each species in both Kinyarwanda and English punctuate the entire park.

If you are interested in Yoga, you can check out Live Well Rwanda for more information about the park’s weekly Yoga classes. The park also has a classy restaurant where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the nice views of ponds and bushes teeming with birdlife.

8. Kigali Question Coffee Café

Kigali City Tour

A network of nearly half a million small growers produce coffee all over Rwanda, including the northernmost Virunga region, home to Rwanda’s silverback mountain gorillas and Akagera, a southeastern region with the country’s only Big Five destination, Akagera National Park.

Coffee culture is strong in Kigali, with establishments like Question Coffee in Gishushu, an organization that empowers more than 30,000 women coffee growers across Rwanda. This coffee centre worn TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for top 10% of restaurants worldwide in 2020.

9. Visit Kandt Museum of natural history

On the Kigali city tour, you can also visit Kandt Museum of Natural History. This is where Dr. Richard Kandt the first German colonial resident of Rwanda lived. His house at the base of Mount Kigali in the heart of the city is now the Natural History Museum in honor of his work, and is one of the best stops on the kigali city tour. It houses exhibits on Rwanda’s geology and natural wonders.

10. Kigali Convention Centre

The brightly lit and colourful Kigali Convention Centre is visible from all over Kigali. It is one of the most iconic attractions to see on a Kigali city tour. The centre is shaped like a giant beehive and was inspired after the architect visited the King’s Palace in Nyanza near Nyungwe Forest National Park, which also had a similar shape. It is adjoined to the Radisson Blu Hotel of which the design was based on the traditional basket-weaving techniques of Rwanda.

What to eat in Kigali?

Kigali City Tour

When it is time for lunch, you will be spoiled for options.

Over the past 10 years, the culinary landscape of Kigali city has seen something of a rebirth with new restaurants, bars and cafes popping up all over the city.

With the opening of Rwanda’s visa protocols (pretty much any country can obtain a visa on arrival) came a rush of people who decided to make it their home, bringing with them a world of delicious cuisine.

Kigali city has also seen a return of many former diaspora – like John and Nathalie, the owners of Poivre Noir, a popular Belgian-style bistro with a fusion flair. It is found in a residential neighborhood called Kimihurura and is becoming famous for its popular cafes and eateries. Among them:

  • Repub Lounge specializes in East African food
  • Indabo is known for its healthier snacks and bowls (and has an adorable dog-park attached!)
  • Borneo Indonesian offers spicy favorites like beef rendang and gadogado
  • Patisserie Royale is a well-known cafe and cake bakery

Any of these would be great for a tasty sit-down lunch, but they are just the tip of the iceberg – there are plenty of great spots for more Rwandan delicacies as well as Middle Eastern, Italian, Asian and more.

Where To Stay In Kigali?

Kigali City Tour

1. The Retreat

The Retreat offers an unforgettable 5-star experience in Kigali.

Everything at The Retreat is luxurious and exclusive, from the private fitness classes in the state-of-the-art-gym to the farm-to-table gourmet cuisines at Fusion Restaurant and the personal butler who takes care of your every request throughout your stay. But luxury is not all the The Retreat offer.

Guests can experience a slice of Rwandan life with cultural interactions like weaving peace baskets with local women and participating in farming activities.


  • Premier 5-star boutique hotel in Kigali
  • Personal butler service
  • Saltwater swimming pool, spa, yoga, tennis & gym
  • Farm-to-table meals at Fusion Restaurant
  • Bike ride with a professional Rwandan biker
  • Weave peace baskets with the local women
  • Farm activities, like learning to hoe and harvest

2. Kigali Serena Hotel

Kigali Serena Hotel is the perfect start or end to your gorilla trekking adventure.

The luxury hotel puts a strong focus on wellness and relaxation, creating an atmosphere where guests can unwind after a long-haul flight or time spent in the rainforest jungles of Rwanda.

Maisha Spa provides a variety treatments and massages to melt your stresses away, whereas a dip in the swimming pool or a delious gourmet meal at one of the two onsite restaurants is sure to put you in an agreeable mood.


  • Family-friendly luxury hotel in Kigali
  • Children’s menu available
  • Fine dining and world-class spa treatments

3. Heaven Boutique Hotel

Heaven Boutique Hotel certainly lives up to its name, offering a delightful stay in Kigali city.

Perfect for a stopover after a long flight or days in Rwanda National Parks, guests can refresh and relax with a variety of wellness activities.

Work up a sweat in the gym or with a game of tennis, soak in the solar-heated saltwater pool, stretch out the muscles with some yoga, indulge in a heavenly massage or explore your surroundings on a bike ride. Whichever way you prefer to relax, Heaven has you covered.


  • Centrally located modern 4-star hotel in Kigali
  • Superb views of the surrounding tropical gardens
  • Gym, solar-heated saltwater pool, spa treatments & yoga
  • Mouth-watering gourmet meals at the renowned Heaven Restaurant
  • Traditional Intore dance lessons
  • Biking & tennis

4. Radisson Blu Kigali Hotel

Situated about 5 km away from Kigali International Airport, Radisson Blu Hotel in Kigali combines all the luxuries and amenities that you might expect from the global hospitality chain. The hotel offers a selection of 292 rooms and suites well suited for premier tourists and business travelers.

You can choose from 209 Standard Rooms and 4 Accessible Rooms for special guests. The hotel also has 5 Presidential Suites, 68 Business Rooms, 5 Junior Suites, and 1 exceptional Diplomat Suite.

Each of the rooms and suites is air-conditioned. All rooms also come with a private balcony that offers you stunning panoramic views of the green rolling hills of Kigali.

Is Kigali Safe?

In common with the rest of Rwanda, policing in Kigali city is offer by the Rwanda National Police (RNP).

The United States government’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) praises the RNP’s professionalism. Kigali city has a reputation for being a safe city.

The Lonely Planet guidebook describes it as “a genuine contender for the safest capital in Africa”, while Bert Archer of BBC Travel described it as “clean and safe”.

However, as is the case throughout the world, most crime occurs in cities.

Petty theft and pickpocketing are quite common, but violent crime is very rare in Kigali. You are unlikely to encounter any problems on guided Kigali city tour. Venturing out in the city unguided is fine as long as you follow a few simple safety precautions:

  • Seek advice from your hotel about the area
  • Don’t wear valuables and only take the money you need with you
  • Don’t walk after dark, rather take a taxi.
  • Avoid engaging with people approaching you in the street
  • Never leave a car unattended with valuables or luggage visible