Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda, roughly in the center of the country. It sprawls across numerous hills, ridges and valleys, and has a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene.
Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it’s conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people. Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities – including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa’s most memorable dining experiences.
History about Kigali City
Kigali City was established in 1907 just as a tiny colonial out-post by Dr. Richard Kandt, who was the very first resident German colonialist in Rwanda.
During the tour, guests will pass through the older commercial “quarters”, residential areas and business areas of Kigali, visit some of the historic sites established in memory of the 1994 brutal Tutsi Genocide, have a guided tour to the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, as also find out more about the various neighborhoods as well as local attractions of the city. Come and personally experience this beautiful yet very clean country.
Places to Visit in Kigali City
Kigali Genocide Memorial
Opened a decade after the genocide, the memorial is a solemn, tear-inducing museum. With giant wall displays, archival documents, photos, video footage, and weapons encased in glass, the indoor exhibit sheds light on the Rwandan genocide, as well as its pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial roots. The room filled with human skulls and bones was chilling but most heart-wrenching was the children’s memorial.
The Memorial is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Kigali cultural centre
Characteristic of our design for the Art & Culture Center is the use of symbolic patterns, inspired by African culture. A raised square connects the ensemble to buildings. The square is divided into planes, each with its own symbolic pattern and layout. Central to the grid is the large-scale cultural center across the square, which offers protection against the tropical climate.
Kigali Presidential Palace
The Presidential Palace, the residence of the former president of Rwanda, President J. Habyarimana – is near the airport on the eastern outskirts of Kigali. Habyarimana was the president whose plane was shot down on the 6th of April 1994, the event that some say triggered the Rwandan Genocide. The former state house is now a museum that gives an overview of Rwanda’s history and a visit to the remains of the Falcon 60 presidential jet.
For a truly immersive shopping experience, head to the vast warehouse complex known as Kimironko Market. This is the busiest and most popular market in town with vendors selling wares from all over Rwanda as well as East, Central and West Africa. You’ll find souvenirs and crafts for rock-bottom prices and swathes of kitenge fabric that can be transformed into unique clothing by the market’s on-site seamstresses. Kimironko is also a market place for local Rwandans with different sections selling colorful fruit and vegetables, clothing, home supplies and pungent meat and seafood. It’s chaotic, loud and often overwhelming, but the kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells serves as an authentic insight into everyday life in Kigali.
Accommodation Options in Kigali City
Inzora Rooftop Cafe
Nestled at the back of Ikirezi book shop, Inzora Rooftop Café offers a fine example of Kigali’s flourishing café culture. Spectacular views of the city and the surrounding hills make the rooftop terrace special, while the house coffee is grown, picked and processed by women’s co-operatives throughout Rwanda. The café is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends, making it the ideal spot for a leisurely brunch or for an evening with a view.
Kigali Serena Hotel
Discerning guests seeking the finest accommodations and services may opt for the Kigali Serena Hotel. Conveniently located in the central business hub of Kigali, it has sensational Rwandan art highlighting the plush lounge, where you can relax or hold a meeting. Offering a range of facilities and amenities, this hotel boasts 148 rooms, including some accessible ones for physically challenged travelers.
Known amongst expats and locals alike as the place to unwind after a busy day, Repub Lounge has a loyal following in Kigali. The menu features Rwandan and East African cuisine with a focus on grilled meats (though there are options for vegetarians). The brochettes (a.k.a. skewers) are a particular highlight and are great for sharing dishes are perfect for larger groups.