48 Hours In Kampala, Uganda
So, let’s say you’re passing through Kampala for the first time on your way perhaps to safari or a quick business trip and have only 48hrs to kill and squeeze in all the touristy stuff you can. What do you do?
Well everyone or another Kampala blog has probably written the basic Kampala hangouts/touristy things for you to check out so we shall try our best to be as original as possible.
Also, this guide isn’t only directed towards tourists because some local Kampalans yes, you reading this don’t even know their own backyards, so this is an opportunity to “play tourist” in your city once in a while. (Also a good way for you to brag to your visiting friends about your Kla knowledge)
First things first. What kind of traveller are you? A backpacker? Business traveller? Student? Missionary? Artist? Basic(normal) tourist? Regardless, we got you covered because we know your finances vary depending on your travel category. So don’t fret, if you can’t afford to get to some places, we’ll give you plenty of options.
On arrival at Entebbe international airport, you’ll be overwhelmed by “meeters and greeters” (no joke, that's what the assigned tents say at the airport) at the arrivals terminal. If you’ve organized your transportation, this is where you’ll find your driver holding the sign with your name otherwise there are also airport taxis located outside the terminal. Alternatively, make use of the free airport wifi and hail an Uber which will probably cost you way cheaper than the airport taxis. (Uber rides range from USD$20 - $30).
Once you get your rides sorted as you approach Kampala city, brace yourself for the crazy Kampala traffic jams. Depending on the day, the traffic could be good or terrible.
When travelling solo or with some friends, the best and safest way to get around the city is Uber cabs. If you’re feeling brave/adventurous enough, take a “Safe Boda”, Bolt or “Uber Boda.” They are usually safer than the regular bodas, cheaper, provide helmets and heed to traffic rules.
Skip breakfast at your hotel or hostel, head to Kisementi for many breakfast/brunch options from The Bistro, Caffeserie, Endiro Coffee, The Kurb, Cafe Javas etc. (Stalk their websites/Social media for Menus to help you budget).
P.S Cafe Javas has several locations around the city so you can also check out the one closest to you.
Sites To See
We've grouped these sites by location i.e making sure that they are in the same areas or close to each other to spare you the trouble of going back and forth from one part of the city to the other.
1. Kasubi Tombs
The Kasubi towns are burial sites for 4 of Buganda’s kings (Kabakas). Check it out to find out the rich history of buganda narrated by old Jajjas (Grandmothers) who live at the shrine. It is currently a UNESCO world heritage site
As the name suggests, the Kabaka’s (King) palace is also available for tours.
3. Namirembe & Rubaga Cathedral
The oldest cathedral in Uganda, Namirembe Cathedral (Anglican) is located not too far from the Kabaka’s palace. Rubaga cathedral it’s catholic counterpart is also located close by.
Experience Ugandan food by trying some local food at various local restaurants around the city. (Hey, you didn’t travel this far to eat burgers and KFC!). You can check out some local food restaurants that we listed here. Also, don’t forget to grab oh so mighty “ROLEX”, Kampala’s obligatory street food that is a must have. Most street food vendors sell rolex but if you’re weary of the hygiene and such, check out Musana Cart Restaurant in Kisementi. They make amazing Rolex and other Kampala street food in a more “hygienic environment”.
After Lunch, head to Gaddafi Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Africa. The 360 view from it’s skyscraper tower boasts amazing views of Kampala. Women are encouraged to cover up.
5. Nakasero Market
A 15min Boda ride from Gaddafi mosque, Nakasero market is found at the heart of Kampala. It’s also a lovely place to take photos and shop for fresh organic produce and fruits.
*Squeeze In* : If you have extra time in the afternoon, check out the old taxi park to see the 1500 plus taxis parked like Tuna fish in a can but somehow know how to maneuver their way out of that mess. (Organized chaos, we warned ya)
You must be tired of the city chaos at this point so why not grab your trusted Uber/ safe boda and head to “The View” located atop The diplomate hotel in Muyenga (one of Kampala’s 7 hills on the east side). It has an amazing bar on the hillside with majestic views of Kampala city and is the perfect place to grab a cold drink to wind down your day.
You must be hungry at this point so head down to Kabalagala to try Ethiopian cuisine at the many Ethiopian restaurants located in the area. (Our personal fave is Ethiopian Village). But if that’s not your taste, then check out Yamasen Japanese restaurant located 6 mins away at the bottom of “The View” or Le Chateau Brasserie restaurant on Ggaba road just a few mins away if you wanna splurge.
Don’t forget to grab a quick drink at the “The Lazy Pony" or “The 5 Horsemen” another rooftop bar in the area as you head back to your hotel/ hostel to have a quiet one in.
If you’re still looking to party till the wee hours, head over to Kampala’s “unofficial club district”, Acacia avenue in Kololo and bar hop to your heart’s desire. The street is littered with lots of bars and clubs that you can drop in for a quick drink.
6. Uganda National Museum
The Uganda Museum holds a rich history of Uganda’s past and is worth a visit.
The National theatre is where Kampala's main theatres are found is also home to several local craft shops where you can pick up a few curios and souvenirs unique to Uganda that you can take back with you.
Meza, the shawarma spot opposite Acacia Mall offers street style delicious food with big portions to keep you heavily satiated all afternoon.
8. Uganda Martyr’s shrine Namugongo
After lunch head out to the Uganda Martyrs shrine in Namugongo, another popular tourist destination. This is the site where the Uganda Martyrs were burned alive for practicing their faith.
The Baha’i temple In Uganda is the only one located in Africa. This is also another popular tourist attraction due to the unique architecture of the the temple and the practice of It’s faithful followers.
10. Ndere Troupe
On your way back from the temple, stop by the Ndere Troupe centre and experience Ugandan culture through music and dance.
Since you're famished at this point, head over to Yujo's Izakaya to treat yourself to some sushi and try out some local craft beer from Banange brewery available at their bar.
If thats not your jam, take it easy with a Mexican dinner at Que Pasa in Kisementi. Their food is affordable and the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere where you can grab some cold beers and chill. You can also head over to the Wine shop or The Terrace Cocktail bar just a walking distance from Kisementi to taste some great wines and awesome cocktails.
If you’re a clubber, check out Illusion club located on top of acacia mall for a club night out but if you prefer a quiet one, go to Otters Bar in Kololo for a night out with crowds from different backgrounds. (Yes, this is your typical expats bar)
Once you’re over those and still have energy for a “night cap” and wanna party with some locals, go to Kampala’s other “unofficial club district” at Bugolobi. Like Acacia avenue, Bandali rise is also littered with a plethora of bars and restaurants to excite the avid party animal. Once again bar hop to your heart’s desire and we’re warning you in advance to let you know that you might end up back home at 7am. (Good luck catching that flight back the next day on time..ha!)
And with that, your jam packed 48 hours are done in Kampala. Next stop, Safari at the national parks or Adventures in Jinja town! Pick your poison because next time you're in Uganda, there's an adventure waiting for you.
Ps. we didn't cover all sites, restaurants, bars etc in Kampala. There are still lots to see and more to do.