Kigali, while not yet Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, or Kampala, is still slowly becoming an East African capital to reckon with. This vibrant city is no longer sleepy, as restaurants, bars, galleries, and activities abound. Check out this guide for the 5 top things to see and do in Kigali.
* Shop at Kimironko market
Of Kigali’s many markets, Kimironko market is one of the best and the biggest. Second-hand clothing, fruit and vegetables, fish, fabric, and baskets are all sold in this covered complex. Spend some time haggling for avocados before buying gifts for everyone on your list – Agaseke baskets are beautiful, unique to Rwanda, and sold by the dozen at Kimironko.
* Soccer game at Amahoro Stadium
Located in the Remera neighborhood, Amahoro is the largest stadium in Rwanda with a capacity of 30,000. Soccer matches are held there regularly, as Rwandans from all over Kigali come to support their teams. The two most popular teams of Kigali are Police FC and Armée Patriotique Rwandaise FC (called APR), with league champions Rayon Sports FC based in Nyanza, the southern province of Rwanda. Games are a reliably rowdy, loud, and fun affair.
* Visit a milk bar
Cows are incredibly important to Rwandan culture, and symbolize wealth, prosperity, and identity. Cows are still used today to pay a marriage dowry, or bride price. Milk is, as a result, also very important culturally, and small shops dedicated only to milk (called milk bars) are classically Kigali. Milk bars in the Nyamirambo or Kimisagara neighborhoods of Kigali are often the best, and are designated as such with the phrase ‘Amata Meza’ (meaning fresh milk in Kinyarwanda) and a drawing of a cow on the door.
* Eat big fish in Nyamirambo
Nyamirambo, Kigali’s Muslim quarter, is one of the city’s most vibrant areas for bars, restaurants, and general merriment. Big fish, otherwise known as a large tilapia grilled with onions and spices, is one of Nyamirambo’s specialties. Grab a friend or two (one big fish can feed several people), and head to Green Corner or Ten to Two Panorama for some of the city’s best.
* Pay your respects at the genocide Memorial
Rwanda’s 1994 genocide was an undeniably tragic event, and the Kigali Genocide Memorial does an excellent job of commemorating it. A visit to the memorial is unforgettable, as the attached and informative museum teaches visitors about the events before, during, and after the genocide.