|Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. The city proper has a population of 3,846,000 and is divided into the five political divisions of Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division.Kampala’s metropolitan area consists of the city proper and the neighboring Wakiso District, Mukono District, Mpigi District, Buikwe District and Luweero District.
In 2015, this metropolitan area generated an estimated nominal GDP of $13.80221 billion (constant US dollars of 2011), which was more than half of Uganda’s GDP for that year, indicating the importance of Kampala to Uganda’s economy.
Kampala is reported to be among the fastest-growing cities in Africa, with an annual population growth rate of 4.03 percent, by City Mayors. Mercer (a New York–based consulting firm) has regularly ranked Kampala as East Africa’s best city to live in, ahead of Nairobi and Kigali.
A facet of Kampala’s weather is that it features two annual wetter seasons. While the city does not have a true dry season month, it experiences heavier precipitation from August to December and from February to June. However, it is between February and June that Kampala sees substantially heavier rainfall per month, with April typically seeing the heaviest amount of precipitation at an average of around 169 millimeters (6.7 in) of rain.
1. National Museum
One of the oldest museums in East Africa, the Uganda National Museum provides an extensive look into the country’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.
2. Baha’i Temple
The Baha’i Mother Temple of Africa was the first and only Baha’i house of worship on the African continent until early 2021. Sitting on top of Kikaaya Hill in Kampala, this religious site offers a quiet retreat from the chaos of the city. Spend an afternoon learning about the Baha’i faith, have a picnic on the lawn, or sit in on a service during your visit.
3. Gaddafi Mosque
A gift from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the Gaddafi Mosque is a treat for both Muslims and non-Muslims. The tour guides can give you an in-depth history of the mosque itself and Kampala. Make sure to climb the 272 stair skyscraper for breathtaking 360° views of Kampala.
4. Mengo Palace
Also known as Lubiri and Kabaka’s Palace, Mengo Palace is the historic residence of the Buganda King (Kabaka). While you can not go inside the palace, you can view the lush grounds and get a history lesson on the Buganda Kingdom. You can also view the tunnels that Idi Amin used to incarcerate and torture political prisoners.
While on the Royal Mile stretch, you can also check out two of the world’s oldest tortoises living in Uganda.
5. Kasubi Tombs
The Kasubi Tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Made of traditional organic materials, the expansive hut is a former royal burial ground for four Buganda kings (Kabakas) and members of the royal family.
The tombs are an impressive example of traditional architecture and offer another opportunity to learn about the Buganda Kingdom.
6. Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine
The Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine Namugongo is one of the largest Christian pilgrimage destinations in Africa. It is dedicated to the 22 Martyrs who were killed on the orders of the former Kabaka Mwanga II between 1885 and 1887.
On June 3 Uganda celebrates Martyrs’ Day. The national public holiday commemorates the 22 Catholic and 23 Anglican martyrs killed during that period. If you are in Kampala around this time you are likely to see thousands of people making the pilgrimage to the site.
7. Ndere Cultural Centre
Without a doubt, Ndere Cultural Centre hosts the best dance troupe in Uganda! The dance troupe showcases cultural dances and music from tribes across the country.
In addition to the music and dancing, the show sprinkles in some comedy and provides a delicious dinner buffet and barbeque for attendees. We highly encourage making a reservation if you plan to attend the show.
8. Uganda National Cultural Centre
The Uganda National Cultural Centre in Kampala houses the National Theatre and the Nommo Gallery. The Centre provides a space for performances, including a stage and cinema, as well as a gallery that exhibits local and foreign artists. Local crafts are also sold at the Centre in Craft Village.
This is a one-stop spot for shopping and entertainment.
9. Art Galleries
A visit to one of the many art galleries in Kampala is a great way to see the beauty and soul of Uganda as depicted by the talented artists here. We recommend Nommo Gallery located at the Uganda National Cultural Centre, Asante Art Gallery, AKA Gallery, Umoja Art Gallery, and Afriart Gallery.
10. Craft Markets
Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, home goods, or a new addition to your wardrobe, you will likely find it at one of the craft markets in Kampala. A visit to one of the local craft markets is also a fun way to try your hand at bargaining.
Craft Village is located behind the National Theatre at Uganda National Cultural Centre, and Exposure Africa is on Buganda Road. There is also a weekly Friday craft market on Old Kampala Road behind the Gaddafi Mosque near Fort Lugard that has items from Uganda as well as neighboring countries in East Africa
11. Craft Making
If you want to try your hand at making crafts yourself, there are a number of local artisans in Kampala who can guide you. Umbilini offers a variety of classes and workshops, including Paint and Sip. Phionah of Fifi’s Crafts can also help you make a one-of-a-kind woven basket. Stop by Taloso Workshop for a jewelry-making workshop with locally made and imported beads.
12. Festivals and Events
There is always something to do in Kampala. Festivals and expos are often bringing people together to showcase different business, agriculture, innovation, tourism, and fashion ventures in Uganda.
If you’re traveling to Kampala in August, Kampala Restaurant Week is an awesome way to eat your way through the city.
The National Theatre at the Uganda National Cultural Centre also hosts a number of performing arts events and workshops from film and poetry to music and dancing.
13. Social Innovations Museum
Uganda is a hotspot for entrepreneurs. At Social Innovations Academy they have created a space for marginalized youth to explore and find creative solutions to the education, employment, and other social problems facing them.
If you want a change of Kampala scenery and a chance to engage with the young social entrepreneurs and see their projects, we recommend checking out the Social Innovations Museum.
14. Griffin Falls Camp
While it’s not technically in Kampala, a trip to Griffin Falls Camp in Mabira Forest is a worthy city escape. At Griffin Falls camp you can zipline your way through the forest, take a leisurely stroll, or an adventurous hike. Keep an eye out for birds, butterflies, and Mangabey monkeys as you make your way to beautiful Griffin Falls. The Camp also offers archery, environmental education, and team-building activities.
If one afternoon isn’t enough at Griffin Falls Camp, you can arrange a stay in their bandas or go camping.
15. Extreme Adventure Park
Again, not technically in Kampala, but Extreme Adventure Park is a must-visit if you are looking for a high-energy day with friends and family. Extreme Adventure Park offers activities like ziplining, paintball, quad bikes, and low and high ropes courses. There is also a bungee trampoline, swimming pool, and an opportunity for team-building activities.
If you can’t fit all of the fun into one day, accommodation and camping are available at Extreme Adventure Park.
16. Kapeeka Shooting Range
It is often a shock to see security guards with AK-47s at many business entrances when traveling to Uganda for the first time. If you’d like to try your hand at shooting one yourself we recommend visiting Kapeeka Shooting Range, also called the China Uganda Exchange Club Shooting Range.
You can extend your time at the Club by also taking advantage of their quad bikes and horseback riding activities.
17. Latin Dancing
Latin dancing is probably not the first thing you think of when you hear Uganda, but Kampala has a thriving Latin dance scene. Beyond Latin Vibes is a professional dance studio in Kampala that teaches Afro-Latin dance classes. They also host a number of Afro-Latin events around Kampala.
If you don’t have a dance partner or have no experience, no worries! The Beyond Latin Vibes team will have you paired up and dancing with confidence by the end of the night.
Watching football, or soccer for some of the Western travelers is a great way to socialize in Kampala. Check out the Uganda Cranes or a local football club at Namboole/Nelson Mandela National Stadium, St. Mary’s Stadium, Lugogo Stadium Complex, or the MTN Omondi Stadium.
Want to cheer on a football or rugby team with a local?
22. Chocolate Tour
Have you ever wondered how chocolate was made? If you’re looking for a unique and fun activity, make your way to Moonbean Chocolate in Kampala.
While most of their cocoa trees are located in Western Uganda, you can see some trees at their workshop and get an in-depth look at the chocolate-making process from bean to bar. You can even make a chocolate bar yourself and browse for other chocolate and Ugandan-made products in their shop.
23. Local Cooking
We feel that sharing food is one of the best ways to learn about a culture and get to know people. If you’re in Kampala and want to experience shopping at the market and preparing a local meal, then check out Immersion Uganda. You can try your hand at making matooke, mingling posho, or frying fresh-caught Tilapia.