Eco-friendly travel guide to Kampala advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Kampala, Uganda.
- Air quality: 3 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 3/ 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 2.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 3.5 / 5
- Parks: 4 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 4 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $150
- Budget per day: US$50 - $200
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda, and it is described as the best city to stay in East Africa. We see people visiting this place for different reasons, including business, volunteering, and leisure.
The people of Kampala are always happy to receive visitors. However, it would help if you know bits of the local language as it would help you relate with them better.
As a responsible traveller, you should know that Kampala has a history of political violence, so be careful how you dress while there. Ensure that you establish a relationship with the locals so that you would know the clothing colours to avoid.
It is wise to always be on good terms with the people of the city as they would help you out with many things, including directions from one place to the other as many of the streets are not named.
Air Quality and Pollution
There are many things you can boast about in Kampala, but the air quality is not amongst such. The roads in the city are not perfect, and they contribute to steady traffic, which people dread a lot.
In Kampala, there is usually traffic during rush hours which are in the mornings and evenings. It gives rise to air pollution from the fumes of vehicles.
Since the roads are not suitable as many of them are not tarred, there is also always dust flying around.
As a foreigner, you should have a nose mask or any head covering protection while walking around the city. The air quality is moderate, but it is best to be safe than to be sorry.
Respect the Culture
It is customary to return greetings with a handshake in Kampala. This is not limited to any gender, and the people consider it polite to shake hands while greeting. If you are not used to this, you should take note when you are in the city.
The locals of Kampala are friendly people, but you should never take their niceness for granted. They have a positive mindset about foreigners and will always hold tourist in high esteem. However, if you make the mistake of talking down on their culture, their respect for you will drop.
It is also right for you to avoid any political talk when you are in the city so that you would not step on toes. They believe in modesty while dressing, which is something foreigners should keep in mind.
Top 10 Places to Visit
It is common knowledge that foreigner love to explore and do sightseeing when in a new city. Here are the top attractions in Kampala:
- Kasubi Royal Tombs: It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and stands spectacular because of its buildings. As the name implies, it is the burial site of members of the royal family in Uganda.
- Kabaka's Palace: Although this place is a palace, it is open to the public for tours. There are a lot of historical facts about the royal family and city you can get from this place.
- Ndere Centre: You should know that the people of Kampala hold to their culture and always make the best out of it. One of the best forms of entertainment you will get in the city is the folk dance, and people gather at this place to watch others perform it.
- Casino Simba: If you are into gambling, here is a spot for you to visit in Kampala. You will be glad to visit as you will get the opportunity to connect with many people.
- Fort Lugard: There is a historic story surrounding this fortress in the city, and the tour guides will be glad to share it with you when you visit it.
Kampala is a promising city that has places for foreigners to explore, although it does not seem like it. People who do not know much about this city would not have high expectations when visiting. However, they are in for a different story when they arrive.
As a foreigner, exploring places of interest should be one of your foremost goals when in a new city as it helps to broaden your mind and perspective. You will learn things you did not know before and correct the wrong perceptions you had.
In Kampala, there are museums, beaches, and much more open for visitation by foreigners. Since the locals are friendly, you have nothing to worry about as they will make your stay comfortable. Your job is to explore by visiting these places.
How do you relax your mind or take a break from the stressful activities of the day? Many people do this by taking walks in the parks or having a picnic as the environment is usually conducive.
If you wish to do any of those, here are the city parks in Kampala:
- City Square Kampala: It is at the heart of the city, so we can say that the location is strategic and it is easy to find. The environment is beautiful as there is nature surrounding it, and you would see people of all age range finding solace at this place. It is a fantastic place to relax.
- Sheraton Gardens: It is one of the most conducive outdoor areas in the city, and the number of weddings done here will validate this claim. The place is airy, and it always puts a smile on people’s faces. There is also security at the gate for safety purposes.
Some of the national parks in Kampala are:
- Wonder World Amusement Park: You cannot deny that it is always exciting to visit an amusement park, and you will get great joy from it. There are many facilities at this park that ensure there is always unlimited fun, and everyone can enjoy their there, both children and adults. It is one place you must visit in Kampala.
- Peace Park: As the name implies, the peacefulness and serenity of this place can almost not be compared to any other. It stands out as a unique place for relaxation as anyone can find a quiet corner to relax. It has lush vegetation and beautiful surrounding nature that make the ambience perfect at all time, which is quite commendable for a national park.
We cannot talk about exploration without mentioning the beaches in the city. After all, people love when they can enjoy the calmness and serenity that comes with the feel of water.
Some Kampala beaches are:
- Nature's Green Beach Resort: It is a public beach in an enthralling environment. Many people love to visit it for a weekend getaway, and they never lack words to appreciate the wonderful nature and excellent services of the management. No one regrets visiting this beach.
- One Love Beach: You are going to fall in love with this place when you are there. The calmness is almost not compared to anyone, and the greenness is always outstanding. It is one of the famous beaches in the city, and top recommended by the locals.
It is not out of place for people to request a landmark when they are in a new city. Landmarks help to know your way around, and no foreigner wants to lose their way as it would dampen their mood.
In Kampala, you should ask a local for directions as the streets are not named, and the landmarks are not much. A typical landmark should be a tall building that you can sight from a distance, but the city does not have much of them.
One of the most noticeable landmarks in Kampala is the Independence Monument. Almost everyone in the city knows of this statue and its location, and it helps you navigate your way around places. Do not be shy to ask for direction if you need it.
It is proper for anyone to visit a museum when in a new city. We know that there is always the curious need in the heart of every foreigner to learn more about their holiday location, and what better way can you get the needed information than by going to the source?
Here are the museums in Kampala:
- Uganda Museum: If you want to know the full history of Uganda, this is the right place to visit. It has journals and displays that would fill any visitor with knowledge. However, you can still go a step further to corroborate the stories from the locals.
- Ssemagulu Museum: It is a royal museum open to the public, which also gives information about the history of the city and its people.
If you have not tasted any of the local meals in a new city, you should not think about leaving or ending your holiday as it is one of those things you can use to brag to others when you leave. After all, it shows that there is a difference between you and those who have never been to this city.
Kampala provides many bragging in terms of its traditional meals, and you should try them out. Ugali, a maize porridge delicacy is one meal that gets people talking in this city and has foreigners licking their fingers for more.
The local groundnut sauce is also a top-seller, and we recommend that you taste it and have your reviews. Have you ever tried chicken with peanut butter paste? It is called Chickennat in Uganda, and it is something you must taste.
Traditional Local Restaurants
If the Kampala traditional local meal options are things you would love to taste, we are happy to direct you to some restaurant that would be helpful.
Below are some traditional local restaurants in Kampala that always has tasty local meals that would leave you wanting for more.
- The Lakes Restaurant: Many people would say that this is a full package restaurant, as it is inside a hotel, solving lodging issues. They treat all their customers like royalty, and their meals are always top-notch. Some people lose track of time at this place due to the numerous options they offer.
- St. Anthony's Restaurant: This restaurant has a reputation for its specialty in Ugandan meals, and you will notice that it is amongst the local’s favourite. Do not be surprised if you make this place your constant eatery due to the delicious food options.
Vegetarian and Vegan
Are you a vegan with worries about food when travelling to Kampala? Do you feel that being a vegetarian would restrict you from enjoying the local meals of the city? Worry no more, as there are many vegan restaurants in Kampala ready to serve you meals with your preference.
These places are:
- Cafe Javas: The appealing nature of this place is enough to drive traffic to it every time. They have regular meal options and also for vegans so that everyone gets satisfied. If you eat at this place, you will appreciate both the food and decorations.
- Piato Restaurant: Everything at this place is always made to perfection, and stays delicious. It is one for the best restaurants for vegans to visit in the city, and you will not regret visiting it.
If you hear Rolex in Kampala, do not go around expecting to see a wristwatch. Many foreigners think it is odd to hear people say that they want to eat a Rolex when in the city. The misunderstanding is understandable as Rolex is a famous wristwatch brand.
However, Rolex is a street food in Kampala, and it is something you must try before leaving the city. Street foods are those you can get by the roadside or from kiosks and shops. One of the reasons why people are usually hyped about Rolex is because it is delicious. Yes, his is not the typical reaction someone might have in mind when they think about street food. As an addition, it is also cheap.
We know that your curious minds are longing to know more about Rolex. It is a combination of chapatti with fried eggs, tomatoes & cabbage.
Your taste buds will thank you after you take it.
Almost everyone takes drinks in one way or the other, so we cannot complete talking about life in Kampala without mentioning the drinks available there, especially as we have talked about food.
Typically, drinks are into two categories; alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Thus, we would cover both so that you would choose your preference.
If we are to choose any specific famous drink in the city, we would say the beer as they have it in different variants. However, there are also other options to enjoy.
Those who do not vibe with alcohol can take Chai, which most people know as tea. The ingredients are always available for you to make it to your taste.
We know that many people have never tasted banana beer, and it is available in Kampala. It goes through different processes before the output, and you will thoroughly enjoy it.
Water falls under the classification of drinks, and you need to know what to expect from the tap water in Kampala. We cannot give a specific rating to the state of tap water in the city, but foreigners should know that not all tap water in Kampala are drinkable. There are different areas in the city, and some of them have clean potable water, while others do not.
The government of the country is working tirelessly to ensure that clean water is available in all parts of the city, but we do not know when this would occur.
If you travel to Kampala, it is best to buy bottled water as that is the assurance of clean water you can get in the city. Do not drink the tap water, except you feel like having some health complications.
Some foreigners prefer patronizing organic cafes, and you will hear them say that they would not eat anything except it is organic. Kampala is a city that has varieties when it concern food options, so there are many organic cafes there.
You can step into any of these:
- Ref. Café: Many people see this place as where they can enjoy breakfast meals as their options are usually lightweight. It is not that you cannot take them at other times in the day, as it is your choice and preference. However, their options are always healthy and enjoyable.
- Linove Restaurant: Some people say that they patronize this place because of its warmth and how there is no difference between the taste of their food and that of home. It is one of the best commended organic cafes in the city.
Many alcohol lovers would be glad to get more information about this option because it concerns the drink they love best.
At a brewery or distillery, you have the assurance that whatever drink you get is of the best quality, which is why people always want to know the breweries and distilleries in any city. It is almost like saying they want to know the root of the drink.
There is only one of this category in Kampala, and it is the Parambot Breweries. It produced the Moonberg and supplies to different stores across the city. The Moonberg is one alcoholic drink you must taste while in Kampala, and the best part is that it is sugar free.
This brewery awaits you when in Kampala, visit it and you will not have any regrets.
If you are a part of those who always whine and complain about being bored in a new city, it is because you have not gone out to mingle with the locals so that you can join in the activities they do.
Understandable, it is a new environment, and you need to learn the terrains and how they operate. However, this should not take much time so that you will not dull yourself while there.
Fishing and Kayaking are activities that the local people of Kampala engage in, and it is always exciting. It may be that you have never done any of these before in your home location. Thus, you have the opportunity to learn how it operates. You should ensure not to pass up this opportunity.
Yoga and Retreats
One of the simplest ways of keeping fit is by practicing yoga, but it is a sport that many people underrate. Some people feel that it is limited to only females, but we are here to tell you that both men and women can be yogis. If you have an interest in yoga, you can practice it in Kampala and add it to your daily routine. If you are already a yogi, you can continue your practice.
Here are some yoga studios in the city:
- Ultimate Fitness Kampala: It is a gym in the city with a goal to ensure that people stay fit, and one of the activities they ensure that people engage in is yoga. If you are serious with it, you will become fit and a pro by the time you are done.
- Soul Fitness Limited: The vibrant nature of this place is what attracts people as they ensure to make all experiences exciting. You will have fun while doing it and can connect with incredible people.
No one ever wants to feel stranded in a new place, so it is best to make adequate preparation on where you would stay or lodge before you visit any place. It could be that you want to make bookings ahead, or want to know the different options and their prices. It is right to be curious about the costs to understand how you will plan your travel budget as you cannot choose an accommodation facility that would drain the money you intend to carry.
Some people have expectations in mind that they want to see in a lodging facility, and it influences their choice. Thus, you need to check the options available in the city and the facilities they have to know if it fits what you have in mind.
It is always better to do this before you arrive in the city as it helps you reduce stress and avoid disappointments. Proper and early planning usually comes in handy.
If you will love to lodge in a green hotel while in Kampala, here are some of the available options:
- Green Valley Hotel: The services at this place are always excellent as they want a situation where customers would have good reviews about them, give recommendation and would like to come back. It provides food for its lodgers at a cost, and most of the foods are usually traditional, allowing you to enjoy local cuisines of Kampala.
- Protea Hotel: We can say that the location of this hotel is strategic as it is easy to access from the airport. It offers free breakfast to its customers and there is a swimming pool for relaxation. The atmosphere is conducive, and everyone loves it when they lodge here.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Some people may prefer to stay in a hostel or guest house, and here are some of the available options in Kampala:
- Bushpig Backpackers Hostel: The name of this place may be your definition of weird, but that should not discourage you from lodging here as it is the name that attracts people. It provides free Wi-Fi to its customers, and is also accessible to the airport. The security is also top-notch, and the staff are always smiling and friendly. It is one of the best in the city.
- Manhattan Guest House: The price of this guest house is perfect for those on a budget, but that does not hinder it from providing adequate facilities that ensure comfort. The atmosphere is airy, and conducive and you would enjoy your time there.
If your choice for an ideal accommodation facility to lodge while in a new city is in an apartment, there are options for you. Some are:
- Pinegrove Apartments Ntinda: The quietness of this place is what attracts people as it assures that you can have a peaceful time while there. The apartment is already furnished, so there is nothing you desire that you would not see or get. It is a beautiful place with a warm aura and is perfect for lodging at any time.
- Speke Apartments: People relax better in a place when they get a friendly and comfortable aura, and this is what you would get at this apartment. It is always clean and has an excellent ambience. It should be on your list of possible apartments to lodge when you visit Kampala.
Some people wish to spend the least amount of money when in a new city and feel that accommodation would drain their pockets. Thus, they wish that any of the local family can accept them into their homes. The ideology behind that wish is called Couchsurfing.
This term is becoming popular daily in many countries and cities, so there are websites in each city that allows you to check for different hosts and gets you paired with one. With this, you do not have to worry about spending money on accommodation.
While Couchsurfing, you must be respectful to the locals as they would not hesitate to throw you out of their homes if you say something wrong about their culture.
If you have ever done Couchsurfing before, this concept is not new, and you should not hesitate to do it to save your funds.
Camping can be a form of accommodation, especially if you are in the city for the weekend or a few days. After all, not all camping grounds require pitching a tent as some have proper accommodation facilities for campers.
The people who enjoy camping the most are those who are adventurous and can appreciate nature. We can best describe them as lovers of the outdoor.
There are many campsites in Kampala, and we know that some people may be wondering why there are campsites as people think that someone can camp anywhere as long as it does not hinder any activity.
A camping ground is essential as it has marked paths that help you know where to avoid and the safes spaces. You can also connect with a great person during camping.
How to Get There
If you are seek a way to reach Kampala from your location, the most sustainable means is through an airplane, as it is the only international means to the city.
The international airport in Uganda is at Entebbe, and people take another means of transportation from there to Kampala. Using a flight is the only international means of reaching Uganda, except if you stay in any East African city. Some people may be wondering why a flight is a sustainable means of traveling. By sustainable, we mean that there is less litter, and we can see because people cannot throw things out of an airplane. However, if you use a bus or train, this can happen.
So if you want to be eco-friendly, fly to Uganda.
As earlier mentioned, you can get a flight from your location to the Entebbe International Airport in Uganda and connect Kampala as there are movement connections to Kampala city.
However, there are some guidelines you need to follow before entering Uganda, and one of them is that you must have a valid yellow fever certificate.
Typically, it would be attached to your visa, and you may need to submit it for verification at the point of entry. Different countries have different guidelines surrounding things foreigners must do before gaining access to the country.
Also, Uganda requires that every foreigner must have a visa that is up to six months valid. If all these are in place, you can easily get into Uganda by air and navigate Kampala.
Many airlines are operating at the Entebbe International Airport, and it is left to you to pick one near your location.
If you are visiting Kampala from outside any East African city, it is impossible to get a bus as these buses do not ply international routes. Besides, it is almost unheard of that a foreigner would want to use a bus and reach this city ass you may spend days that would turn to weeks on the road, and nobody wants that stress.
The best way to reach Kampala with a bus is if you enter from Kenya or any other country within that region. If you are in Uganda already, you can get a bus from your present city to Kampala.
If you are not in any of those locations, you cannot use a bus to Kampala. So, start making preparations to get a flight.
The same way you cannot get a bus from international countries and cities to Kampala is how it works with a train.
Besides, if you would use long hours or days on the road with a bus, you know that it would be weeks or sometimes months if you decide to use a train as it is slower. However, this is not possible, so you should not think of using a train to Kampala.
However, you can get a train from the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. Some people who are bent on using a train down to Kampala for the thrill and experience would fly to Nairobi and get on a train to Kampala.
It is a long process when compared to getting a flight from your location down there.
We want to assume that you are curious to know how hitchhiking rides from Entebbe airport to Kampala works since you cannot use road transportation from international locations down to the city.
Typically, hitchhiking is common in Uganda, and there are possibilities of hitchhiking with a driver. However, it is not always possible as some people do not like to stop on the road to pick people while traveling. It is for different reasons, and one is safety, as they do not want to be in a compromising position.
Also, some drivers would not want to carry you for free and would like you to pay a fee, although it is lesser than what you would usually pay to get a ride down to Kampala.
As we have repeatedly stated above, the best way to reach Kampala is by flying. There are no other means of transportation except the one we have highlighted, and any other means of transportation except flying is usually tedious.
As a foreigner, you will be glad to have a stress-free journey to your holiday destination, and the best way to do it if it is Kampala you are visiting is to fly.
It is one thing to get to a city, but it is another thing to know your way around. We earlier talked about how foreigners love to know landmarks when they are in a new place to aid in navigation. However, it goes beyond that as you also need to know the available means of transportation.
Kampala has ways that people get around, and we would help you highlight them as it would help you have a smooth stay in the city. We do not expect you to stay in one place, as we know that foreigners love to cover many areas of a place before leaving.
After knowing the various means of transportation, the next thing is to check which you would prefer to use.
It is typical for us to start with the most common means of moving around in any city, which is by walking. People say that even if there are no vehicles in any city, you have a natural means which is your leg.
We see people who love to walk around leisurely, and they say that it helps them absorb the wonderful nature around, and it is enjoyable. Thus, they wish to know if it is safe to walk around in their destination city.
Kampala has a reputation for being the safest city in East Africa, so we can say that it is safe to walk around, and there is a lot to see. However, take note of your surroundings to trace your way back as the streets are not named. It is also wise to have a covering over your nose to protect you from dust.
The most common means of transportation in Kampala except walking, is by using the Boda-boda. It is a motorbike, but we cannot say that it is always safe to use it. However, it is fast and helps you navigate traffic.
Many people do not like being stuck in traffic, which would happen if you do not use a boda-boda. However, the boda-boda does not have their lanes, so they navigate through cars, and it can be scary for those who are not used to it. As it speeds on the road, especially the ones that are not tarred, dust begins to fly, and it can affect you. The best practice is to wear a helmet for protection while you are on it.
Some people may also want to rent a bicycle from the stores while in Kampala. It would help if you also remember to get a helmet while at it.
You can see a scooter in Kampala, and you can get one if you desire. However, the prices vary, so we cannot give a specific amount for you to budget. But, an electric scooter would help you move from one point to the other.
Using a scooter in Kampala is almost similar to using a boda-boda, but this time you are the one operating it. We would not advise any foreigner to go for this option in Kampala, mostly because you do not understand the driving pattern in the city.
Kampala has a different driving style, and the traffic does not help matters. Thus, it is better for a local to ride around than for a foreigner to operate any electronic vehicle. You should stick with other means of moving around.
There are many public buses in Kampala, and they are usually long. The idea is to accommodate as much persons as possible as people are usually much that are trying to hurry from one point to the other. It is not surprising that there is traffic in the city as the roads are not too good, so drivers cannot be on top speed. You can also see some people use their private cars for public transportation sometimes, to get money.
Tram, Train and Subway
There is a railway station in Kampala, so you can use a train to move around the city. You can also use it to other cities in Uganda or to a neighboring country like Kenya on the plus side.
Some people will prefer to use a train over a public bus to avoid traffic on the road. However, keep in mind that trains go slower than regular vehicles.
If you decide to use the train, it is always there for you.
Sustainable shopping is a means of patronizing the local services in the city, and you can get this in Kampala as the people are usually hyper about their craft.
The locals of Kampala are good with using bamboo to make different things, so you can patronize their services as it would make you a responsible and eco-friendly traveler.
There are many of their craft that would get your interest, so you should not sleep on any of it.
The food markets in Kampala are:
- Nakivubo Market: It is a busy market in the city, which makes is congested most times. However, it has an array of products, and you can get anything you desire. If you rent a car for movement within the city, you should not use it down there because of traffic.
- Kitintale Central Market: This market is a hub for all local food ingredients you desire, so make wise use of the opportunity.
Here are the flea markets in Kampala:
- Bugoloobi Local Market: There are many food items at this place, especially vegetables. You can also get other things you desire, and there is security in place to ensure that nothing goes wrong. It is a nice place to visit. It is also at a strategic location in the city.
- Owino Market: There is a wide range of available products at this market, awaiting your purchase. The ball is in your court to make a decision.
Second Hand Stores
Some of the second-hand stores in Kampala are:
- Madrijo Business Solutions Furniture and Electronics: As the name implies, you should know that this is a perfect location to get furniture and electronics at a cheaper rate. Although some may not be brand new, it is always in a perfect state, and you would enjoy the usage.
- Think Twice Second-Hand Clothes: We can say that you do not have to think twice before purchasing fashion items from this store as they always deliver quality.
It is common knowledge that the people of Kampala are smart and innovative when it comes to craft, and it extends to the making of clothes. Since these people know how to use bamboo to do different things, they now include it in fashion, and it is a great trend.
If you do not know, this concept is called eco-fashion, and people are gradually buying into it as it is an excellent way of protecting the environment. You should patronize the services when in the city.
Some bodies and agencies in Kampala concern themselves with recycling and urge people to always submit their plastic bottles.
These people go around the city searching little for reusable items like plastic bottles and use them to make other things.
It is an incredible innovation that supports being eco-friendly and you can help out by submitting your bottles, especially those from bottled water, to them while in Kampala. Although not everyone in the city does this, it will happen over time.
The official body in charge of waste management in Kampala is the Kampala Capital City Authority.
They are concerned with waste collection, and usually contract companies to manage solid waste. Thus, we can say that they work in hand with the bodies that key into recycling.
This body puts laws and regulations in place to ensure that littering is minimized in the city. We cannot say that Kampala is the cleanest city in Africa, but they have an effective waste management system.
Work and Study Abroad
When you go to Kampala to study, you should check around for job opportunities. There is no assurance that any company will hire a student, but there is nothing wrong with trying your luck, and the government does not have any laws against it.
There are also no set hours in place for this, so you should know how to balance work and school life if you get a job. Always ensure that no job interferes with your studies, as it is why you are in the city.
As an exchange student in Kampala, you must do things to ensure that you associate with the locals, as that is what would have you have a smooth stay. When you are friends with the locals, you will get tips on understanding the school better.
You might also want to try out many local delicacies as it is best for you to take advantage of your stay while there. If you experience difficulty making friends, you can try joining clubs and associations as they usually come in handy.
The Au Pair idea is to help people find jobs in the city. Some of the jobs are usually nannies, as the idea is to attach the person to a host.
There is a website in the city where people can check for available au pair options and get attached to a host. If you like any of them, go for it as it would help you have an extra means of income.
Volunteers are always welcome in Kampala, especially as it is a developing city. Always ensure to make an impact in the city.