Nairobi is a beautiful, varied city with an impressive culture and many exciting opportunities, but unfortunately, you rarely see most of Nairobi’s fun spots on top of traveler’s lists. Why and how this happens, we have no idea but we do know that Nairobi’s art and culture scene is one you shouldn’t miss.
Today we’re going to show you some of the most interesting places around Nairobi city where you’ll experience the best of Kenyan art, culture, music, & design.
- James Murumbi Gallery
- National Museum of Kenya
- Maasai Market
- Alliance Française de Nairobi
- Goethe-Institut Nairobi
- Sarakasi Dome
- The National Archives
- Karen Village
- Karura Forest
James Murumbi Gallery
The James Murumbi Gallery is a not so big gallery located along Kenyatta Avenue next to Nyayo House. The main attractions in The Nairobi James Murumbi Gallery are mainly sculptures and traditional fabrics from around East Africa. On occasion, there is a temporary exhibition presented with several original paintings by various contemporary Kenyan artists. The entrance fee for non-Kenyans is around USD10. For Kenyan citizens the James Murumbi Gallery can be accessed for only KES 150.
National Museum of Kenya
The Nairobi National Museum of Kenya is a great venue to learn about Kenya’s history, culture, people and wildlife. For a nice bargain, buy a combo ticket for the museum and the snake park which is really interesting location as as well. Unlike other museums, you won’t have a guide to walk you around. Not having a guide frees you up to explore the contents of the museum at your own pace. You can buy good food on site and there is also ample parking space. Make time for the National Museum of Kenya if you’re spending a night or two in Nairobi city. It is certainly one of the most cost-effective and fun activities you could add on your itinerary. The Nairobi National Museum of Kenya is located along Museum Hill Road just after Kipande Road from Globe Cinema Roundabout.
This is a nomadic market where you can purchase art, hand made jewelry, bead ornaments and marble or wooden carvings and other souvenirs. If you don’t enjoy being solicited by traders looking to sell their wares, this activity might not be for you. For those willing to bargain, you will surely get better prices for any souvenir at Maasai Market. Better than any stores at least. The selection of souvenirs is quite wide. An interesting thing about the Maasai Market is that it is nomadic. On certain days you will find the traders situated in shopping malls and on other days you will find them outside Nairobi’s KICC building. On Tuesdays they will be found at the John Michuki Park in Ngara.
I have bought a lot of paintings, jewelry box, masai cloth, bracelets and key chains at Maasai Market. You can bargain well with the traders. You can even buy at half price or less. -Sassen Ukiko
Alliance Française de Nairobi
Alliance Française de Nairobi was Founded in 1949 on what was then called Victoria Street (today, Tom Mboya Street). Alliance is a cultural center best known for its electrifying performances by anglophone and francophone artists from around the world. They support the production and presentation of artistic works across all disciplines. If you’re looking for diversity, inspiration and performances that capture the contradictions of our contemporary society, this venue will meet all your expectations. Great ambience, good security, good sound quality and lighting when there’s a stage performance and captivating performances from the stellar roster of performances they always have lined up. Alliance Française de Nairobi is located along Utalii Lane, Nairobi Kenya.
The Goethe-Institut Nairobi, also known as the German Cultural Centre Kenya is located in Maendeleo House, along Monrovia Street in Nairobi. It is a wonderful environment to learn German with plenty of cultural events to check out throughout the year. The Goethe-Institut, which is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany promotes theatre and creative arts while also promoting the study of German abroad.
This venue is the perfect place to watch amazing theatrical, musical, acrobatic and artistic performances by local and budding Kenyan artists. Located in Nairobi’s Ngara area, Sarakasi is a spacious dome with captivating and creative graffiti art on its outer walls. It is a walking distance from Nairobi’s Central Business District though we’d advice that you use public transport or any of the multiple ride-hailing services available in Nairobi to get to Sarakasi Dome.
The National Archives
The National Archives are housed in one of the oldest buildings in the heart of the Nairobi city center. Inside you will find a sizeable collection of African art, ethnic masks, figurines, household items, and documents from different countries. Explanations are given in English. There are a large number of hotels nearby to sample Nairobi cuisine after your tour at the National Archives.
Located along Ngong Road in Nairobi, Karen Village is an art residency that houses many African artists who also create and exhibit their works there. Live band performances and soothing piped music makes for great entertainment as you watch talented artists create their pieces live. Have conversations on cultural heritage and crafts as you sip on freshly brewed coffee from the restaurants available around you. There’s even a bed and breakfast residence if you want to spend the night.
A peaceful and cozy walk in Karura forest is an artistic experience fitting it’s own slot on our list. There are several waterfalls, many birds and monkeys to keep you company as you make your way through the forest. The trails are good to walk on and there are good markings to ensure safety. After the walk, quench your hunger and thirst at the price friendly River Cafe, where the service is usually polite and fast. The entrance to Karura Forest is located along Limuru Road after 4th Parklands Avenue.
Pawa254 is a non-profit collaborative and creative workspace for artists, activists and journalists. The walls are creatively donned in bright colors and powerful statements that encourage. The rooftop view at Pawa254 provides a great backdrop for music videos and educational events which are constantly held there. Overlooking the Nairobi CBD, it’s a great place for creative talent to come together and share ideas.