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Explore Kampala, Uganda Like A Pro

Posted by Emily Henkel on 6/2/19 3:34 PM

ILP Africa

All the tips you need in one spot. 

With so much to see in this country’s capital, you’ll want the insider scoop to our favorite adventures, plus get a local’s guide to exploring the city’s markets, and tricks to getting around. Good thing we’ve talked to our ILP volunteers living in the suburbs of this capital city for a few months to get you the best guide to Kampala possible.

You’re ready for an adventure in Africa 
Come see what volunteering in Uganda is all about. 


The sprawling and buzzing city of Kampala is just as important to your African adventure as going on a safari: Kampala’s the pulsing center, a huge metropolis that has its share of history and adventure and also happens to be the absolute best jumping off point to get to your favorite spots in Uganda. Our ILP volunteers will be living nearby, so a day trip to Kampala is an adventure you can fit into any weekend:

Kampala’s Can’t Miss Adventures 

The Ndere Culture Center 

An absolutely “can’t miss” evening out is visiting the Ndere Cultura Center for one of their evening dances. The dance troupe performs over 40 authentic Ugandan dances and songs complete with indigenous music. You can pay for a buffet dinner and a seat to a showcase of Uganda’s cultures — vibrant costumes, and insane talent, plus some of the most incredible dancing you’ve seen.   

When: You can visit the cultural center any time, but they have performances on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:00 PM, and a family show on Sundays at 6:00 PM. 

Address: 4505 Kisaasi - Kyanja Rd, Kampala, Uganda

Cost: 80,000 schillings, plus 40,000 if you’d like the buffet (which is delicious, by the way).

Kampala’s Kasubi Palace And Tombs 

A top site in not only the city of Kampala, but the whole country of Uganda — at the UNESCO site of the Kasubi Tombs, you can see where four of the royal family of Uganda are buried and the palace where the Buganda family lived. Not only is it an important religious and political site, it’s also one of the most impressive because these tombs are also home to items like religious drums which have been played for generations. 

Getting here: It’s on Masiro Rd, Kampala, Uganda

Hours + Cost: Monday through Sunday (8:00 AM to 6:00 PM) and is about 30,000 schillings which includes a guide who can tell you more about the traditions of the royal family. 

ILP Uganda

These Rad Markets

The markets in Kampala are unbelievable: a mess of hundreds of vendors selling everything (everything!) from bins of pineapples to tangles of phone chargers, plus stacks of colorfully printed African fabrics and rows of hand-woven baskets and sandals. These markets are amazing and there are a few around the capital city, but ILP volunteers have found a couple they love:

Owino Market 

It’s huge, it’s chaotic, it’s a total experience. This is the massive African market experience you are probably looking for, with separate sections that range from fruits and veggies, bicycles, spices, electronics, bags, clothes and so many other treasures. It’s a total adventure to look for stuff here, especially since there is a knock-off section where you can get the brand names you’re looking for, for a lot less (especially if you’re good at bargaining). 

African Crafts Village 

We'll be honest ... this market is our favorite! ILP volunteers go back multiple times during their semester in Uganda (we won't judge you if you're here every week and the shop owners know you by name). Your spot for all the souvenirs you think of when you think of Africa : carved figures of your favorite safari animals like elephants and giraffes, colorful drums, nativity sets, trinkets like magnets and key chains, and brightly dyed fabrics which make for the cutest and coolest clothes. You’ll want to come here for all of your souvenir shopping.

We have all the details you need about markets in Kampala here (like some bargaining tips and more pictures of a few souvenirs). 

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The Grounds At The Bahá’i House Of Worship

There are Bahá’i courses of worship all over the world, and the only one found in Africa is right in Kampala: the temples are open to anyone of any faith, and are stunning. Inside, you’ll find a huge dome with mosaics from Italy and painted glass from Germany. Outside, the grounds are huge — extensive gardens supporting palm trees and thanks to it’s spot on Kikaaya Hill you can get a killer view of the city. 

See The Best View At The National Mosque

The very center and heart of Kampala is marked by this beautiful mosque. If you think of Kampala as a large circle, the mosque is the bullseye. There are several main roads that lead here and the tall structure can be seen from all over the city, giving you a frame a reference for where you're at.

Unlike some other mosques, visitors are all welcome to step inside to view gorgeous marble archways and detailed windows.  With a guide, you can also climb up around 300 stairs to get to the top of the minaret for a 360 degree view of the busy city. 

We have a more detailed look at visiting the Gadaffi Mosque here. 

ILP Uganda

Some Rocking Museums
Nommo Gallery 

Wander through a gallery filled with Ugandan and foreign artists that give you a colorful glimpse at what life in Kampala (and other cities) looks like. Plus, next door there’s the Pearl Restaurant which serves up local favorite dishes. 

Address: 8 Kintu Road, Nakasero – Kampala, Uganda
Free to enter

The Uganda Museum 

Come peek the tribal masks, instruments, traditional costumes, fossils and other artifacts that make up Uganda’s history — it just happens to be the oldest museum in East Africa (it first opened in 1908). The museum itself is small, but houses some of the country’s most important artifacts.

Cost and Hours: It’s 10,000 to 15,000 schillings for a ticket which includes a guide who will walk you around the museum. However, it’s goes a long way if you tip your guide 1,000 - 2,000 schillings.

A Few Local Tips 

Getting Around 

Kampala’s a big city with lots of ways to get around. Most tourists opt on using a taxi (most places in Kampala can be reached for 15,000 or 20,000 shillings, especially if you bargain) or just call yourself an Uber. There are motorcycle taxis called Boda-Bodas around but are extremely dangerous: crashes are all too common (and not an option for ILP volunteers). 

How You Dress 

Uganda is a culturally conservative country, and you’ll find locals (and respectful tourists) dressed appropriately — ladies, make sure you’re wearing long skirts or flowy pants (no shorts), nothing too tight, and shirts that keep you covered. Most women will be wearing skirts or dresses.

Watch Your Stuff 

Like any capital city, things like petty theft are common: you’ll find pickpockets in every country. Most cities around the world are known to have particular scams and things, and in Kampala you'll find that the common scam is phone theft. Tourists who aren't paying attention may find their phone being grabbed right out of their hand (even if you're sitting seemingly safe in a taxi with your window rolled down). You’ll want to keep your phone out of site as much as possible to be safe, and all your stuff in a purse that you can wear in front of you. 

Our Favorite Nearby Trips 

A Trip To The Equator

When else can you say you stood on the world’s equator? Just outside of Kampala is a spot where you can stand on the equator line, shop at a couple of souvenir stands, and see if you believe the whole “water runs different directions depending on which hemisphere you are in”. Supposedly, water swirls counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Go figure? 

It’s found on Masaka Road, about a couple hours southwest from Kampala, and it’s a common stop if you’re already heading that way to relax at Lake Bunyonyi. 

ILP Adventure

Feed Baby Elephants 

Breakfast with little Charles or Edward? Yes, please! If you’re looking for the chance to get to know some of the animals you’ll be seeing on safari, come to the “Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre”. You can have some one-on-one time with some of your favorite animals like cheetahs, giraffes, the rare Shoebill bird, yes, two cute-as-can be baby elephants.

Found in Entebbe, plan your visit to the Wildlife Conservation Centre here. 

Getting To Kampala 


If you’re flying, you’ll fly into Entebbe, which is the country’s only international airport. It’s about 25 miles away from Kampala, so plan on hiring a taxi or Uber, or arrange a hotel pick up to get you into Kampala. Taxis are usually around $20-$30 USD or you can take a minibus (ask around to where they pick you up outside of the terminal) for less, about 3,000 shillings.

By Bus Or Car 

When it comes to getting around Uganda, you’ll need to understand a bit about how to get around: that taxi system in Kampala is pretty complicated (they are basically 16 passenger vans that can fit up to 30 people sometimes. You’ll need to get help calling these taxis (ILP Volunteers, your coordinator can help you with this!), or they can help you call a private car which are quicker but more expensive. 

Be aware that taxis into or around Kampala can take 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic from Lugala, where our ILP volunteers are living.

We have more information on buses and traveling in Uganda here: that post is full of info like which companies to book through and general routes and prices, as well as break down of all the types of buses and taxis that can get you to and from Kampala. 

A Note On Traffic 

Kampala is infamous for gridlock traffic where you may not move for thirty minutes … it’s all part of the experience. Just know that getting to Kampala and around the city means it will definitely take longer than it should. As an example, the drive from Entebbe to Kampala should take less than an hour, but with traffic, it can take up to the three. 

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 Come to Africa with ILP! 

Spend a semester living just outside of Kampala, Uganda and have a whole semester of adventures while you're teaching English and exploring on the weekends. Volunteers also get vacation time to go on safari or adventure in other countries — come get your questions answered here! 

Discover Uganda


Topics: Africa

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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