Looking to compile a list on the best places to visit in Nairobi on a honeymoon in Kenya?
Our comprehensive guide will help you plan the perfect romantic getaway. Start your East African holiday by enjoying our favourite places to visit in Nairobi, then finish the trip with a few days at a luxurious safari lodge.
Kenya is a magical land of adventure for both the seasoned traveller and newbie alike. For romantic couples on a honeymoon in Kenya, it might be tempting to dash off on safari shortly after landing. However, there are plenty of places to visit in vibrant Nairobi. From traditional restaurants to Maasai markets and, of course, a feeding a giraffe or two, here’s our guide on what to do in Nairobi—plus what to expect while on safari.
Best Places to Visit in Nairobi on a Honeymoon in Kenya
On the drive into Nairobi, you start to quickly get a sense of the size of the Kenyan capital. Spread over miles and miles, the city frequently dips into nature, with mammoth areas of greenery reminding everyone of the reason why they’re here. A national park here, another one there; it’s clear that life in Nairobi and Kenya itself is tightly interwoven with the animal kingdom.
After the 1998 United States Embassy bombings in both Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, East Africa was seen as a dangerous place and one that only hardened travellers or journalists would visit. Fortunately, this is no longer the case, although there is still a sense of caution that pervades the Kenyan capital. Tourists are treated with great care and for those content to stick to the top attractions, as one would do in any major city, there’s really little to be concerned with. While Kenya is still quite a destination—involving, for North Americans, an initial trip to Europe before heading south to Africa—the trek is more than worth it. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience.
But rather than head directly to the wilderness with safari garb in hand—whether you’re on a honeymoon in Kenya or friends and family keen to witness our world’s ever-more-fragile nature—Nairobi deserves to be explored. Here’s our guide on what to do in Nairobi if you have a hot minute: where to stay, what to do, and what to eat.
How to Visit the Best Places in Nairobi on a Honeymoon in Kenya
The traffic in Nairobi is like nothing else. The phrase “at a standstill” takes on new meaning, as the lines of cars with blacked-out windows actually remain immobile as the minutes click by. For the sensible traveller with a bit of money to spare, the easiest and most pain-free way around Nairobi is to hire a driver for the day. Not only can you plan your day with ease, but you will be able to set your own pace and avoid trying to figure out transportation to the next stop on the day’s itinerary.
Hotel Fairmont The Norfolk offers a number of packages, allowing travellers to pick and choose whatever is of most interest, be it semi-wild wildlife, or something that speaks to the Karen Blixen lover. This being said, you could rely on Ubers around town, however the speed of arrival will depend entirely on the amount of traffic the driver is facing.
Check out our list of Nairobi tours, perfect options if you’re keen to sit back and relax on your honeymoon in Kenya:
- David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center Full-Day Tour from Nairobi: this 8 hour tour allows guests to visit elephants, giraffes and the Kazuri beads women factory.
- Nairobi Nightlife and Safari Park Hotel Dinner Experience: enjoy Nairobi’s premiere dinner and culture show at the Safari Park Hotel. Watch acrobatic performances and listen to live music from local Swahili acts while digging into a traditional Kenyan dinner.
- Nairobi Cultural and City Tour: this 8 hour adventure features a guided tour of downtown Nairobi and a trip to nearby Bomas.
- Private Day Trip to Kiambethu Tea Farm in Limuru from Nairobi: this 6 hour tour is perfect for tea lovers. Visit the Kiambethu Tea Farm to enjoy a 3-course lunch, and an expert-led tea tasting.
Romantic Places to Visit in Nairobi on a Honeymoon in Kenya
Whether you’re on a honeymoon in Kenya, faux-honeymooning with a friend, or treating your true love—yourself!—to an unforgettable vacation, here’s what to do in Nairobi pre-safari. From canoodling with giraffes, watching baby elephants frolic, to sipping cocktails at a hotel soaked in history, there are plenty of romantic places to visit in Nairobi.
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Harry Thuku Rd, 254-20-2265555
Located in a relatively central region of Nairobi, The Norfolk is a storied property. Established in 1904, the history of the hotel is actually wound up in the tale of the city itself. At this point in time, Kenya was a British colony and the hotel became a place where folks trying to make it in the blossoming city rested their bones. Even if you stay elsewhere, The Norfolk is one of the top places to visit in Nairobi.
Entering through the gates, and passing through security, it’s evident that safety is a primary concern here. Once inside, it’s clear that not only is this a hotel, but it’s also a place where the who’s who of Kenyan society come to see, be seen, and conduct business. The lobby unfolds into a sunken seating area, with a wine bar within reach while another lounge space sits around the corner. Chances are you’ll come across someone tinkling the keys of the grand piano at some point on a lazy weekend afternoon. For those seeking out the most romantic places in Nairobi, this is just the ticket.
The hotel itself is wrapped around incredibly well groomed tropical courtyard. It is lush. Many rooms and luxury suites overlook the gardens. Wake up early enough, and you’ll see the hotel staff removing wayward leaves from the perfectly cut grass. A verandah, which at one point was Nairobi’s most famous meeting place, overlooks this oasis and serves as another spot to eat and drink. In addition to afternoon high tea, the hotel offers international fare as well as traditional Kenyan dishes. Did we mention that Ernest Hemmingway used to hang out here, as did Teddy Roosevelt? And yes, Meryl Streep has graced the place with her presence, too. There’s even a book exploring the hotel’s role in Kenyan history. There’s a reason why The Norfolk serves as a traditional safari starting point.
KWS Central Workshop Gate, 254-20-2301396
Among all the places to visit in Nairobi, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) is unmissable. Admittedly, you’ll be with every single other tourist in the Kenyan capital, but there’s no helping that.
At two very precise times per day, humans get to watch baby elephants as they’re funnelled into their playpen for social time. Starting with the littlest animals, keepers hand out giant bottles filled with milk, holding them steady as the mammals cradle them with their trunks, slurping the liquid back at a surprisingly rapid pace. Satiated, the babies trot further into the large mound of mud, whisking the stuff onto their bodies for a muddy bath with plenty of cooling properties. Those wearing their breeziest white linen outfits best hide out at the back of the human crowd; if you’re at the front, you may find yourself brushed in some of that elephant mud.
This is the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre worldwide; the trust has successfully raised 247 orphans. They have five mobile veterinary units, two helicopters and one sky vet in a wee plane, allowing them to respond to all sorts of wildlife emergencies, reaching from arrow wounds to snares to human-wildlife conflict. While the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is best known for its work protecting and assisting injured elephants, its veterinarians also work with rhinos, zebras, lions and many other species.
Keep in mind that the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is here to protect—and protect it does, with anti-poaching measures firmly in place. Anyone keen to adopt an elephant can do so with ease through the website, with many orphan tales—at first heartbreaking, and then heartwarming—painting a pretty good picture of what the rescue centre does.
Duma Rd, 254-20-8070804
At the Giraffe Centre, furry neck crane over a low barrier, with eager giraffe noses nibbling on tasty pellets displayed in a sea of hands. Upon entry into Nairobi’s tourist hotspot, each giraffe enthusiast receives a paper bag of feed. A few steps away, the patterned beasts tower over all the humans, completely unconcerned with all the photo-taking hubbub below. So-ugly-they’re-cute warthog scramble at the feet of the giraffes, eagerly grabbing the remainder of the food that’s fallen to the ground.
Open seven days a week, this 60-acre sanctuary is one of the top places to visit in Nairobi for those on a honeymoon in Kenya. It was established to protect the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. For the giraffe newbie, this particular subspecies is recognizable by its lack of pattern below the knee, and is only discovered in East Africa’s grasslands.
Back in 1979, a man by the name of Jock Leslie-Melville and his wife Betty established the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife after growing increasingly devastated over what was happening to the Rothschild’s giraffe. At that point in time, there were a mere 130 giraffes left in Western Kenya. The efforts of the couple began tumbleweeding, and after years, the Giraffe Centre emerged.
The goal of the Centre is to educate Kenyan youth on their country’s wildlife—as well as afford tourists the chance to have close encounters with giraffes. This experience with the world’s tallest creature is totally unique, and is something you won’t experience on a safari, given the skittish nature of the animal. At present there are over 300 Rothschild’s giraffes safe in a number of national parks across Kenya, and the subspecies has been down-listed from Endangered to Near Threatened. Absolutely still concerning, but at least there’s a sense of hope. Hands-down, this is one of the key things to do in Nairobi.
Other Places to Visit in Nairobi
Karen Blixen Museum
Many a Meryl Streep and Karen Blixen fan alike will run straight towards the Karen Blixen Museum. Formerly the farmhouse in which the Danish writer lived for a large chunk of her life, it’s also the setting of Blixen’s famed memoir, Out of Africa, and later the film of the same name. A trip to the museum will educate visitors on what life was like in colonial Kenya and provides an intimate glimpse into the writer’s life.
Although you will surely be afforded many an opportunity to purchase stunning Maasai wares while on safari, the Maasai Market has it all and then some. Not only will you not feel awkward about declining to purchase items, but you’ll be able to bargain and just walk away if the price is too high. The market moves around depending on the day of the week, so ensure you inquire at the hotel as to its location. For those who take a joyful approach to fashion and design, there’s everything the heart desires—from beaded jewellery and shoes to charming animal paintings and brightly hued shukas. Word to the wise: Do not shell out any money before doing a bit of a lap as prices are intended to be hacked down.
Kenyan Country Music
It makes sense due to Nairobi’s edge-of-civilization Wild West vibe, but country tunes are big here. Those seeking out romantic places in Nairobi can get into some live country tunes complete with Kenyan cowboy crooners. Look for Pharry K (aka African Cowboy 045) or Sir Elvis, an icon of the scene who is basically Nairobi’s answer to Hank Williams. Check out the Sundowner for weekly updates on Nairobi’s entertainment scene, or Sir Elvis on Twitter for his touring info.
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Best Restaurants in Nairobi
Kenya’s capital has a vibrant food scene. The only thing stopping visitors from visiting endless restaurants in Nairobi is the neverending traffic. Those who’ve only a weekend in town should be sure to seek out Kenyan favourites; those with more time can explore more boutique restaurants or the city’s Indian pocket. Best to make advance reservations to be safe.
Lang’ata Road, 254-722-204647
Arguably the best-known restaurant in Nairobi is Carnivore. As one can imagine, this eatery isn’t for those who fancy plant-based diets. If you’re going focus on the “flex” part of flexitarian for a day, this is the place to do it. Carnivore is the Kenyan version of a Brazilian steak house, and has been serving nyama choma (aka barbecued meat) since it opened in 1980. Housed in a massive complex, this is a sprawling restaurant complete with a gift shop out front. It’s an institution. Inside, it feels little bit medieval, a little bit wild, and without doubt one of the best restaurants in Nairobi, just for the scene alone.
Servers clad in animal print seats patrons, and the play-by-play and sign for “no more meat” is explained to the eager guests. Following some soup of the day and fresh bread, the flame-licked meat starts to arrive tableside—a parade of chicken, beef, spare ribs, pork sausage… When available, ostrich and crocodile also emerge after their moment in the fire. Each comes with its own accompanying sauce, all sat on a giant lazy Suzan. While there used to be exotica like zebra on the menu, this has been stopped due to a ban on game meat and, ahem, environmental concerns.
Marcus Garvey Rd, 254-701-707070
Other restaurants in Nairobi that remain in the spotlight include Mama Oliech—a beloved character who transformed her restaurant into a household name. While Mama Oliech herself passed away a couple of years back, resulting in country-wide mourning, her daughter Lilian keeps spreading the word on traditional Kenyan cuisine.
Oliech is located down a humdrum road and, once inside, diners are seated outdoors in what feels like (and is partially) a carpark. Pay no mind because the food, well priced for the average North American traveller, is very good.
The must-have dish is the tilapia, famously eaten by Anthony Bourdain, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama. The whole tilapia is fried and topped with kachumbari—a tomato-and-onion salsa. Meant to be eaten with your hands, the fish has a shatter-crisp exterior and a juicy interior for a dish that is the equivalent of a warm hug. Dig in with ugali, a dense, dough-y staple made from cassava flour, and greens.
Delta Towers, 254-704-567567
While Oliech does traditional, and Mama Nyama is a contemporary take on traditional Kenyan fare. With a couple of locations in Kenya, this eatery comes recommended as one of the best restaurants in Kenya by local blogger Kaluhi Adagala of Kaluhi’s Kitchen.
Inside the Delta Towers flagship space, the décor is modern with Kenyan touches (think throw pillows done in trad fabrics). Having won Best African Cuisine on the Continent, Mama Nyama has also been visited by the late Bourdain.
Here, ugali is transformed into chunky fries, dusted with Cajun spice and ready to be dipped in garlic sauce. Tilapia arrives crusted in cashews and served with corn meal mash and sautéed spinach. Not only has the restaurant gained international accolades, but it also is a place of community, holding lively jam sessions and well as raising funds for local hip hop projects. Kaluhi also recommends Talisman, Boho Eatery, and About Thyme for those who have, well, time.
One would be hard-pressed to find a tourist in Nairobi not heading on—or returning from—safari. For those keen to keep with the Fairmont hotel theme, sibling Mara Safari Club is an excellent choice whether you’re on a honeymoon in Kenya or off on a classic adventure. A forty-minute trip by plane will leave you at the foot of the Aitong Hills in the Ol-Choro Oiroua Conservation Area, bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve. (It’s possible to drive, but reports have that it’s not a pleasant journey.)
For safari first timers, three days out in the wilderness will be plenty; each game drive brings with it a whole new set of animals, sights, and emotions. Opt for two game drives a day—one starting at dawn, one ending at dusk—to get into the thick of things. Morning drives last two hours, while evening ones stretch to three. The jeeps hold no more than seven guests, in addition to the super-knowledgeable guide, ensuring that the experience remains intimate—especially if you’re on that Kenya honeymoon.
While everyone loves to dress in safari garb fitted with endless patch pockets, what really matters is that you wear something that’s comfortable to sit in. Layers are key as the weather can change on a whim and, depending on the season, the temperature can shift dramatically from when you depart to when you return from your drive. A scarf to hold hair back will come in handy, as will binoculars to help spot those animals when the iPhone won’t zoom. (Many guests have cameras with mammoth lenses, while many more just carry their smartphones.)
Found situated in a nook of the River Mara, the Fairmont Mara Safari Club is proper luxury. The main structure is both lobby, extended lounge area (Wi-Fi isn’t available in the tents), and indoor dining room. Outside, a patio extends off the restaurant for daytime dining, while a swimming pool is centrally located, made for filling in those hours in-between drives.
Some might call this glamping, with a heavy emphasis on “glam.” If you’re lucky (or unlucky?) you’ll be situated within earshot of Hippo Corner, which is where folks come to watch hippos frolic in the waters below. Each of the luxury accommodations are, in fact, tented rooms of the swishiest variety. Boasting massive four-poster beds complete with mosquito nets, stone flooring, wonderful décor detailed with Kenyan accents, hot water showers (after a bit of a warm-up) and a W.C., there’s little to complain about. Those on their Kenya honeymoon will still feel removed enough from their neighbours to keep things romantic.
Depending on the time of year, the nights can be quite chilly. There’s really nothing better than returning to your tent after the afternoon drive and dinner, and discovering a hot water bottle warming the bed.
Fairmont Safari Experience in Kenya
With the morning drive beginning at the rather crisp 6:30 a.m., thankfully the wake-up call is of the human variety. A knock on the door, a delivery of hot coffee, and a wee biscuit later, and the prospect of leaving your comfy abode isn’t quite so terrible anymore. But, once packed into the jeep with your fellow khaki-clad travellers and out on the road just as the sun creeps up, there’s really no opportunity to be sleepy. Fear and awe possess far more caffeine than a cup of java. As a pride of lions parade oh-so-slowly past your jeep, with eyes seemingly locked into yours, bed is a distant memory.
Animals spotted depend on the day and the journey, but the goal is to see the “Big Five,” which are the animals hunters found trickiest to shoot: the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. It’s incredible what you can see on each drive, where every minute brings with it more sights. One moment it’s a brilliantly-named dazzle of zebras; the next, elegant giraffes with their wee warthog pals trotting at their feet. Wildebeests are awkwardly built beats but beautiful in their geekery; and, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across a duo of leopards or cheetahs. (They always travel in twos, so need to be less boastful about their presence, unlike the outrageous lions.) Guests get pamphlets with all the creatures they’re aiming to see, providing a great sense of satisfaction as each one is (hopefully) checked off.
For those heading off on a honeymoon in Kenya—or those simply interested in heading off on an African adventure—there’s so much to do and see both on safari and in Nairobi. Once your magical adventure is over, chances are you’ll be plotting your return.
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