Kenya is NOT only the ultimate safari destination! Thanks to an incredible array of stunning scenery, interesting cultural heritage, beautiful beaches and some of the friendliest people, there are loads of amazing things to do in Kenya on top of spotting the most spectacular wildlife.
And the best thing is that all these Kenya tourist attractions can be visited at very affordable prices. You just need to be a little creative so therefore I recommend you reading this Kenya travel blog.
I have put together a list of 22 must do activities that’ll have you looking forward to visit Kenya on your next trip.
There are so many fascinating places to visit in Kenya for anyone who’s eager for an African experience. As previously mentioned, Kenya is steeped in history, lauded with bountiful natural beauty, and renowned for its rustic ambiance as well as cultural wealth.
1. Hike to the Summit of Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya is situated approximately 245km north by road from Nairobi and is situated almost right on the equator. Additionally, the mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
It rises to about 5,199 meters (17,057 ft) which makes it the second-highest mountain in Africa and therefore one of the most adventurous things to do in Kenya. The good thing about going up Mount Kenya is that the trails are not crowded so you’ll most probably have the summit trails all to yourself when trekking Mount Kenya. The expedition takes about five days to get to Lenana Peak (the 3rd highest peak where most hikers reach).
If you’re a seasoned mountain climber you know that the best time for the climb would be during the dry seasons in January and February and August and September. The views from the top are obviously spectacular and along the way there is some alpine vegetation to feast your eyes on. The vegetation includes bamboo, grasslands, forests, heath, and moorland. There is even some wildlife that you could expect to spot when climbing Mount Kenya.
For the Kenya budget travelers among us. You can already find a 5-day Mount Kenya trekking tour for about $300. Count in some extra money for food and accommodation, but that is not much.
Even if you are not trekking to the summit of Mount Kenya, this still is one of the most amazing places to visit in Kenya. There are many hiking trails around and the landscapes are absolutely spectacular.
2. Watch the Great Migration in Maasai Mara from a hot air balloon
The Great Migration sees the arrival of over 1 million wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, gazelles, and their predators, from the neighboring Serengeti in Tanzania into the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The animals are in search of water and grazing grounds and therefore migrate from July to October, which consequently is the best time to see wildlife in Kenya.
The Maasai Mara is an absolute must-do in Kenya. Honestly speaking, no Kenya trip would be complete if you don’t visit the Maasai Mara for at least a day. However, this is also the most expensive Kenya tourist destination.
This wildlife spectacle, as well as the classic African Landscape and the Big 5, is best to be viewed from a hot-air balloon, to me one of the best things to in Kenya.
In the Mara, you’ll also get to enjoy the amazing culture of the traditional Maasai people who live here in a stunning setting.
3. Visiting a Maasai Mara Village
First off keep in mind that this is one of the most popular things to do in Kenya and therefore very touristy. Don’t expect a Maasai Mara village to look like anything you have seen on National Geographic!
Still, visiting a village in the Maasai Mara is a must do when traveling to Kenya. The most important thing is to figure out a way to get that authentic experience and not one of the set-up touristy Maasai Mara villages.
How to arrange this? You can stop at one of the many villages you come across while driving in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, but if you find a local experienced guide… one you can trust, he might bring you to one off the beaten path.
I know it is possible as I have friends who fixed this. Just keep your expectation lower than what you have seen on television!
Visiting a Maasai Mara village is still an incredible experience as you get to interacts with a culture that seems to live in such a different world than we Westerns do. You will be welcomed by a traditional dance, get a tour around the village, see one of the mud huts from the inside, make fire the traditional way, and learn about their traditions.
A Maasai Mara village is a Kenya tourist attraction and you will need to pay an entrance fee. Expect to pay around $25 per person.
There is also a Maasai Mara Ostrich farm in the Maasai Mara National Reserve that can be visited in case you ever wanted to ride an ostrich.
4. Marvel at the majestic Kilimanjaro in Amboseli National Park
The Amboseli National Park is renowned for its great wildlife, but the major tourist attraction here is the sight of the highest mountain in Africa. In the background of the fairly flat landscape of Amboseli National Park you will see the snow peaked Kilimanjaro.
Amboseli is the largest national park in the country and is the best place in Kenya to spot elephants, there are countless. The dust-covered elephants of Amboseli National Park have a wonderful wild look. Spotting these huge creatures in a stunning setting complete with the towering backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro makes it an absolutely must visit place in Kenya.
In general Amboseli National Park is considered to be one of the top places to visit for wildlife, see my Kenya travel tips.
5. Visit the stunning Kenya beaches in South Coast
The best Kenya beaches are located in the South Coast region, basically south of Mombassa. The North Coast beaches aren’t bad at all, yet more lively, local, less secluded and therefore less pristine.
Diani Beach stretches 11 miles along the Kenyan south coast. If you are a beach person, you need to hit the beach at Diani for one of the best beach experience in all of East Africa. This paradise with white sands, palm trees, and jade-colored waters is protected by a beautiful coral reef.
One of the popular things to do in Diani Beach is skydiving.
A taxi from Mombassa to Diani Beach will costs around 4,000 Ksh ($40) and takes around 1 hour.
If you are traveling to Kenya on a budget my secret travel tip is to go camping on Tiwi Beach, 5 kilometer north of Diani Beach.
6. Swim in bioluminescence water at Kilifi
The beaches in South Coast may be more pristine, the North Coast has a unique thing to do in Kenya: swim in bioluminescent water.
The gorgeous creekside town of Kilifi is a famous tourist destination in Kenya for its magical bioluminescence plankton. At night you can witness this natural phenomenon by simply going moving through the water. The bioluminescence plankton will start to glow because of your movements. The water provides a shimmering, sparkly, swimming experience.
Swim in bioluminescence water at Kilifi is one of the free things to do in Kenya, you don’t need a tour nor a guide for this. Just ask around for the best spot on the beach.
More places to visit around Kilifi are Watamu, a spectacular coastline with numerous protected bays by the Watamu Marine National Park. Also you can find the Ruins of Gedi close to Kilifi.
Another cool thing to do in Watamu is visiting the Bio-Ken Snake Farm. If you happen to visit Watamu in early June you can even go on a whale watching tour to see humpback whales.
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7. Sail the Lamu archipelago by dhow
Lamu Island sits right at the northern tip of Kenya’s coast. This incredible UNESCO World Heritage City is believed to be the oldest living Swahili town.
Lamu Island was an ancient trading port and is now one of the last great outposts of traditional dhows - a traditional sailing ship with one or two masts mostly see in the Arabian region.
Dhows were once the main form of transport between East Africa, India, and the Middle East. There are no cars allowed in Lamu Island. Donkeys are the primary mode of transport.
A dhow is the best way for sailing the Lamu archipelago and absorbing the unique culture of this coastal region in Kenya. Relax, take a deep breath, and get lost in the fascinating waterways of this remote archipelago.
Shela Beach is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Lamu Island. Here you’ll also enjoy some of the most exquisite local cuisines of Kenya.
8. Go scuba diving or snorkeling in the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park
The Indian Ocean offers a lot more than the stellar views as you unwind on the Kenya beaches swinging in hammocks. The ocean offers a wide range of outdoor sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, skydiving, and kite-surfing.
The best time to scuba and snorkel in Kenya is between August and March when the waters are calm and the visibility at its best.
One of the places I recommend you to go scuba diving in Kenya is the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park or the Watamu Marine National Park. There are more than 250 species of tropical fish and 56 different types of coral in the crystal-clear waters of these Marine National Parks.
9. Travel back in time in Mombasa old town
Mombasa Old Town is Kenya’s biggest port and was founded in the 14th Century by Swahili Sultans. Later it was later occupied by the Portuguese and the British. Mombassa old town has retained its architecture over the years. Walking through the narrow streets you’ll notice the numerous mosques, homes with huge wooden floors, restaurants and coffee houses.
Experiencing this melting pot of cultures and cuisines in old town Mombassa was one of the cultural highlights of my trip to Kenya. You will also get in touch with the super friendly Kenyan people away from the tourist trail. How to get around Kenya? Click on the link to read my complete guide.
Don’t forget to explore the UNESCO-listed Old Fort Museum.
10. Paraglide over the scenic Kerio Valley
Kerio Valley is found at the edge of the Kerio Valley Escarpment in the Great Rift Valley. This huge valley overlooks the Tugen Hills. If you are looking for cool things to do in Kenya then paragliding in this spot should be on top of your to-do list.
Within the valley is the Lake Kamnarok in Rimoi Game Reserve which also an amazing place to visit in Kenya.
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11. Train for a marathon in Iten, Rift Valley
Kenyans are known around the world as prolific long-distance runners. Most of these internationally known runners like Eliud Kipchoge come from Eldoret “The Home of Champions,” in the Rift Valley. Iten is a town situated in the highlands near Eldoret and offers running camps and expert training at its High Altitude Training Centre.
Not a standard thing to do on your Kenya holiday, but how awesome is it to learn directly from world record holders and olympic gold medal winners. Visiting the High Altitude Training Center is highly recommended even if you have no intension running a marathon.
12. Cycle through Hells Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is located some 100 kilometer (60 miles) northwest from Nairobi and one of the few national parks in Africa where it’s safe to cycle. Here you won’t find any dangerous wildlife but unique rock formations instead.
Bicycles are available for rent from vendors both inside and outside the main gate of the National Park. Cycling around Hells Gate National Park is a great way to see this Kenya tourist attraction.
Skip the tours, do it yourself, rent a bike and enjoy! Definitely one of my secret Kenya travel tips. You are bound to get some epic pictures in this lava-carved landscape as you cycle or trek through the gorges. Get off your bike as you pass the hot springs, jump in for a refreshing experience.
13. Roam among wild rhinos in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lewa Conservancy in north-central Kenya is one of the great success stories of African rhino conservation. It is the number one place in Kenya to spot black and white rhinos in the wild. The main reason why it’s considered a great success is that since 1984, the rhino population has grown from just 15 to more than 150.
If you didn’t know this now you do – these horned beauties are critically endangered with only very few left in the wild. There are fears that in the next few decades rhinos could be extinct. To eliminate poaching, the conservancy uses different methods like fencing, armed patrols, and interaction with local communities.
Lewa Conservacy is not only one of the amazing places to visit in Kenya, by going you also contribute to this amazing project. In total 14% of the Rhino population of Kenya is living in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. In total more than 10,000 kids are directly impacted by their educational program.
Lewa is 4 hours drive north from Nairobi. For more info click here to check out the Lew Wildlife Conservacy website.
14. Spot the 12,000 crocodiles in Central Island National Park at Lake Turkana
An off the beaten path Kenya tourist attraction hosts the world’s largest colony of Nile crocodiles. In the middle of Lake Turkana you will find Central Island National Park where you’ll get to see countless crocodiles. It is estimated that there are living around 12,000 crocodiles on the shores of this island.
Central island is a natural masterpiece with the most stunning landscape. It is also home to three active volcanoes, three blue-green crater lakes, and black sandy beaches. The atmosphere here seems to have changed very little over thousands of years.
To visit Central Island National Park you can either fly directly to the island or take one of the boat services from Kalokol. It is surely one of the most unique things to do in Kenya as it is not easy to get to. Also at Central Island National Park there are no hotels, you can only camp at the Central Island Campsite. There is a $20 park fee and a $35 fee for camping at Central Island National Park.
15. Foster orphaned elephants & rhinos at Sheldrick
At the Sheldrick elephant & rhino orphanage in southwest Nairobi you’ll see hundreds of majestic giant baby elephants that have been rescued from near death. The orphanage gives you the rare opportunity to experience firsthand how devastating poaching is.
However, it also gives you hope that within all that madness, there is a sanctuary of hope for the baby elephants left behind.
You can visit the Sheldrick elephant & rhino orphanage every morning between 11.00 and 12.00. This is a trusted non-profit organization. The entrance fee is only $7. You can witness the milk feeding and the animals taking a mud bad. For more info go to the Sheldrick elephant & rhino orphanage website.
16. Feed hungry giraffes at the famous Giraffe Manor Hotel
Seen pictures on Instagram of an amazing breakfast spread, pretty girls and giraffes? Undoubtedly these pictures were from the Giraffe Manor House. One of the popular things to do in Kenya for those who can afford.
Rates start at +$600 per person per night! Yes, you pay per person, not per room! Of course for many of us out of budget, but go to my Kenya travel tips article to get inspired about how to make a Kenya trip affordable.
The Giraffe Manor Hotel seems to be located somewhere off the beaten path, but is actually located in southwest Nairobi and became a top Kenya sight because of Instagram. Many famous people spend the night here.
If you can’t afford to stay (understandable) at the Giraffe Manor Hotel you can still come to visit the Giraffe Center in Lang’ata. There is a wooden observation platform that brings you face-to-face with the rare and endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. Here you can enjoy feeding these incredibly tall creatures, petting them, and getting licked by their long black tongues.
17. Visit the Chalbi Desert in Northern Frontier
Very few people have heard about the Chalbi Desert located east of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County. The name “Chalbi” is a Gabbra word that means bare and salty, and I can tell you the Chalbi desert lives up to its name. The rocks here are so salty that animals use them as a natural salt lick.
Another off the beaten path tourist attraction in Kenya and this is a truly unique adventure. Find here camels and oases as you traverse the bleached soils and walk on coarse sand and rocks of this 100,000 square kilometer dessert.
The most famous place to visit in the Chalbi Desert are the oases in the north. There is an oasis in this desert called Kalacha where pastoralists, animals, and tourists go to rest under the palm trees as they quench their thirst.
To visit the Chalbi Desert you have to fly to the Sibiloi airstrip from where your arranged safari starts.
18. Spot the more than 1 million flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is one of Kenya’s best national parks to visit. There are more than 240 bird species that frequent here and Lake Nakuru is a hotspot for the photogenic pink flamingos. They number up to more than a million at times.
Lake Nakura is located 3,5 hour drive northwest of Nairobi in the Rift Valley. Rhinos, zebras, buffalos and lions can also be found in Lake Nakuru National Park. Bird watching is the main reason why in Lake Nakura National Park is a Kenya tourist attraction.
19. Turkana, the largest soda lake in the world and the cradle of mankind
Lake Turkana, in the northern part of Kenya, is the largest alkaline lake in the world. This lake is also referred to as the Jade Sea thanks to its beautiful turquoise color. The water in Lake Turkana has a pH of more than 9.
On top of being the largest alkaline lake in the world, Lake Turkana is one of the 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kenya. It is part of what is called “The Cradle of Mankind.” This is a truly unique place because it’s where the boy of Turkana is found, a 1.6 meter tall almost complete skeleton of a human related fossil dating back 1.6 million years ago.
Visiting Lake Turkana can best be done on the shores of Loiyangalani, which is fairly accessible by road. Places like Sibiloi and Lodwar can be reach by flights from Nairobi.
20. Enjoy a day in Nairobi
A guided city tour through Kenya’s capital is very well recommended. See the best places and come up close and personal with locals, learn about their lives in this Africa city of almost 4,5 million people.
The Nairobi National Museum and the National Archives give you a taste of Kenya’s heritage. The Nairobi National Museum is located in the outskirts of the city as where the National Archives is situated right in the middle of Nairobi. They houses all sorts of historical records about the country’s past.
Not the most exciting thing to do in Kenya, but when you have a day spare in Nairobi this is one of the best places to learn about Kenya’s history.
If you are looking for fun things to do in Nairobi then head about 1,5 hours north to the Kereita Forest Adventure Sports to go ziplining. Go karting and paintball facilities in Nairobi can be found in Lang’ata.
21. Enjoy the nightlife in Nairobi
The capital city has thriving nightlife mainly situated in Westlands, which is the center for it all. This neighborhood has many clubs, bars, and cocktail lounges where locals and visitors come together to dance the night away. Nairobi West and Lang’ata also have some great local bars where travelers meet to have a good time.
22. Shop at the Maasai Market in Central Nairobi
The Maasai Market is probably the most renowned shopping place for tourists in Nairobi. Here you’ll easily find a Kenya souvenir to bring home. Some souvenirs that you can buy include curios, drawings, local paintings, wood carvings, beaded jewellery, African-themed fabrics, etc.
Enjoy your trip to Kenya!
This Kenya travel blog is created with the help of Kim Paffen, one of the Traveltomtom team members. Her outstanding photography skills and multiple trips to Kenya contributed a lot creating this list of amazing things to do in Kenya.
Kenya is always on top of the list of people planning a trip to Africa. If someone mentions they would like to visit Africa with their friends and family and wondering where to go, the answer is often fact and clear: “Kenya!”.
You can never really run out of fun, exciting, and engaging things to do in Kenya whether you’re looking for the ultimate safari adventure, a great hiking experience, a chance to relax on the world-class beaches, or enjoying the voraciously electric nightlife – you name it!
We hope that this Kenya travel blog motivated you to book your flight to Kenya if you hadn’t already done that. It won’t disappoint. Be among the millions of tourists who fly to Kenya annually to experience the wonderful scenery, the sandy beaches, and the never-ending sunshine.