Kampala is the Capital city and biggest town of Uganda. It is the melting pot of Uganda's cultural diversity and tribes.
While Uganda's popularity with travellers lies in unbelievable wildlife experiences of chimps, gorillas and big animals, there is so much more and the best place to explore all this is in Kampala.
Whether you want to explore the history of Uganda or the city's modern culture, there is so much to do and learn about in Kampala. This article is going to look at all the interesting things you can do and places you can visit in Kampala for a wonderful time.
From short 30 minute things (street food) to long activities, we hope this article can encourage you to spend more time exploring Kampala and finding your own unique outlook of the city, the culture and the people.
Top Things to do in Kampala - Uganda
1. Uganda National Museum
The National Museum is the oldest and biggest museum in Uganda with collections from all over Uganda and East Africa. Dating back to 1908, the museum has a wide array of collections from various time periods.
Iddi Amin's Mercedes Benz is quite the popular item that you won't miss out on.
2. Independence Monument
The National Independence monument is located in the centre of Kampala, in Nakasero. As a symbol of the birth of Uganda as a country and the end of colonial rule, it is a very important historical representation.
The monument is by the road and can easily be walked to / reached for a quick photo op and some history if you have a guide. The monument is located on the upper side of Nakasero which is very quiet compared to the lower size on Kampala road, and this is good for a small walk around.
You will have to be careful about photos/video since this same side has the statehouse and several embassies and foreign consulates.
3. National Mosque / Gadaffi Mosque
The Uganda National Mosque is popularly called the Gadaffi Mosque. While Opened in 2007, the construction started in 1972 when Iddi Amin Dada was Uganda's president. As years of chaos ensued, the construction stopped until 2001.
The funding for the construction was provided as a gift from Gadaffi to the Moslem community of Uganda. After the death of Col. Muammar Gadaffi, the name was changed to Uganda National Mosque the new administration insisted on a change of name if it was to continue supporting and rehabilitating this mosque.
Climbing the tall minaret gives you vast 360-degree views of Kampala city.
4. Visit the Bahai Temple
Opened in January 1962 (before Uganda's Independence), the Bahai Temple is the only one in Africa and one of 9 in the whole world.
The Bahai faith is inclusive and seeks to unite all races and religions on the premise that human rights and equality are true values. The Bahai faith was founded in 1850 by a Persian mystic Baha'u'llah.
The Bahai temple in Kampala is a great architectural masterpiece with extensive grounds of trees and manicured grass.
5. Namirembe Cathedral (Anglican)
St Paul Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Uganda and has been located on Namirembe hill since 1890. It is a cathedral and headquarters for the Anglican faithful of the Church of Uganda.
The church has been built several times and the current structure is the 5th, with a capacity of more than 10,000 people.
6. Rubaga Cathedral (Catholic)
St Mary's Cathedral was built on the land donated by Kabaka Mwanga in 1889. The land was previously a palace for the kabaka but had been destroyed by a fire.
The current church was completed and consecrated in 1925. it is the headquarters of the Catholic church in Uganda.
7. Visit the Uganda Martyrs Shrine
The Uganda martyrs shrine is where 32 young men were burnt alive in 1886 by Kakaba (king) Mwanga of Buganda kingdom because they wouldn't renounce their new Christian faith.
The shrine at Namugongo is an important point of pilgrims for Christians and is 3rd June of every year is a national holiday in Uganda.
Learn more about the Uganda Martyrs in our article about Celebrating the Uganda Martyrs.
8. Visit the Kasubi tombs
The Kasubi tombs are a burial site of four Buganda Kings and hold an important cultural significance in Buganda and Uganda as a whole. This UNESCO world heritage site is popular for its rich history as well as the outstanding construction of local materials.
Related: Africa's UNESCO World Heritage Sites
9. Bulange Mengo (Buganda's Parliament)
Bulange is the administrative headquarters of Buganda Kingdom. BUlange houses the parliament of the kingdom as well as other offices for the Kabaka, Queen, Prime minister and art gallery among others.
Buganda kingdom has always had a parliament, and they used to meet under trees until the early 20th century. The current building was constructed in 1955 after the Kabaka was inspired by a similar building in Scotland.
You can learn about the Buganda kingdom's history as well as the significance of the various clans, cultural ways and more.
10. Lubiri mengo (Kabaka's Palace)
The Lubiri (palace) is the officla residence of the kabaka of Buganda and was built in 1885 Kabaka Mwanga.
Aside from learning some more about the Buganda kingdom, Idd Amin's torture chambers attract many people. In 1971, the former president abolished all kingdoms in Uganda and seized many of their properties, among which was Lubiri that was used as a prison.
The dark chambers had a ditch of electrified water that would electrocute any prisoner attempting to escape the torture.
11. Visit Entebbe Zoo (UWEC)
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), formerly Entebbe zoo is located out of Kampala in Entebbe and is the best way to see wildlife if one is not able to make it to the national parks around the country.
For people who don't have enough time to visit national parks like Queen Elizabeth or Murchison Falls National Parks, a zoo is a great option for seeing animals. Hurt and orphaned animals are brought and treated from here.
You can be able to see most of the animals present in Uganda, except for gorillas and golden monkeys.
12. Go to Lake Victoria
As Africa's biggest lake, and the second biggest in the whole world, you are right in assuming that there is too much to do around Lake victoria.
Depending on how much time you have in Kampala, Lake Victoria is a quiet getaway where you can spend an afternoon on the beach or a weekend in the islands looking at chimps, rare birds, crocodiles and eating fish.
Boat cruises to and around the Ssese Island are picking up in popularity and we recommend checking them out.
13. Go Golfing
The Uganda Gold Club is located in the heart of Kampala and offers golfers a way to enjoy some Tee time. For people who love playing golf, this is a great way to relax for an evening in the middle of the city and make some like-minded friends.
Other major towns of Uganda also have golf courses but the most vibrant community will definitely be in Kampala. Most travellers usually visit the golf course at the end of their safari to relax before continuing on their journey.
14. Shop in Nakasero & Owino Markets
One way of experiencing Kampala and all its subtleties is by going to a local market. You can go to the market and try shopping for anything from fresh fruit to clothing and everything else.
Nakasero market is more popular for fresh fruit and produce while Owino market is well known for clothing - especially imported second-hand clothing.
The real experience is in haggling for a lower price and taking the time to really move around. Everyone will be calling you, but you don't have to stop for every one.
Since the markets are really crowded, you shouldn't move with much money and your valuables since pickpocketing could happen.
15. Watch Traditional Dances at Ndere Cultural Centre
Ndere Cultural centre is the place to go if you want to enjoy the various Ugandan Traditional dances. With more than 50 tribes and subcultures, Ugandans have a variety of traditional dances for important life events.
At Ndere Cultural centre, you will be able to witness these dances performed by the best in the country.
16. Buy locally-made souvenirs
Buying crafts, art and fabrics is a common way for visitors to get a souvenir of their visit to Uganda. This can be done in various parts of Kampala, especially near some popular attractions.
The best place where you can find a lot of variety is the Buganda Craft village located on Buganda Road in the city centre.
From drums, spears, fabric (kitenge), painting, sculptures, bracelets and much more, you are presented with overwhelming options.
17. Take a ride on a Boda Boda
Taxi-motorcycles, commonly called boda-boda (boda for short) are the easiest way to get around Kampala's neighbourhoods and save time. We advise getting a Boda Boda through one of the apps (safeboda and uber) or a trusted Boda guy of your friend or tour operator.
Almost everyone has a trusted boda guy and it should be easy to get a good one if you ask some friends.
A ride on a boda-boda can be overly exciting during peak times of traffic jam as they zoom thorugh the cars and bend a few traffic rules.
18. Bar hopping
This is for those who love the nightlife. Kampala never sleeps and the true party animals of the city do it by going to several places throughout the night.
With covid restrictions in places, this is might not be possible for some time, but might be a great option when you visit.
For someone who hasn't spent much time in Kampala, we strongly suggest that you go with a group of friends.
If you intend to spend the night out in Kampala, it might be better to get a guide whose religious belief wouldn't be offended by late-night partying and drinking.
There is uber, so you shouldn't worry much about drunk driving through the night.
19. Street food
Street food is always a great way of experiencing the life the locals do. Kampala's street food ranges from meats, fruits and fried goods. The most popular of them all is the rolex made with chappatis and fried eggs - rolled together.
While high-end restaurants and hotels have gotten in on the rolex game, most people in Kampala will confess to loving the street rolex of 2000 UGX( 0.6 USD) with all its flaws.
If you have dietary restrictions, you shouldn't be compelled to try street food.
20. Watch The Uganda Cranes (Soccer)
Ugandans love many sports but the biggest is football (soccer). If your trip happens to be near a schedule for one of the big national team matches, you should consider going to Mandela Nationa Stadium for the crazy fun fan fair. It is simply just a party.
Other sports like rugby are also popular and have quite the fan-fare.
Much as these 20 things are great options, some places and activities were left out and you should always feel free to ask about you things related to your hobbies. For example, Kampala has some marathons that are popular with the locals and can be extremely fun to join.
We hope this article opened you up to more options of what you can do in Kampala besides short overnights before heading to the national parks in the Ugandan countryside.
We hope this list of things to do in Kampala has some good options that are of interest to you.