Experience the Kigali Night Life, TAP MAGAZINE ISSUE 7 travel feature. Rwanda is gaining popularity on the global stage as the country that has overcome one of the most tragic past only to flourish to unexpected levels in an impressive 22 years. While development is sweeping over the entire country, the capital city Kigali is at the center of it all. Home to 10% of Rwanda’s population, Kigali is Africa’s safest and cleanest capital city and the minute you step off the airplane, you will be taken on a remarkable experience.
While Kigali existed pre-colonial days, it was established as the administrative centre of Rwanda by German explorer Richard Kandt in 1907. On his quest to discover Africa, Kandt arrived in Rwanda in 1898 where he would eventually set up his living quarters in what is today the Natural History Museum. Aptly named, kigali is a term used to describe something vast, usually in reference to a space. Long before it knew, this capital city bore a name that would carry great significance for years to come as it climbs the list of emerging African capitals.
Kigali Night Life
Whether you are in Kigali on vacation or for business purposes, this quick city guide will help you navigate this gem of a town. On your way out the airport, be sure to grab a local SIM card to ease communication during your stay. All you’ll need is your passport to register the card and a dollar. While you’re there, make sure to get instructions on how to activate daily bundles. Welcome to Kigali!
The beauty in Rwanda being a small country is that most places are easily accessible and transport costs are quite reasonable. If you are one of those independent traveler trying to navigate the city on your own, you know the importance of knowing local terminology for everyday things. For example, in Kigali there are three common forms of transport, all three of them referred to as taxis. There are city buses, (taxi) motos and (taxi) voitures, colloquially known as cabs. Whichever you choose will depend on your budget and what kind of mood you’re in. Buses can reach most of the major landmarks in the city and their most impressive feature is the free wifi on-board. So you can ride and tweet/Instagram your entire vacation, how cool?
The taxi-moto as the name implies is a motorcycle taxi service, also the quickest and cheapest way to access any point in the city, thrills included. The range is 300rwf ($0.40) up to 1,500rwf ($1.90). This swift mode of transport is available at every turn and you can easily hop on one by flagging it down. Every driver carries an extra helmet for passengers.
Cabs are the safest way to travel and by virtue the most expensive. The minimum fee is 3,000rwf ($3.85) and can go as high as 10,000rwf ($12.75). Beating Uber to the Rwandan market, the recently launched app ‘250 Taxi’, provides a safe avenue to book a taxi. The average wait time is 10 minutes.
Better yet, get intimate with Kigali streets and put your navigation skills to good use by renting a car for the day. Various styles of vehicles can be booked online via Kigali car rental or self drive rwanda and go for an average of $100/day.
The restaurant scene in Kigali is booming and every few month new arrivals are added to the mix. For every type of favorite cuisine there are at least a handful of commendable restaurants to choose from. But as the saying (should) go, when in Kigali, do like the Kigalians do. Indulge in local favorites on your night out and you’ll thank me later. Try the nyama choma (grilled meat, usually goat), or brochettes and your preferred side at any of these favorite joints: Green corner in Nyamirambo, chez John in Kiyovu, carwash in Kinamba and Sundowner in Kimihurura. Top restaurants where you can sample international cuisine include: Khana Kazana for Indian, Tung Chinese Restaurant, Zen for Oriental and Brachetto for Italian. Full listings available on eatout.co.rw
Kigali Arts Scene
Innovation Village is Kigali’s claim to creativity personified in a beautifully designed rooftop gallery, theatre, events hall. Follow them online and find out which events are on during your stay. They also have a cozy café that offers a magnificent view of Kigali.
Spoken Word brought to you every last Wednesday of the month is an entertaining gathering of young city folks who celebrate life through the gift of words. The theme and location change every month but the fun is on high every time. May’s theme was “I am Kigali”, an ode to Rwanda’s cosmopolitan city.
Every Thursday, the Inema Arts centre hosts a Happy Hour at their art gallery. This is where arts meet networking and delicious cocktails.
For a history lesson on Rwanda, be sure to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and the Natural History Museum both located within 10 minutes of the city centre.
Those looking to immerse themselves into the Kigali night life scene should not turn their backs on: Kisimenti, Nyarutarama/Gacuriro, Kimihurura and Nyamirambo. To start off Kisimenti has a strip of bars tucked away behind the shops so it is highly recommendable that you tempt your luck at any of them and see how live they are. If the first one is a miss, hop on to the neighboring one as it may just be on fire. Stay on the lookout for Rosty, Plus 250 and Fuchsia. Kimihurura is home to two classic bars who still bear their birth names despite documented name changes at least half dozen time each. If you land in the neighborhood, ask for Papyrus or Ogopogo, you will not be led astray. In Nyarutarama you will find Masters Lounge inside the MTN centre and K-club is a short drive down in the lush neighborhood of Gacuriro. Entrance is free to most bars but K-club usually charges a small fee.
These would be defined as a place for a perfect night out with good music, a nice array of drinks to choose from but away from rowdy crowds. The grown and sexy type of night. If you are on the lookout for such experience, check out Sky Lounge on the rooftop of Urban Bistro in Kiyovu, Republika Rooftop Lounge in Kimihurura and the Legacy Lounge inside Mille Collines in Kiyovu. Lounge Chillax situated in posh Nyarutarama is the IT spot on Fridays where Kigali’s finest turn up and ring in the week-end in style.
Live Music in Kigali
Karaoke as the locals call it is on and popping in the capital city and it a sure way to draw revellers and get the people on their feet.
Live Music: Thursdays- Fuchsia, Rosty’s, Plus 250, Fridays- Hotel Mille Collines, Serena Hotel, Saturday – White Horse
Kigali has a wide range of accommodation styles to suit everyone’s budget, from the hostels to the 5-star hotels, range is $30 up to $300. Airbnb is catching on in Rwanda with a growing number of listings, therefore a worthwhile option to consider. For more assurance, bookings through trusted sites like is always recommended.
During your stay, it will be hard not to notice that Kigali is a metropolitan with an agenda. Quite impressively, from sunrise workers are setting out for the day only to return home after sunset. In the night time, tourists and locals alike enjoy the notable security of the capital as they set off for happy hour, networking events and entertainment. A lively atmosphere, delectable food and amazing music make up this flourishing city’s nightlife. Welcome to Kigali!
To stay up to date with what’s happening in the city, visit the following websites:
By Marie-Ange Rukundo