Bujumbura was the capital of Burundi until 2019, when the capital was moved to the second largest city Gitega.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Bujumbura features a tropical savanna climate (Aw), with distinct wet season from October to April and dry season from May to September. Average temperature is 23 °C (73 °F), constant among the year. Bujumbura is much hotter than other part of the country due to it low altitude: 800 m (2,600 ft). Bujumbura has 147 rainy days per year and records 786 mm (30.9 in) of rainfalls annually, less than other parts of the country. Wind blows from Lake Tanganyika during the day and stops in the evening.
Visa rules and prices change frequently. As of November 2014 two visas are available on arrival: a one-month, multiple entry visa costs US$90, and a 3-day (2-night) transit visa is $40. Visas can be obtained from embassies prior to travel.
Visa on arrival is not possible without a special “entry permit” letter prior delivered by the Boundary Police Commissioner General. Visa on arrival is only payable in US dollars: euros are often not accepted, Burundian francs (FBu) are not accepted (even if there is ATM in airport). Credit cards are not accepted even if the “Visa” and “MasterCard” acceptance logos are clearly visibles on airport stickers. Customs accepts only recent banknotes.
- 1 Bujumbura International Airport (BJM IATA), RN5 (close to the city — 9.0 km (5.6 mi) north-west of Indépendance square), ☏ (office), (flight information).
Recording around 5 flights per day, Bujumbura International Airport essensially connects to East African hub airports, via the following compagnies:
- Ethiopian Airlines, from Addis Ababa (ADD IATA) — 1 flight per day — ET807
- Kenya Airways, from Nairobi (NBO IATA) — 2 flights per day — KQ444 and KQ448
- RwandAir, from Kigali (KGL IATA) — 2 flights per day — WB482 and WB483
- Brussels Arilines, from Brussels (BRU IATA) — 1 flight per week, on Sunday — SN451
Taxis are cruising all over town; you need to negotiate the price with them. As of early 2010, rides in the city centre were about 1500-2500 FBu; rides to and from airport can be absurdly expensive (20,000 FBu) but there's little you can do about it. In town, during the day, a cheaper option is a moto-taxi costing 500-1000 FBu a journey, but these have been banned from the city centre for safety reasons. Burundians typically rely on the many mini-buses, costing 300 FBu to anywhere in city centre in mid-2011, and 600 FBu to the suburbs. The price is probably a bit higher today. Minibuses serving the north of the city arrive and depart at the front of the central market (Marché Central), while those heading south use the parking lot in the back of the market near the Interbank head office. The last mini-buses leave around 22:00 as of 2011. It is not advised to walk at night after that; if you need to go anywhere, take a taxi.
To catch a lift in any type of vehicle from the side of the road, hold out your hand with your palm facing upward. This works for taxis, buses, motorcycles, and all sorts of private and commercial vehicles. Mini-bus conductors will honk and use their fingers to show how many seats are available. If the bus is full, they will wave their hand with their palm facing downward. It is not uncommon for private vehicles to pick up foreigners requesting lifts during the daytime. They range from high-end SUVs driven by white-collar workers to flat bed pickup trucks where you must stand up. Payment is generally not expected for hitchhiking short distances, but working-class Burundians regularly give each other money for small favours, so there is no harm in offering.
- 1 Musée Vivant (Living Museum of Bujumbura), 11 Avenue du 13 Octobre (heading west, just before Lake Tanganyika — visitors must come via Ave du Large or Ave de la Plage, as Ave 13 October is closed), ☏ . 08:00–17:30. Small “zoo” and natural history museum. Exhibits include fishes from Lake Tanganyika, birds, seven species of snakes, two chimpanzees called “Kita” and “Joy”, a golden monkey, a leopard called “Jango”, three antelope, two slender-snouted crocodiles and six Nile crocodiles. There’s also a traditional Burundian village on the grounds. For about 5,000 Fbu (2014) per person, a guide will show you around. The guide can even get some snakes out of the cage to let you hold them or feed them with guinea pigs. You can also feed chimpanzees with rice and Carnivores with guinea pigs or rabbits. Hold the hand of a chimpanzee, have a snake on harm and enter in cage of “Lacoste” Nile crocodile is also part of the attraction.
Sometimes, local cultural events occur on the grounds, such as performances by the Burundian drummers. Entrance: 5,000 Fbu/adult, 2,000 Fbu/child; Carnivore food: 5,000 Fbu/guinea pig, 25,000 Fbu/rabbit.
- 2 Rusizi National Park, RN4, Chaussée d'Uvira (a few miles past Club du Lac, nearly at the Congo border). See hippos and crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the Rusizi River. The area is also where Gustave, the world's largest Nile crocodile, has been spotted. There are also some amazing birds to be seen. For about 3,000 Fbu per person (plus tip), a guide and a guard will join you in the car and give you a tour of the park. You’ll stop at several points along the water to view hippos, crocodiles and birds.
- 3 Livingstone–Stanley Monument (La Pierre de Livingstone et Stanley), village of Mugere, about 12 km (7.5 mi) south of Bujumbura on RN3 (100 m south of the bridge crossing the Mugere River). It's not the spot where Stanley said “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”, but it has a gorgeous view of the lake. Livingstone and Stanley passed through the area and carved their names on a large rock. Free of charge.
- Go for scenic drives (security permitting!) for spectacular views from the hills of Bujumbura Rurale to the east of town or along Lake Tanganyika to the south of town. Find a place to enjoy banana beer or maybe a Fanta and chit-chat with shopkeepers.
- 4 Cathédrale Regina Mundi de Bujumbura, Boulevard Patrick Lumumba, Rohero.
- 5 Monument de l’Unité National, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore (Kiriri, up Ave Belvédère, entrance by the top of Monument). 10,000 Fbu for entrance + guide may request 2,000 Fbu tips “to drink”..
- 6 Mausolée du Prince Louis Rwagasore (Prince Louis Rwagasore Mausoleum), Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore (Kiriri, up Ave Belvédère, entrance by stairs on Ave Rurenda). Mausoleum in memory of Burundi's national and independence hero. The place where Burundian Independence Day is celebrated annually on 1 July. Free of charge.
- 7 Bugarama, RN1 (road to Gitega & Ngozi, where RN1 meet RN2). A nice viewpoint on Bujumbura, 32 km (20 mi) east of the city. The road RN1 drive you around 1,200 m (3,900 ft) higher than Bujumbura, at 2,200 m (7,200 ft). Eat some brochettes “je m’en fout” (means “I don’t care”).
- Karera Beach, Uvira Roadway (on Lake Tanganyika about 20 min from the city). Nice beach resort.
- Saga Plage, Uvira Roadway (on Lake Tanganyika about 20 min of town), ☏ . Beach with restaurant, entertainment complex and hotel. Nice place to pass some time.
- Bora Bora Plage is next to Saga.
- Association Burundaise pour la protection des Oiseaux (ABO), ☏ . A local conservation group that conducts birdwatching tours of Rusizi Park and other areas. Some of their guides speak English.
- Check local flyers for information on Burundian drummer performances, or just be on the look out for a wedding reception taking place somewhere. With help from locals, you can also arrange to visit a drum troupe, get a lesson, and then see a private performance.
- Many activities are organized by the Centre Culturel Francais (CCF), Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore, +257 222351 (City Centre). Extensive monthly film, theatre and music programmes available from their offices. CCF also offers courses in French and Kiswahili (individual and group).
- Ciné Caméo (19 Avenue des Paysans), in the Asiatic quarter screens all the latest blockbusters for about 2000 FBu. The only cinema in the country, and a place to enjoy some air conditioning on hot dry season nights.
Several swimming pools available for who wants to cool down from the hot days.
- Federation Football (soccer) games at the Stade in Rohero are at 14:00 and 16:00 on Saturdays. Entrance as of late 2011 is 500 FBu regular and 2000 FBu first class.
- Université de Burundi ("Collège") has a large swimming pool with high-dive and a spectacular view of Bujumbura and Lake Tanganyika.
- Entente Sportive, Avenue du Stade. Daily 07:00 – 19:00, FBu 3500 (2014). Old spacious colonial entourage. There are separate pool for children and even 3 m and 5 m high-dives. Length of the pool is 33 metres.
- Hotel Club Lac du Tanganyika, Chaussee D'Uvira (take route in the direction of the Border with the DRC - Gatumba), +257 250220/221, fax +257 250219, . Daily open until 20:00. FBu 4000 during the week and FBu 10,000 during the weekend. Hotel pool, but in the weekends meeting point for the ex-patriate community of Bujumbura. Breakfast and lunch served at the poolside. Beach nearby.
- War Memorial at the top end of Ave Belvedere - for great sunset views. The Belvedere and Chez Vaya restaurants are nearby and offer equally good views - although during weekdays they only open at 18:30 - after sunset.
Interbank, as well as Ecobank and Kenya commercial Bank and some others have ATMs in Bujumbura that accept international Master cards and Visa cards, but Interbank charge ~5000 FBu for each transaction. At Gar du Nord bus station there is only one ATM around which sometimes is out of service, so come prepared.
Most of the things that one needs can be found in one of the stalls in the Central Market. Stiff bargaining is needed to get it for the right price.
Small supermarkets can be found all over town. They normally stock luxury items at a luxury price.
The largest supermarket in town is Dimitri on the little roundabout of Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore and Avenue du Congo. Do not expect too much, but Dimitri has shopping carts!
The Greek-owned 'Boucherie Nouvelle' on Avenue du Congo is worth a visit. Always busy, but then it offers a wide variety of meat, cheese and charcuterie. Opposite the butcher you find vendors with exclusive and rare vegetables and in the rainy season wild mushrooms of all kinds. Be prepared for a real hassle and 'persuasive' sales techniques.
- The best place to buy souvenirs is the small curio market on Avenue de Stade.
- Another small curio market is found on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore, opposite Library St. Paul.
The people in Bujumbura love their food and enjoy eating out with friends or family. A beef or fish brochette, chips or fried plantain and a fresh salad is available in all restaurants. But take your time. All food is freshly prepared and the cooks take time. Waiting an hour before the food arrives is certainly not abnormal.
Restaurants are scattered all over town, but the best are in Rohero and Kiriri.
Some restaurants that are worth a visit are:
- 1 [dead link] Botanika, 11 Blvd de l'Uprona, ☏ , . Small, European style, funky dining. Expensive. Great outdoor eating area, inner patio, good for brunch on weekends, has wireless. Popular with business, government and expats, often full. Bring your own bottle. Main dish 16,000-18,000 Fbu, starter 12,000 Fbu.
- Le Bouteille d'Or (near centre of town, ask a taxi driver or a local). Basic beer garden that serves a local specialty, beef "michopo", deliciously seasoned steamed beef served with little dough cubes.
- Le Cayor, Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore (opposite Centre Culturel Français). Busy for lunch. General Burundian dishes, but also Cameroonian food.
- Le Plaisir, Avenue de l'Amitié (beside Radio Isanganiro). Popular restaurant serving Burundian dishes. Busy for lunch, especially if you want a table upstairs. Menu items are not always available, so it is best to ask the server what is available. The Sangala fish topped with onions is excellent, and the stewed beef (lunch only) is very reasonably priced.
- 2 Oasis, 14 Blvd de l'Uprona, Rohero I, BP35 (next to Havana), ☏ , (mobile), ✉ email@example.com. M–F 12:00–14:30 18:30–22:00, Sa 13:00–15:30 18:30–22:00, Su closed. Greek restaurant and pizza on the main drag in town. Excellent Greek mezze. 15 Greek specialities & 17 kinds of pizzas. Meat 16,000–20,000 Fbu, meze 16,000 Fbu, pizza 11,000–21,000 Fbu.
- Pont Muha (continue Bld de la Liberte till you reach the river Muha). Best Burundian brochettes in the city. If you are hungry have the brochette Hôtelière.
- 3 Tropicana, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore (head 200 m east from Palace De L'Indépendance, 250 m north-west form central market). Stylish restaurant and internet café. Very good burgers, omelettes, fruit juices and coffee. Main dishes around 10,000 Fbu, drinks 3,000 Fbu.
- La Baguette Magique, Boulevard Lumumba Patrice. Not a café or restaurant, just a very good bakery. Worth stopping at to stock up on cakes/croissants.
- Chez Michel. Next to Hotel le Tanganika. Excellent Belgian Bistro with Belgian beers.
- 4 Fleur de Sel, Blvd 1er Novembre, Peace Corner Bldg, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00–21:00. Good cuisine. Each week a new menu with 3 starters, 3 mains, 3 desserts. The owner is a gentle Belgian woman. They also propose breakfast. The owner opened this restaurant after closing the old Safran. One dish 11,000 Fbu, two 12,5000 Fbu, three 17,500 Fbu, +2,000 Fbu on evening.
- Fleur de Sel in city center (Blvd 1er Novembre). (June 2016)
- BBQ, Avenue Muyinga. Interesting menu and cosy ambiance.
- Chez Andre, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore. Super fancy restaurant in a large, decked-out mansion. Service can be slow and disappointing.
- Shanghai, Avenue Muyinga (coming from the central market, take the Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore and turn left just before the Alimentation Escale du Bien - it's about 600 m (2,000 ft) up the Avenue Muyinga, opposite a kindergarten). Best Chinese in town. Very fast service (in and out in less than an hour), also open for lunch.
- 5 Tandoor, 22 Avenue de la Culture (quartier INSS, between Blvd Uprona and Blvd 28 Novembre), ☏ , . Good Indian food. Quiet garden. Main dish: 10,000–13,000 Fbu + rice 4,500 Fbu.
- 6 Le Belvédère, Avenue Belvédère (Kiriri, up Avenue Belvédère, near the Monument de l'Unité), ☏ , , , ✉ email@example.com. daily lunch and 18:00–23:00. Dining with a superb view over the city. Also open for lunch. Beef is tender, and they have Asian specialties (Japan, Thai, Vietnam). Expensive. main dish for 25,000–30,000 Fbu.
- “Chez Vaya”, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. +257 22 22 82 31, +257 79 92 11 91. Traditional Greek kitchen opened in 1989 with panoramic view.
- 7 Kiriri Garden, Ave Belvédère (Kiriri, up Ave Belvédère, near the mausoleum of Prince Louis Rwagasore), ☏ . One of the most famous place according Burundians.
- 8 Cercle de la Paix de Bujumbura (Cercle Nautique), Avenue de la Plage (at the crossing with Avenue du 13 Octobre), ☏ , , . Maybe the more quiet place of Bujumbura. The food is nothing to impressed with, but the views (on a clear day) on Lake Tanganyika and the mountains of Congo (DRC) are unforgettable. meats 12,000 Fbu, fishes 17,000 Fbu.
- 9 Kiboko Grill, Ubuntu residence, 3 Avenue de la Plage, ☏ , , . Nice garden setting in deluxe hotel with rather overpriced food & swimming-pool. The garden also houses several turtles, peacocks, and has some resident Uganda Cranes. Menu features specials meats (“Jambonneau moutarde”, “Texas spare ribs”) and 14 pizzas. meats/fish: 23,000 Fbu, pizza: 15,000 Fbu.
- Eden, Ave de la Plage (along lake, past Ubuntu). Great lake views. Best pizzas in Bujumbura, owned and managed by well-known Belgian restaurateur who flies the mozzarella in from Italy.
- 10 Restaurant Tanganyika, 1 Avenue de la Plage, BP 109, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 12:00–14:30 18:00–22:30. Set in a glorious 1930s Art Deco building and run by a professional Belgian chef Restaurant Tanganyika serves up some of the best food in the city. Mains from 18,000-25,000 Fbu, Gambas reaches upto 45,000 Fbu.
- Restaurant Hotel La Palmeraie. Nice hotel with garden/pool side restaurant serving excellent French and international cuisine. Nice wine list, but meals can an be expensive (US$30-40)
- La Cervoise du Gaulois, Rue Mutaho (Ave du Large direction Kinindo, cross Pont Muha, left after the green fence of Quartier OUA, first right, the Heineken sign on the left). Closed Mondays. Owned by a Quebecer-Burundian couple. Price range is between Havana Club and Botanika. Gourmet hamburgers, steak, ribs, etc. Beer on tap in frosted glasses. WiFi. Ask about film screenings and NHL ice hockey game nights.
There are several bars on Avenue de l'Universite (between Bld de l'Independence and Blv Mao Tse Tung).
The best known places for a transnight dance are l'Archipel and Havana. L'Archipel can be found at Blv de la Liberté and Havana is on Blv de Uprona (around the corner of the Novotel).
- Coeur d'Afrique (Quartier Asiatique, near Ciné Caméo). Outdoor 'cabaret' features live singing on weekend nights, popular with the college-aged crowd. Probably not wise during the raining season as there is no roof. They usually run out of cold beer early in the evening, but many Burundians prefer their beer warm. Food is available from the calmer place across the street.
Bujumbura Accommodation can be broadly split into the northern beach resorts and the city centre. The city centre can be further split into places near the lake, the city centre proper and up in the hills behind the city centre.
Northern beach resorts
- 1 Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika, RN4, Chaussee D'Uvira, BP 6573, ☏ , , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. on the lake at US$120 upwards. The Italian-owned hotel is popular on the weekends with the expat crowd so a fee of 10,000 FBu was introduced for the usage of the pool. Located outside of the city at the beach. It also has some sporting facilities such as tennis courts.
- Karera Beach Hotel. on the lake. More of a weekend-getaway than a hotel, chalets on the beach (with kitchenette, TV, etc.) start at US$65 per night. Breakfast and other services not included.
- Restaurant Tanganyika 1 Avenue de la Plage - has 4 spacious rooms overlooking the garden with art deco fixtures, free wifi and air conditioning. A small sandy beach is over the road. Good value at US$60 per night including breakfast. The road is a little noisy however.
- [dead link] Safari Gate, Avenue du Large (at the lake), ☏ . Don't believe the prices quoted on their website, they are long out-of-date. The cheaper $60 rooms are pretty dingy and have no view - better to splash out on a $120 room. US$60-120.
Downtown, city centre
- [dead link] Hotel Amahoro, Av Industrial. In the center of town. Wifi, nice little restaurant, and conference rooms. The cheapest rooms have cold showers. US$40-80.
- Hotel Botanika tiny, delightful boutique hotel above Restaurant Botanika - one of the best restaurants in town. Located in city centre, in the vicinity of a lot of bars and nightclubs, so very noisy on weekends. Good food and service and Wi-Fi. Around US$90 per night.
- [dead link] Dorado Hotel, Avenue de L'industrie, ☏ . Basic hotel with air conditioned rooms and wireless internet. The food from the restaurant is excellent. US$80.
- Guesthouse Ave du Cafe, Ave du Cafe (near maison de la presse), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Simple NGO-style guesthouse in a house with 4 rooms. You share living space and dining table with other guests (mainly Belgian NGO workers on mission to Burundi). Rates includes breakfast, lunch, laundry and wireless. Other numbers are 78880176 or 75800801. US$45.
- Water front hotel (approx US$100). The former international Novotel brand and has been privatised after being state-owned for several years. The former first hotel in town, is in desperate need of renovation and has seen a lot better times.
- Hotel de L'Amitie (rooms for US$25 - 50 including breakfast) is on the Avenue de l'Amitie by Blvd l'Uprona. Cheaper rooms come with cold showers. Local restaurant serves awesome fish and chips for 10,000 FBu. There is Wi-Fi in the lobby.
- 2 Roca Golf Hotel, 30 Boulevard de la Tanzanie, PO.6506, Rohero I, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice hotel with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning in rooms, access to golf course included in price. US$200-300.
- Albatros Hotel, Avenune De Pleuple. Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 22:00. Double room with own bathroom. US$$12.
- Hotel Le Bon Air De Ntahangwa, Boulevard Du Peuple. Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 10:00. Double room with own bathroom with breakfast. US$13.
Up in the hills
- Vaya Hotel, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Vaya Hotel The restaurant is old, shabby and overpriced, but the 4 rooms are good value. It's at the top of the hill near University, far from the centre of town, so it's quieter and cooler. Around US$90 per night.
- Village Hotel, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From US$100 per night. In Rohero. Owned by Interbank Burundi. 28 rooms, all amenities including swimming pool and internet.
- Hotel Alexestel, Avenue Makamba (Avenue Makamba, Rohero I), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00. Room types: basic, single rooms - double rooms and deluxe room. Facilities: free wireless Internet connection, free swimming pool, a bar-restaurant. Laundry service, free breakfast, mosquito net, hot water in bathroom. US$40-50-60.
- Hotel Alexestel, Nyakabiga, Avenue muyinga (Avenue Muyinga, close to new mosque, Nyakabiga), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12:00. Room types: Single rooms/double rooms with or without air-con. Free wireless Internet connection, a restaurant. Laundry service, breakfast, mosquito net, hot water in bathroom. US$25-30.
- 3 Best Outlook Hotel, Kiriri hill, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore (on top of Avenue Belvedere, near Monument de l'Unité Nationale and Prince Louis Rwagasore Mausoleum), ☏ , , , , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 11:00. Most rooms and restaurant with nice view on Bujumbura city and Lake Tanganika, Congo visible on clean atmosphere on the opposite shore. Rooms in new building (40x and 50x) are hotter. Discount negotiable by phone with the manager. US$80 double room only, US$150 half-board negotiable to $110.
Bujumbura is a moderately safe city, but common sense should prevail. Walking around during the day should be fine, but at night time (from 18:00) the streets get very dark and you are best off getting a taxi except for very short walks. Day or night there are very few police around. The area near the port feels pretty dodgy day or night.
English/French language broadcasts are available from BBC World Service on 90.2 MHz and 105.6 MHz.
Internet access is best at an expat restaurant with WiFi, especially Café Aroma on Boul. de l'Uprona. For those without their own device, Surf Internet Café (back of Rusca Plaza, Avenue de l'Amitié) has generally fast Internet on good quality computers during the day. In the evening, your best bet in the city centre is Face@Face near the Waterfront Hotel. 3G wireless sticks are available from Econet as of mid-2011, with other carriers planning to offer them soon.
- 1 Belgium, Boulevard de la Liberté, 9, ☏ .
- 2 France, 60 Boulevard de l’Uprona (Inbetween Présidence and Orthodox church), ☏ , fax: . M-Th 08:00–12:12 14:00-17:30, F 8:00-14:15.
- Greece, P.Ο. Βοx 1660, Bujumbura, ☏ .
- United Kingdom. There is no UK embassy in Burundi, but there is a liaison office + 257 22 22-32-66. Burundi is covered from the British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda. Consular assistance is provided by the Embassy of Belgium.
- United States, Ave des Etats-Unis, ☏ , fax: . M 09:00-12:00, 14:00-15:00, W 14:99-15:00, F 09:00-10:30.
- Tanzania by bus: Prepare to spend two days on a bus until you reach Mwanza.
- Take Volcano bus to Kobero or Muyinga (from Muyinga it's a short ride to Kobero). The last bus leaves Buja at 11:00 and it's a good idea to buy the ticket in advance. From Kobero take a moto or taxi to the border. In one office you have both customs. From the border walk for ~300 m (or take a moto) to Kabanga and on your right is the yellow and blue coloured Tumani Letu Hotel. Buy the ticket to Mwanza and spend the night in Kabanga. Next day at 05:00 start your long and bumpy ride to Mwanza.
- About 60 km south of Bujumbura are two lakeside resort hotels, Blue Bay  [formerly dead link] and Resha Royal Imperial Hotel  [dead link] which make for nice day trips or as somewhere to stay overnight. Both have restaurants serving up excellent grilled fish.
- The Belvedere bus company has regular service to Kigali and several Burundian destinations. Their office is behind Dmitri's near the U.S. Embassy. There is also an Intercity bus station on Avenue de l'OUA near GTS.