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Mombasa with a population of over 1 million, is the second-largest city of Kenya. It is particularly known for its warm and sunny climate, white beaches and coral reef diving.


Scene in the Old town

Mombasa is Kenya's main tourist destination. It is on the eastern coastline of Kenya, bordering the Indian Ocean which has made it a popular destination for its beaches. Mombasa offers a diverse marine life, world-class hotels and friendly atmosphere. There is tropical climate all year and is a great destination filled with activities for all ages.

Mombasa was founded in the 16th century and has been ruled by the Portuguese, Arabs and British. The city's culture today still exhibits that of its pasts. Historical ruins like Fort Jesus and the Old Town are attractions that display the history in Mombasa.

The central part of the city, Mvita, is an island in a river delta, accessed by bridges and from the south by ferries operating around the clock. It is a very cosmopolitan city, and you can see a group of Muslims wearing niqab (here known as "bui bui") and Giryama people wearing almost nothing at the same time and place.

Together with Nairobi, it is the only place in the country that has a status as both city and county.


The city of Mombasa is divided into four administrative divisions. These are clearly geographically defined and are therefore useful for orientation.

As in many other metropolises, it is difficult to distinguish the newer areas from the original city (Mvita). As of 2009, 90% of the urban area was built up. And as in all major Sub-Saharan African cities, there are several shantytowns in the suburbs. The largest is Kisauni-Kongowea in Kisauni, and others include Chaani-Magongo and Miritini in Changamwe as well as Mtongwe in Likoni.

Most hotels and activities are concentrated on the island of Mvita and along the northern coast in the Kisauni division.

The four divisions of Mombasa
The island where the original city was founded. The old town is calmer than the rest of Mvita and ranges from the old port to Fort Jesus which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011. South of the fort there are administrative quarters and three of the city's four hospitals. To the west there is the port area. Central Mvita, including part of the Haile Selassie road is a permanent market with colorful shops, stalls, street food and public places.
The gateway to the city if you're coming from Nairobi. Here are the international airport, part of the port and oil and chemical industry plants. Changamwe is connected to Mvita by Makupa Bridge.
Kisauni is often called the "north coast". This is where the largest slums of Mombasa are located, but also the sand beaches of Nyali, Bamburi and Shanzu, all bordered by luxury hotels and vacation houses. It is connected to Mombasa Island by Nyali Bridge and to the neighboring village of Mtwapa by Mtwapa Bridge.
Often called the "south coast". Like Kisauni it has a large sand beach, Shelly Beach, but the accommodation here is mostly made up of apartments. It is connected to Mvita by ferry.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 32 32.3 32.6 31.2 29.3 28.4 27.7 27.9 28.8 29.6 30.6 31.6
Nightly lows (°C) 23.2 23.6 24.2 23.9 22.7 21.3 20.4 20.3 20.8 22 23.1 23.3
Precipitation (mm) 33 15 56 163 240 80 70 66 72 97 92 75

Source : World Meteorological Organisation
Nyali Beach

The climate is tropical with a major rain season between mid-April and late May and a minor wet season in October and November. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer, with temperatures above +32°C, occurs in January and March. At just 4° south of the Equator, the variation in temperature is relatively small.


Map of Mombasa in 1635

The first urban area was founded near what today is known as Old Town around 900 AD by a man named Sheheh Mvita. Its strategic position along the maritime route to India caused the city to be coveted by many powers, and it was a notable port for the ivory and spice trades.

Several travelers and explorers passed through the region starting no later than the 1st century, but the first written record of the city was by the Moroccan Ibn Battuta in 1330. It said Mombasa was "a very rural island without territorial dependency on the continent with mosques and forests and the inhabitants nourishing themselves on bananas and fish". On 7th of April 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived and stayed for six days, and this was the end of peace in this small town. Under orders of Francisco de Almeida, the Portuguese returned to pillage the village in 1505 and 1528 before capturing it in 1529. They constructed Fort Jesus in 1593, together with five smaller forts, and made Mombasa a Portuguese stronghold on the route to India. The years between 1600 and 1832 were marked by successive battles between the Portuguese and the Sultanate of Oman, who ultimately conquered it.

In 1856 the sultanate of Muscat and Oman split into two and Mombasa fell into the sphere of the sultanate of Zanzibar, of which it was part until it was conquered by Britain in 1895. Mombasa served as capital of the East Africa Protectorate from 1898-1905. During this time the city's new port and the railway to Uganda were constructed. The East Africa Protectorate was dissolved in 1920 and the area was thereafter known as the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya. Mombasa remained the capital of Kenya until the country attained independence in 1963, and has served as a provincial capital ever since.

Tourist information[edit]

Get in[edit]

Moi International Airport as seen from the runway
View towards Mombasa during landing

Mombasa is an important node for all forms of transportation. It is the end of the Transafrican route 8 from Lagos as well as the railway to Uganda. It has an international airport, Moi Airport, and one of Eastern Africa's most important ports, Kilindini, which is also the main port for goods to Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

By plane[edit]

The flight between Nairobi and Mombasa takes some 45 minutes, enough time for a cold drink and a view of the Tsavo East National Park. The flag carrier Kenya Airways as well as the budget airlines Jombo Jet and Fly540 (Five Forty Aviation). Moreover, there are direct flights from European destinations such as Bologna, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Rome, there are also flights from Addis Ababa, Zanzibar, Dubai, Kigali, Istanbul, Moroni, Dar es Salaam.

Airlines that fly to Mombasa are

  • Kenya airways.
  • Jombo Jet
  • Fly540
  • Ethiopian airlines.
  • RwandAir.
  • Tukish airlines.
  • Fly-Sax.
  • Meridiana airlines.
  • Mombasa Air Safari.
  • ZanAir.
  •   Moi International AirportRoad C110, Barack Obama Rd +254 716 694306. The airport in Mombasa has been newly renovated and has increased the frequency of flights in and out of Mombasa from European cities. Moi Airport is the second most important airport in Kenya, after Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi. It is located in Changamwe, 6km from Mombasa Island to which is linked by the roads 110 (Barack Obama Road) and 109. Taxi or shared taxi ("matutu") is the most common way to get to the island from the airport, as of 2014 the fares for a taxi ride is between KES1000-1600, while a matutu ride will cost KES 80-160. Certain hotels offer shuttle services from the airport against a fee. There are also cars to rent.
  •   Bamburi AirportOff Old Shimo La Tewa Road, Bamburi. The budget carrier Airkenya Express operates charter flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to Bamburi Airport.

By boat[edit]

Cruise ferry leaving Mombasa
The ferry MV Harambee

There are three ways to get to Mombasa by boat: by private boat, cruise ship or ferry.

By private boat[edit]

On Mombasa Island there are two sailing clubs open to non-members and two hotels with marinas open to non-guests.

By cruise ship[edit]

Certain companies offer cruises that call at Mombasa:

By ferry[edit]

If you are arriving overland from south, you need to cross the river by the Likoni Ferry.

By train[edit]

Jambo Kenya Deluxe arrives in Mombasa

The train ride on board the "Jambo Kenya Deluxe" from Nairobi takes about 15h and trains are operated by Kenyan Railways. The advantages of traveling by railway is the ability to see wildlife up close. There are three weekly departures in each direction; Monday, Wednesday and Friday night from Nairobi and Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday night from Mombasa. You will travel along the mythical railway leading from Mombasa to Uganda, which was built between 1896 and 1903. First class compartments have two beds, second class has four beds and in third class there are benches. Toilets on board the train are very basic. In the train's restaurant the food is simple but prepared on demand from fresh ingredients. The first class ticket includes dinner and breakfast. For safety, there are police officers on board the train.

By bus[edit]

Mombasa bus station

Buses, while not a major mode of transportation within the city, are mostly used for traveling outside the city. The major player in transportation in Mombasa is Matatu, which are mostly fourteen-seater minibuses, and are quite popular amongst the residents. One way fares from Nairobi are around KES800-1300 and the trip takes at least 6 hours, or by night bus, 10 hours. Companies operating this line include include Busscar, Coastline Safaris (Coastbus), Mombasa Raha, Simba Coaches and Modern Coast Express.

By car[edit]

Kenya drives on the left and it will likely take some time to adapt to the local traffic culture. Drive in daytime only and keep the car doors locked, especially in urban areas. In Kenya foreign drivers must have an international drivers licence. These can be obtained through automobile clubs, travel agencies, or from the Road Transport Office located in the Income Tax House in Nairobi.

Most international rental agencies are present at least at Nairobi airport. From Nairobi the distance to Mombasa is 525km and the drive takes everything between six and twelve hours, depending on the presence of police controls along the road, congestion on the section between Mariakani and Mombasa and the breaks you take. Voi is a good place to stop for lunch (this is also where buses stop).

From central Nairobi, take route 104 (Huhuru Highway) to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Athi River. From there route 109 to Mombasa.

  • Auto EuropeJomo Kenyatta International Airport, Embakasi (Nairobi) and Makena House, Wajir Road (Mombasa), e-mail: .
  • Avis KenyaMombasa Road, Nairobi +254 20 2966500 (company), +254 20 2386420 (airports, 24/7), +254 727 532232 (Nairobi airport), +254 736 750006 (Mombasa airport)fax: +254 20 2533613, e-mail: .
  • EuropcarJomo Kenyatta International Airport (near Passenger Drop Off, Point 1), Embakasi (Nairobi).
  • Afford Car HireMoi International Airport +254774395959, e-mail: . 8AM to 6PM. 100% Excess Waiver, Clean cars, No Deposit, Easy Car Rental Terms, Delivery to the nearest Hotel, Railway Station, Airport, Shopping Complex or School. Pick and Drop anywhere in Kenya. from KES 5,000per day/US$52 per day.
  • Hire N' DriveMoi International Airport +254722417475, e-mail: . 7AM to 7PM. Affordable car rental rates, Easy car rental terms, Pick and drop from 67 locations in Kenya. Optional driver, 24 hours support from KES 3,000per day/US$34 per day.

Get around[edit]

There are no traffic lights in Mombasa and the traffic will likely appear chaotic to a westerner. Traffic laws are not respected, even when police are present.

By minibus[edit]

There is no regular public transportation network in the city. The closest equivalent are the aforementioned matatus (minivans) of which there are about 3500 (licensed ones have stickers on the windshields) in the city. They're cheap — ask someone at the hotel what the going rate is and don't let them scam you. Don't expect to be comfortable; as the drivers want to take as many passengers as possible, you will often be crammed in like a sardine. As of 2014 a matatu ride starts from KES25-80 but count on paying double if you want a vehicle which conforms to the traffic legislation. Certain lines connect Mombasa and Malandi, the ride taking about two hours at a price of KES120.

By motorcycle and bike[edit]

For the more adventurous there are tuk-tuks (motorized trikes with a cabin for the passengers), pikipikis (motorcycle taxis), and boda-bodas (bicycle taxis). The latter two are rather dangerous and scary modes of getting around. The price for a tuk-tuk ride is around KES70-100, pikipiki around KES50 and boda-boda around KES20.

By taxi[edit]

Normal taxis, both official and unofficial, are also available. Taxis don't have taxi signs on the roof, but license papers stuck to the windshields. The ride is in general paid beforehand after some negotiation and you can expect the driver to stop at a service station to fill up just the necessary amount to get you to your destination. As of 2014, a ride from the airport to central Mombasa costs around KES1000-1600.

By car[edit]

It is also possible to rent a car with or without a driver. If you need to get around a lot but are scared of driving, you can usually negotiate fares for longer periods (e.g. one day) with taxi drivers. Do this only after a "test ride", as taxi drivers are not always knowledgeable of the city.


The Santo Mathias bastion and the main entrance to Fort Jesus
Old town scene

Considering Mombasa's action-filled history, surprisingly there is just a handful of sights. The nature and a slew of different activities is what makes Mombasa interesting for visitors. In addition to these, there are a couple of sights within 20-30km north, west and south of Mombasa. These are listed under #Go next.

  •   Fort JesusFort Jesus Rd +254 720 650869. daily 8:30-18. Fort Jesus is the most popular destination in Mombasa. Built between 1593 and 1596 by the Portuguese to protect the port against the Ottomans, this fort was in military use for over three centuries. It got its name from the Portuguese fleet sailing under the flag of the Order of Christ (Ordem de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo). The fort is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. Fort Jesus holds artifacts from when Mombasa was a transit port for the slave trade. There are torture rooms, cells, and many other displays from the 16th century. During the British period the fort functioned as a prison and today part of the cells are used as a museum. Many exhibits come from the Portuguese frigate Santo António de Tanna that sank in 1697, including African and Indian pottery, Chinese china, different objects used by the crew and two bronze cannons. Another part of the collection is dedicated to archeological finds from the Kenyan coast. Moreover there are Arabic military equipment, musical instruments and a series of cannons from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the small park next to the entrance there is a 105mm cannon that belonged to the Imperial German Navy. KES1500 (adults), KES750 (kids) as of 2013.
  •   Old townDistricts of Makadara and Mzizima. Situated along Tudor Creek north of Fort Jesus, these districts make up the original city. It is an example of typical Swahili architecture with a much more peaceful ambience than the rest of the city. Much of it has been converted into souvenir shops and restaurants and here you can find artisanal stores selling silver jewelery and small furniture. If you are afraid of getting lost among the small streets or don't want to miss anything, there are guides at the esplanade of Fort Jesus that can show you around the old town for KES1000. A nice place to explore on a Sunday when much of the city is closed down.
  •   The tusks of Moi avenueMoi Ave (near Uhuru Garden). The tusks were built in 1956 to welcome Princess Margaret who was visiting Mombasa town. Today they are some of the most characteristic landmarks of Mombasa. They are located at the entrance to the city and not made of ivory as is sometimes thought, but of steel. An interesting thing to note is that the tusks form an M (which stands for Mombasa).
  •   Leven House. In the 19th century this building was the headquarters of the British Navy's anti-slavery campaigns in the region. It got its current name after a British warship. Later the building has been used by missionaries, a shipping company and as a consulate. Nowadays this historical building hosts a restaurant.
  •   Holy Ghost CathedralNyerere Ave. The neo-Gothic building right in downtown is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa and a visible landmark.
The New Dwarikadham temple
  • Mandirs. Thanks to its Indian community Mombasa has several beautiful Hindu temples (mandirs) to visit. Tourist/visitors are able to go inside the temple accompanied by a guide from the temple. Inside there are artifacts, idols and cultural pictures/paintings.
  •   Shri Kutch Satsang TempleCoin de Haile Selassie Avenue and Bajuni Road. Constructed in 1957, it is the oldest mandir of Swaminarayan Hinduism outside India.
  •   New Dwarikadham TempleBeach Road, Nyali. This complex of 8100m2 serves the Krishna Consciousness community and includes a vegetarian restaurant.
  •   Lord Shiva TempleMwenye Aboud Rd. Sikh temple worth visiting thanks to its gardens.
  •   Mamba VillageLinks Road, Nyali +254 729 403670, e-mail: . daily 7-18. A park of 20 hectares whose principal attraction is a farm with around 10000 crocodiles. There is horseback and camel riding and the park also has a restaurant and a bar. The best time to visit is around 17:00 when the crocodiles are fed.
  •   Mangrove of Tudor Creek. It is possible to visit the mangrove forests of the Kombeni and Tsalu rivers which form the Tudor Creek. To do that, ask a fisherman at Cape Kiberamni or Junda Creek to take you there. Prices are negotiable.
Oryx and eland in Haller Park
  •   Haller ParkMalindi Road, Bamburi +254 41 5485901. 8:30-17:30. A zoological garden of about 75 hectares created in 1985 on the site of a formal coral reef. Animals include giraffes, hippos, monkeys, and reptiles. The park has two famous animals: Owen and Mzee. The former is a hippopotamus that was orphanized by the tsunami of 2004 and the second a turtle that "adopted" the young hippo to the astonishment of the scientists. The best time to visit is between 14 and 15 when the animals are fed. Guides speak English, Spanish, French and other languages. Watch out for the monkeys, they are numerous and appear friendly but do occasionally bite. KES1600 as of 2013.

Mombasa was a military base during both world wars, and there are two military cemeteries:


Activities on Bamburi's beach: camel rides, diving boat and fishing boat

Beaches and water[edit]

Even as the 13.5km of white sand beaches along the coast would tempt you to do nothing but bathing in the sun and the sea, Mombasa also offers other kinds of activities. All beaches in Kisauni offer camel rides and on Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach in Bamburi you can rent bikes too. There are also guided walks on the beaches.

  •   Wild Waters Amusement ParkLinks Road, Nyali +254 726 337000, e-mail: . 10-18. Water amusement park with 15 different toboggans. On hot days this is a good place to cool yourself. As the place is fairly new (opened in 2006 and later expanded) the water park is reportedly modern and clean. Other activities on site include a gaming arcade, a "disco arena" and several theme rides as well as food court. with access to toboggans: 1200 KES, just entrance : 300 KES.


  •   Mombasa Marine National Park and Marine Reserve +254 41 2312744, e-mail: . For divers the main attraction is the Leven coral reef in the Mombasa Marine National Park and Marine Reserve. Including reef crest habitats of the Bamburi-Nyali fringing reef and a part of the lagoon, this is the Kenya's most popular marine park. It has an area of 10km2 and is part of a larger reserve of 200km2. There are three wrecks that can be visited.
  •   Bouccaner DivingMount Kenya Road, Nyali (in Voyager Beach Resort),  +254 728 999226, +254 728 999225, e-mail: . A company organizing diving courses both for beginners and intermediate divers as well as diving trips in the waters outside Mombasa. They have an office on Zanzibar too.
  •   Peponi Divers MombasaMount Kenya Road, Nyali (in Bahari Beach Hotel),  +254 722 412302 also for WhatsApp, e-mail: . Diving school for both beginners and intermediate divers and diving tours to several wreck sites. Also specialty courses like shark awareness. Service in several languages.


You can catch big fishes in Mombasa, including barracuda, yellow tuna and all three species of marlin.

  •   Suli Suli Big Game FishingBamburi Beach (in the Cowrie Shell),  +254 716 427607. Offshore fishing from boats, offers tours of four, six or eight hours. There are fishing rods on board the boat so you don't need to bring your own. They also arrange fishing tours in inland lakes and streams as well as snorkelling excursions to the coral reefs with glass-bottomed boats.
  •   Bigfish Sports FishingOff Serena Rd +254 722 411534, e-mail: . Offshore fishing in the Indian Ocean. Tours include fishing equipment and cold drinks. Their boats can also be chartered. tours from GBP220.
  •   Deep Sea FishingLink Road, Kongowea (in the Tamarind Village),  +254 722 502712, e-mail: . Single and multiple day fishing tours on the ocean. Tours include fishing equipment and cold drinks.

Parks and greenery[edit]

A pond on the Bamburi Forest Trails

Mombasa Island (Mvita) itself doesn't have many parks. The two best known are Uhuru Garden at Moi Avenue near the tusks and Mama Ngina Park.

  •   Mama Ngina ParkMama Ngina Dr. Here you can look at the ships arriving in and leaving from the port, the ferry crossing over to Likoni as well as take in some fresh ocean air. free.
  •   Bamburi Forest Trails and Butterfly ParkMalindi Road, Bamburi. The most visited forested area both among locals and tourists is located in Bamburi. It has many ponds, covers and area of 100 ha and you can get around by foot or bike. Nguuni Wildlife Sanctuary is located here, a place where you can encounter giraffes, ostriches, oryx and deers in semi-liberty. In the Butterfly Pavillion you can admire 16 species of living butterflies. KES200.
  •   Jomvu Kuu. If you wish to get off the beaten path, there is a paved road north of Miritini (near the airport) which leads through a savanna landscape to the small village of Jomvu Kuu from where you have a view over the mangrove forest.
  •   Tiwi Beach. Tiwi Beach is a quiet beach on Mombasas south coast, not spoiled by mass tourism. Take the Likoni ferry to the south by taxi (ca. USD50) from Mombasa city center.
  •   Mtwapa Creek. Mtwapa Creek is a place to visit on Mombasa's north coast. It's an Indian Ocean inlet with some small marinas and beautiful tropical vegetation which is very famous for bird watching, mountain bike tours around the creek and starting point for deep sea fishing trips.


Souvenir shop in the old town
  •   Bombolulu Cultural CentreBombolulu Estate, Kisauni (in the Bombolulu Workshops & Cultural Centre),  +254 723 560933, e-mail: . Traditional Kenyan dance performances and sale of jewelery, leather, textiles and carved wood.
  •   Ngomongo VillageOff Serena Road, Shanzu +254 41 5487063. Described as a "sustainable eco-cultural tourist village" this is a reconstruction of habitats of the nine different Kenyan tribes. The site itself has been constructed on a quarry that has been retransformed into nature by planting different indigenous trees in 1991. After this wetlands were constructed and animals introduced and nowadays there is a bird sanctuary as well. Small villages of different tribes from various parts of Kenya have been constructed in there, each surrounded with similar kinds of nature that can be found in the area the tribe lives in. These villages, which are inhabited, is a place for experiencing local culture from different parts of the country including traditional clothing, customs and dance performances.
  •   Nyali CinemaxTamarind Road, Kongowea +254 41 447000, e-mail: . Mo-Fr 12:30-22, Sa-Su 9:30-22. Nyali Theatre featuring Hollywood and Bollywood new releases (500 KSH). Two cinema rooms with digital cinema equipment. Also bowling alley, casino, and Italian restaurant. Have some bhel puri while you're there. Taxi from centre KES800, Tuk Tuk KES300. Parking.


  •   Mombasa Go-KartShanzu (exit Malindi Road on the right hand side, direction towards Severin Sea Lodge),  +254 721 485247, e-mail: . 16-22, Mo closed. A 500m go-cart track, dirt track for buggies and training track for bulldozer driving. Also has a restaurant and a bowling alley.



There are many kinds of events during the year:

  • Marathon and triathlon. Yearly. Organized since 1985 in the Southern Hemisphere fall by the International Triathlon Federation. Since 2006 there is also a yearly triathlon event in the Austral spring.
  •   European film festivalCoin de Moi Avenue and Kwa Shibu Road (localities of l'Alliance française),  +254 41 2225048, +254 733 439999, e-mail: . 2 weeks yearly in May or June. Organized by the Alliance française.
  •   Dragon Boat RaceTudor Creek (next to Tudor Water Sport). Yearly during Southern Hemisphere spring. A race of dragon boats, each of which has 20 rowers and a tambourine player giving the rhythm.
  •   Round Table Mombasa n° 3Go-KartShanzu (on the right hand side of Malindi Road),  +254 721 485247. Yearly during Southern Hemisphere spring. Go-cart endurance race on three racing courses. Arranged on the aforementioned go-cart track.
  •   CarnivalMoi Ave. Yearly in November. Happens in November on the streets of Mvita. It is a colorful parade of around 50 chariots and 3000 dancers from all over Kenya in traditional costumes.
  •   FireworksNyali. Dec 31-Jan 1. The New Year's firework show is arranged by the hotels at Nyali beach.
  • Safari Rally. Yearly. A yearly Kenya National Rally Championship race.

Safaris and excursions[edit]

Elephants and safari vehicles in Tsavo East National Park
  •   Kinazini Funzi Dhow Safaris (1 hr south of Mombasa off main Tanzania Rd, bus transport from all beach hotels included),  +254-734-603-250. Every day. On these safaris you can visit the unspoilt Funzi Island by dhow (traditional Arab sailing ship) as well as explore the Ramisi River Mangroves by canoe for crocs and lots of birdlife up close. The island has beaches for sunbathing and swimming in the ocean, as well as a restaurant serving lobster and seafood barbecue. USD105.
  •   Avicennia (Funzi Keys),  +254 724 414860. Every Tues, Thurs, Sat. Avicenna Island is a place for outdoor activities, such as kayaking through submerged mangrove forests, and sunbathing and swimming the Funzi Sandbar. You can also enjoy seafood barbecue at the Wooden Banda restaurant. USD90.


Kanga store on Biashara Street
Various vyondo

Like in all of Africa, haggling is common in small shops. Especially if you are an obvious foreigner, the initial price is usually higher than what is normally paid for the merchandise.

The best places for buying souvenirs are the districts of Kinyozi, Mwembe and Tayari which are surrounding Haile Selassie Road and also Biashara Street (Biashara means "commerce" in Swahili). Specialities include:

  • kitenge (vitenge in plural) : fabrics decorated with colorful motifs for women to be worn around the waist or tied on the head
  • kanga : similar to kitenge but also decorated with a border running along the sides and a written Swahili proverb.
  • kikoi (vikoi in plural) : the "kitenge" for men, sometimes made of wool and usually decorated with strips or tartan
  • batik : originating on Java, batik has been known on the Kenyan coast for centuries. The pieces are cloths are woven by hand but not hand painted. Should not be washed in a washing machine.
  • kiondo or chondo (vyondo in plural) : handmade handbag with leather trim often beautifully decorated with beads or shells
  • ndala : Hand made sandals made from leather and old tires (for the soles), these stylish shoes are a great souvenir from Mombasa. Local craftsman use colorful beads and pieces of leather to create a vast variety of shapes and decorations. No two pairs are alike. KES500.

In the old town you can find stores selling silver jewelry and small furniture handmade in typical Swahili style. Also here, haggling is the rule.

There are two important workshops selling their productions directly to customers:

  •   Bombolulu Workshops & Cultural Centre (BWCC), Bombolulu Estate, Kisauni +254 723 560933, e-mail: . Cultural center that sells jewelery, leather and textile products as well as wooden sculptures created by one of the 150 artisans with a physical handicap who are working there. Bombolulu Workshops was founded in 1969 and is a project of the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK). This center is a popular attraction for tourists and has 150 disabled employees who create jewelry, textiles, wood and leather crafts. It is the largest rehabilitation center in Kenya.
  •   Akamba HandicraftBarracks Obama Road, Chaani +254 41 3432241, e-mail: . Decorative and useful objects made of sculpted wood. The carvings are hand made and hence each piece is unique. You can see the artisans at work in the shop and there's a showroom with a wide range of exhibits.
  • City Mall Nyali. First Modern shopping mall in Mombasa. has a Nakunatt supermarket.


Mombasa is a cosmopolitan city with Arabic, Chinese, European and Indian influences and this can be seen in the local cuisine. Many local dishes include coconut, for instance waly ya tui (basmati rice with coconut milk), kuku wa kupaka (chicken with coconut milk) and mahamri (coconut donuts with cardamom).


Locals eating street food in Mombasa

Pizzerias and snack bars serving Kenyan cuisine are found in Mvita and places that are frequented by tourists such as the beaches. Many hotels also offer this kind of affordable eating. If you want to try out the Kenyan cuisine in such places, check that the place is overall clean, that it does not smell of old frying oil. Moreover, ask for drinks in unopened bottles, avoid ice and peel any fruits. If you follow these tips you can have a great and affordable meal - KES250 will buy you a large serving and a beer.

Tea salons and ice cream bars[edit]

  •   Cafe MochaTamarind Road, Kongowea (in the Nyali Cinemax),  +254 775 269326. daily 16-24. Tea salon, pastries, ice cream and free Wi-Fi.
  •   Pistacchio CaféMeru Rd. Ice cream and coffee bar that also serves buffet lunch.

Self catering[edit]

For you who want to prepare your meals yourself, the easiest and most hygienic way to go are supermarkets such as Nakumatt, Uchumi and Tuskys.

Entrance to Kongowea Market

There are two malls in Kisauni:

  •   Kongowea MarketLinks Road, Kongowea. 3-13. Kongowea market is one of the largest in Kenya with over 1500 stalls and an area of 4.75 ha. Worth visiting for its ambiance, colors and smells. Take care with meat products because they are not always what the signs say. If you want to take photos of the vendors and their stalls, ask permission first. Also, pickpockets operate in the market, so don't show your expensive camera or phone more than necessary.


  •   Island DishesKibokoni Rd (in the old town), toll-free: +254 710 712221. Kenyan and North African cuisine. This restaurant has got good reviews for their food.
  •   Suli SuliBamburi Beach, Bamburi (in the Cowrie Shell),  +254 716 427607. Kenyan and international cuisine, barbecue. Pool and garden. Also organizes wedding parties on the beach.
  •   Hunters Steack HouseOff Cement Silo Road, Kongowea (opposite Tamarind Mombasa),  +254 41 957474, e-mail: . Tuesday closed. International cuisine, barbecue, homemade pastries.
  •   Yul'sMalindi Road, Bamburi (on the beach),  +254 41 5485950, e-mail: . daily 10-24. International cuisine, barbecue, homemade ice cream.
  •   POA Restaurant & GrillMalindi Road, Bamburi (in the Tembo Entertainment Plaza), toll-free: +254 722 411873. each night 18-6. Tembo Entertainment Plaza on the North Coast, near the Nakumatt Nyali shopping centre. Large menu ranging from snacks and burgers to specialties from Germany, Italy, India, China, Thailand, as well as seafood. Open throughout the night.


Fine dining with view of the city


Moon over the Indian Ocean

There are quite a number of good bars, pubs and entertainment spots in Mombasa Town and the North Coast. Nightlife is very vibrant in Mombasa and in the village Mtwapa (15km north of Mombasa, called "the village that never sleeps").

  •   Florida Night ClubMama Ngina Dr (bordering the ocean),  +254 41 4471071fax: +254 41 2313127, e-mail: . open daily, 24h. Night club, bar and casino. Reportedly famous for their chicken wings, they advertise 50 years of experience in the entertainment business.
  •   Bob's BarMalindi Road, Nyali. Lively and popular bar located near Tembo. This bar and grill is where a lot of great nights out get started. 3 bars, one of them has a terrace. Disco. Serves food.

Tembo Entertainment Plaza[edit]

One of the largest and most popular ones is the renowned   Tembo Entertainment Plaza which is situated on Mombasa's North Coast near the Nakumatt Nyali Shopping Centre. It comprises 6 different outlets/attractions, incl. a huge open air disco, an exclusive disco lounge bar, a fully air-conditioned GoGo bar, an a la carte restaurant, a pizzeria and a 24h beer garden.

  • Tembo Disco. One of the largest discos in East Africa and can fit up to 3000 people. Situated in an old quarry with lots of the original tropical environment left intact, giving it an enchanting tropical ambience.
  • Comfy Lounge The exclusive Comfy Lounge is laid out in a posh and stylish upmarket design with comfortable sofa sets, tables, stools and a large bar counter. It's open daily from 18 to 6, with good background music until 11PM, thereafter the latest dance music until wee hours. Revellers can shake a leg on the medium-sized dance floor.
  • Lollipop Go-Go Bar. daily from 21 until 5. Attractive table dancers performing exotic non-stop table dance shows. There is a large collection of cocktails and international beverages on the bar card.
  • Bavaria Beer Garden. The ideal around the clock meeting place. Bavaria never closes. It's an Bavarian Oktoberfest styled beer garden equipped with a giant 3x3m TV Screen showing live sports events.


Price categories as of 2015

Per person

    • KES500 with your own camping equipment
    • KES700 with equipment rental
  • Hostel dorm (including breakfast) :
    • KES 550/1000

Double room (including breakfast) :

  • Budget - under KES 2500.
  • Mid-range KES 2500-8000.
  • Splurge KES 8000+

There is a wide range of accommodation on offer in Mombasa from camping to Backpacker hostels to hotels and villas with all comforts.

Nyali beach seen from Reef Hotel


  •   Kisiwa Guest House LodgeOff Tangana Rd +254 714 949373, e-mail: . Singles and doubles. Free parking, which has to be reserved beforehand. Rates include breakfast and the rooms are equipped with a minibar and a tv. According to their home page rates for longer stays can be negotiated. Standard room KES2200.
  • YWCA Guest houseKiambu Lu Likoni (Ground floor Tea trade),  +254-41-451520.
  •   Mombasa BackpackersMwamba Drive, Nyali (behind the Kenol Petrol Station on Mwtapa Rd in Nyali),  +254 701 561233, e-mail: . Singles, doubles and triples as well as 3 dorms with 6, 8 and 10 beds, also a campsite. The only backpackers in Kenya with a swimming pool. Chef on site from 7 to 22, kitchen facilities (stove and fridge for guests) and a good bar with imported and local beers. TV/DVD/cable lounge area, a second DStv (satellite pay tv) at the bar for sports. They arrange kite surfing, scuba diving and safaris. Moreover they also rent bikes, have a book exchange and a tattoo artist on site. Within walking distance to the beach, supermarkets, and public transport. Always take a tuk tuk after sunset. dorm bed KES1000.
  •   Tulia houseOff Links Road, Nyali +254 711 955999, e-mail: . Two double rooms and dorms for 4 to 10 persons. Wi-Fi. Campsite, pool. dorm bed KES1000.
  •   Jay's Nyali HomestayBeach Road, Nyali. Four guest rooms; one single and three doubles. Rooms have cable tv and Wi-Fi. They offer free airport transfer and you can rent bikes and tents there.
  • The Beach Africa BackpackersMaweni Beach Mtwapa +254-720-852327. Dorm bed. Ksh 550.
  • New Peoples Guest HouseAbdel Nasser Rd (near the Lamu bus stop. down town). Double rooms with outside bathroom. Ksh 800.
  • South Coast BackpackersDiani beach +254-0-700-713666. Camping with own tent. dorm bed. Ksh 700/1050.
  • New Daba City Guest houseMwembe Tayari Rd (next to coast bus.),  +254-722-472982. Single/double room with own bathroom. from Ksh 1200.


In Mvita[edit]

  •   Hotel SapphireMwembe Tayari Rd. 110 rooms and suites, catering providing food from various traditions and cultures, health club and gym. rates from KES 5,600.
  •   Lotus HotelCathedral Ln (550m from Fort Jesus),  +254 41 2313207. Singles, doubles and triples, all with bathroom and A/C. Simple but high quality restaurant. Calm hotel with colonial ambiance.
  •   New Palm Tree HotelNkrumah Rd (650m from Fort Jesus),  +254 715 442017. Singles, doubles and triples, all with bathroom, tv and A/C and a terrace towards the inner courtyard. Wi-Fi. The coffee shop and reception are open 24h. double USD45.

In Changamwe[edit]

Being chiefly an industrial area, Changamwe has little accommodation to offer, there are just two hotels.

  •   Jambo Village HotelOff Barrack Obama Road, Chaani (3km from the airport),  +254 717 357327. Singles, doubles, triples. Rates include breakfast. Conference room, bar and restaurant.
  •   Coastgate HotelOff Mombasa Road, Miritini (behind the car inspection centre, 9km from the airport),  +254 729 170500, e-mail: . 34 singles or doubles, all with balcony. Wi-Fi. Restaurant on the roof. Conference room. Room rates include breakfast but they also offer half board and full board. double USD60.

In Kisauni[edit]

Nyali International Beach Hotel & Spa seen from the beach
Voyager Beach Resort seen from the beach
Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort

The hotels bordering the beaches of Nyali, Bambur and Shanzu are all equipped for arranging wedding ceremonies including religious weddings on the beach. These beach hotels are also famous for arranging Mombasa's New Year's fireworks.

  •   Villa Annchen (At Mtwapa Creek, on Mombasa's north coast.),  +254 710906126. Villa Annchen consists of a guesthouse and an upscale holiday home and offers a private atmosphere. 4 guest room with king size beds and en suite bathrooms. It has a huge stone natural pool. Also weekly rates. guest rooms KES 3250/night/person, the villa KES26,900/night.
  •   Leinmach Guest HouseBarracks Street, Nyali +254 705 185849, e-mail: . Markets itself as a quieter alternative to a hotel. Rooms have Wi-Fi and tv, and rates include breakfast. They have a pool and are located next to a golf club. Restaurant with Swahili and Chinese specialties. double room KES4000.
  •   Royal Reserve Safari and Beach Club. Offers accommodations for all, including RCI timeshare members. The resort is right off the coast with enjoyable nightlife, multiple restaurant selection with diverse cuisines, gym, pools, and friendly staff.
  •   Sun N Sand Beach Club +254 41 32621. All inclusive resort providing accommodations for 298 guest rooms, Health Club, Pool, nightlife, and various activities. Rooms are equipped with A/C, bath, safe, fridge, satellite tv, and some have a private balcony with sea view. This resort is also children friendly.
  •   Sarova Whitesands Beach ResortMalindi Road, Bamburi +254 41 2128000fax: +254 719 022000, e-mail: . 335 rooms of which 8 suites and 3 rooms for physically handicapped persons. This resort advertising itself as "East Africa's finest" has three restaurants, three bars, four pools, a wellness and fitness club and arranges different water activities such as diving, snorkelling and water skiing. Rooms have Wi-Fi, A/C, bath, satellite tv, a tea and coffee maker and a hair dryer, some rooms also have a balcony with sea view.

In Likoni[edit]

Even as Shelly Beach is as beautiful as the ones in Kisauni, many of the beaches in Likoni e.g. Tijara Beach are private and can be rented (refer to the section apartments and villas). Just two hotels can be classified as three star hotels.


In Mvita[edit]

In Kisauni[edit]

  •   Pangoni Beach Resort & SpaOff Serena Road, Shanzu (at Cannon Point, 16 km north of Mombasa Island),  +254 732 361050, e-mail: . 50 single, double or triple suites with their own equipped kitchen. The rooms are equipped like apartments with everything from entertainment systems to kitchen equipment and cutlery, some also have a private jacuzzi. Two bars, a restaurant, a pool and a private beach.

Apartments and villas[edit]

If you prefer something calmer than hotels, there are also apartments and villas to rent.

In Kisauni[edit]

In Likoni[edit]



Mombasa has several post offices open Mo-Fr 8-12:30 and 14-17.

  • in Changamwe : international airport, Changamwe-Magongo and Kipevu ;
  • in Kisauni : Bamburi, Kengeleni, Kisauni-Mtopanga, Mkomani and Nyali ;
  • in Likoni : Likoni-Ferry and Mtongwe ;
  • in Mvita : Docks (in the port of Kilindini), Kilindini, Makupa, Mwembe

In Mvita there's also the central post office that's open throughout the day as well as on Saturday:

Phone and Internet[edit]

All the Internet cafés in Mombasa have phone booths but the fees for calling abroad are very high. If you are staying in Kenya for at least 15 days, you might want to get a local SIM-card to save money, for example a M-Pesa by Safaricom. If you have a smartphone, use VoIP.

Wi-Fi is widespread in the city and many hotels and restaurants offer guests free access.


Governmental offices are in general open Monday-Friday 8-15, except national holidays.


Except for the central bank, banks are open Mo-Fr 9-15 and 9-11 on the first and last Saturday of the month. Currency can be exchanged in all banks. You can get money from ATMs using Visa and MasterCard credit cards. If you have a Maestro debit card you can use it at the ATMs too provided you have notified your bank of your trip to Kenya.

In Mvita[edit]

The Central Bank of Kenya

In Changamwe[edit]

In Kisauni[edit]

In Likoni[edit]

  •   PostbankUmoja Arcade, Shelly Beach Road, Likoni (next to ACK Guest House),  +254 20 3545335.

Veterinary clinics[edit]

If you travel with a pet, there is one veterinary clinic in Mvita and two in Kisauni.

Houses of worship[edit]

The Holy Ghost Cathedral

The majority of Mombasa's inhabitants are Christians and there is also a large Muslim minority. Adherents to these religions will not have difficulties finding houses of worship. Moreover, there are many Hindu temples in the city.

The most important Christian churches are:

  •   Holy Ghost CathedralNyerere Rd +254 41 2318443, +254 735 112288. Catholic cathedral with masses in English and Swahili.
  •   Mombasa Memorial CathedralNkrumah Rd +254 41 2230502. Anglican cathedral.
  •   JCC Glass CathedralJCC Road, Bamburi (behind Haller Park). A temple of the Evangelical church Jesus Celebration Center. With 30,000 seats it is the largest Evangelical church building in East Africa.
  •   MCK Westey ChurchKoinage Rd. The largest Methodist church in Kenya.
  •   Mombasa Pentecostal ChurchJomo Kenyatta Ave. The largest Pentecostal church in Kenya.


Stay healthy[edit]

Don't. Like most other developing countries, tap water is not safe to drink

Consult the safety guidelines for Kenya for general safety suggestions.

The area of Mombasa has about 60 healthcare establishments from hospitals to small clinics. Some of them also have a center for control and prevention of diseases in cooperation with the US governmental agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Mvita[edit]

Mombasa's major hospitals including Kenya's second largest public hospital, Coast Grand Hospital, are situated in Mvita. In addition to the maternity section "Lady Grigg", this hospital also specializes in otolaryngology, ophthalmology and odontology. It has modern equipment and a laboratory and pharmacy that are open 24 hours. The public hospitals in Port Reitz and Likoni are smaller sub units of the Coast General Hospital.

In Changamwe[edit]

In Kisauni[edit]

  •   Salama Medical ClinicOld Malindi Road, Kisauni. Private clinic.
  •   Sayyidah Fatima Municipal HospitalOld Malindi Road, Kisauni. Private clinic.
  •   Bombolulu PharmacyOld Malindi Road, Kisauni +254 731 602229.

In Likoni[edit]

Medical flights[edit]


Stay safe[edit]

Goats eating posters in the Makadara district

Emergency number: 112

Several countries have issued warnings that the city centre is not safe during the night, that car-jacking is widespread and that robberies after sunset at the beaches can occur. Use common sense and a healthy dose of scepticism for your surroundings.

As elsewhere in Africa it's badly regarded — if not outright prohibited — to take photos or film airports, banks, military areas, police stations, troops or police officers without authorization. In general you should ask people if you may take photos of them. When walking, watch out for pickpockets and don't show off expensive electronics. When driving, keep the car doors locked both in daytime and nighttime.

The police is present on public places, especially in areas frequented by tourists like Mvita and the beaches. Public areas like the airport, post offices, banks, malls etc. are guarded by security guards. Similarly, upper-class homes and apartment buildings are also guarded around the clock.

Following the intervention by the Kenyan military in Somalia, the terrorist organization Al Shabaab has committed several attacks in the country, some of them in Mombasa. If you are sitting at an outside terrace, do not sit next to the road. You should also avoid riding matatus, immediately leave areas with ongoing demonstrations of any kind, and never visit the slums without a guide. Before exploring the city on your own, you should ask the hotel staff which areas are safe.

Go next[edit]


Elephants at Shima Hills National Reserve

Some points of interest, located less than 50km from central Mombasa, can be visited on day trips.

  • Diani Beach - a beach resort with a primate conservation center, about 35km south of Mombasa.
  •   Rabai Museum (Krapf Memorial Museum) (15km northwest of Mombasa). Hosted in the first church built in Kenya, this museum shows the activities of the 19th century Christian missionaries in the country, in particular Johann Krapf who translated the Bible to Swahili. It is one of the National Museums of Kenya.
  •   Jumba la Mtwana (20km northeast of Mombasa). Ruins of a 14th century village, of which there are no written records. As some of the ruins have functioned as mosques and remains of Chinese porcelain has been found, archeologists believe it has been a trading outpost mainly inhabited by Muslims.

Further away[edit]

  • Voi 153km (2h by car) - Tsavo East National park. From Voi it's a little over 100km to Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, located in Tanzania.
  • Malindi 116km (2h by car) - beach activities, the Vasco da Gama pillar where the Portuguese explorer landed
  • Lamu 336km (5h by car) - colonial beach town inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list
  • Nairobi 525km (7h by car, 15h by train, 45min by plane) - Kenya's capital has museums and gardens to visit
  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 515km (8h by car, 35min plane) - the former Tanzanian capital offers museums, beaches and markets
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