August in Kigali is quiet. Like you can hear a pencil drop quiet. Like, your boss is probably on vacation quiet. If this is your first year in Kigali, you’re going to figure this out pretty soon. Although this year will be undoubtedly different with the election, a lot of work will still be put on hold. So it’s time to plan a vacation!
Although it used to be difficult to get from Kigali to international destinations – both due to costs and absurd layover schedules – times are a changing! RwandAir, Kenya Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines have fairly reasonable prices and schedules as of late, and even getting to Europe isn’t too difficult anymore. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of places for international weekend trips from Kigali that can be reached with either a direct flight, or a quick and painless transfer! A quick caveat – Kibuye, Gisenyi, Akagera, and Nyungwe, while amazing, are not the goal of this article. If you’re looking for Rwanda itineraries or tips, check out this article.
The six trips listed below are best suited to a long weekend, so shoot an email to your boss, grab the sunscreen, find a friend, and head to the airport or bus station!
Price: Between $285 and $300 on Kenya Airways or RwandAir.
Where to stay: Ngong House or the Hilton
What to eat: Check out Seven or Furusato for seafood and sushi, About Thyme for an eclectic and upmarket experience, Nyama Mama for new wave African food, and the Alchemist for a cool food truck and bar scene.
What to do: Kiss a giraffe at the Giraffe Centre, watch baby elephants play at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, visit Brown’s Cheese Farm, or go for a run in Karua Forest.
2. Dar es Salaam
Price: Between $280 and $300 on RwandAir, and between $230 and $280 on Kenya Airways (but with a layover in Nairobi).
Where to stay: Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel for a fancier stay, or the Lantana Hotel and Upepo Garden for more reasonable options.
What to eat: Check out Mediterraneo for good (though pricy) Italian food right on the water, Calabash in Mwenge for Tanzanian food (and live music Wednesday through Saturday), and Zhonghua Garden for amazing Chinese food and hand-pulled noodles.
What to do: If you’re in the mood to buy the most classic of Tanzanian souvenirs, check out Mwenge Woodcarvers Market (before heading to nearby Calabash for a quick beer). Visit Mbudya Island in the marine reserve, a lovely beach just a short distance from the city. Visit the fish market in Kivukoni before taking the ferry to Kigamboni for some drinks at a small resort along the water. In Dar for the weekend? Don’t forget to check out Nafasi Art Space for some great events.
Price: Between $700 and $950 on Brussels Airlines, but if you’re willing to do a long layover, you can find flights for as low as $550 through Ethiopian Airlines or Turkish Airlines.
Where to stay: Airbnb for a cheaper option, or Chez Odette for a boutique hotel experience.
What to eat: Restaurant Vincent for a traditional meal, La Maree for excellent seafood, Friture Rene for the most classic of Belgian spots, and Maison Antoine for the best frites in the city.
What to do: It’s time to drink all the beer, sample all the chocolate, and taste all the waffles! Visit the Musee Magritte Museum before visiting the Delirium Cafe to try over 2,000 different kinds of beer. Walk along Rue Antoine Dansaert to shop for Belgian designers, rent a yellow Villo bike to journey around town, and head to the daily flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle.
Price: Between $700 and $900 on Turkish Airlines.
Where to stay: The Empress Zoe for a guesthouse located near a lot of tourist attractions, or Airbnb for a cheaper option.
What to eat: Check out Giritli, Karakoy Lokantasi, Asitane, and Ciya for some sit down Turkish meals, while also making sure to eat all the street food you can find! Fresh juice, Simit (the Turkish bagel), Durum (a vegetable or meat wrap), Kebab (meat!), and Borek (cheese wrapped in dough) can be found everywhere.
What to do: There is so much to do in Istanbul! Spend your days on the usual tourist path at Topkapi, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Cistern, the Spice Market, and the Grand Bazaar. Also take some time to relax in a Turkish bath and check out the Istanbul Modern Museum.
Price: Between $215 and $300 on Rwandair.
Where to stay: Le Petit Village Boutique Hotel as an upmarket option, or Bushpig Backpackers and Fat Cat Backpackers for cheaper options.
What to eat: Grab some sushi at Yujo, eat some classic Belgian cuisine at Le Chateau, check out The Bistro, and eat all the tacos (and drink all the margaritas!) at Que Pasa.
What to do: Drink and dance the night away at Bubbles upon arrival (the most classic of Kampala hang outs), visit the Gaddafi National Mosque, explore Uganda’s National Museum, take a quick overnight trip to Jinja for whitewater rafting, shop the day away at Owino Market, and snag a half day boat trip around Lake Victoria.
Oh and if you’re planning a trip to Kampala for the end of the year, a map is coming soon! Click on this link – http://eepurl.com/cS1z4P – to join the mailing list and we’ll keep you updated on the release date! Oh ya!
6. Addis Ababa
Price: Between $350 and $450 on Ethiopian Airlines.
Where to stay: Taitu Hotel, Wudasie Castle Hotel, Bluebirds International Hotel (good for business), or Mr. Martin’s Cozy Place (good budget option).
What to eat: Grab a morning coffee at Tamoca, lunch at Tikus Shiro, and dinner at the upmarket Kategna. Chane’s Restaurant provides a more unique twist on Ethiopian cuisine, and Bahir Zaf offers fresh, creative, and tasty food options.
What to do: Go on a Go Addis tour! Check out their different food and city tour options, and immerse yourself in this bustling city. Visit both the Shola and Merkato markets to stock up on spices, incense, jewelry, and fabric. Listen to Ethiopian Jazz at the Taitu or Ghion Hotel. Learn about Ethiopia at the National Museum and Ethnological Museum, before visiting St. George’s Cathedral. Find the iconic monuments surrounding the city, from the Lion of Judah to the Derg Monument. Finally, head up to Entoto Hill for some stunning views.
Alright, Kigali-ites! What did you think of our list? Any other locations you would like to see featured here? Planning any upcoming weekend trips? Let us know in the comments section!