View of the Fort Jesus on a sunny day, Mombasa

Things to do in  Mombasa

Feel the east coast breeze

Kenya’s second city, Mombasa, offers much more than transit to the white sands of Diani Beach or Tiwi Beach. East Africa’s most important port, its long trading history mingles African, Arabian, and South Asian cultures, a heritage reflected in architecture and street food. Things to do in Mombasa run the gamut from exploring the Fort Jesus UNESCO World Heritage Site and the spice market to boat trips, scuba diving, and beach days—Nyali Beach offers white sands within the city limits.

Top 3 attractions in Mombasa

Fort Jesus

The epicenter of historic Mombasa, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fort Jesus sits above the Indian Ocean surrounded by yard-thick (meter-thick) walls. Built by Portuguese colonists in the late 16th century, its design incorporates Renaissance ideas about ideal proportion, while the interior houses a small museum and an exhibition.More
Mamba Village Centre

Mamba Village Centre

One of the world’s most fearsome predators is on display at Mamba Village Centre, East Africa’s largest crocodile farm. A typical day at Mombasa's Mamba Village begins with an informational video introducing the crocodile, its lifecycle and the important ecological role it plays. Visitors to the farm can observe crocodiles ranging from hatchlings to behemoth adults, including the supposedly 100-year-old Big Daddy.The highlight of the day occurs in the afternoon at feeding time, when the giant reptiles duke it out for fresh meat. The village also offers horse and camel rides, botanical gardens and a restaurant serving up grilled crocodile among other game meats.More

Wild Waters

With its exhilarating slides, games, rides, and pools, Wild Waters blends the thrill of an amusement park with the refreshing cool of a water park, making it an ideal place to beat the scorching Kenyan sun. Plus, a food court, bar, and coffee shop ensure you stay hydrated.More
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All about Mombasa

When to visit

Mombasa’s beaches are best enjoyed during the city’s two dry seasons, January through March and July through October: January through March is perfect for diving, with excellent visibility in March. The city gets busy during the January peak season, but 24-hour party people will thrill to the New Year period, which sees fireworks, beach parties, and full-scale festivals in the city and along the coast.

Getting around

Mombasa’s lurid matatu minivans make for colorful pictures, but with no centralized route map, they’re not of much use to travelers. Like anywhere in Kenya, self-driving can be risky and intimidating, particularly after dark. Most travelers get around with professional drivers by chartering a car and driver, hailing tuk-tuks or taxis, or using rideshare services: Uber, Bolt, and Kenya’s homegrown Little app are most helpful.

Traveler tips

Mombasa was once a vital staging post on the spice route that linked India and Africa, and it still boasts excellent Indian food. Shehnai Restaurant has been serving up North Indian feasts in the heart of the city for around four decades now and offers Mughal dishes, tandoori favorites, plus a range of vegetarian options that’s rare in meat-obsessed Kenya. There’s no alcohol.


People Also Ask

Is it worth visiting Mombasa?

Yes. Mombasa is Kenya’s second city, offering over 1,000 years of history plus a cosmopolitan blend of African, Indian, and Arabian influences. Fort Jesus, a 16th-century stronghold, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even if you’re planning a beach vacation, it’s worth stopping off en route from the airport.

How long do you need in Mombasa?

Many travelers make do with a half-day (or shorter) Mombasa city tour as they travel from the airport to their beach resort. But it’s worth spending a day and a night to enjoy Fort Jesus after dark, tour the old town, take a cruise, and shop the markets.

What is special about Mombasa?

A vital Indian Ocean port, Mombasa linked trade from Africa with Arabia and Asia, and this complex history has left it with heritage buildings, including UNESCO-listed Fort Jesus, and a very multicultural feel: temples, mosques, and churches sit side by side. Beaches offer white sand, coral, and palm trees.

Is Mombasa or Nairobi safer?

Mombasa has a higher crime rate than Nairobi, but you should exercise caution when visiting either city. Avoid quiet areas after dark; don’t carry lots of cash or wear expensive watches; never accept food or drink from strangers; and watch your bags on public transit and in transport hubs.

Is it expensive in Mombasa?

No. By global standards, Mombasa is a very affordable destination, as you’d expect in sub-Saharan Africa. Shoestringers can score a dorm bed for as little as $5, while street eats can cost pennies. However, room prices can double over the peak Christmas and New Year period.

What should I wear in Mombasa?

You can wear what you like in most resort hotels around Mombasa, although a few have dress codes for dinner. In the city, women should err on the conservative side, covering legs to the knee, shoulders, upper arms, cleavage, and belly, and bring a cover-up if swimming on public beaches.

Frequently Asked Questions
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