Nairobi is a vibrant city filled with sights and attractions. There are excellent shopping malls, bars and restaurants to explore, not to mention the seemingly boundless natural wonders within easy reach of the city – all of which make for an enviable lifestyle in Nairobi.
Eating out in Nairobi
With expats from all over the world, Nairobi offers all types of cuisine. Fine-dining restaurants, bustling markets and small local eateries provide interesting dishes to suit any palate or budget. Some of the major multinational food chains can be found here, along with restaurants serving up authentic Kenyan fare. Coffee houses are also becoming increasingly popular.
Shopping in Nairobi
Many new shopping malls have appeared in Nairobi in recent years, and some older ones have had upgrades to serve the growing middle-class and expat communities.
Multiple independent arts and crafts businesses offer an excellent selection of goods, and buying from local artists is a good way to support the Kenyan economy. Local craft markets, such as the Maasai Market and Kariokor Market, offer an excellent choice of handmade items such as clothes, art, jewellery and footwear. Some of these areas are touristy, so be aware of potentially overpriced items.
Nairobi has numerous large supermarket chains and gourmet food shops, though don't overlook local produce markets for the best deals on fresh fruit and vegetables bought directly from farmers.
Nightlife and entertainment in Nairobi
There is always something new on the nightlife scene in Nairobi. Every neighbourhood has a local establishment or bar where people meet socially or for business, so regardless of where expats live in Nairobi, they won’t have to travel far to find a suitable watering hole.
Champagne and cigar lounges are popular and serve the growing affluent population of the city, while nightclubs are open until the early hours.
Most large shopping malls in Nairobi have cinemas and some even have IMAX theatres. Also on offer are art exhibits, concerts, live theatre and cultural events.
Sports and outdoor activities in Nairobi
Nairobi National Park is an excellent excursion for animal lovers, while Karura Forest offers various daytime activities and a large network of walking trails. The Nairobi Arboretum is a lovely forested area with pathways and trails for cyclists, joggers and walkers. Uhuru Park is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon and, come the weekend, fills up with families relaxing and enjoying picnics.
Kenya's capital city also affords several top-quality golf courses and societies, including Royal Nairobi Golf Club, Muthaiga Golf Club and Karen Country Club.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, expats don't have to drive far for exquisite views of the Great Rift Valley. Day trips to Mount Longonot or Hell’s Gate National Park are popular with hikers and rock climbers, giving expats a chance to see the Kenyan countryside.
See and do in Nairobi
In the last decade, Nairobi has become one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. Expats who get the opportunity to live in Nairobi will find there is no shortage of things to see and do in the city and exciting places to explore.
Bomas of Kenya
Expats interested in learning about the rich local culture and history of the country should visit the Bomas of Kenya. Located in Langata, this tourist hotspot has traditional homes on display and offers cultural performances, conferences in a large auditorium and tasty local dining options.
David Sheldrick Elephant and Rhino Orphanage
Founded in the 1970s, this orphanage operates a rescue and rehabilitation programme, nursing sick elephants and rhinos back to health. While the orphanage is only open for one hour a day, visitors can see the baby elephants being fed and given a mud bath.
The Giraffe Centre was established in the 1970s by a married couple who famously raised two baby Rothschild's giraffes at their home in the Langata area of Nairobi, where the centre remains to this day. Visitors can even feed and interact with the centre's giraffes.
Maji Magic is an aqua park perfect for families and kids looking for a bit of fun in the sun. Visitors can work their way through obstacle courses, try out stand-up paddleboarding or play in bumper boats.
Nairobi National Museum
Promoted by Kenya Museum Society, the Nairobi National Museum offers lots of information about Kenya's history, culture, palaeontology and art. Once expats have had their fill of the museum, there is also a botanical garden, as well as dining and shopping facilities to while away another hour or two.
Nairobi National Park
It may surprise expats that there is a national park located in Kenya's capital city, just 4.3 miles (7km) from the city centre. Nairobi National Park offers great safari experiences, with Nairobi's skyscrapers making for an unusual game park backdrop. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffalo, giraffes and around 500 species of birds inhabit the park.
What's on in Nairobi
There's plenty to keep expats living in Nairobi busy throughout the year, from art and music festivals to safari rallies.
Blankets and Wine (monthly)
Music lovers from Nairobi and beyond converge on the city for this relaxed day-long outdoor music festival. With performances by top Kenyan musicians, DJs and bands, this is a great opportunity to check out the local talent.
Cake Festival (June)
Attendees of this event are in for a sweet day out as baked goods of all shapes and sizes abound here. Aspiring bakers can also check out live cake-decorating demonstrations, while little ones can attend a baking class just for kids.
International Puppetry Festival (September)
Here, visitors get to experience traditional forms of puppeteering, and each year has a theme. It's a fun day out for the whole family, and the kids will enjoy the lively performances.
Shaggy Dog Show (September)
Animal lovers come from all over to take part in this family-friendly day organised by the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (KSPCA). Highlights include a fancy dress competition for both owners and their dogs, as well as awards for 'happiest dog', 'best-groomed dog' and, of course, 'shaggiest dog'.
Jamhuri Day (December)
On the 12th of December, Kenya celebrates its independence. Jamhuri is Swahili for 'republic' and as such Jamhuri Day commemorates the day Kenya become a republic in 1964. It is a national public holiday when everyone takes a day off work and relaxes. It is celebrated in style with dancing, feasts and parades.
►Wondering where to live in Nairobi? Check out our favourite areas and suburbs
"The best way to connect with Kenyans is to learn Kiswahili, and participate in Kenyan culture (attend Kenyan sporting events, go to Kenyan bars, eat in local restaurants, etc.)." Read our interview with Tara for more on culture, lifestyle and making friends in Kenya.
"People are friendly but all are busy with their daily lives like any major city around the world. Most expats and their children spend their holidays in their home country. If you attend a gym or are active on social networks you can easily make friends with people from your country." For more on lifestyle and living in Nairobi, check out our interview with Zeynep.
Are you an expat living in Nairobi?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Nairobi. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.