2 ladies on the back of a boda boda motorbike for a city tour in kampala

How to Spend a Fantastic One Day in Kampala – City Tour in Uganda

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Last Updated on April 6, 2024

Best Places to visit in Kampala in one day

street crowded with motobikes in kampala

Here is some great advice for how to see Kampala in a day during your ultimate vacation in Uganda! While Entebbe was Uganda’s first capital city, when the country gained its independence in 1962, the capital city was moved to Kampala.

Kampala is the largest city in Uganda with a population of well over 1.5 million.  It is also marked as one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa. How can you possibly see the sprawling city of Kampala in 1 day??

Crowded is an understatement.  The city is packed full of people traveling this way and that way.  The roads are a constant traffic jam and getting from place to place is a constant headache.

people gathered around 2 boda boda motorbikes during a kampala city tour in uganda

Enter the BODA BODA.  This is the city’s solution to its traffic woes.  The boda boda is a motorcycle taxi that is able to weave along in the traffic jam successfully delivering passengers to their destinations. This is the best way to spend one day in Kampala and the best way to go on a city tour of Kampala.

Here is a big list of Kampala tourist places and what we were able to see on our Kampala Boda Tour in Uganda.

Best Kampala Tourist Sites

Click on the heading to jump right to the information for these Things to do in Kampala

Old Kampala

motorbikes in the heavy traffic in kampala city
Kampala boda boda city tours- Image Wiki Commons

Kampala Hill is referred to as Old Kampala.  It is in the center of the city and is very active.  All Kampala tours will involve going through Old Kampala since you really can’t have a Kampala city tour without going through Kampala Hill!.

Taxi Park in downtown

large parking lot in Kampala city full of taxis parkedclose together

The capital city has many taxi parks where you can see the organized chaos of the city.  The taxi parks are organized, and travelers use the taxis to travel throughout the area.  While it looks like a complicated web of random vehicles parked every which way, the taxis are parked in sections depending on which routes they cover. 

Shree Sanatan Dharma Mandel

large colorful towers above the city streets of Kampala of a hindu temple

This magnificent Hindu temple was the first stop on our Kampala City Tour.  It was built by the Indian community in 1954 without the help of any iron bars or steel but still towers above the street level.  It was the first Shikha Baddha Temple built outside of India and has been declared a Heritage Site.

It is open every day for prayer service in the morning and evening and is full of beautiful religious Hindu figures.  The temple is surrounded on the same street by a church and a mosque, demonstrating how easily different religions can coexist in Uganda.

The Gaddafi Mosque

biege building with arch in front of it and minaret in background in the city of Kampala
Image: Kampala City and Slum Tours

The Uganda National Mosque is located in Old Kampala.  It was commissioned by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya as a gift to Uganda and is the largest mosque in East Africa, hence the name Gaddafi National Mosque, but was renamed Uganda National Mosque in 2013 following the death of Gaddafi.

The huge minaret has 304 stairs and offers a beautiful aerial view of the city. The view makes the mosque one of the best places to visit in Kampala!

The mosque is open to everyone to add to your Kampala city tour itinerary and enjoy.  Ladies visiting the mosque during Kampala sightseeing must wear a head covering, which can be provided at the entrance, and all visitors must leave their shoes at the door.

Kibule Mosque

white washed mosque with minarets in Kampala
Image: Wiki Commons

Be sure to include a visit to the historic Kibule Mosque on your Kampala one day itinerary.  It is the oldest mosque in Kampala and sits on a hill overlooking downtown.  Climb the minaret for amazing views of Kampala’s city center.  Also make sure to admire the mango tree which is in front of the mosque, but yet much older than the mosque.

It is open to the public between times of prayer.  Women should make sure to cover below their knees, arms, and heads when entering the mosque.

Learn more Uganda Travel Tips and what to expect when you are traveling to Uganda

The Baha’i Temple

large dome building in front of green grass - temple in kampala

Built in 1961, The Bahai Temple is the first Bahai house of worship in Africa.  It is a rare piece of greenery located in the bustling city of Kampala and has a very peaceful setting on its 22 acres of nature-filled land.

It is high on a hill on a manicured lawn with great views overlooking the city. The lush scenery around the temple makes it top on the list of things to see in Kampala.

The Bahai Faith declares its purpose to unite all races and people in one universal cause.

Kasubi Tombs

The Kasubi Tombs are a burial ground for the kings of Buganda and the place where the royals frequently carried out rituals of the Buganda culture.  It is an example of traditional architecture and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.  A devastating fire in 2010 put it on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger, however, reconstruction has started in hopes of rebuilding the tombs of the kings.

Owino Market

colorful fruits in piles at the market in Kampala on a city tour
Include Owina Market on your one-day in Kampala itinerary!

The Owino Market is one of the largest local markets in East Africa with over 50,000 sellers over its 7 acres.  It is known for its selection of second-hand clothing.  Locals, as well as those from neighboring countries, come to the market to stock up on cheap clothing from this market.

It is well organized into many sections like food, clothing, jewelry, and household, so no matter what you are looking for, you can easily find it among the twisting walkways. If shopping and bargaining are your things, make sure to include Owino Market on your list of places to go in Kampala.

East African Craft Village

colorful crafts and paintings line the Kampala street at the craft village on our one day tour in Kampala
Image: Kampala City and Slum Tours

The open-air craft village sells all kinds of African crafts and souvenirs for tourists.  Here you can find beaded jewelry, drums, wooden spoons, African sandals, baskets, paintings, and even typical souvenirs like magnets to take home as a memory of your time in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

Makerere University

buildings on a hill overlooking the city of Kampala

On another hill overlooking Kampala city, is Makerere University, Uganda’s largest and oldest university.  It is a part of a leading collaboration in the research of tuberculosis.  Since I am involved in this scientific field, I have many coworkers that have been a part of these studies and have traveled to Uganda to be a part of this research team.

Independence Monument

concrete monument sculpture in the city of Kampala - Independence Monument
See Independence Monument during your one day in Kampala

Independence Monument is a display of the meaningful history of the independence of Uganda.  The concrete structure towers above the street on Speke Road.  The image is of a strong woman that has been freed from bondage and is lifting her child in the air, symbolizing the jubilant freedom that Uganda gained in 1962 from Britain.

Katunga Slums

old beat up buildings in the katunga slums in kampala

The Katunga slum is one of the largest slums within the city of Kampala.  It is filled with temporary structures built with mud and timber.  The residents survive by doing everything on their own.  There are those that travel to the market to purchase products and then re-sell them in the slums.  There are seamstresses, bartenders, and restaurants. For a small fee, residents can purchase meals.  There is even a movie theater where shows are played on the big muddy wall in the darkness.

children raising their hands to grab a pencilin the slum in kampala
I took donations of clothing and pencils and they were very appreciative.

Read more about my visit to the Katanga slum in Kampala at THIS POST:

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria can be enjoyed at the beach or on a boat cruise from Kampala.  It is Africa’s largest lake, the world’s largest tropical lake, and the world’s second-largest freshwater lake.  It is not only in Uganda, but also shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Spend some time enjoying Lake Victoria even if you only have one day in Kampala.

Where to eat in Kampala

Fast food at Café Javas

Uganda has its fast food joint called Café Java.  We ate there on two separate occasions and were quite happy with the food and atmosphere.  Sometimes, we needed to have a quick bite to eat and Café Javas was perfect.

The Ndere Centre for a dinner show

dancers with drums on their heads at Ndere Center in Kampala for a dinner showin the city

When you want something more elaborate for dinner, I recommend reserving a night at the Ndere Center for dinner and a cultural show.

We went to a very entertaining Sunday evening show and had a great time.

The Ndere Troupe was started in 1984 in order to showcase the Ugandan music and dance through a larger-than-life display by many talented young adults in their traditional outfits.  The rich diversity of Uganda and its local tribes is celebrated through colorful music, invigorating dance, and oral history under the night sky in a beautiful 700-seat open-air amphitheater.

During intermission, we wined and dined on a traditional buffet feast that was fit for the kings of the African Kingdoms!

Visitors enjoy the twitching waistline of the ladies, the balancing of pots on their heads, and the wild variety of traditional musical instruments at the Ndere Center.  Tourists are accompanied by Uganda locals who often return to the dinner show to support to local talent and promote the unity of Africa.

Kampala Day Trips

If you have more than 1 day in Kampala, there are many more options to see the city and surrounding area in Uganda. Day trips from Kampala are a fun option if you have extra time in Kampala

White Nile Rafting

orange raft boat in rapid with people paddling in life jackets on the Nile river in uganda on a day trip from kampala

A trip to Africa is not complete without seeing the Nile.  And what better way to commemorate your time in Uganda than a Uganda rafting trip down the grade 5 rapids!!!

The Nile is long and powerful and we went on a half-day trip to conquer her!  White Nile Rafting was the perfect tour organization for us.  They took care of everything.  From the moment we arrived, we were taken care of. 

Take your own rafting trip down the Nile

We were given a buffet brunch and a safety briefing and then taken down the road to begin our adventure.

The team of White Nile Rafting guides, composed of men of all ages, were expertly skilled and they took pride in our training.  We learned to row forward and backward, fast and slow in a unified team…..somewhat unified, somewhat haphazard!  After we jumped into the water to get acclimated, we practiced flipping the boat, were trained in proper techniques from the rescue kayak, and were hauled back into our raft. 

See all the details of our whitewater rafting trip down the Nile and see how you can book your own trip.

Interested in joining a BUCKET LIST TRIP TO UGANDA??? Sign up NOW!

Need more information about what to pack for your trip to Uganda? Take a look at all my tips for what to bring on this bucket list trip to the Pearl of Africa!

Where to stay in Kampala

Mestil Hotel

deep blue pool water with twinkling lights of the luxury Mestil Hotel in Kampala

The Mestil Hotel is an oasis in the crowded city of Kampala.  They have gorgeous suite rooms for reasonable prices.  The breakfast buffet is over and above expectations so that you can start your day off with delicious nourishment.

The dinner service is a relaxing meal on the patio surrounded by candlelight and stars while you feast on the savory selection of meals.

Do not pass up the opportunity to stay at the Mestil Hotel! – Book a night at the Mestil NOW

Other places to stay in Kampala

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I had no idea there was such religious diversity in Uganda. Great blog!

I think it is fun to zip around town on a motorcycle. You can see so much more in a short period of time!

I’d really like to make it to Uganda someday and spend some time in the capital. Looks like a great city with lots to explore

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