Things to Do If You Only Have 48 Hours to Explore Nairobi, Kenya

Things to Do If You Only Have 48 Hours to Explore Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, the vibrant heart of Kenya, offers an array of experiences far beyond its famous wildlife adventures. While the Nairobi National Park, renowned for its wildlife safaris, is a significant draw, its charm extends to its diverse urban attractions. Nairobi is not just a transit point for travellers; it's a destination rich with cultural and recreational activities.

To truly experience Nairobi's multifaceted personality, spending a weekend exploring these spots is a must. Indulge in fine dining, immerse yourself in the city's history, shop to your heart's content, and enjoy the vibrant music scene. This guide offers a snapshot of how to make the most of 48 hours in Nairobi, ensuring a memorable and diverse experience in this bustling African metropolis.

Day 1 in Nairobi


Nairobi National Park Safari (6:00 am - 9:30 am): Begin your day with an invigorating early morning journey into the wilds of Nairobi National Park. This exceptional wildlife sanctuary stands out for its rare setting – nestled right within the limits of Nairobi city. It offers a remarkable opportunity to observe gazelles and other wildlife roaming freely, with the contrasting panorama of Nairobi’s cityscape serving as a unique backdrop.

Nairobi National Park Safari


Giraffe Center (10:00 am - 10:45 am): Explore the captivating Giraffe Center in the scenic Karen district. This unique sanctuary offers an unparalleled opportunity to engage directly with the Rothschild's Giraffes, a distinct and scarce species. Here, visitors can observe and learn about these majestic creatures in a setting that fosters close interaction and understanding. 

Giraffe Center in Nairobi

This experience provides insight into the lives of these towering animals and highlights the importance of conservation efforts for endangered species.

Late Morning:

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (11:00 am - 12:00 pm): If you're passionate about wildlife and animal conservation, a unique place deserves your attention. This sanctuary specialises in caring for young elephants, providing a haven for these majestic creatures. During a visit, you're offered an incredible opportunity to observe these magnificent animals from a close vantage point. 

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

The experience allows you to appreciate the remarkable nature of these elephants, offering a deeper understanding of their gentle and imposing presence. It's a destination that promises an unforgettable experience for anyone with a special place in their heart for the animal kingdom.


Nai Nami Tour (1:00 pm - 4:00 pm): Embark on a journey through Nairobi's vibrant avenues and hidden alleyways, accompanied by guides whose personal connection to the city offers a rich and immersive experience. These local experts provide a window into the everyday lives of Nairobi's residents, showcasing the city's unique character and the lively rhythm of its communities. 

Nai Nami Tour in Nairobi

Through their eyes, you'll uncover the nuances of Nairobi's culture, from bustling marketplaces to the tranquil oases that lie just off the beaten path, offering an authentic and engaging exploration of this dynamic metropolis.

Day 2 in Nairobi

Early Morning:

Return to Nairobi National Park: To enhance your opportunities for observing wildlife, planning a second excursion to the park, ideally during the early morning hours, is advisable. This time of day often sees increased animal activity, making it an optimal period for wildlife sightings.

Late Morning and Afternoon:

Cultural and Relaxation Activities:

  • Explore the rich historical tapestry in the Karen Blixen Museum, nestled briefly from the renowned Giraffe Center. This museum is a tribute to the celebrated Danish writer Karen Blixen, best known for her literary masterpiece "Out of Africa". Embark on a captivating excursion to this site where you can immerse yourself in the world and works of Blixen, gaining insights into her life and the epoch she vividly depicted in her writings.

Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi

  • Enjoy a peaceful walk at the Oloolua Nature Trail, offering a serene escape with its river, waterfall, and lush forests.

Oloola Nature Trail, Nairobi

  • Experience the breathtaking city views from the Kenyatta International Convention Centre's rotating rooftop restaurant.

 Kenyatta International Convention Center, Nairobi

  • Explore the Nairobi National Museum to learn about Kenya’s rich heritage and diverse wildlife.

Nairobi National Museum


Dining Options:

  • For dinner, consider Tamambo in the Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens, known for its delicious roasts, grills, and local Tusker beer.
  • Alternatively, the Carnivore restaurant offers a unique dining experience with various exotic meats.

Additional Things You Can Do in Your 48-Hour Trip to Nairobi

Spending the Night in an Old Double-Decker School Bus

Double-Decker School Bus Accommodation in Nairobi

Imagine discovering a unique and charming accommodation option in Nairobi - a delightful, rustic bus nestled in the serene Kibo Lane of Karen. This is not your ordinary stay; it's an escape from the bustling city life into a quaint and peaceful setting. The experience of living on this bus is a proper break from the norm, offering a chance to embrace a different kind of living. As you step inside, you're greeted with the cosy charm of a double-decker bus transformed into an inviting and unconventional living space.

Known affectionately as The Brandy Bus, this accommodation promises a one-of-a-kind experience. You'll be captivated by the night sky, visible through expansive window panes, turning your nights into a starlit wonder. It's a place where you can sleep under the stars in the comfort of a bed, blending the allure of the outdoors with the comforts of home.

The bus features a compact yet fully functional kitchen with essentials like a microwave, gas cooker, and a range of utensils. Even essential cooking ingredients are available, making it easy to whip up a meal. The charm extends to the bathroom, which is well-appointed with modern amenities, including a geyser for those who appreciate the luxury of hot water.

Brandy Bus in Nairobi

The magic of The Brandy Bus continues upstairs, where you'll find two beautifully designed bedrooms on the upper deck. These bedrooms are not just places to sleep; they are cosy retreats that offer tranquillity and a sense of escape.

Bedroom of the Brandy Bus

Adding to the charm is a dining area located just beside the bus. It's the perfect spot for a romantic candlelit dinner or to enjoy a peaceful morning coffee, surrounded by the gentle whispers of nature.

Explore the Nairobi Railway Museum

Nairobi Railway Museum

This museum presents a fascinating array of exhibits that chronicle the history of railways across the African continent, focusing on the storied Kenya-Uganda Railways.Situated next to the bustling Nairobi railway station, the museum proudly displays a variety of coaches and engines that once traversed the tracks of the East African Railways. It's a hidden gem that opened its doors to the public in 1971, thanks to the efforts of the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation.

Despite its rich historical significance, it's surprising that the museum only attracts a few visitors. However, those who venture inside are treated to a truly enriching experience. The museum is thoughtfully organised into four distinct sections: the main gallery, a resource centre dedicated to museum studies, a spacious auditorium, and an expansive outdoor area where several exhibits are displayed.

In the main gallery, visitors are greeted with an impressive collection of railway company insignia, prominently featuring those of the Uganda Railways, Tanganyika Railways, Kenya Railways, and the East African Railways. This museum section serves as a treasure trove of railway history, housing original blueprints, detailed construction models, and various smaller yet intriguing items. Among these are a vintage oil-burning headlamp, a unique trolley bicycle, a steam-operated bell, and a traditional wood stove.

Additionally, the gallery offers a glimpse into the luxurious travel of the past, with items like the Bombay lounge chair, elegant tableware, and a historical bench seat. This particular seat holds stories of distinguished passengers, including Theodore Roosevelt and the Prince of Wales, adding a touch of royal intrigue to the museum's collection.

Visit the Maasai Market

Maasai Market, Nairobi

This vibrant, nomadic open-air bazaar, which shifts its location daily, offers a delightful experience for those seeking unique and joyful keepsakes. You will be surprised by your discoveries here, encountering items you never anticipated desiring until you arrive at this expansive array of vendors. There is an assortment of treasures: vivid East African fabrics, handcrafted jewellery bursting with colour, intricate figures crafted from banana fibres, bejewelled sandals, and textiles representing a spectrum of hues. The market is also a haven for wooden crafts, ranging from elegant giraffe figurines to hand-carved mugs.

The market's atmosphere is alive with the dynamic spirit of free-trade zones, where a bit of friendly haggling is part of the experience. However, it's important to remember that the artisans selling their wares are often small-scale operators, relying on their craft for their livelihood. Therefore, while negotiating prices, it's worthwhile to consider the broader impact on small-scale industries and the significance of labour-intensive craftsmanship. This mindfulness could guide your approach to bargaining, balancing a good deal with support for local artisans.

Explore Karura Forest

Karura Forest, Nairobi

Step away from the city's relentless pace and immerse yourself in the serene embrace of Karura Forest. This vast green haven in the heart of the urban landscape is a treasure trove of scenic walking paths, cascading waterfalls, and secluded areas ideal for picnics. Whether you explore its beauty on a rented bicycle or prefer a gentle walk, you'll be surrounded by a verdant world teeming with various birds. Karura Forest is an idyllic sanctuary for nature enthusiasts and anyone yearning for a peaceful respite from urban commotion.


During your stay in Nairobi, you'll be captivated by its unique combination of scenic natural landscapes, diverse cultural heritage, and the lively energy of city life. Organising your schedule in advance is essential, especially if you're planning to explore the city's renowned parks and museums. To truly soak in Nairobi's spirit, engage deeply with its local customs and traditions.

This guide has been meticulously crafted, drawing from many resources, to offer an in-depth and enriching itinerary for a two-day visit to Nairobi. It aims to ensure that your short stay is enjoyable and leaves you with enduring memories of this dynamic city. 


What are the must-visit places in Nairobi if I only have 48 hours for my trip?

In a brief 48-hour visit to Nairobi, your itinerary should include the Nairobi Railway Museum for a glimpse into the country's rail history, a stroll through the vibrant Maasai Market for unique crafts and souvenirs, and an exploration of the serene Karura Forest. These locations offer a blend of cultural, historical, and natural experiences quintessential to Nairobi.

Can I experience unique accommodation in Nairobi for a short stay?

Absolutely! For a unique overnight experience, consider spending a night in an old double-decker school bus converted into lodging. This unconventional accommodation provides a memorable stay, blending comfort with a touch of Nairobi's creative charm.

Is the Nairobi Railway Museum worth visiting, and what can I expect there?

The Nairobi Railway Museum is a fascinating destination, especially for history enthusiasts. It offers an in-depth look at Kenya's rail history, featuring vintage locomotives and railway artefacts. This museum provides insight into the pivotal role of the railway in Kenya's development and is a testament to the country's rich heritage.

What makes the Maasai Market a recommended stop in Nairobi?

The Maasai Market is a vibrant and colourful open-air bazaar renowned for its traditional Kenyan crafts, textiles, and jewellery. Visiting the market allows you to purchase unique souvenirs and offers a chance to interact with local artisans and learn about the Maasai culture, making it a culturally enriching experience.

How can I best enjoy the natural beauty of Nairobi in a short time?

To immerse yourself in Nairobi's natural beauty within a limited timeframe, a visit to Karura Forest is highly recommended. This urban forest offers tranquil walking trails, waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna. It's an ideal spot for a peaceful hike, bird watching, or simply enjoying a respite from the city's hustle and bustle.

Are there any additional activities I can do if I have extra time in Nairobi?

If time permits, Nairobi offers several other activities, such as a visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to see elephant conservation efforts, a tour of the Karen Blixen Museum for literary history, or a dining experience at one of Nairobi's acclaimed restaurants to sample local and international cuisine. Each of these activities offers a different perspective of Nairobi's diverse character.

What are some tips for first-time visitors to Nairobi?

First-time visitors to Nairobi should consider the following tips: plan your itinerary to maximise your short stay, be mindful of local customs and dress codes, ensure you have local currency for small purchases, especially at markets, and consider hiring a local guide for an insightful and safer exploration of the city. Also, be aware of Nairobi's traffic and plan your travel times accordingly.

Is Nairobi safe for tourists, especially those on a short visit?

Like any significant city, Nairobi has safer areas than others. Tourists should exercise standard safety precautions such as avoiding less populated at night, keeping valuables secure, and staying informed about the areas they plan to visit. Using reputable taxi services or arranged transportation is advisable, especially if you're unfamiliar with the city. Generally, popular tourist spots in Nairobi are considered safe, but staying alert and cautious is always recommended.

Can I find convenient transportation options within Nairobi for a quick tour?

Nairobi offers various transportation options suited for tourists on a tight schedule. Taxis, including app-based services like Uber, are readily available and reliable. For those interested in local experiences, matatus (public minibuses) are a common, though more adventurous option. Hiring a private car or participating in organised tours can also be convenient for navigating the city efficiently.

Are there any specific local dishes or foods I should try in Nairobi?

Nairobi's culinary scene is diverse and offers a range of must-try dishes. Famous local delicacies include Nyama Choma (grilled meat), typically served with Ugali (maise porridge) and Sukuma Wiki (collard greens). For an authentic taste of Kenyan cuisine, also try Githeri (a mix of beans and maise) and Samosa, a savoury pastry filled with spiced meat or vegetables. Take advantage of the opportunity to savour Kenya's famous coffee or tea.

Is English widely spoken in Nairobi, and will language be a barrier?

English, one of Kenya's official languages alongside Swahili, is widely spoken in Nairobi. In most tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants, you will find that communication in English is quite common and effective. Learning a few basic phrases in Swahili can be beneficial for interacting with locals, but generally, language is not a significant barrier for English-speaking visitors.

What should I know about currency and payment methods in Nairobi?

The Kenyan Shilling (KES) is the local currency in Nairobi. Having cash on hand for small purchases is advisable, especially in markets or public transport. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger stores. ATMs are readily available for withdrawing cash. It's also helpful to check the current exchange rates and possible international transaction fees with your bank before your trip.

Are there any health or vaccination requirements for visiting Nairobi?

Visitors to Nairobi should check the latest health and vaccination requirements before travelling. Typical recommendations include vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and malaria prevention. It's also advisable to drink bottled or purified water. For current health advice, consult a travel health specialist or check with your local health authority before your trip.




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