The second-largest city in Kenya, Mombasa has become the most important tourist hub in the country. Foreigners travel to Mombasa for its white sandy beaches, luxury hotels and restaurants, and the richly multicultural environment.
From shopping to sightseeing, from busy nights out to a day at the spa, there is plenty to do and see in Mombasa. Below you’ll find essential travel information for Mombasa, including transports and finance, main tourist attractions, and safety advice for Mombasa.
How to Get a Visa for Mombasa
Although most tourists cross the border at Moi International Airport, Mombasa is also a major seaport. No matter where they decide to enter Kenya from, the vast majority of foreigners reaching the Kenyan territory via Mombasa will need a valid Kenyan visa.
Fortunately, the new electronic system implemented by the Kenyan government allows international visitors to apply for a Republic of Kenya’ visa online before they travel. The new Kenyan eVisa, therefore, eliminates the need to visit an embassy in person to obtain the visa. The application is designed to only take minutes and can be submitted online from anywhere in the world.
Mombasa Transport: How to Arrive and Get Around
Most international tourists wishing to visit Mombasa will fly to Moi International Airport and land at Terminal 1 (Terminal 2 is primarily used for domestic flights). The two passenger terminals are at short walking distance.
Moi International Airport is at a mere 20 minutes drive from Mombasa. If you fly to Moi International Airport and need to get to the city center, you will easily find authorized taxis outside the terminal. There is no public transport available: other options include private cars or tour operator shuttles.
The main forms of transport in Mombasa are matatus (minibuses) and three-wheeled tuk tuks. Taxis can be harder to find: the quickest way is to ask your hotel or restaurant to call you one. A Matatus short trip is likely to cost between KSh30 and KSh50 while a tuk tuk ride will set you back KSh50 to KSh200.
Visiting Mombasa: Mombasa Attractions and Travel Advice
Mombasa has something to offer to all types of travelers, from nature lovers to those looking for the finest dining experience. Here is a limited list of things to do in Mombasa:
- Natural reserves, farms, and sanctuaries. Mombasa hosts a number of parks and sanctuaries that animal lovers can explore. Haller Park is the largest sanctuary in town. Here you’ll be able to spot the animals and take a stroll in the botanical gardens. The Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve is ideal for snorkeling and diving, while Mamba village is the biggest crocodile farm in East Africa.
- Sightseeing. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fort Jesus is a fine example of 16th-century Portugues military architecture. As well as Fort Jesus’ ruins, visitors can see collections of ceramic and pottery, jewelry, and other artifacts. Taking a walk around the Old Town will give you an idea of the uniqueness of the area surrounding Mombasa’s port. From these narrow lanes, you’ll be able to appreciate the mix of architectural styles reflecting the city’s cultural melting pot.
- Beaches. Mombasa boasts a range of tropical beaches with white sand, pristine water, and 5-star facilities. Among the most popular you can find Diani, Nyali, and Bamburi.
What Is the Currency in Mombasa?
Foreigners visiting Mombasa will be able to use Kenyan shillings (KHS) to make their purchases and pay for whatever they need during their stay. Payments in other major currencies like US Dollars and Euros are often accepted in Mombasa. However, if you plan to visit more rural areas of the countries, it’s important that you arrive prepared and bring local cash.
Is It Safe to Travel to Mombasa?
Kenya is a very popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Whether they decide to travel to Mombasa and the coast or focus on Kenyan safaris, over a million foreigners visit Kenya every year.
Avoid poorly lit streets at night (especially in Mombasa Old Town) and don’t carry visible valuables with you. In general, areas visited by tourists are considered safe.
Pickpocketers operate in town, like in most big urban centers, especially at bus and ferry stations and other busy locations.
Mombasa is considered an area affected by malaria. Talk to your health practitioner and follow vaccination and health advice for Kenya before leaving.