The buzzing capital of Kenya, Nairobi is a large and dynamic city of over 3 million people. It’s home to some of Kenya’s most important buildings and monuments and is considered the country’s commercial nerve as well as a major gateway for the East Africa region.
With flourishing businesses and busy nightlife, there’s always something going on in Nairobi.
In order to visit Nairobi and explore the city, most foreign visitors will need a Kenyan travel authorization or eVisa. This article offers useful information for international travelers who wish to see Nairobi, including how to obtain a visa for Nairobi and what to see and do in Kenya’s capital.
Do You Need a Visa to Visit Nairobi?
It’s natural to wonder whether you’ll have to go through a visa application in order to visit Nairobi. Many travelers even wonder whether they need a visa to change planes in Nairobi.
Currently, citizens of 43 countries can visit Nairobi without a visa. All other foreign nationals will need a valid travel authorization or visa in order to enter Nairobi and Kenya.
Fortunately, the Kenyan government has recently launched a new Nairobi eVisa system that allows travelers to apply for a visa for Nairobi online from anywhere in the world, without the need to visit a Kenyan embassy in person or hire a travel agency. As many as 141 countries are eligible to apply for an electronic visa for Kenya.
How to Apply for a Nairobi Visa
The visa requirements for US citizens traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, won’t be the same as those for the citizens of San Marino. The first step, therefore, is to check if you’re eligible for an eVisa and what requirements you have to meet.
Then, you can start your online application for a Nairobi eVisa. The application can be completed from your home or office as long as you have access to a reliable internet connection.
In order to get a visa for Nairobi online, you’ll need to:
- Fill out the online application form
- Upload copies of the required supporting documents
- Pay the application fee.
Your approved Nairobi visa will arrive at the email address you have provided during the application.
What Is the Main Airport in Nairobi, Kenya?
The Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi International Airport is the main airport in Kenya. It sits in the Embakasi suburb, 15 kilometers southeast of Nairobi’s central business district. Nairobi International Airport operates flights to over 50 countries.
There are many ways to reach the city center from the airport. Once you exit the airport on Airport South Road, you can decide to:
- Get a taxi
- Use public transport and take bus number 34 to Nairobi center
- Purchase a seat on one of the many private shuffles and buses
- Rent a car and drive yourself downtown.
What Is Nairobi Famous for?
Nairobi has a lot to offer. From seeing the animals at Nairobi National Park to going on a shopping craze at the Maasai Market and Village Market, you’ll quickly feel that your Nairobi eVisa was worth its price.
Is Downtown Nairobi Safe?
Downtown Nairobi is where most of the daily life in the capital happens. Here you’ll be able to mingle with crowds of locals out for eating at some of the city’s best (and affordable) restaurants and enjoy a cup of coffee or a beer. It’s also a great place to start getting an idea of what shopping in Nairobi means.
Accommodation downtown is overall very cheap. You can reach downtown Nairobi on one of the many shared minicabs.
However, the crowded spaces and poor-lit lanes at night make downtown Nairobi ideal for thieves and robbers. If you keep your possessions close at all times and avoid walking alone late at night (and if you follow the general safety advice for Kenya) you should have no issues.
The Largest Mosque in Kenya: Nairobi’s Jamia Mosque
Located in Banda Street in the Central Business District of Nairobi, Jamia Mosque is the most important temple in the country.
The mosque is one of Nairobi’s architectural gems, with three silver domes and extensive use of marble and Koranic inscriptions. The mosque is open to visitors unless the faithful are in prayer.
How Far Is Nairobi from the Coast?
Nairobi is pretty distant from the ocean — about 400 km. If you wish to experience a beautiful Kenyan coastal city, you can visit Mombasa (home to the famous Diani beach) with a 45-minute flight from Nairobi.
However, there are plenty of public and hotel pools in Nairobi where you can relax and swim with locals and expats.