Explore our list of 20 places to experience the best Kenyan culture.
Kenya is a melting pot of different culture. From the shores of the Indian Ocean to the banks of Lake Victoria, and from the peaks of Mt. Kenya to the beds of the rift valley, you won’t miss a spot to explore the best of Kenyan culture.
The tribal cultures become distinct once you live in the metropolitan areas. In rural Kenya, you get to experience the ancient traditions preserved by different tribes for years.
Here’s where to experience the best Kenyan culture:
Eat nyama choma and experience Nairobi’s nightlife
Indulging in succulent nyama choma (roasted meat) is an out-of-the-world experience. Served with Ugali and kachumbari (salsa) on the side, you’ll enjoy a bombshell dish on all levels. The delicacy has remained a big part of the best Kenyan culture through the years. Kenyans of all social standing, group, gender, and classes enjoy nyama choma at home, restaurants, or parties.
After a day of nyama choma, unwinding in some of Nairobi’s nightclubs should come next. The music and party are diverse because you meet people from all over the world. This group comes to relax in lively nightclubs and lounges over a drink.
The energy is at its peak! Moreover, nyama choma, Tusker, and contemporary African music characterize the moment. At times people move from one club to the next (club hopping) as the night progresses.
Visit the Alchemist in Westlands for great food and live bands. 1824 The Whiskey Bar is another popular entertainment place that offers outdoor seating, themed nights, and great music.
Visit Lamu for the Best Kenyan cultural Experience
A few decades ago, Lamu came into existence as a hippy circuit. However, the small Muslim town has become a favored destination by the crème de la crème in society.
Lamu, relatively isolated and remote, also offers a fascinating cache for a culture known little about by the outside world. While in Lamu, you realize dhows and donkeys act as the primary form of transport. As a visitor in the town, you’ll have the opportunity to gaze through the tiny laneways surrounded by multistory stone houses.
When the déjà vu of walking in the small town becomes monotonous, sail away to remote islands of Kiwayu and Pate. Here you discover ruins of abandoned villages, mingle with villagers while walking through deserted beaches. When it gets overwhelming, swim with dolphins and learn what these kind sea mammals have to offer.
Enjoy spectacular views of the savanna grassland on a wildlife Safari
You can’t experience the best Kenyan culture without going on a wildlife safari. Kenya harbors various wildlife animals. From leopards to lions, there’s so much for one to see. For instance, if you are visiting the Nairobi National Park, go early in the morning. As an early riser, you’ll have the chance to see lions before they go to sleep.
The Nairobi National Park is home to rhinos, zebras, giraffes, leopards, and even buffalos.
Organizing for a guided tour and visiting the Maasai Mara or the Amboseli National Park allows you to see the Big Five. At the Mara, you get to experience (one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders) the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Learn about Kenyan Culture and Art at the National Archives and National Museums of Kenya
Located within Kenya’s capital, these two places provide all information regarding the best Kenyan cultures and diversity. At Kenya’s National Museum, you get acquainted with the art and culture that best describes local artists and tribes. On the other hand, the National archives provide records detailing Kenya’s traditions and tribes.
Experience Maasai nomadic lifestyle at the Loita Hills, Narok
The Maasai of Kenya have maintained their culture, which is reminiscent of their nomadic lifestyle. Maasai boast of having the best Kenyan culture because they’ve refused western cultures to erode their traditions.
If you want a glimpse into this majestic and robust culture, a trip to Narok will quench your curiosity. While on a guided tour on the Loita hills, you get to know how Maasai live. On tour, you see Maasai morans with spears around their manyattas. The cherry on the cake is that these young men won’t flinch when a lion passes by.
Get a cross-section of Kenya at the Bomas of Kenya
The Bomas of Kenya offers a sneak preview regarding best Kenyan culture and traditions. If you want to get a cross-section of Kenya under one roof, the Bomas of Kenya along Lang’ata Road won’t disappoint. From beautiful dances, traditional cooking modes to mud thatched houses, you get to experience all of Kenya’s culture.
Take a trip to the Coastal town of Mombasa for an eventful vacation
Famous for its historical significance, world-class resorts, and beaches, Mombasa is a popular tourist destination. As Kenya’s second-largest city with rich and diverse best Kenyan culture, it borders the Indian Ocean and boasts top-class picturesque beaches.
Found between the 1st and 15th centuries, the Portuguese, Arabs, and British settlers occupied Mombasa. You get to experience these cultures’ influence in Mombasa with the Old Town and Fort Jesus making you go back in time.
The main language here’s Swahili. If you think you’ve heard good Kiswahili, talk to someone born and raised in this Coastal city. They have a way of making Swahili sound lyrical.
Mingle with Kenya’s smallest ethnic group when visiting Lake Turkana
While heading towards the North, you come across a place called Turkana. The Turkana people boast of having the most distinctive and best Kenyan culture in the country. Lake Turkana is found in this arid region, and it’s the home to the endangered El Molo people. East or West, there’s no place you get to experience the El Molo, and Turkana cultures have to offer.
Lake Turkana, an alkaline water source, provides fish to the nomadic Turkana people, who populate the area.
Enjoy beautiful sunsets at the Lake region of Nyanza
Nyanza region is mainly populated by the Luos, one of the 42 tribes of Kenya. It’s an abode to the great Lake Victoria, Kisumu city, and Kit Mikayi tourist attraction. A visit to this region ensures you devour the fresh and tasty fish from the Lake.
While in Kisumu, you can visit Impala Park or Dunga Hill Camp and enjoy beautiful sunsets. You’ll get to experience Kisumu’s scorching sun and have a glimpse of fishermen going about their daily activities.
Meet the Akamba people, one of Kenya’s most outspoken tribes when you take a trip to Machakos
The Kamba tribe is one of the most outspoken tribes in the country. Visiting Machakos town offers you a thrill of the moment because you get to mingle with this tribe. Since becoming a county, the region has become one of Kenya’s vital local places. Apart from engaging in one of the best Kenyan cultures, you enjoy nature and wildlife at the Maanzoni sanctuary. Enjoy outdoor activities when you take a trip to the Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park. A picnic at the Machakos People’s Park is a plan for family and friends gathering.
Enjoy boat rides and traditional smoked meat in Busia, Kenya’s border town
The cosmopolitan town of Busia is home to Luhyas, Iteso, and a small group of Luos. Taking a visit to this place introduces you to one of the best Kenyan cultures still alive. The Samia, a Luhya sub-tribe, makes one of the best-smoked meat with brown ugali. It’s a tradition passed on through the generations, and you can never have enough of this delicacy.
After enjoying this dish, visit the Kakapei National Monument in Teso North. The rocks at this place contain carving illustrating initiation symbols, rainmaking, and wild animals.
Enjoy a rare wildlife niche and natural minerals in Marsabit
The Borana Oromo people, who consist of different sub-tribes, mainly inhibit Marsabit. The Burji still preserve one of the best Kenyan cultures because of their unique traditional dances. They also adorn traditional handwoven clothes made using a wooden instrument. When still in Marsabit, make a point to visit the Koobi Fora Museum, a world heritage known as the first place where human beings stayed.
Visit Gigiri, Nairobi, for a Kenyan foreign culture
Gigiri is the home of most expatriates and consulates; hence, it offers more foreign culture. It’s here where Kenya meets the entire world. One of the most notable factors is everyone staying at Gigiri has blended into the various cultures. It’s a small area of Kenya that offers a dash of everything. The best way to experience the best Kenyan culture is by taking a trip to this place.
Visit the Village Market and enjoy good meals at their food court. You get to enjoy both local and international cuisines—talk of having the best of both worlds in one place.
Enjoy bullfighting, visit the crying stone, and be part of the popular Isukuti dance
There’s much to see when you visit Kakamega in Western Kenya. First, they have the Isukuti dance that involves beating drums, and it’s associated with the Isukha and Idakho, a Luhya sub-tribe. Most Luhya communities have embraced the dance to the point of UNESCO inscribing it in the World heritage. You can have the most out of the best Kenyan culture while viewing the crying stone.
The Idakho also hold bullfighting functions. It involves two heavy bulls fighting each other with hundreds of spectators present. The winning bull owner always receives a cash prize.
Meet the Mijikenda and their 30 Kaya forests
Visiting Mijikenda in the Kaya forests of Coastal Kenya takes you back in time. The men adorn lesos (traditional clothing), and women dress in clothes made from sisal. As one of the best Kenyan culture, they ensure to preserve their traditions through performing arts. Their oral traditions primarily represent the sacred forests, a source of precious medicinal plants.
Eat street food for an authentic Kenyan experience
A logical and natural extension involves the artistic culture each part of Kenya offers. You can’t miss out on some best Kenyan cultures when visiting various parts of the country. From the capital to smaller towns, you come across food preparation happening outside or in small kiosks. Most people drool for mutura (African sausage) in the evenings you find being prepared in estates or outside butcheries. Typically, the men prepare this delicacy and do it over an open fire.
Take time to have a feel of the best Kenyan culture when you visit the GoDown Arts Center
For a modern approach towards Nairobi’s booming art scene, take a trip to GoDown Arts Center. The former car repair warehouse was founded in 2003. Its purpose solely lies in displaying a broad spectrum of Kenyan artistic creation and creativity. The GoDown offers 10,000 meters worth of space committed to supporting present-day Kenyan art.
Visit Maasai Market for a wealth of souvenirs to take back home
If you want a taste of the best Kenyan culture, visit the Maasai market. Apart from enjoying an exotic African experience, you get enough souvenirs to take home. The Maasai market is found in Kenya’s capital. While at the market, you get to buy an assortment of products ranging from jewelry, soapstone items, woodcarvings, drawings, paintings, fabrics, clothes, and much more. You can also find the Maasai market at the Village Market and the junction mall.
Visit Laikipia for once in a lifetime camel trekking experience
To make the most out of the best Kenyan culture, visit Laikipia, the land of the Samburu people. These semi-nomadic pastoralists keep animals, including camels. Like the Maasai, Samburu people also love dancing, with men jumping high in a circle while standing.
You can get a tour guide to take you on long treks, which last for around three days. When the terrain gets rough, the hardy desert animal gives you a ride.
Kenya offers an abundance of cultural experiences. Occasionally, you get to have the chance to take part in traditional ceremonies. Getting to know more about the best Kenyan cultures changes your perception regarding many things.