Visiting Kampala – The 11 Things to do and see in Kampala
11-Tourist Things you can do and see in Kampala – the city on Seven Hills and beyond
Things to Do and See in Kampala. Kampala is Uganda’s national and commercial capital. Kampala was historically known as the hill of the impalas. Kampala was the original British Colonial Settlement, which was Fort Lugard. From here, the city spread out to seven Hills. Kampala became known as the city of seven Hills. Today Kampala has gone beyond the original seven hills to twenty-one.
Entebbe was the capital of Uganda during Colonial Days. Kampala became the capital in 1962 as Uganda gained independence from the British.
Kampala is Uganda’s city of Commerce, and it swells on most business days to over 2.6 Million and at night drops to 1,6 million-plus people.
The 11-Top Things to Do and See in Kampala-Here is a list of the most popular ones. We do not offer Kampala city tours as standalone day trips but as a component in our Safaris in Uganda.
1. Kasubi Tombs – a UNESCO – World Heritage Site
The reason we have put it as number one is that it is one of the best sites where you learn about the history, culture, religion, traditions of the Buganda Kingdom. At your side is a knowledgeable guide that will give you insight into the history kingdom until the present.
The Kasubi Tombs site is located on Kasubi Hill, five kilometers from Kampala city center, along the Kampala-Hoima Road. There are only three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uganda. The Kasubi Tombs are one of the three sites. The other two are Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon.
The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala, Uganda, is the site of the burial grounds for four Kabakas and other members of the Baganda royal family. As a result, the site remains an important spiritual and cultural site for the Baganda people, as well as an essential example of traditional architecture.
The first Kabaka to be buried at Kasubi was Muteesa I, the 35th King of Buganda. The dates of the reigns of the Kabakas are only precisely known from Ssekabaka Suuna II, who ruled from 1836 to 1856. The others who are buried here are Basamula Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II, Fredrick Walugembe Muteesa II.
The Kasubi Tombs are 5 kilometers from downtown Kampala
2. Namugongo Ugandan Martyrs Site
The Martyrs of Uganda who died for their Faith – June 3 is Martyr’s Day, where the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church of Uganda honor the Martyrs that gave their lives for the whom they believed in and became the seed of the Uganda Church its Faith and Beliefs.
There were 22 Catholics, and 23 Church of Uganda (Anglican) were executed for their faith and refusal to renounce it by Kabaka Mwanga. The execution for most was on June 3rd, 1886. The Day commemorated each year in Uganda by millions and by Catholics in particular around the world.
It is one of the most essential spiritual Christians Sites in Uganda. Though it is 15 -Kilometers from downtown Kampala. We have placed it as number two as must-visit destinations in Kampala. There are two sites. The Catholic Basilica and the Museum that is on the Church of Uganda site. We suggest half a day for a visit here. Over a million people come here on Martyrs Day on June 3rd.
3. St. Balikuddembe or Owino Market
Most Ugandans call it Owino. Stories have it that Owino was an older man who sold roasted maize on the cob at the market. It started as a wholesale Market in 1971. Over time the market into the Present Owino Market where you can buy goods and services of all kinds.
The present Owino Market is a sprawling mazelike complex around Nakivubo Stadium. It’s possible to spend hours here, not least because it’s so hard to find your way out. While here you can find almost anything, food, meat, poultry and Fish, Vegetables and Fruit, used Clothing and Shoes. If your luggage was lost on the flight here, replacements of all kinds are found here. Spices, Coffee, Tea, traditional herbs, and medicines all offered by shouting vendors who grab your hand and attempt to pull you into their shops.
We put Owino Market on our List of things to do and see in Kampala because it gives visitors an insight into Ugandan Life and Culture. If you do not thrive on Chaos, we suggest that you do not visit. We will have an Owino Expert at your side to assist you in shopping and keep you safe. Wear no jewelry, watches, and leave your mobile phone at the hotel.
4. Saint Paul’s Cathedral – Namirembe
The first church building, constructed in 1890, with a capacity of 800 people in a swampy area at the bottom of Namirembe Hill. It was abandoned because of location and church growth. The second church building was constructed between July 1891 and July 1892, with a seating capacity of more than 3,000. The church was destroyed in October 1894 by strong winds during a thunderstorm that blew the roof off the church. The fourth one was abandoned due to an infestation of termites.
The first Cathedral, fourth church building, was built with thatched elephant grass from Ssese Islands by local labor with one British Engineer. It had brick walls and a massive thatched roof. Ten thousand worshippers came ford the dedication, including the seven-year-old Kabaka Daudi Chwa. In 1910 lightning hit the thatched grass roof and that Church was burned down.
Never to give up, the Anglican Christian Believers built afresh. The current St. Paul’s Cathedral was constructed between 1915 and 1919 using earthen bricks and earthen roof tiles. The cathedral is still standing and is the mother church in the Church of Uganda, Anglican.
5. Saint Mary’s – Rubaga Cathedral:
Saint Mary”s Rubaga Cathedral is one of the more known places of worship and architectural beauty in Uganda. It is Perched on top of Rubaga hill and overlooks much of Kampala. The cathedral is one of the leading religious and touristic attractions in Kampala. Rubaga is an imposing sight as it is essential in the spiritual, health, and education lives of many people in Kampala.
Many people who have visited this place, Catholics and none Catholics alike, remember Rubaga Cathedral as a beautiful architectural wonder of the Romanesque era. It was built by some of the earliest White Father missionaries (early20th century). Still, the magnificent piers, carved windows strewn with color-rich paintings depicting catholic saints and biblical depictions, make it an excellent destination for lovers of religious art.
Rubaga Hill gets its name from the Luganda word “okubaga” meaning “to plan.” It is said that the White Fathers that brought the Catholic faith to Uganda had problems pronouncing the correct name of the cathedral i.e.Lubaga. Instead, they proclaimed the word with an “r” and called it “Rubaga Cathedral.” This name stuck on, and the Cathedral is called Rubaga as is the hospital, the place, even the local government jurisdiction- Rubaga Division.
6. The Bahá’í Temple – the only one in Africa
Africa’s only Baha’i Temple, Africa’s only Baha’i Temple, is just 2 kilometers from Kampala town center. It is the mother temple for Bahai’s in all of Africa. Its artistic beauty is visible from the distance as you approach the hill on which the temple is built. The dome-shaped building is in the midst of a beautiful and well-kept garden. The serenity found here attracts many. That includes even those that don’t adhere to the Baha’i Faith. Most come to find moments of refuge from a noise-filled Kampala.
The Bahá’í Mother Temple of Africa is also known as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar“the Dawning-place of the Praise of God.” Adherent to the Baha’i faith come from all over Africa to spend time at the mother temple.
Followers of Bahá’u’lláh are called Bahá’í’s, and they follow a religion that seeks to unite all creed. The Bahá’í faith is all-inclusive and centers on the idea that human rights are a priority in teaching the actual values of humanity. It’s because of this idea that many Ugandans became Bahá’ís.
7. Gaddafi National Mosque in Old Kampala
The National Mosque is stilled called the “Gaddafi Mosque” in Kampala, where the late Colonel Gaddafi is missed by many. Idi Amin had attempted to build a national mosque with contributions from him, Saudi Arabia, and some other Muslim nation. However, much of the money was eaten, and Kampala’s Muslims were left with Leaning Tower of Pisa Version of a Minaret.
Down came the old and up the new Gaddafi National Mosque. The largest mosque in East Africa. It is built on Old Kampala Hill, which is One of Kampala City’s Seven Hills. It is visible from all Corners of Kampala, and visitors that are not Muslim are drawn to it. And one cannot go without a glimpse of it.
According to the National Muslim Council, all People, regardless of their Creeds, Political affiliations, Ethnic backgrounds, Cultures, and Nationalities, are welcomed to visit the mosque.
On arrival at the Gaddafi Mosque, one is required to report to the Tourism Information Office desk. Where you are required to pay your Entrance Fees, Ladies will be veiled as per the Islamic custom. All Visitors are obliged to respect the Islamic Regulations, Norms, and Cultural Values.
8. The Royal Mile of the Buganda Kingdom:
The Royal Mile Connects the Kabaka of the Buganda Kingdom’s Palace called Lubiri withe the seat of the Buganda Kingdom Parliament called Bulange. The Roundabout between the two has a special thoroughfare provided for the Kabaka, the King.
A guide will take you to both significant places for the Baganda. The present Kabaka does not occupy the Palace since soldiers desecrated it under the regime of President Obote. The attack on the palace was led by none other than Idi Amin.
Idi Amin further desecrated the Palace and grounds by making it a military barracks and adding torture chambers in which thousands found their demise and perished.
The Royal Mile is an insight into the Culture and History of Uganda and, in particular, the Baganda People.
9. National Museum:
Uganda’s National Museum is the oldest in East Africa. It houses many valuable items, many of them not on display. We do not want to be realistic and not just give you Tourism Hype. The Museum could be better. Promises to do that are there, but as of yet, they are unfulfilled. Reading the TripAdvisor Reviews gives the reactions of visitors and whether it is right for you.
A Bright Spot in 2019 was the display by newly discovered photos of Idi Amin, and the presentation was a success. One could suggest based on that alone to make it a permanent part of the Museum. If you are a history and culture enthusiast, then you will have a great experience. There is a nominal entrance fee, a few shillings more if you want to see the Idi Amin exhibition.
If you are a History and or Culture Enthusiast, than you will have a most positive experience here. Put aside lighting and a few other aesthetic factors.
10. Arts and Crafts – Souvenirs:
Souvenirs, Arts, and Crafts can be bought over Uganda when you are on a safari. In Kampala, their many places for you to purchase souvenirs of your time in Uganda.
The three Prominent ones. The Craft Village by the National Theater is an excellent spot. This is a co-op that always comes with new and practical things to take home from Uganda. The other is Exposure Africa on Buganda Road. The third is the Friday Crafts Crafts Market in Nsambya.
There are also unique Ugandan Souvenirs that you can purchase elsewhere. Things like Ugandan Arabica Coffee, Uganda Waragi, Fabrics, and more. We have compiled a list of things to bring home.
11. Independence Monument and Parliament:
The Independence Monument is the heart of Kampala. The British Colonial Government commissioned it before independence in 1962. It depicts a man raising the Child toward the sky.
Who is the man, some might think it is Britain depicted as the man and Uganda as the child? Whatever it represents independence, like a child forging its way in the world.
Parliament is that child as an adult and not far from Independence Monument. You can even sit in the gallery and watch the proceedings below.
Both Parliament and the Independence monument are best done on Foot.
The Best Way to take a Kampala City Tour:
Getting around Kampala in a vehicle during the week is frustrating. Traffic gridlocks are common and frustrating experience. It is not something that we want our clients to remember about Uganda.
Sunday is actually the best day for City Tours. There is little Traffic to contend with.
Enter Zulaika Birungi and her Kampala Walking Safaris. She is simply the best at it. No one can come close. She knows Kampala better than the locals. She also brings years of experience.
She will guide you safely through the maze of downtown and beyond Kampala. You will not miss a thing with her.
Just let us know that you want to include a Kampala Walking Tour on your Safari with us.
Top Things to Do and See in Kampala that you would like to include while on Safari in Uganda with us.