Skip Navigation

Travel Guide Africa Kenya Mombasa

edit

Introduction

Mombasa station

Mombasa station

© All Rights Reserved Ofelia

Mombasa is Kenya's second largest city after Nairobi and is located along the coastline of the Indian Ocean. It is a major port and has a large international airport where many flights arrive with tourists wanting to experience the nice nearby beaches and tropical weather conditions. The city itself has around 800,000 inhabitants and is not a particularly beautiful one, though there are some things to enjoy if you want to get away from the beaches.

Top

edit

Neighbourhoods

  • Kizingo
  • Kibokoni
  • Makadara
  • Ganjoni
  • Tudor
  • Nyali
  • Likoni
  • Magongo
  • Mikindani and Miritini
  • Changanwe
  • Bamburi
  • Diani Beach

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Fort Jesus

Built between 1593 and 1596 by the Portuguese to protect the port against the Ottomans, this fort was in military use for over three centuries. It got its name from the Portuguese fleet sailing under the flag of the Order of Christ (Ordem de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo). The fort is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. Fort Jesus holds artifacts from when Mombasa was a transit port for the slave trade. There are torture rooms, cells, and many other displays from the 16th century. During the British period the fort functioned as a prison and today part of the cells are used as a museum. Many exhibits come from the Portuguese frigate Santo António de Tanna that sank in 1697, including African and Indian pottery, Chinese china, different objects used by the crew and two bronze cannons. Another part of the collection is dedicated to archeological finds from the Kenyan coast. Moreover there are Arabic military equipment, musical instruments and a series of cannons from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the small park next to the entrance there is a 105mm cannon that belonged to the Imperial German Navy.

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

Mombasa Carnival

November is when the city of Mombasa celebrates Kenyan culture with a carnival by the Indian Ocean. Artists, dancers, musicians and tribal people flock to take part in the concerts that make up one of Kenya’s largest annual events. One of the major features is the main street parade with floats that showcase the different tribal identities across the nation. There are street stalls and opportunities for eating, drinking and dancing.

Top

edit

Weather

Mombasa has a tropical climate, meaning warm and humid conditions throughout the year. The coolest month is July when average daytime temperatures are around 26 °C , the warmest months are February and March, when it's around 31 °C during the day. Nights average between 20 °C during the coolest months to 25 °C in the hottest months. Rain is possible in all months, but April and May are by far the wettest months, with 200 to 250mm a month. February is the driest month with just 5 rainy days.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Moi International Airport (MBA) offers a range of flights. Destinations include Munich, Düsseldorf (both with Air Berlin, Aden, Dubai, Nairobi, Frankfurt, Zürich, Bologna, Milan, Rome, Zanzibar, Brussels, Dar es Salaam, London and Manchester.

By Train

The train ride on board the Jambo Kenya Deluxe from Nairobi takes about 15h and trains are operated by Rift Valley Railways. The advantages of traveling by railway is the ability to see wildlife up close. There are two weekly departures in each direction; Monday and Friday night from Nairobi and Wednesday Sunday night from Mombasa. You will travel along the mythical railway leading from Mombasa to Uganda, which was built between 1896 and 1903. First class compartments have two beds, second class has four beds and in third class there are benches. Toilets on board the train are very basic. In the train's restaurant the food is simple but prepared on demand from fresh ingredients. The first class ticket includes dinner and breakfast. For safety, there are police officers on board the train.

Mombasa railway station is located on Lumumba Rd, check in opens at 9:30AM on days the trains is operating.

In June 2017 a new higher-speed railway will open between Mombasa and Nairobi, reducing journey time to under five hours. Trains will run to a new station, Mombasa Terminus, located near the airport.

By Car

Roads lead towards Nairobi in the west, Dar es Salaam in the south and Malindi and Lamu in the north.

By Bus

Buses go regularly to Nairobi (6 hours during the day, 8-10 hours at night) and minibuses go to Malindi (2.5 hours). Buses to Lamu take around 7 hours and connect with the ferry the Lamu.

By Boat

On Mombasa Island there are two sailing clubs open to non-members and two hotels with marinas open to non-guests.
Certain companies offer cruises that call at Mombasa.
If you are arriving overland from the south, you need to cross the river by the Likoni Ferry.

Top

edit

Getting Around

By Car

Normal taxis, both official and unofficial, are also available. Taxis don't have taxi signs on the roof, but license papers stuck to the windshields. The ride is in general paid beforehand after some negotiation and you can expect the driver to stop at a service station to fill up just the necessary amount to get you to your destination.

By Public Transport

There is no regular public transportation network in the city. The closest equivalent are the aforementioned matatus (minivans) of which there are about 3,500 (licensed ones have stickers on the windshields) in the city. They're cheap - ask someone at the hotel what the going rate is and don't let them scam you. Don't expect to be comfortable; as the drivers want to take as many passengers as possible, you will often be crammed in like a sardine.

For the more adventurous there are tuk-tuks (motorized trikes with a cabin for the passengers), pikipikis (motorcycle taxis), and boda-bodas (bicycle taxis). The latter two are rather dangerous and scary modes of getting around. The price for a tuk-tuk ride is around KES70-100, pikipiki around KES50 and boda-boda around KES20.

Top

edit

Eat

Mombasa is a cosmopolitan city with Arabic, Chinese, European and Indian influences and this can be seen in the local cuisine. Many local dishes include coconut, for instance waly ya tui (basmati rice with coconut milk), kuku wa kupaka (chicken with coconut milk) and mahamri (coconut donuts with cardamom).

Pizzerias and snack bars serving Kenyan cuisine are found in Mvita and places that are frequented by tourists such as the beaches. Many hotels also offer this kind of affordable eating. If you want to try out the Kenyan cuisine in such places, check that the place is overall clean, that it does not smell of old frying oil. Moreover, ask for drinks in unopened bottles, avoid ice and peel any fruits. If you follow these tips you can have a great and affordable meal - KES250 will buy you a large serving and a beer.

Top

edit

Drink

There are quite a number of good bars, pubs and entertainment spots in Mombasa Town and the North Coast. Nightlife is very vibrant in Mombasa and in the village Mtwapa (15km north of Mombasa, called "the village that never sleeps").

Top

edit

Sleep

There is a wide range of accommodation on offer in Mombasa from camping to Backpacker hostels to hotels and villas with all comforts.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Kenya Bay Beach HotelBamburi Beach, Mombasa Malindi Highway P O Box 767Hotel77
The Beach - Bar Restaurant & Camp LodgeP.O. Box 256 Mtwapa Maweni BeachHostel84
Villa AnnchenMtwapa CreekGuesthouse-
Mtwapa Creek VillaMtomondoni Mtwapa West Mtwapa CreekGuesthouse-
Bamburi Beach ResortPlot No. 1532 Section 1, Mainland North Mombasa/Malindi RoadGuesthouse-
Backpackers Hostel KenyaP.O. Box 43264HOSTEL-
Mombasa BackpackersMwamba Drive, #69 NyaliHOSTEL-
Backpackers NirvanaNyali BeachHOSTEL-
Indiana Beach Hotel MombasaLarnu Rd. Mombasa-Malindi Road, BamburiHOTEL-
Milele Vipingo House115-00502 Nairobi KenyaGUESTHOUSE-
Leinmach Guest House NyaliBarracks street Nyali BeachGUESTHOUSE80
One Love Island CampsiteLamu Malindi Road via NgomeniCAMPSITE-
Jay's Nyali HomestayBeach Road, Next to Oshwal Academy PO Box 10249-1GUESTHOUSE-
Safina HostelThe Wema Centre Trust PO Box 88820Hostel-

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

As far as communication technology is concerned, Kenya has gone through a tremendous modernization. Nowadays visitors to Kenya can carry their portable digital devices, ease of use is guaranteed with the advent of wireless (hot spots) environments within upmarket tourisms resorts. In some restaurants, a cup of coffee can allow you the use of the free hot spot for your laptop. However in most places the bandwidth is severely limited. Internet cafés are common throughout Kenya and usually offer decent link quality. Expect prices around 1KSh per minute. Most cyber cafes now charge 0.5KES per minute.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Kenya boosts a number of good mobile phone operators like Zain, Safaricom, Orange, Yu and Telekom. Roaming is easy with most European contract mobile phone tariff plans. Prices can be high though, so try and get a local SIM card or avoid data roaming.

Post

The National Postal Company offers services throughout the country and abroad. Prices are reasonably but services, although better than in the past, are still not very good. It is pretty slow and not always reliable. If you want to send a package, you'd better use international companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, as they are not much more expensive yet reliable and fast.

Top

Quick Facts

[edit]

Coordinates
  • Latitude: -4.053054
  • Longitude: 39.672859

Accommodation in Mombasa

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Mombasa searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Mombasa and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as hasbeen (1%)

Mombasa Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Mombasa

This is version 16. Last edited at 8:48 on May 2, 17 by Utrecht. 19 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License