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A city with many faces, Mombasa offers an alluring mix of culture, history and tropical scenery. Kenya’s second largest city is actually an island connected to the mainland by bridges, and it certainly has its own distinct character and charm. An imposing fort stands guard over the harbour, a tangle of spice-scented streets lie at the city’s historic heart and palm-fringed beaches wrap around the coastline. Holidays here can be as chilled or adventurous as you wish. Want to immerse yourself in local culture? Head to the Old Town. In need of some rest and relaxation? White-sand beaches await. Eager for some action? Try the watersports. However you choose to spend your time, we guarantee this enticing coastal city will leave you yearning for more.
Mombasa is a melting pot of African, Indian, Arabic and European culture. This rich ethnic tapestry flows throughout the city, manifesting in everything from the architecture to the cuisine. Explore the eclectic mix of forts, mosques, churches and townhouses and dine on freshly-caught seafood, crispy baijis and hearty stews.
When the sun goes down, Mombasa offers a varied and vibrant nightlife. Choose from artsy hangouts, lively nightclubs or an evening of wining and dining on a traditional dhow boat. The city’s northern coastline is known for its round-the-clock entertainment, including cinemas, restaurants, bars and clubs. In other words, you won’t struggle to find something to do after dark.
When you need an escape from the hustle and bustle, there’s a stretch of sun-kissed beaches waiting. Flanked by turquoise sea and wildlife-rich forests, these idyllic shorelines will soon have you shedding your city skin and feeling well-rested. And for those who want some action, the calm, clear water is perfect for diving and snorkeling, as well as other watersports such as windsurfing and water-skiing.
Whether you’re seeking historic landmarks or laid-back beach life, in Mombasa you can have the best of both worlds.
You can’t visit Mombasa without feeling drawn to the magical Old Town. Get lost down narrow streets, marvel at the ornately carved balconies adorning the Swahili houses and soak up the sights and smells of the spice market - not forgetting to grab some tasty street food along the way.
At the edge of the historic quarter is the city’s star attraction - the World Heritage Fort Jesus. The impressive structure is considered to be one of the best preserved examples of military design and now houses a museum filled with interesting maritime artifacts. Mombasa’s history can be traced along the thick walls of the fort with Portuguese graffiti, Arabic engravings and Swahili decoration. For an unforgettable experience, you can visit the fort at night and enjoy a colourful light and sound show.
Another notable landmark in the Old Town is Mandhry Mosque. Built in 1570, it’s the city’s oldest mosque and although it’s not open to visitors, it’s worth checking out to marvel at the unique mix of Arabic and African design.
If you’re in need of some peace and quiet, Uhuru Gardens offer a refreshing respite from the city’s hectic street life. Stroll through the lush gardens dotted with huge trees and stop to take a snap of the replica elephant tusks.
Mombasa is also a gateway to some of Kenya’s best beaches, particularly on the south coast. Diani Beach is always popular with tourists thanks to its pristine sand, while Galu Beach further south offers a more tranquil spot. Offshore, the reefs are home to an abundance of colourful marine life, and during February and March, whale sharks can be spotted. Spend the day sunbathing and swimming before watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Mombasa is one of Kenya’s most-visited destinations - and for good reason. Whether you’re relaxing on a beach or releasing your inner history buff, you’re guaranteed a good time. Check out our blogs to see what else this exciting city has to offer.
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