Rwanda: Things to See and Do in Kigali (Tourist Attractions)

There’s no denying it, Rwanda will probably be associated with its brutal genocide for a long time, but in the last few decades a lot has changed.  These days Rwanda is a relatively safe place to visit and most signs of the genocide have been wiped clean…whether it’s been intentional or not.  If you do decide to go, chances are you will eventually visit the capital city of Kigali and as a result, find an amazing city full of welcoming people who are embracing their countries’ new found stability.  So while in Kigali, here’s a list of some of the top things to see in the city itself.


Nyamata Church:

For an authentic glimpse into the events that took place during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Nyamata Church is a sobering reminder of what happened.  With piles of decaying clothing and blood stains still on the walls, this location has remained mostly unchanged since 1994.  It was at this location were over 5000 people were killed.

Hotel Des Mille Collines (Hotel Rwanda):

This is probably the most well known site in Rwanda these days…thanks to Hollywood filmmakers.  It’s where the movie “Hotel Rwanda” took place.  Despite it’s appearance in the movie, these days it’s an upscale hotel and restaurant….and a little pricey.  Although even if you don’t end up staying here, it’s easy enough to stop by for a drink or some grub.

Kigali (Gisozi) Genocide Memorial Center:

A powerful look into one of the centuries’ most brutal genocides, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center will not be soon forgotten.  Emotions will be compounded by the fact that you’ll be viewing these horrors right next to the people who actually suffered through them.  They’re not only mourning the tragedies of humanity, but of their closest relatives.

Downtown Kigali:

Aside from a handful of bars, restaurants and shops there’s not a lot to do in downtown Kigali.  But chances are your hotel will be somewhere close by, so a visit is worth a bit of your time.  If nothing else, its a good chance to see the new Rwandan “business class” that has emerged since the genocide…or just grab a drink or two.

Presidential Palace Museum:

It was at this site where the death of the former Prime Minister sparked the Rwandan genocide in 1994 after his plane crashed at the compound.  There may not be a ton to see here but the museum will let you visit all the “secret passageways” inside and you can still see the remains of the plane crash.

So those are the main attractions in Kigali.  It’s not a city that is especially known as a tourist destination but you’ll have a great time exploring it for a few days.  Enjoy!

April 17, 2013