48 Hours In Mombasa

There is never enough time to explore a city with a lot of hidden gems. Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city with its beautiful architecture in old town and savoury Swahili dishes will need more than 48 hours to discover. However, if all you have is 48 hours in Mombasa, then go ahead and explore. Here’s a 48 hour rough guide:

Swahili Breakfast


Photo by Jamila

A Swahili breakfast consist of coastal delicacies, Barka restaurant located on the heart of old town offers wide variety of Swahili dishes. A normal breakfast consist of Mahambri * and mbaazi* and then vyazi karai and bhajia. All can be served with a glass of Ukwaju (tamarind) juice.

Touring old town


Photo by Jamila

After a heavy breakfast, you can a walk into old town and explore the rich historical part of the city. Walk through the narrow, winding alleys that lead to historical Swahili house along ndia kuu road, houses dating back to Portuguese and Oman Arab settlement during the 19th Century.

Lunch Biriyani

During the setting of railway system in Kenya and Uganda, Indians labourers were recruited to build the railway. The migration has heavily influenced Coast cuisine, a day in Mombasa must be completed by a plate of Biriyani. A few restaurants in Mombasa offer the best biriyani, Barka on Makadara, Shehnai on Msanifu Kombo road and Bin Agil in Mvita area.

Exploring Fort Jesus


Photo by Jamila

Built 1591 by King Philip I, the fort sits on a ridge of coral near the entrance of old Kilindini harbor. At the time of construction, there were colonies of Portuguese living on the eastern coast of Kenya and the fort was intended to protect them. Turkish raids during the late 1500s prompted the need for more protection. Over time, the fort was under the control of either the Portuguese or Arabs from Oman, whom battled for control of the fort on many occasions. Fort Jesus is now a world heritage site consists of historical artefacts and archaeological exhibits, knowledgeable tour guides are available at 500 kshs for an hour tour.

Evening stroll at Mama Ngina Drive

Kachiri at Mama Ngina Drive

Photo by Jamila

To clear your mind, take evening stroll at Mama Ngina drive and enjoy the Indian Ocean. After a three kilometre walk you can stop at resting area and watch the sunset and watch the waves crash into the corals while enjoy some Kachiri (cassava chips) and madafu (coconut juice).

Eating Shawarma (dinner)


Photo by Jamila

Due to the Arab culture influence in Mombasa, Shawarma (a Turkish delicacy) is well known in Mombasa restaurants. Served in white pita bread , chicken shawrma or beef shawrma is a light dinner and budget friendly.

Cheap places to sleep

After a long day touring Mombasa, a few affordable places to stay in Mombasa with clean rooms can be found around central business district. Sentrim Castle Royal is newly renovated 100 year old building, has large and clean rooms. Also equipped with Air-conditioning, en suite bathrooms, electric door locks, in-room safes, Satellite TV, internet access and windows treated to cut the sun’s glare.

Royal Court Hotel is located on Haile selassie rd, offers affordable accommodation with roof top restaurant and swimming pool overlooking the Mombasa Skyline. There is an assortment of rooms to suit all fancies, ranging from doubles, twins, family rooms, adjoining rooms and even rooms with disability facilities. Also on offer are two junior suites with ornately carved four-poster Lamu beds, plush furnishing, comfortable sofas in the living room and panoramic views from all the balconies

Going to the beach


Photo by Jamila

One of coast gems is chasing sunrise at dawn, the magical experience always leaves you rejuvenated and relaxed. The best way to chase the sunrise is at the beach, when the sun peaks behind the horizon and casts a ray of sunlight on the Indian Ocean. The calming ripples of the ocean putting you in a relaxed mood.

After watching the sunrise, you can spend your morning playing beach volleyball or beach football. Due to the sand getting hot, it will get difficult playing for long, an option of swimming will be ideal and more relaxing.

Lunch (sea food)

If you have never ventured beyond fish in your gastronomic adventures, then perhaps it is time you did. Lots of restaurants offer seafood platters that consist a variety of delicacies. Calamari (squid) , octopus, prawn, shrimp, crab and lobster are the most commonly available in Mombasa. A sea food platter will give you a taste of some or all these in one go.


A snorkelling expedition often involves a motor glass boat that takes you to the reefs. These are either hired or are provided by hotels or marine parks. It is worth noting that very little of the reef actually is under the Marine Parks. Other water sports centres, therefore, offer far more exciting snorkelling experiences. World renown sites such as Kisite Marine Park are arguably the best spots on the East African coastline.

Grill time at Recoda


Photo by Jamila

Recoda, Located in the heart of Mombasa is an iconic restaurant which provides excellent Swahili dishes of mshkaki (kebab), grilled chicken and snacks. The outdoor setting gives you a chance to enjoy your meal while enjoying the night scene in Mombasa by the Tusks. The aroma from the meal being cooked in charcoal gives your stomach a taste of what will make you appreciate the little things in life. Eight tables of eight seats are arranged to allow large families to enjoy the ambiance. The waiters are always ready to assist you.

After an eventful 48 hours, you will have experienced Mombasa and its diversity. The magic that has made this town a magnet for people from all places in the world for centuries now. A chance to sample the mix of cultures that make Mombasa one of Kenya’s top destinations.

Share your Mombasa moments with us in the comment below:

 Have you voted for us yet? Vote for Travelstart Kenya as the best travel blog in Kenya for BAKE AWARDS. Vote here.

Our Readers Comments

  1. Great article, really like it. But 48hrs is not enough, there are MUCH more to do’s in Mombasa and around.

  2. 48 hours in mombasa made me check this blog

  3. Great article. A visit to Mamba Village in Nyali is also highly recommended 🙂

  4. It’s amazing.

  5. As the saying always goes “MOMBASA RAHAA”

  6. This is great.
    Could you do one for Lamu please?

Have something to say...