From archeological sites to national parks, there’s an endless amount of things to do in Nakuru for all kinds of travelers. This important city (also a county) lies along the A104, about 160 km from Nairobi.
It’s beautiful and exuberant and is one of Kenya’s most exciting places to visit. It’s also a gateway to western Kenya, Masai Mara, and the LakeTurkana region.
My attraction to Nakuru started long ago, during a school trip to Menengai Crater in 2006. Since then, I’ve visited the city several times, and it has become one of my certain favorites. Each time I’m there, I head to a few of my top attraction sites and explore new parts.
If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful city, I’ll share some of the best things to do in Nakuru. I’ll also give tips to help you put together a Nakuru itinerary for up to a week.
10 Best Things To Do in Nakuru
Nakuru offers gorgeous historical sites, wildlife spots, vibrant neighborhoods, restaurants, and bars.
To help you plan a visit to one of my favorite cities, here are 10 places and the best things to experience in Nakuru.
1. Explore Lake Nakuru National Park
When I think of the best places to visit in Nakuru, Lake Nakuru National Park comes to my mind instantly. The park is one of the most visited game parks in Kenya, attracting thousands of travelers every year.
Although it’s famous for its flamingos, Lake Nakuru is also home to other bird species, wildlife, and attraction sites.
Visiting this park, you can expect to see rhinos, giraffes, zebras, baboons, and many more wild animals. The park also has several tourist attractions like Makalia Falls and viewpoints, such as Baboon Cliff and Lion Hill.
The park is easily accessible by taxi or self-drive from your Nakuru hotel. You can also join this day trip from Nairobi.
2. Go to the Hyrax Hill Museum
Hyrax Hill Museum and Site is one of the best places to visit in Nakuru. The site, which is only 4 kilometers from Nakuru city, has three areas of prehistoric settlements. The oldest dates back 3,000 years, and the youngest to around 300 years ago.
Although it’s small compared to other museums, Hyrax Hill is rich in history. Besides the museum, a Neolithic settlement is still visible on the site.
Hyrax Hill Museum makes for a great short trip out of Nakuru. The site also has a small forest ideal for nature walks and a hill from which you can view Lake Nakuru.
To add to the experience, I usually visit the Lanet Prehistoric Site nearby. The site contains excavations of the most extensive earthworks known in Kenya.
Check out this brochure for more information about the Hyrax Hill Museum and Site.
3. Hike the Menengai Crater (One of the Best Things to do in Nakuru)
If you’re looking for an adventure in Nakuru, head to Menengai Forest. The forest is one of the best places for hiking in Kenya. It’s home to a crater (one of the biggest in the world) and two sacred caves.
The hike starts from the viewpoint. It then follows the rim, down the crater floor, and up a steep ridge. From there, you can choose to head back to the viewpoint or trek to the spectacular caves.
I’ve been to Menengai several times. The views of the crater floor and geothermal power plants are stunning. Hiking along the forest path is also refreshing, and the caves are an incredible sight.
The best way to reach Menengai Forest from Nakuru city is by taxi or self-drive. You can also request your hotel to arrange the trip for you or join a tour that includes visiting Lake Nakuru.
4. Visit the Lord Egerton Castle
One of my favorite places to visit in Nakuru is Lord Egerton Castle. The architectural masterpiece was constructed by Lord Maurice Egerton of Tatton in the 1930s.
Lord Egerton arrived in Kenya in the 1920s and settled around Nakuru, where other royals like Lord Delamere lived. Later, he built a 4-roomed cottage hoping to impress an Austrian princess he was set to marry.
However, the young lady was not impressed and only spent two hours in the compound. This prompted Egerton to construct a bigger house, and in 1938 laid the foundation for the 52-roomed castle – quite the upgrade!
The splendid mansion still did not befit the lady’s status, and in 1954 she left for England, refusing to marry him.
Visit this spectacular site to learn the whole story of how Egerton was heartbroken and devastated. You’ll also hear how he pinned notes on tree branches, warning women against setting foot on his compound.
5. Day Trip to Lake Bogoria
Another great place to visit near Nakuru is the magical Lake Bogoria National Reserve. This park is home to Lake Bogoria, wildlife spots, and natural geysers.
Lake Bogoria, a shallow freshwater lake, is part of UNESCO’s Kenya Lake System. The list also comprises Lake Elementaita and Lake Nakuru, which lie on the Great Rift Valley floor.
Between July and December, millions of lesser flamingos migrate to Kenya from Lake Natron. One of the places they occupy is the shoreline of Lake Bogoria. The spectacular mass of pink flamingos is magical and almost equivalent to the wildebeests in Masai Mara.
Visitors can watch the beautiful birds, view wildlife, or see the hot springs and geysers.
If you have a day to spare, stay at Lake Bogoria Spa Resort and explore Lake Baringo. The untouched paradise is equally impressive, with sights of beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and birds in all directions.
6. See Flamingos at Lake Elementaita
Lake Elementaita is a beautiful lake on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. It’s one of the best places to visit in Kenya, primarily because of its thousands of lesser flamingoes.
The shallow soda lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also recognized by the IBA (Important Bird Area) because of the hundreds of bird species within its ecosystem.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Nakuru, drop everything else and go to Lake Elementaita. The alluring scene of lesser flamingos on the shores of the lake is magical. Also, make sure you see the nearby hot springs & geysers.
There are many lodges near the lake, but none beats Lake Elementaita Mountain Lodge. The lodge is set on a hill and offers breathtaking views of the lake and the Great Rift Valley. Their cottages are elegant, homely, and attractive too.
7. Hike Sleeping Warrior and Ugali Hills
These two hills are located near the shores of Lake Elementaita. Sleeping Warrior resembles a man lying down on his back, while Ugali Hills resembles the traditional staple food in Kenya, Ugali (a type of stiff maize flour porridge).
If you’re looking for a moderate and picturesque hiking trail in Kenya, head to these hills. Local groups organize day trips to Sleeping Warrior and Ugali Hills from Nairobi. You can also request your accommodation facility in Elementaita or Nakuru to arrange for a local guide.
The hike takes 5-6 hours and is suitable for hikers of all levels. Make sure to wear appropriate hiking gear.
8. Visit the Kariandusi Archeological Site
Kariandusi is an archeological site that lies east of Lake Elementaita along the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway. It was discovered by Louis Leakey (a renowned paleontologist) in 1928 during his first visits to the central Rift Valley.
The site is famous for its heavy hand axes, cleavers specimen, excavated fossils, and volcanic glass knives. In addition to a museum exhibition hall and an archeological site, Kariandusi is home to other tourist attractions. These include a gorge, a cave, a picnic site, and a nature trail.
If you love history and want to see tools from the early stone age in Africa, visit Kariandusi. It’s open between 8 am and 6 pm and has guides who offer site tours.
I love going for a therapeutic bath in the nearby hot springs when visiting the archeological site. The naturally heated pool is close by and is free to visit.
9. Day Trip to Naivasha Town
If you love adventure and are looking for an excellent place to spend a day near Nakuru, go to Naivasha. The town is part of Nakuru County and has some of the best things to see and do in Kenya.
You’ll be spoilt for choice here. You can ride a bike in the wild at Hell’s Gate, take a boat ride on Lake Naivasha, swim in a natural pool, or choose another of many more activities.
To get the best of Naivasha, join this full-day tour. It will take you to all the popular places to visit in one day. You can also spend a night in one of the resorts in Naivasha and explore even more places.
Make sure you visit Cresent Island, Karagita Beach, Sanctuary Farm, and Elsamere Center.
☞ SEE ALSO: 15 Best Things to Do in Naivasha
10. Walk Along the City Streets
Aside from the main attractions I’ve already mentioned, there are many other things to do in Nakuru. One of them is simply walking along the city streets and nearby places.
A stroll to markets and industrial centers can give you a glimpse of why Nakuru was elevated to a city (in 2021). The city is clean and safe, and the residents are friendly and welcoming.
Also, try out local meals in restaurants such as Culture Mambo or party at the Platinum 7D Lounge or Eagles Nest Lounge.
11. Explore the Njoro Caves
On my recent trip to Nakuru (October 2022), a friend recommended that I see the Njoro Caves after visiting Lord Egerton Castle.
The caves are another great place in Nakuru to learn about how people lived during the Pastoral Neolithic period. The Njoro Caves are a few minutes from Egerton University, Njoro on the edge of the Mau Escarpment.
Excavations from the site by the Leaky couple revealed what is believed to be a mass cremation site. They also uncovered other items, such as stone bowls, beads, and tools used by the Elmenteitan pastoralists.
Today, the Njoro Caves are free to visit and are very popular with locals. Besides the cave, visitors can also enjoy the sight of a mini waterfall from the river.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Nakuru
Now that you know things to do, here is a suggested itinerary for Nakuru. Always feel free to mix the attractions to match your interests.
1 Day in Nakuru Itinerary
Start your day with a coffee at Java House. From there, hail a taxi (Uber or Wasili) and go to Menengai Crater’s viewpoint. Here you can hike, sightsee, and visit the sacred Mau Mau Caves. After the hike, head back to your hotel for dinner or experience nightlife in Nakuru at Platinum 7D Lounge.
You’ll find local guides at the crater’s viewpoint who charge about $50 for a day hike. Check out the latest entrance fees to Menengai Forest.
Alternatively, you can take a game drive at Lake Nakuru National Park and visit the Hyrax Hill Museum.
2-3 Days in Nakuru Itinerary
Day 1: The best way to spend your first day in Nakuru is to experience wildlife at Lake Nakuru National Park. After touring the park, head back for lunch at Fika and Feast Restaurant. Finish your day with a trip to Hyrax Hill Museum.
Day 2: Drive towards Njoro and head to Lord Egerton Castle. Explore the splendid mansion and learn its history. After the visit, return to the city for lunch and then explore the streets on foot. Make sure to relax at the beautiful Nyayo Gardens.
Day 3: There’s no better way to spend your third day in Nakuru than with a hike. You can go hiking at Menengai Forest or head south to Sleeping Warrior and Ugali Hills. Finish your day in the city with a nightlife experience at Eagles Nest Lounge.
There are several hotels and restaurants in Nakuru. You can also check out the best safari lodges around the lake.
1 Week in Nakuru Itinerary
Day 1: Explore Lake Nakuru National Park and Hyrax Hill Museum on the first day. Spend the evening wandering around the city’s streets and end the day with a bar visit.
Day 2: On the second day, go hiking in the Menengai Forest and pass by the sacred caves.
Day 3: Start with a day trip to Lake Bogoria. After marveling at the blanket of lesser flamingos, geysers, and wildlife, head back to the city. Enjoy dinner at your hotel or go out for drinks at Culture Mambo Lounge.
Day 4: Spend the fourth day in Nakuru, visiting Lord Egerton Castle and exploring the city in the afternoon. You can also pass by the Njoro Caves.
Day 5: Travel south to Elementaita and hike the scenic Sleeping Warrior and Ugali Hills. The trail takes you along the shores of Lake Elementaita for an unforgettable sight of flamingos. You’ll also see the hot springs. Spend your night in this fantastic lodge.
Day 6: Visit the Kariandusi archeological site and dip at the nearby hot springs. From here, drive south to Naivasha and spend the night in this cozy loft.
Day 7: On your last day, join a day trip to Hell’s Gate National Park. The tour also includes a boat ride on Lake Naivasha.
Where to Stay in Nakuru
Whether you’re planning to stay for a night or settle for longer, there are plenty of excellent accommodation options and neighborhoods in Nakuru.
These are a few of the best neighborhoods in Nakuru city for tourists.
Milimani Estate – Best for Families and Expatriates
Milimani is a high-end estate dominated by the affluent class and expatriates in Nakuru. The estate comprises mansions and classy buildings set in a serene environment. It’s also one of the safest estates in Nakuru city.
This hotel is within the neighborhood’s vicinity and close to Menengai Forest.
Racecourse Estate – Best for Wildlife and Nightlife
Racecourse Estate is mainly a middle-class estate located next to Lake Nakuru National Park. Rent here is moderate, and its proximity to the city makes it a favorite for short-term stays and nightlife.
Check out this hotel in Nakuru city.
Section 58 – Best for First-Time and Budget Travelers
Not far from the central business district, Section 58 is a safe and stylish neighborhood in Nakuru. It boosts proper infrastructure, and the buildings are modern. The estate is suitable for first-time travelers.
If you’re traveling on a budget, check out this resort in Section 58. It’s one of the most affordable resorts in Nakuru city.
Other Places to Stay in Nakuru
Nakuru isn’t just one of the best cities in Kenya. It’s also home to some of the country’s best lodges, hotels, and unique stays. In addition to neighborhoods, the following are other places to stay in and around Nakuru.
Lodges in Nakuru: There are many lodges in Nakuru, especially around the lake. My favorite of all is the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge.
Airbnbs in Nakuru: The city is not short of unique stays. Check out this Airbnb in Nakuru for an unforgettable break. It’s located near the famous Lord Egerton Castle.
Hotels in Nakuru: If you’re looking for the best hotels in the Nakuru city center, check out Merica Hotel or Midland Hotel. They are located close to Westside Mall and the beautiful Nyayo Gardens Park.
Best Restaurants in Nakuru
Don’t miss these great places to eat in Nakuru. They include my favorite spots when visiting the city.
Fika and Feast
Fika and Feast translate to “Arrive and Feast.” This place is one of my favorite eateries and tops the list of hidden gems in Nakuru. The spot is set in a serene green garden, perfect for everyone – families, groups of friends, and solo travelers.
If you’re looking for the best places to eat and hang out in Nakuru, start with Fika & Feast. It’s a nice spot to catch up with friends over delicious meals and drinks.
The grill also has a playground for kids, making it ideal for a family outing to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Make sure to try out their Nyama Choma (barbecue), chicken, beef burger, and cocktails.
Java House is one of the best restaurants and places to hang out in Nakuru. I’ve visited the restaurant several times, and it’s always great. The ambiance is good, the food is delicious, and their service quality is amazing.
They serve different meals and drinks, but my favorites are the beef bacon cheeseburger and their classic lemonade. The coffee here is perfect too.
The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Westside Mall. It’s usually open between daily 7 am and 9 pm.
Culture Mambo Lounge
If you’re looking for great food and drinks during your Nakuru trip, try out the Culture Mambo Lounge. The restaurant is classy, and they serve delicious meals. You can also have drinks in the evening while waiting for your meal or party the night away.
I love their indoor experience and the outdoor space, which combines nature and great art. The rates are pocket-friendly, as you can get fish with Ugali for less than $7.
Things To Do in Nakuru: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Nakuru.
Nakuru is one of the most exciting cities in Kenya. It’s also known for its wildlife, archeological sites, and abundant bird species.
Nakuru city is good to visit all year round. However, wildlife viewing at Lake Nakuru National Park is best done during dry months – July to October and January to March.
The truth is, Nakuru is an attractive, entertaining, and vibrant city that is definitely worth visiting. It’s also a gateway to western Kenya and other cities in East Africa, like Kampala.
Hell’s Gate is located about 105 kilometers (65 miles) south of Nakuru along road A104 and Moi South Lake road.
Nakuru is home to several tourist attractions. Lake Nakuru National Park, Hyrax Hill Museum, and Menengai Crater are some of the best places to visit.
As well as the wildlife, other attractions in Lake Nakuru include Makalia Falls, Bamboo Cliff, and the Lion Hill viewpoints.
The distance from Nairobi to Nakuru is about 160 kilometers (99 miles).
Now you know what to do in Nakuru, Kenya, all the activities you could imagine in Nakuru are easy to find. You can hail a taxi (Wasili or Uber), or drive yourself around to most of the places.
If you happen to have more time, add Bomas of Nakuru to your itinerary. Here you’ll experience local culture and see different types of local architecture.
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