Start the day with an excellent cup of Rwandan coffee and a croissant at Question Coffee. You need this to prepare yourself mentally because the first stop is immediately the most intense: The Kigali Genocide Memorial. This is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. It is a tribute to the more than one million Rwandans who were killed in 1994. The exhibition is emotional, moving and educational. Take a few hours here. The audio tour is excellent.
Lunch at Shokola Cafe, which has two branches, one in the Kimihurura residential area and the one where I always go to the top floor of the public library in Kacyiru (opposite the American embassy). Here you can order delicious mango tamarillo smoothies and hip salads with lots of avocado and chicken. After lunch, head to Kimironko Market, the largest market in Kigali. In the narrow alleys with small stalls you can buy everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to African kitenge wax prints, household items and woven baskets. In the corridors, seamstresses are ready behind their sewing machines to assemble dresses or pillowcases for you on the spot. Boys in yellow vests try to help you if you want to buy something or to carry your things.
Kigali has a lively fashion scene, but also offers a nice selection of unique souvenirs such as peace baskets and imigongo. To save you a trip across the city, it’s best to visit the Kigali Cultural Village, where many of the suppliers of quality Made-in-Rwanda products and fashion have come together. Other nice shops, for fashion and interior decor are Umutako Iwacu and Rwanda Clothing .
Kigali is bursting with great restaurants and there is something for everyone. If you are only in Kigali for one day, Repub Lounge in Kimihurura should be your first choice. You are treated to beautiful views over the city while enjoying a “family style” African dinner” which offers a delicious tasting of the best that Rwandan and African cuisine has to offer like brochettes, sambaza and mizuzu. For a nightcap, it is a short walk to the bar of Papyrus, the restaurant next door.
Unless you want to hit the town in one of the many bars of Nyamirambo or the more glittering K-Club, lay your sleepy head to rest on the comfortable pillows of The Retreat, a luxury boutique hotel next to Heaven restaurant.