In this article, I’ll help you figure out where to stay in Mombasa. This post includes the best areas, things to do nearby, restaurants, and my favorite places to stay. So, whether it’s your first time in the area, you’re visiting for nightlife, eager to learn history, or vacationing with family, follow my lead as we explore neighborhoods in Kenya’s main port city.
As a local Kenyan, I’ve visited Mombasa many times and stayed in different neighborhoods. Within this guide, I’ll share with you the best places to stay in Mombasa, including Mombasa Island and areas along the north coast.
Mombasa is one of the best tourist destinations in Kenya for beaches, history, heritage, and luxury resorts. It’s also a port and the second-largest city in the country, attracting local and international visitors. Therefore, planning a trip to this coastal gem for its attractions and places to visit is easy. However, choosing where to stay in Mombasa can be challenging.
Generally, Mombasa County is divided into four regions. These include Mombasa Island, the north coast, the south coast, and the mainland. These regions are further subdivided into smaller neighborhoods.
The south coast refers to areas across the Likoni Ferry, while the mainland comprises towns and settlements after the Makupa Causeway. Mombasa Island hosts the city center and the old town. It’s linked to the north coast (home to the best attractions in Mombasa) by the Nyali Bridge.
Best Areas to Stay in Mombasa
Quick Look: Here’s a summary of where to stay in Mombasa (click to jump down the page):
Mombasa Island: Best Place to Stay in Mombasa for First-Time Visitors
Most people think of Mombasa not as a region but as a city, a port, an island, and a beach town. Although this is partly right, the coastal destination is a county comprising different areas. One of these distinct areas is Mombasa Island, which includes the city center and is the central hub connecting all towns along the Kenyan coast.
Mombasa Island is home to many tourist attractions, historical sites, great restaurants, and affordable accommodations. It’s also the center for long-distance buses and is close to main transport hubs such as the airport and train station. It’s ideal for first-time visitors, history lovers, and budget travelers.
Best Places to Stay in Mombasa Island
Here are my top recommendations if you’re wondering where to stay in the Mombasa city center:
1. Mombasa Comfort House: This 2-bedroom apartment at the heart of the old town is perfect for solo travelers and couples. In addition to beautiful sea views, it has free Wi-Fi, a seating area, a fully equipped kitchen, a fridge, a smart TV, and a clean bathroom. Click here for more details.
2. Hotel Sapphire: This 3-star hotel is my favorite in Mombasa Island due to its central location, outdoor pool, clean rooms, and outstanding customer service. If you’re a first-time visitor in the city or looking for a place to rest before catching a train or flight, stay at Sapphire. Click here for more details.
3. THE IVORY SUITES by ARMAAN: This accommodation facility in Mombasa city center is conveniently located close to nightlife joints, restaurants, and bus terminus. It has elegant rooms with a desk, flat-screen TV, free parking, and a multi-cuisine restaurant. Click here for more details.
Top 3 Things To Do in Mombasa Island
Below are some of the best things to do on Mombasa Island:
1. Mombasa Old Town: For history lovers, Old Town is the best place to start your trip in Mombasa. You can join this top-rated tour and explore this fantastic place and Fort Jesus. Your guide will share exciting information about the history and culture of the ancient settlement, and you’ll stop along the narrow alleys to admire old buildings and their features. Find out more here. Also, don’t miss the sound and light show of Fort Jesus!
2. Try Swahili Dishes: A trip to Kenya’s second-largest city is incomplete without tasting local cuisine. There are many restaurants here serving Swahili dishes such as biryani chicken (spiced rice with chicken), samaki wa kupaka (fish in coconut curry), and pilau (spiced rice). My favorite stops include Mombasa Dishes and Jahazi Coffee House.
3. Mama Ngina Waterfront: I love watching ships leave a harbor while others make port calls – there’s something so calming about the sight of buoys swaying on the ocean waves. Besides relaxing and enjoying the ocean breeze and sunset, you can also interact with local vendors in this beautiful place.
Where to Eat and Drink on Mombasa Island
Here are some of the best restaurants and bars on Mombasa Island:
1. Jahazi Coffee House: Jahazi is the best restaurant to sample Swahili dishes and coffee in Mombasa Old Town. With its beautiful furniture and impressive paintings, the small eatery off the main street (Ndia Kuu) reflects the cultural heritage of its first residents and current locals. Click here for directions.
2. Blue Room Restaurant: This restaurant is famous for good food, ice cream, and friendly staff members. You can order from their multi-cuisine menu, which includes pizza, Hawaiian roast chicken, paneer tikka, and biryani. My favorite meal here is their grilled steak with mushroom sauce. Click here for directions.
3. Zero 4 Lounge: This is one of the best sports lounges in Mombasa Island. Here, you can enjoy your favorite drink while watching matches on large high-definition screens. The club also hosts weekly themes like Reggae Wednesdays and Whiskey Fridays. Click here for directions.
Shanzu: Best Area in Mombasa for Nightlife
Along the north coast after Bamburi is the Shanzu neighborhood – the best place to stay in Mombasa for nightlife. In addition to numerous beach resorts, the area features a stretch of clean, white sand beaches. It also has several entertainment spots, including Club Volume, my go-to for a night out in Mombasa.
If you love good food, adventure, and a comfortable stay, then Shanzu is your best bet. You’ll find excellent resorts and spas like PrideInn Flamingo here, and thrill seekers have the option of go-karting or watersports. For foodies, several restaurants serve delicious dishes.
Best Places to Stay in Shanzu
Shanzu neighborhood hosts some of the best beach resorts, apartments, and villas along the Kenyan coast. Here are a few options:
1. Serena Beach Resort & Spa: Although a 3-star hotel, Serena is a fantastic resort offering top-class services. In addition to air-conditioned and spacious Swahili-style rooms, the hotel features outdoor restaurants, bars, lush gardens, and a swimming pool. Click here for more details.
2. PrideInn Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa: For a family-friendly place to stay in Shanzu next to the beach, I recommend PrideInn. This beautiful hotel is serene and offers world-class amenities such as palm-fringed gardens, two bars, an outdoor swimming pool, and four restaurants. Click here for more details.
3. Platinum House Hotel: If you’re a budget traveler looking for a cheap place to stay in Shanzu, Mombasa, check out this hotel. The 3-star accommodation facility offers clean rooms with a safety box, a private bathroom, a children’s playground, a terrace, and a restaurant, among other amenities. Click here for more details.
Top 3 Things To Do in Shanzu
Below are my favorite things to do in and around the Shanzu neighborhood:
1. Mombasa Marine National Park: For watersports enthusiasts, Shanzu offers the opportunity to venture offshore and play. You can scuba dive, snorkel, and windsurf in Mombasa Marine National Park. Trips to this park can be arranged from your hotel. You can also check out local diving companies like Calico Jacks.
2. Shanzu Beach: This public beach offers a serene space to relax, walk, and enjoy the ocean breeze. It’s less crowded, clean, scenic, and one of the most beautiful Mombasa beaches.
3. Mombasa Go-Kart: For thrilling sports like karting and zip-lining, head to Mombasa Go-Cart. This adventure venue is suitable for adults and kids, offering families an opportunity to have fun. It also hosts an excellent restaurant for delicious meals such as fish (from their pod), beef burgers, and spaghetti bolognese.
Where to Eat and Drink in Shanzu
Here are a few of the best bars and restaurants in Shanzu:
1. Safari Inn Bar & Restaurant: This beautiful restaurant serves great food and drinks, including Swiss rosti, fillet steak skewers, roast chicken, and cold shrimp cocktails. It also plays great music with a live band session every Tuesday and Friday. Its staff members are also warm and helpful. Click here for directions.
2. The Tavern Inn: Besides offering affordable accommodation in Shanzu, this splendid hotel has a beautiful garden restaurant open to in-house and outside guests. Here, you can enjoy tasty pork or nyama choma served with ugali before hitting the bar to grab your favorite drink. Click here for directions.
3. Volume Club: This lavish nightclub has stylish interiors, good music, and a fantastic dance floor. I visited Volume after a friend recommended it, and true to his word, it didn’t disappoint. In addition to various drinks, you can order food – such as nyama choma served with ugali. Click here for directions.
Nyali: Coolest Place to Stay in Mombasa
Nyali is one of the most exclusive and posh areas of Mombasa. The neighborhood boasts modern shopping malls, a golf course, palm-lined pristine beaches, attractive resorts, and outstanding restaurants. It’s also close to a marine park where adventurous travelers can indulge in various watersport activities.
I’ve stayed in Nyali several times and find it the coolest of Mombasa neighborhoods. If you’re traveling as a family and wondering where to stay in Mombasa, I highly recommend this area. It’s also ideal for couples and anyone seeking some tranquility and fun.
Best Places to Stay in Nyali
Here are some of the best places to stay in Nyali, including luxury beach resorts and hotels.
1. Ayodya Suites Nyali: If you’re a couple or solo traveler looking for an affordable hotel in Nyali, book your stay at Ayodya. It has comfortable air-conditioned suites, a terrace, an outdoor pool, a shared lounge, and a restaurant, among other amenities. Click here for more details.
2. Voyager Beach Resort: Designed to emulate the elegance of a luxury cruise liner, Voyager is all set to whisk you away on a fantastic ocean journey, ensuring that no comfort is overlooked. This lively ship-themed resort strives to offer the best services to families, groups, couples, and solo travelers. Click here for more details.
3. Hotel Englishpoint Marina: On the far south end of Nyali, overlooking Mombasa Old Town, you’ll find this fabulous 4-star hotel. Its features include air-conditioned rooms, a jacuzzi, restaurants, an infinity pool, a pier, and a sun terrace. Click here for more details.
Top 3 Things To Do in Nyali
If you’re booked into a hotel or resort in Nyali, here are my top picks of things to see and do in this posh suburb:
1. Wild Waters: If you’re looking for fun activities for families and groups in Mombasa, I recommend Wild Waters Kenya. The park offers a full day of thrilling water experiences, including plunging down the slides and swimming. It also has a kid’s pool, an adult’s bowl pool, food courts, and a bar.
2. Bombolulu Workshops: This is one of the best places to visit near Nyali. It allows you to engage with locals and see how people living with disabilities use their skills and talents for economic empowerment. In addition to the workshop for producing handmade goods, Bombolulu has a cultural center with model Swahili villages.
3. Explore Beaches: There are two beaches in Nyali – Mombasa Beach (northside) and Nyali Beach (southside). These beaches are connected during low tide to form a spectacular stretch of soft white sands. Besides relaxing, swimming, and walking, you can kitesurf and scuba dive at Mombasa Marine National Park.
Where to Eat and Drink in Nyali
Below are the best restaurants and bars in the Nyali area:
1. Tamarind Dhow and Restaurant: Nestled in the heart of Old Nyali is the Tamarind Restaurant. This oceanfront restaurant is renowned for its graceful ambiance and delightful dishes. In addition to serving barbeque and continental cuisine, Tamarind is celebrated for the city’s finest seafood. Click here for directions.
2. Govinda’s Restaurant: If you’re looking for a vegetarian restaurant in the Nyali area, go to Govinda’s. The restaurant is located at the iconic New Dwarikadham Temple and offers an unbeatable dining experience. It’s near Nyali Beach and the famous Gombeshwar Caves – Shiva Temple. Click here for directions.
3. Maasai Beach Bar & Restaurant: This restaurant along Mombasa Beach offers the perfect chill spot beside the ocean. It serves various dishes, including nyama choma, fish, and fried chicken. You can enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee as you watch the sunset. Click here for directions.
Bamburi: Best for Families
Bamburi is one of the best neighborhoods in Mombasa for family holidays. This charming area extends from the Indian Ocean to the mainland and has several attractions.
Bamburi Beach is less crowded, clean, and flanked by world-class resorts, making it perfect for relaxation. Its white sandy shores, framed by swaying palm trees, create an inviting scene for sunset-seekers. You can bask next to the ocean and take in breathtaking horizon views while enjoying a cold drink.
Away from the shoreline, Bamburi’s lively main street is perfect for those looking for nightlife spots and local vibes. Here, you can stroll through the market watching the daily life of the locals and later on go party at Dublin Street.
Best Places to Stay in Bamburi
Here are some of the best accommodation options in the Bamburi area:
1. Severin Sea Lodge: This top-rated lodge is one of the best gems along the coast. It features spacious rooms, three restaurants, an outdoor pool, and incredible sea views, attracting all types of travelers. Book your stay here for indelible memories. Click here for more details.
2. Plaza Beach Hotel: If you’re looking for luxury in an affordable place near Bamburi Beach, book this 3-star hotel. It has spacious guest suites with a satellite TV, air-conditioning, a mini bar, and a balcony to enjoy ocean views. Other facilities include a restaurant, poolside bar, and a fitness room. Click here for more details.
3. Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort: This beautiful oceanfront resort is one of the high-end accommodation options along the coast. It’s a unique Swahili castle with all the amenities for a comfortable and luxurious stay. Click here for more details.
Top 3 Things To Do in Bamburi
Here are the best things to do in the Bamburi area:
1. Haller Park: Situated along Nyali Road, Haller Park is a beautiful sanctuary with a reptile park, fish farm, and wild animals. Here, you can spot hippos, giraffes, waterbucks, and various bird species. It also has a serene forest trail for nature walks and a cycling path leading to the Butterfly Pavilion – a must-visit.
2. Relax along Bamburi Beach: This is my favorite beach in Kenya for family holidays. It’s beautiful, less crowded, and tranquil, offering a perfect relaxing environment. It also boasts plenty of fantastic resorts with restaurants and bars. If you prefer taking things slow while on vacation, consider staying along this beach.
3. Go Scuba Diving: Mombasa Marine National Park stretches from Hotel Englishpoint Mombasa to Shanzu. This park offers opportunities for watersports, including scuba diving. If you’re in Bamburi, several operators run diving trips to the nearby coral gardens, including Tropical Diving Team – my top choice.
Where to Eat and Drink in Bamburi
Here are the top places to eat and drink in Bamburi:
1. Char-Choma Restaurant: Char-Choma is my favorite place to eat in the Bamburi area. This classic restaurant serves various dishes, including nyama choma, pizza, and burgers. It also has a small children’s playground and a raised deck to dine and drink while enjoying beautiful ocean views. Click here for directions.
2. Yul’s Restaurant: This restaurant is one of the finest choices in Bamburi for those seeking delicious seafood, barbecue delights, and refreshing cocktails. It offers a charming open-air setting that gives diners a great view of the serene ocean beyond. Try their delectable grilled lobsters and succulent prawns. Click here for directions.
3. La Casa Di Nico Mombasa: If you love Italian cuisine, this is the best place to eat in Bamburi. Its menu is comprehensive, with a variety of options. Their food includes fish carpaccio (salmon, snapper & tuna), Caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil), and Italian wood oven pizza. Click here for directions.
Mtwapa: Best Place in Mombasa on a Budget
To many tourists and locals, Mtwapa is more than just a place; it’s an experience that captures the heart and soul of Kenya’s coastal charm. The neighborhood is one of the best places to stay in Mombasa for budget travelers and groups. It combines luxury, modesty, tranquility, vibrancy, sightseeing, and relaxation.
Here, you’ll find various places to eat, bars to try out, and beautiful villas perched on the cliffs of Mtwapa Creek – an attractive deep water inlet. Along the creek’s shore is one of the best beaches in Mombasa, and further along, you’ll find ruins of a 15th-century settlement.
All these things make Mtwapa a destination for every kind of traveler. It’s also a favorite to those drawn to the beach, nightlife, history, and affordable experiences.
Best Places to Stay in Mtwapa
Here are some of the best places to stay in the Mtwapa area:
1. Peters Mansion Bougainvillea: If you’re looking for an affordable 1-bedroom stay in Mtwapa, check out this facility. The spacious apartment has a terrace, an outdoor pool, a garden, and a fully equipped kitchenette. Click here for more details.
2. Royal Palms Apartment A4: This is an excellent place to stay in Mtwapa for budget travelers who want privacy and serenity. It features the necessary amenities, including spacious rooms, a pool, and a serene garden. Staff members are friendly and helpful, giving the place a homely feel. Click here for more details.
3. Mtwapa Luxury Apartments: This is a perfect stay for convenience and great value for money. The apartments boast clean rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a shared indoor swimming pool. It’s also within walking distance of supermarkets and most nightlife joints in Mtwapa. Click here for more details.
Top 3 Things To Do in Mtwapa
Below are some of the best things to do and places to visit in Mtwapa:
1. Jumba La Mtwana: This national monument under the Museums of Kenya is about 15 minutes north of Mtwapa. It means “A big house of slaves,” suggesting that the relic was once a site for the slave trade. Its compound contains a tomb, four houses, and four mosques, a sign that Muslims mainly inhabited the settlement. If you love history, add this site to your itinerary.
2. Deep Sea Fishing: Deep sea fishing is among the best things to do along the Kenya coast. If you’re drawn to the sport, Mtwapa offers you a chance to go on a fishing safari. John & Ken Rodwell conducts deep sea fishing in Mombasa and Watamu. Join one of their excursions, and you might return with a tuna, a sailfish, or a marlin.
3. Dance the Night Away: Mtwapa is another great neighborhood in Mombasa for nightlife. The area is home to several entertainment spots and nightclubs. This is an ideal place to stay if you enjoy dancing, drinking, and listening to good music. My favorite nightclub in here is The Yacht Lounge.
Where to Eat and Drink in Mtwapa
Below are some of the best places to eat and drink in Mtwapa:
1. La Marina: This is a magical restaurant on the south side of Mtwapa Creek. In addition to its great food, La Marina provides guests with beautiful views of the creek with dhows and yachts anchored nearby. Try their fresh seafood (fish and prawns), pizza, and local foods (like nyama choma). Click here for directions.
2. The Moorings: This beautiful floating restaurant on the northern side of Mtwapa Creek is perfect for couples and travelers seeking a tranquil space. It serves excellent food and drinks for every taste and preference. Click here for directions.
3. The Yacht Lounge: This is my favorite entertainment spot in Mtwapa, thanks to its friendly staff, top-notch hospitality, and nice ambiance. If you want a great night out with good music and drinks, spend an evening at The Yacht. Click here for directions.
Best Areas to Stay in Mombasa: FAQ’s
The best area for tourists in Mombasa depends on personal preference. Nyali and Bamburi are best for families and couples, Mombasa Island is for history lovers and first-time visitors, and Shanzu is for nightlife and adventures.
Generally, Nyali is considered among the safest areas for tourists. It has a strong security presence and is a popular choice for travelers. See how to stay safe in Kenya.
If you’re looking for shopping places in Mombasa, Nyali is your best bet. It has modern shopping malls like City Mall where you can find various stores.
Yes, it matters where you stay in Mombasa. Staying in well-established tourist areas like Mtwapa and Nyali will provide easy access to attractions, shopping, and dining.
A typical vacation in Mombasa ranges from 3-7 days, allowing you time to explore the destination’s attractions and relax on the beaches.
Zanzibar is renowned for its exotic ambiance and deep Swahili cultural roots, whereas Mombasa is livelier and has rich historical landmarks. Both destinations boast stunning beaches, so your decision should align with your tastes.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article on the best places to stay in Mombasa and that it’ll also help you decide what to do and see nearby. Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll be in one of Africa’s most beautiful and charming cities and will surely enjoy it.
For more on Mombasa, please have a look at our guides below.