Nairobi Nightlife: 8 Best Things to do in Nairobi at Night

Nairobi Nightlife

Nairobi is the biggest and most developed city in East Africa, it is a wild and exciting place. While most travelers rush through Nairobi or even skip it entirely, I believe that it is shame to miss this awesome city.

I have spent a month in total in Nairobi and had an amazing experience. There is so much to do and the action never stops. I don’t always enjoy going out to clubs and bars, but I have to admit that Nairobi has some of the best nightlife in the world. People here love to dance and have fun.

1. Onyx

A classy, but affordable lounge popular with locals. It has regular live bands, good food options and is currently a very trendy spot in Nairobi. The partying doesn’t really start until midnight. Onyx Lounge is on the 7th floor, so the beautiful views paired with the spectacular ambiance make Onyx an excellent choice for a night out.

Open from 2 pm until late (when the last customer leaves) Monday to Wednesday and from 10:30 am – late Thursday to Sunday. Happy hour on certain cocktails every day from 2-8 pm and all night long on Monday and Thursday. Onyx lounge is located at Marsabit Plaza on Ngong Rd.

2. The Alchemist

Popular with foreigners, the Alchemist is a bar, restaurant, and nightclub all at the same time. Self-branded as a creative hub in Nairobi, The Alchemist features numerous local artists and musicians. Beers are around 300 Kenyan Shillings (3 USD) and cocktails are between 400-650 Kenyan Shillings (4-6.50 USD).

There are movie nights on Tuesdays and all kinds of other regular events, check their website for more information on the event schedule. Note: don’t be surprised if the event starts a few hours late. The bar is open from 12 pm – early morning Tuesday – Sunday and is closed on Monday.

The food service can be slow, but the meals are sold from really cool food trucks located just outside the bar. Note: you can also eat your meals inside the bar. Mama Rocks Food Truck serves tasty gourmet burgers and milkshakes. They are open from 6 pm – 10 pm on Tuesday, 12 pm – 10 pm Wednesday to Friday, 1 pm – 10 pm Saturday/Sunday, and closed on Monday.

Street Bistro is another excellent food truck which serves a variety of wraps, grilled meats, and more. Street Bistro is open from 10:30 am until the bar closes Tuesday – Sunday and is closed on Monday (except it is open the first Monday of every month).

The Alchemist Bar and associated Food Trucks are located on Parklands Rd. next to the Sarit Center Roundabout in the Westlands. Check the map for the exact location.

3. Gipsy Bar

Gipsy bar is a gay-friendly Pub in the Westlands, straight people will also feel comfortable here. Very popular with foreigners and well-off Kenyans alike. There are three different themed rooms, one of them is designed like a gentlemen’s club. The food here is great and you can also smoke shisha.

Gipsy Bar is open from Sunday – Thursday 12 pm – 12 am, and on Friday/Saturday 12:30 pm – 5 am. It is located on Woodvale Grove right off of Waiyaki Way in the Westlands.

4. Alliance Francaise

L’Alliance Francaise is a huge international cultural and language institution. The Nairobi chapter opened in 1949 and currently offers French language courses and certifications. They host regular events at all times of the day, check out their event page for up to date information. L’Alliance Francaise is located at the corner of Loita St. and Utalii St.

5. The Goethe-Institut

Just like Alliance Francaise, the Goethe-Institut is an international cultural and language institute. They provide German language instruction and certification. The Goethe-Institut also offers regular events all throughout the day, check out their event page here. They are located at Maendeleo House on Loita St.

6. The Kenya National Theatre

The Kenya National Theatre, part of the Kenya Cultural Centre, opened in 1951 and has been hosting all kinds of performances since. With comfortable seats and traditional as well as modern performances, the Kenya National Theatre is an excellent experience. There is also a restaurant upstairs with reasonable food.

You can find an up-to-date schedule on the Theatre’s events page here. The Kenyan National Theatre is located on 001000 Harry Thuku Rd.

The next few recommendations are very local places for people who prefer to get off the standard tourist track.

7. Eat Nyama Choma at Kikopey

This was the best food I ate in Kenya. Kikopey is a collection of 24-hour nyama choma (grilled meat) restaurants. My preference is the nyama choma mbuzi (goat), but there is also great fish and other kinds of meat.

If you are adventurous you can actually get here by taking a matatu (minibus). Take no. 105 on Waiyaki way route. From CBD catch the matatu at the WBC (World Business Center) to alight at Muthiga. In the Westlands catch the matatu at the bus stop at the Park Inn hotel by Radisson Westlands. You will easily recognize Kikopey by the white tents and the smell of grilled meat and fresh fish.

The matatu runs 24-hours and is safe if you know what you are doing because it will be packed with people. In Nairobi, a matatu costs anywhere from 50-100 Kenyan Shillings (0.5-1 USD) depending on the weather. For reference, I added Kikopey to the map. Also, there is another Kikopey on the route to Nakuru, it is worth visiting, but is a much longer trip out of Nairobi.

8. Scratch Bar

This is hands down the craziest bar or club I have ever been to anywhere in the world. Located right in the middle of the hectic Central Business District in Nairobi, Scratch Bar is the place to go to experience something unreal. Deafeningly loud music, wild dancing, and carefree partying most nights of the week.

Come here if you want to experience a special kind of nightlife most foreigners don’t get the chance to see. I have never encountered another foreigner in Scratch Bar, let alone another tourist. Don’t come here if you are new to Africa or are afraid of getting pickpocketed. While I never had any issues at Scratch, I always remained alert. The place is crowded, cheap, and dark, the perfect hunting ground for pickpockets.

Hint: Sit at the balcony where it is a bit quieter and you can watch the chaos of the Central Business District, I love looking at the artwork on the matatus (mini-buses). Scratch is open 8 am – 6 am on Wednesday, closed on Thursday, re-opens Friday – Sunday from 8 am – 6 am, and then is closed Monday and Tuesday. The club is located on Moi Avenue and is close to Kenyatta Avenue.

Safety in Nairobi at Night

People have conflicting reports on safety in Nairobi. I would characterize the city on the low end of a category 5 danger scale city based on my 6 category system. Basically, you need to be cautious walking around at night time anywhere in Nairobi.

Some people say that you can’t go out alone at any time at night without an uber, however, I was out at night walking quite a bit and was totally fine. If you do decide to walk at night just recognize that you are risking getting mugged or possibly something worse. Ubers are fairly cheap in Nairobi, so you might as well take one if you are nervous.

Pickpockets are active all over the world, but they are especially bad in cities like Nairobi. Anytime you are outside you need to pay close attention to your surroundings. I have never been pickpocketed in Nairobi personally, but it happens to a lot of people.

Pickpockets are very active in crowded nightclubs, one option is to put your valuables in your front pockets, this way you will notice someone trying to rob you. If you don’t have front pockets you can wear a money belt.

Nairobi is one of my favorite cities in the whole world and is certainly underrated. People who love to engage with new cultures and understand new ways of being will be delighted by what they discover in Nairobi. Enjoy the city during the day as well as during the night, there is so much here to explore.
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