Rwanda is a country full of natural beauty, with volcanoes, lakes and national parks – and has experienced incredible economic growth in recent years. In this serene setting, many cafés, restaurants and bars have sprung up in the last couple of years, and we explore 10 of the best hangout spots in Kigali and Gisenyi.
Cafe Neo, Kigali
With some of the best coffee in town, reasonably priced food and drinks, a professional, friendly and quick service, Cafe Neo is the place to be for every coffee lover, and anyone trying to find a cosy place to relax, hang out with friends, read a book or maybe even do some work. It is the kind of place where they let you stay around, even after finishing your last sip of coffee. There are not many food options on the menu, making it more a place to enjoy good coffee and drinks, and relax in a nice setting which blends North American and local styles.
La Brioche, Kigali
Heading somewhere for breakfast or brunch? In search of a light bite or a healthy lunch? Then La Brioche is the right place to go to. This bakery is the result of the owner’s childhood dream, who was born and raised in Belgium. His passion for gastronomy and Rwanda has translated into three relaxing hangout spaces around Kigali where a delicious set of pastries, fresh juices, and a variety of sandwiches and salads, amongst other mouth-watering dishes, can be enjoyed. The passion fruit juice, the caesar salad, and the different types of croissants come in highly recommended!
Ogopogo is much more than just an Italian restaurant serving pizzas and pasta. It is also a bar that stays open until late hours and gets quite crowded at nights, especially during the weekends, where people come to enjoy a drink, smoke shisha, hang out with friends, listen to good music, and sometimes even dance to it. It is the kind of place where one always ends up seeing familiar faces. It is also the perfect place for sports lovers, as they usually have the sports channel on on the TV screen behind the bar. Ogopogo offers a variety of tasty dishes and drinks.
Papyrus is a 3-in-1 hang out spot in Kigali: a nightclub, a restaurant, and a bakery at the same time. For those wanting to experience Kigali by night, the venue’s basement features a popular nightclub where the party goes on until early morning. For good food and wine, the restaurant offers a wide variety of tasty dishes and drinks in a classy atmosphere. Finally, for delicious pastries with an Italian touch, the bakery offers an assortment of daily baked bread and pastries. So you can start with dinner, and continue on the dance floor until it is time to grab a croissant.
Bourbon Coffee, Kigali
Since they opened their first café in Kigali’s UTC store in 2007, Bourbon Coffee has expanded by opening three other branches around the capital city. They have even become international, opening branches in North America. All four cafés in Kigali offer the best Arabica coffee from Rwanda, the country’s main export product. The cafés are unique in their genre in the country as they give coffee farmers the opportunity to see the result of their hard work as their products are served in a classy café setting. Bourbon Coffee offers the highest quality coffee beans that can be found in Rwanda, to the delight of coffee lovers.
Blues Cafe, Kigali
This spot offers big and tasty salads, delicious burgers and sandwiches, and the best iced mocha drink to be had in Kigali. The café has an indoor and outdoor sitting area. The views are not the best as it overlooks parking lots, but it is still nice to be able to sit outdoors. For those with some time ahead of them, looking for a nice place to hang out and meet with friends, the Blues Cafe is a cosy and relaxed place to do so.
Whether during the day or at night, ThaiJazz has something to offer everyone. It is conveniently located right in front of Lake Kivu, allowing visitors to take a dip or sunbathe while listening to some good jazz music. The place is beautifully designed, and the atmosphere so relaxed that it will make everyone feel at home at once. The owner is one of the friendliest, making sure everything is running smoothly and everyone is satisfied. On top of that, the food is tasty and fresh – especially the fish, since restaurant is located right next to the fish market. Make sure to order a portion of mouthwatering fried sambaza fish coming straight from the lake.
Bikini Tam Tam, Gisenyi
Bikini Tam Tam is one of the favourite hang out spots in Gisenyi amongst locals. Situated right in front of Lake Kivu, people come here for fresh grilled fish, including the delicious sambaza, and tilapia. But, most importantly, they head to Bikini Tam Tam to relax, swim, dance a little and chill with their friends. The place is very simple so not much should be expected from the design. But the food is always tasty, the music good, and people seem to be always having a lot of fun – this is where the loud music and fun starts as early as 10 AM.
Chez Nyanja, Gisenyi
Wondering where the party is at while in Gisenyi? The answer is Chez Nyanja. During the weekends, many residents from Goma, DRC, and from around Rwanda head here. Situated very close to the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chez Nyanja is the best place to go to to have a couple of drinks and dance to afrobeats, rumba, hip hop and much more. Right on the edge of Lake Kivu, starting from around midnight, big crowds will gather to make the night one to remember.
Chez Nyanja, Avenue du Lac, Gisenyi, Rwanda
White Rock Bistro, Gisenyi
Located on top of the nightclub Chez Nyanja, the White Rock is the best burger joint in town. Not only do they serve amazing food, the setting is also one of the most stunning. The beautiful view is probably the first noticeable thing while walking up to the restaurant. Most tables are set towards the edge of the covered patio, allowing guests to enjoy an incredible view over Lake Kivu and the DRC. The interior design also complements the vista by providing a harmonious blend of African and European styles.