If you’re heading to Uganda, there’s a high probability you’ll fly into the international airport in Entebbe. Whilst many visitors head straight out on a safari or gorilla trek, we think there are plenty of things to do in Entebbe to make it worth spending at least a day or two of your trip.
We’ve spent a number of days exploring the attractions of the Entebbe area, and we’ve put together this guide to help you plan what to see and do here.
Entebbe was the former seat of government, but after independence this moved to nearby Kampala. Entebbe itself is fairly spread out with few tall buildings, and has quite a tropical laid-back style. It is hard to imagine it was the seat of government, especially when you compare it to Kampala with its tall buildings and crazy traffic!
Whether you’re here for a short stay whilst waiting for a safari to start or a flight to leave, or you have a few days to explore, this guide will give you lots of ideas for things to do in Entebbe.
From seeing chimpanzees to trying traditional foods to shopping for locally made souvenirs, Entebbe has something for everyone! Let’s get started.
This list of things to do in Entebbe covers a wide variety of options. Whatever your interests, we think you will find something to enjoy in this corner of Uganda.
A great way to get an overview of Entebbe is to take a locally led walking tour like this. We love taking walking tours, especially when we are new to an area. We find they are one of the best ways to see the highlights, learn about the culture and history, and get tips from locals on other activities.
We took a tour of Kampala with the company that runs the Entebbe tour, and it was excellent. Our guide was knowledgeable about the area and history of the country, and was also able to advise on things like safety, what to eat, and more.
Most walking tours of Entebbe will likely include things like trying the local food, seeing local monuments, visiting the Botanical Gardens, and visiting the craft market. Just check what is and isn’t included in the tour price, and remember that tipping is always appreciated in Uganda.
One of the most well-known attractions in Entebbe is the National Botanical Gardens of Uganda, normally just referred to as the Entebbe Botanical Garden. This is often included on visitors’ safari itineraries because it is an excellent way to get an introduction to some of the plants and birds of Uganda.
Found on the shores of Lake Victoria, the Entebbe Botanical Gardens was established in 1898. They are one of the oldest botanical gardens in Africa. The gardens are divided into a number of areas which feature plants and trees from different areas of Uganda, as well as other tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate areas around the world. Over 300 species are represented.
As well as the impressive collection of trees and plants, the garden is well known as a good location for birdwatching. Some of the species you may spot here include the huge marabou stork, the palm-nut vulture, the African grey parrot, pink-backed pelican, yellow-billed duck, malachite kingfisher, and many more.
Bird lovers will definitely want to include the Botanical Garden on their list of places to visit in Entebbe.
It’s also home to a number of monkeys, including the beautiful black and white Colobus monkey which you may be lucky enough to spot. But you are pretty sure to see vervet monkeys as there are a number of them here.
There’s an entrance fee to visit the Entebbe Botanical Garden, and you can also pay extra for a local guide. You can hire a guide at the garden entrance, or join a tour such as this city walking tour or this full day tour that includes a guided visit here.
There is very little signage here so a guide is a good investment if you want to learn more about the local trees and wildlife.
Entebbe sits on the shores of Lake Victoria, and there are a number of stretches of beach that can be found all along the lake. Some of the small beach areas are sandy, some rocky. These beach areas can be found all along the lake front, from the airport area, to the Botanical Garden and beyond.
A few things to note. Some of the beaches are part of hotel or restaurant property, and so are only accessible to customers. The varying lake levels can affect how much beach (if any) is accessible. In recent years, increasing water levels in the lake and erosion has caused many of the former beach areas to become inaccessible. Finally, there is a risk of bilharzia (schistosomiasis), so many people advise against swimming in the lake.
Although we haven’t swam here, we enjoy strolling along the shoreside, sitting on the beaches, and watching the birds. Maribou storks, little egrets, cattle egrets, and pied kingfisher are common birds you’ll see along the shore. You can also get out on the lake by taking a boat tour.
If you like aviation, you may want to head over to Aero Beach where you will find a small collection of old airplanes and aviation equipment (entrance fee to visit) next to the beach area as well as a restaurant and bar.
Our recommendation is to enjoy the beach views from a nice beachfront restaurant or bar, and enjoy the cool breeze coming over the lake as you sip a local beer or fresh glass of fruit juice. For example, we often eat at the shoreside restaurant of the 2Friends Beach Hotel.
Entebbe was the seat of government and administrative hub until Uganda gained independence in 1962 and Kampala became the capital. But Entebbe is home to Uganda’s State House, which is currently the official home and office of the President.
The State House and many of the former colonial administrative buildings are not open to the public. However, you will undoubtedly see some of these colonial-era buildings as you explore Entebbe.
The main historical site to visit is Muzinga Square Park, where you’ll find a few important monuments and memorials.
It is worth noting that depending on when you visit Entebbe, access to various monuments may be restricted or you may be asked by guards not to take photos. This is likely due to the near proximity of these locations to State House.
Note that although Entebbe is probably best known worldwide for being the location of the 1976 plane hijacking and subsequent successful hostage rescue situation, known as Operation Entebbe or Operation Thunderbolt, there is not much information on display about this. There was news that a museum was planned to open in 2007 at the Old Entebbe Airport, where the incident took place, but we couldn’t find any current information about any museums. There are a number of books and films about this event.
The city also has a number of historic churches, both Catholic and Anglican. Some date back to colonial times. The Bugonga Catholic Church in Entebbe dates from 1902, making it the earliest permanent Catholic church in Uganda. St. John’s Church history dates back to 1908 with the current Anglican church buildings dating back to the 1930s with a new building also being built here.
Those of you interested in religious history might also want to visit the Kigungu Missionary Landing site, where the first Catholic Missionaries, Brother Amans and Father Mon Maple Lourdel, arrived in Uganda.
Here there is a plaque, monument, and statues of the two missionaries. It’s a popular place of pilgrimage. This is located just outside Entebbe so you will need transport to visit. This full day tour of Entebbe and the surrounding area currently includes a stop and visit to the Kigungu landing site.
If you are interested in delving into the history of Entebbe, we’d suggest considering hiring a local guide or joining a tour.
Golf lovers will definitely want to include a visit to Entebbe Golf Club as part of their trip to Uganda. Founded in 1901, this is the oldest golf course in East Africa.
Here amongst the tall pines, you’ll find a Par 71 18-hole golf course. The course is open to non-members, and you can see the fees for a round and book on the official website here.
If you’d rather watch golf than play, the golf club also hosts tournaments year-round, which you can see on their website.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay near the golf course, the 4* Lake Victoria Hotel is a good option. It’s a colonial-era hotel with views of Lake Victoria, just 10 minutes’ walk from the golf course.
Many people coming to Uganda hope to see chimpanzees in the wild, normally as part of a chimpanzee trekking experience. However, if you are only in Uganda for a brief period of time, it isn’t always practical to do a trek as there are no trekking locations within a short drive of Entebbe or Kampala.
The good news however is that you don’t need to do a full chimpanzee trekking experience to see chimpanzees in Uganda. You can instead opt to visit the chimpanzees at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Ngamba island is found in Lake Victoria, and is home to a number of orphaned chimpanzees. The island also has a number of other native bird and wildlife species. A visit offers guaranteed chimpanzee viewing and the opportunity to learn all about chimpanzees. It also avoids the need for a trek. There are also no age restrictions here, so it is good if you are visiting Uganda with younger children, as they won’t be allowed on a chimpanzee trek.
Ngamba island can be reached by boat (by either motorized canoe or speedboat) from Entebbe, and there are various trips available. You can go for a half day or full day, as well as stay overnight on the island if you have more time.
If you would like to visit, you need to have your Ngamba Island tickets booked in advance before heading to the island. You can see more on the official website here.
Note that you cannot bring your own food or drinks onto the island but there are food options available on the island.
In Entebbe, you can also see chimpanzees at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre, which we will cover later in this article.
Uganda has a lot of delicious food to try, but perhaps the most well-known and popular street food that visitors must taste is a rolex.
Despite the name, this food has nothing to do with the watch of the same name. The name comes from the preparation. It’s created by combining an egg omelette (normally with sliced vegetables) on top of a fried chapati, and then rolling it up. The result is “rolled eggs”, which has been shorted to “rolex”.
You may find a Rolex on the menu at your hotel or guesthouse, or as part of a packed breakfast. However, we highly recommend finding a stall selling rolex and buying them fresh. They taste a lot better when eaten hot and right from the pan!
In Entebbe, you can get a rolex from the street vendors on Nsamizi Road. If you take this guided tour, you will visit a rolex stand and see how they are made, with the option to buy one. They are an inexpensive and delicious snack food, and one you must try when in Uganda.
In terms of street food, another popular dish is kikomando. This is an inexpensive dish made of sliced chapati and fried beans. It may also come with additional toppings such as gravy, meat, or avocado.
While in Entebbe, we also recommend you try the local fish and seafood from Lake Victoria. You’ll find local perch and tilapia on lots of local restaurant menus. If you are self-catering, you can buy your own fresh seafood from the little roadside fish markets.
The Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre, also often referred to as Entebbe Zoo, is a 72-acre Zoo which is home to over 250 animals. These include chimpanzees, giraffes, lions, and rhinos, as well as the rare and unique looking shoebill stork.
Many of these animals have been rescued from poaching or illegal trafficking, and the centre focuses on care and rehabilitation of these animals. They have a strong focus on providing as natural an environment as possible, with larger enclosures that mimic the animal’s natural habitats where possible.
Of course, in an ideal world you will want to head out on safari in Uganda to see some of these animals in the wild, but the conservation center is certainly a good option if you have limited time and would like a more guaranteed viewing experience.
There’s a fee for visiting the Zoo, and you can see more on the official website here. You can do the standard admission, or you can pay extra for a behind the scenes tour or Keeper for a Day tour. The latter provide a much more immersive hands-on experience where you can learn a lot more about the centre and its work, and is definitely worth considering if you have the time and budget.
You can visit the centre on your own, and it’s also included on this full day tour of Entebbe.
Entebbe sits right on Lake Victoria, one of the African Great Lakes. This is the world’s largest tropical lake, and the largest lake in Africa by area. Lake Victoria spans across three countries: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The lake has many local names, but the English name comes from the British explorer John Hanning Speke who named it after Queen Victoria.
The lake provides the livelihood for many locals, primarily through fishing. Much of the fish you are likely to eat in Uganda is either going to come from Lake Victoria, or the Nile River which flows in and out of it.
As a visitor, you can also enjoy some time on the lake. Popular activities include taking a boat tour, which afford wildlife watching opportunities or the chance to watch the sunset. You can also take a fishing tour on the lake.
Ask locally at your hotel, they should be able to give you some tour options. The tourist boats will usually stop at several points to pick up people and your hotel can help you arrange it.
If you enjoy browsing local markets when you visit a destination, then you will definitely enjoy Entebbe. The town has a number of regular indoor and outdoor markets, which offer a variety of different produce.
One popular market is Kitooro Market. This is a large covered market area with many local vendors selling primarily fresh produce, meat, and groceries. It underwent significant renovation, and re-opened in 2021 in a new structure. You’ll also often find vendors in the streets outside the market building itself. It’s normally open daily.
There are also regularly other markets in Entebbe, including various street markets on varying days. For example there is a Saturday market at the Works Sports Ground. This market sells a bit of everything including clothing, food, home furnishings, etc.
The Entebbe Farmer’s Market is held on the first Sunday of every month at Muti’s Garden Cafe, and it features all sorts of food and craft items from local growers and creators.
The Entebbe Juakali Centre, better known as the Entebbe Crafts Village, is located almost directly opposite Victoria Mall, and is a good place for souvenir shopping. There are a number of stalls here offering a variety of items, including souvenirs, crafts, jewellery, art, clothing, sculptures, tableware, scarfs, and bags.
There are quite a few stalls here and the offerings do vary by stall, so do browse a bit. Pricing is not fixed and haggling is expected, although we found the initial prices were relatively reasonable when we visited.
We visited here after stopping at Victoria Mall, you can just walk across the street. We bought a few things here. This was actually the only craft market that we visited during our time in Uganda.
The stallholders, almost all women, were very friendly and polite and we enjoyed browsing the stalls, even if it was pouring with rain when we visited!
Although not really a tourist attraction, Victoria Mall is a popular tourist stop. Opened in 2013, this shopping mall is a good place to stop if you need to buy anything for your Uganda trip.
The shopping mall includes a good-sized supermarket, several shops selling clothing, shoes, outdoor gear, and gifts, a cafe, a fast-food restaurant, a pharmacy, an eye clinic, and a cinema. There is an ATM, a place to buy SIM cards (Airtel), and a Forex money exchange office.
It’s a great place to pick up groceries or snacks, get a SIM card, get money, exchange currency, or buy any last-minute needed clothing, hiking, or camping stuff. The shopping mall has good security, and you can visit on foot or park on site.
We visited and bought a few souvenirs from a small craft shop, as well as some toiletries and snacks from the supermarket.
The hotel, the Best Western Premier Garden Hotel, is connected to the shopping center. Guests have direct access to Victoria Mall so it is a handy place to stay for those who plan to visit the mall and craft market.
If you are in Entebbe for a few days, you should definitely consider taking a day trip to Kampala. Kampala is the capital city of Uganda, and there’s a lot to see here. Thanks to the express highway that opened in 2018 (requires tolls), it’s now only around a 30-minute drive from Entebbe to Kampala, although traffic in Kampala itself can be very slow.
We’ve spent some time exploring the highlights of the city, both on our own and as part of a guided walking tour. We can highly recommend a guided walking tour as it was a good way to learn about the history and culture of the city, as well as get tips from a local on safety.
We also visited other destinations on our own, using a ride sharing app to get around. We highly recommend considering putting the Kasubi Royal Tombs, Uganda Museum, the Baha’i Temple, Gaddafi Mosque, and Kabaka’s Palace (Mengo Palace) on your itinerary.
You can definitely visit all these locations on your own but it does require some coordinating as sites are spread out. If you are visiting Uganda as part of a safari, you might also be able to get your safari company to include a tour of Kampala’s highlights on the itinerary as well. It’s also possible to book a tour like this which visits both Kamapala and Entebbe.
If you want to have some late-night fun, Entebbe has several late-night bars and night clubs where you can dance the night away.
The Street Club Entebbe is a popular option. This is a restaurant and lounge by day and a night club by night. Another option is the Knight Riders Discotheque
If you are planning on going out at night, do read our tips on safety in Entebbe and plan your transport in advance.
There are a number of popular tours that you can take from Entebbe, including day tours of local attractions as well as longer multi-day safari tours that cover more of Uganda.
The most popular day trips are going to be to Kampala, Mabama Swamp, and Jinja. The closest national park for wildlife viewing is going to be Lake Mburo. But you can also join a number of multi-day safari tours from Entebbe that include things like safari game drives, village visits, chimpanzee trekking, and gorilla trekking.
Here are some options to consider.
There are a number of accommodation options in Entebbe across a range of price points. We recommend the following as a starting point/
Of course, there are many more options in Entebbe across a range of prices. You can see more options for Entebbe on booking.com here.
Entebbe is the location of the main international airport in Uganda, so this is where most visitors to Uganda arrive. It is common for those on safari to be picked up directly at the airport and to spend their first night in Entebbe. It is also a popular last night overnight stay.
Entebbe is also well connected to Kampala. There is an express highway between the two, which only takes around 30 minutes to travel by car. Note this is a toll road, but the fee is well worth paying as the old Entebbe-Kampala road can take over 2 hours to traverse due to traffic.
If you are arriving into Entebbe airport and staying in Entebbe or Kampala, your hotel might be able to arrange an airport transfer for you. You can also book this yourself using a service like this.
There is also a shared shuttle bus service from Entebbe to Kampala and Jinja known as the Pineapple Express. This offers an affordable scheduled service from a number of Entebbe locations including the airport, and you can book this online here.
There are a number of ways to get around Entebbe. First, the town is not very big, so you could walk between many of the attractions yourself. You can do this yourself, or on a guided walking tour like this.
We walked around most of Entebbe and had a great time, just be aware that it can be very hot so you will want to prepare with a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of drinking water.
However, some attractions are pretty spread out, depending on what you want to visit, and you may need to take transport. Your two main options in Entebbe are boda boda and car taxis.
Boda bodas, which are motorbike taxis, are easy to find along the streets and drivers will often stop and ask if you want a ride if they see you out walking. Or you can take a regular car taxi. You can use a ride-sharing app like Uber to arrange transport or ask at your hotel who can help arrange transport.
If you decide to take a boda boda, we highly recommend you take one that offers a helmet to riders. We personally stick to car taxis these days for safety reasons, but boda bodas are a cheap and easy form of local transport.
Entebbe is fairly safe, although you will want to be aware of your surroundings and take basic precautions when visiting.
The main issue visitors to Entebbe will need to be aware of is opportunistic crime. Things like bag snatches and pickpocketing are something to be aware of, as is the risk of mugging.
As a visitor, you want to minimise the risks. This means not wearing expensive jewellery or carrying a lot of money. We’d also advise you to keep any camera equipment or expensive phones out of sight in a bag, and only bring them out when you intend to use them. It is also a good idea to avoid walking after dark if possible.
We walked all around Entebbe and took many photos using our small compact camera and phone, and we never felt in any danger. However, we did primarily visit popular locations in daylight and kept our smartphone and camera tucked away in a bag when not in use.
Scams are also something to be aware of. We recommend booking any tours in advance with a licensed reputable tour operator. If you are nervous about walking around, then a walking tour is a great option.
If you are unsure of anything, we strongly recommend asking for advice at your hotel or from a trusted guide.
We recommend reading up on the latest travel advice provided by your government before visiting, as we recommend for any country. For example, you can see the advice for visiting Uganda on the UK government website here, and the US state department website here.
Here are some practical tips for your time in Entebbe and Uganda to help you plan your trip.
The official languages of Uganda are English and Swahili; however, there are a lot of local languages spoken in Uganda. The most widely spoken language in the area is Luganda. Although Swahili has been made an official language, we rarely heard locals speaking it.
As a tourist in Entebbe and Kampala, you can get by pretty well with English as most people in the tourism industry here speak at least some English. At attractions and museums, the information is often written in English.
The tap water in Uganda is generally not regarded as safe for visitors to drink. You should drink bottled water, or consider filtering your own water. See our guide to safe drinking water when traveling for some suggested options.
If you want to get online, you have two main options in Uganda. You can rely on WiFi, which is generally available for free at most hotels as well as many other locations such as cafes and restaurants.
You can also invest in a SIM card. We bought an Airtel SIM card at Entebbe airport on arrival. You can also get a SIM card at Victoria Mall in Entebbe. It was very good value and we loaded it with enough data to last for our whole visit. It worked reliably across the majority of the country, with some exceptions in the most remote areas.
Just be aware there is a registration process which involves a scan of your passport, fingerprinting, and a photo. It’s not difficult, but it does take about 10 minutes or so.
If you want more advice on internet access when traveling, see our guide to getting online when traveling for some tips and advice.
Uganda uses the Uganda shilling, or UGX. We recommend always having some local currency on hand for tipping, markets, and other small purchases. It is best to tip local staff in local currency as they then do not have to pay to have it exchanged.
Ugandan shillings can be easily withdrawn at ATMs across the country, although these may charge a small fee for doing so. We recommend doing this from an ATM at the airport or one attached to a bank. There are also places where you can exchange currency at the airport as well as in Kampala, Entebbe, and other larger cities.
Credit cards are widely accepted for transactions at most tourist-focused businesses, especially for larger transactions.
Most tourist focused businesses will also accept the United States dollar (USD) and some will also accept the United Kingdom pound sterling (GBP) and the Euro. But the best foreign currency to have and most widely accepted is the U.S. dollar. The bills need to be in good condition and of a recent issue. They can’t have any marks or be in poor condition as otherwise they might not be accepted. So if bringing USD currency with you, be sure to check it before your trip.
It’s also worth checking the exchange rate, as you might find yourself getting a better value if you pay in the local currency rather than in USD or other foreign currency.
Uganda uses a three-pin plug (Type G plug), as you will find in the UK and a number of other countries in East Africa. If you are coming from the UK or other country that uses the British plug, then your equipment will be fine and you shouldn’t need a travel adapter.
If you are visiting from a different country, such as from the USA, Canada, or most of Europe, then you will need a travel adaptor like this.
Additionally, Uganda uses a 220v-240v system. This is similar to much of the world with the exception of parts of the Americas, including Canada and the USA, where 110v is the norm. If you are travelling from one of these countries, you will need to check if your equipment supports the higher voltage. It should be written on the plug.
Generally, lower powered devices like cameras, laptops, and phone chargers support 110v – 240v, whilst higher power devices like hairdryers do not. See our guide to travel adapters for more on this topic.
That sums up our guide to things to do in Entebbe! Before you head on, we also wanted to share some other resources you might find useful for planning your trip to Uganda.
And that’s it! As always, we hope you found this guide useful. If you have any questions or comments, just pop them in the comments section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.