Kenya's largest coastal city is shrouded in history and mystique. This coastal city has a rich history and an atmospheric Old Town with plenty of character. Here are things to do in Mombasa.
VISIT MOMBASA'S OLD TOWN. Soak in the ambience of Swahili life while roving the narrow alleyways of Mombasa's Old Town. The best way to experience the Old Town is on foot where a blend of Arab, African and Portuguese culture infuses this neighbourhood with an exotic quality. East African architecture is peppered with ornately carved timber doors and fretwork balconies that were once used to screen local Muslim women from being seen by people walking by. Mosques, churches and old government buildings dot the quarter and are interesting subjects of a historic walking tour. Learning the history of these buildings is one of most educational things to do in Mombasa.
EXPLORE FORT JESUS. Of all the Mombasa attractions, the battlements and ruins of Fort Jesus are fascinating to lovers of history. This imposing 16th-century fort is the result of Portuguese forays into Africa. Built in 1593, the fort changed hands at least nine times in bloody sieges between 1631 and 1875, finally falling under the control of the British. The British government used the fort as a prison until 1958, when it was declared a historical monument. The structure, which has metre-thick coral walls, dominates the harbour. Inside the fort, there is a museum built over the former barracks.
RIDE THE FERRY. To experience a touch of local life, hop on the ferry which crosses the channel between Mombasa Island and the southern mainland. At the end and beginning of each work day, the pedestrian queues are endless. But if you don't want to be crushed by the crowds, ask your taxi driver to drive onto the vehicle section.
SOAK UP THE CULTURE AT NGOMONGO VILLAGES. Watch a Kikuyu farmer tend to his crops or a Miji Kenda blacksmith at work forging metal tools. At Ngomongo Villages Park, the diversity of Kenyan culture can be experienced in one cultural park. Across the park are nine mini-villages, each complete with authentic tribal huts, cultivated crops, wild animal traps, as well as implements and instruments used by each tribe. There are goats, cattle and even a pond stocked with crocodiles. Each village is manned by a genuine tribal representative, many of whom actually live in the display huts.