This charming and beautiful country in central-east Africa has come a long way from the civil conflicts and the genocide in 1990s and now, it’s slowly becoming an attractive location for tourists from all around the world.
A place of unimaginable natural beauty and the unofficial gorilla hub in Africa, it can provide a dream-like destination for every nature lover. But before you buy your plane tickets to Kigali, make sure to read our guide and find out everything about where to stay in Rwanda.
The 4 Best Places to Stay in Rwanda
An average tourist almost always starts their adventure in Rwanda with the capital of the country, Kigali.
Starting from the center, they can spread their wings and go anywhere they want: either to the lakes of the west and the east or to the mountains in the north and the forests in the south.
Either way, you’re going to discover the fantastic natural beauty of the country and the deep and unique significance of their culture and history:
- Kigali: Located right in the center of Rwanda, the capital is definitely the best option for first-time visitors to the country, mostly because of the numerous cultural and historical institutions.
- Gisenyi: A relatively small city near the large lake Kivu, it offers a chance for a conventional and relaxing holiday with your family on the beach.
- Volcanoes National Park: Located in the northern part of the city and containing five of the eight volcanoes in Rwanda, it’s one of the most popular places in Africa for observing gorillas and monkeys.
- Akagera National Park: Located on the eastern side of the country, on the border with Tanzania, it’s the prime safari location in Rwanda, home to the famous Big Five.
Where to Stay in Rwanda: Best Areas & Hotels
Rwanda, after the tumultuous and painful political events from almost 30 years ago, is slowly becoming an attractive tourist destination, making use of the rich natural capital at its disposal.
Also, surprisingly enough, almost every part of the country boasts plenty of hotels and accommodations. Most of the better hotels that offer more upscale and even luxurious amenities and services are located in the bigger cities.
The capital, Kigali, has the best and most expensive hotels, including a couple of Marriotts, but Gisenyi, on the shores of Lake Kivu, also has several nice resorts.
The cities and villages near the National Parks are usually packed with apartments and hotels, and it shouldn’t be a problem for you to find reliable accommodation. But don’t expect a lot of luxury there: most of the accommodations are either in the mid-range or the budget class.
Located in almost the absolute geographical center of the country, Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and its largest city. Although not yet as large and developed as Kenya’s Nairobi or Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam, it’s slowly becoming one of the major cities in this part of Africa.
It’s no surprise, then, that it’s considered a very safe and stable city.
The geography of the city is quite interesting and unique. Kigali is basically an interconnected matrix of hills, ridges, and valleys at an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet.
Historically it has not been the center of Rwanda’s history, but after it was founded in 1907 and after the tragedy of the genocide in the 1990s, it slowly developed into an administrative, economic, political, cultural, and historical center of the country.
Interestingly enough, and mostly because of the genocide, Kigali became very popular with filmmakers interested in the grim subject.
Since the 90s, a number of movies have been shot in the capital of Rwanda, including 100 Days, Shake Hands with the Devil, Sometimes in April, and Shooting Dogs.
But the most important establishment in the whole of Rwanda connected to that catastrophic event is the Kigali Genocide Memorial — without a doubt the most visited institution in the country.
Most visitors come to the city for its rich and various cultural and historical establishments and for the great and luxurious hotels. As Rwanda kept developing its tourism sector with every passing year, most of the world-famous chains of hotels propped up their establishments in the capital of the country.
That also means a bunch of great and upscale restaurants. Simply put, if you’re looking for some luxury in Rwanda, Kigali is definitely the right place for you.
Kigali Budget Hotels
- Reflection Homes is a great two-star hotel that comes at an unbelievably low price, considering the amenities and services it offers. For instance, the hotel has an indoor pool, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, and a restaurant on the premises.
- NETLUNA VILLA HOTEL is another extremely cheap two-star hotel with a beautiful outdoor pool on the premises. Every room in the hotel has a flat-screen TV, a kettle, a private bathroom, and a desk. Some of them even have a balcony with a view. Finally, the bar and the restaurant on the premises offer tasty food and drinks.
Kigali Mid-Range Hotels
- Novotel Kigali Villa is a decently priced three-star hotel located to the southeast of the city center of Kigali. Again, the hotel offers a nice swimming pool on the premises, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, and a restaurant. Every room has a private bathroom, a TV, and a desk. Finally, the hotel even offers a free airport shuttle and room service.
- INFINITY HOTEL is a nice three-star hotel located a little further off from the center of the city, which offers private parking, free Wi-Fi, and a bar on the premises. The hotel may not have a swimming pool, but it has a spa and wellness center and a restaurant. The rooms are furnished with all the amenities, including a balcony with a view.
Kigali Luxury Hotels
- The Retreat is a very expensive and very exclusive five-star hotel offering one of the most beautiful swimming pools you’ve ever seen. The hotel is a perfect choice for those who are looking for a relaxing vacation: there’s a spa and wellness center on the premises, a fitness center, and no less than two restaurants.
- Kigali Marriott Hotel is a five-star hotel, part of the famous Marriott Chain of hotels, located in the downtown of the city, close to several embassies. The hotel is particularly suitable for foodies, as it has four different restaurants on the premises, all of them offering something unique. It also offers an outdoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, and a bar.
At around 90 miles to the northwest of Kigali, near Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you’ll reach the small city of Gisenyi.
It’s mostly famous for one thing and one thing only — its location on the shores of the gigantic lake called Kivu. Lake Kivu is one the African Great Lakes, a group of lakes that also includes Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika.
It’s almost equally shared between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and is well-known for the volcanic mountains and volcanic activity frequent in the surrounding area.
Gisenyi is a relatively small city with a population of around 250,000 people. It’s contiguous with Goma, a significantly larger city in DRC, also located on the shores of Lake Kivu. Both cities are famous for the lake, the awesome lake resorts, and the numerous water sports activities you can take part in.
The area offers an incredible scenic view, and only a person who has woken up with the vista of the Virunga Volcanoes in front of them will understand what we’re talking about.
The nature around Gisenyi — like in most of Rwanda — is simply stunning. The Virunga Volcanoes, for example, was proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the many endangered species that inhabit its territory.
That said, most of the visitors to this Gisenyi come for the lake, the beaches, and the water sports on its lovely shores.
There are no less than three beaches that you can visit, but we mostly recommend Rubavu Beach. It’s packed with restaurants and bars, and the water is both warm and very clean.
Finally, the accommodation options and the restaurants in the city are quite decent. As we mentioned earlier, there are a couple of truly beautiful and luxurious resorts, but also plenty of cheap and mid-range hotels and apartments.
Gisenyi Budget Hotels
- Musanto Hotel is an extremely cheap two-star hotel located on the shores of Lake Kivu. Particularly suitable for couples, it offers rooms with free Wi-Fi, desks, flat-screen TV, and extra bed linen and towels. The hotel also offers free airport shuttle services, free parking, facilities for disabled guests, and room service.
- Palm Garden Resort is another extremely cheap but great two-star accommodation located on the beachfront of Gisenyi. The hotel offers a nice continental breakfast in the morning, a lot of opportunities for cycling, a restaurant and a bar on the premises, and family rooms equipped with all the amenities.
Gisenyi Mid-Range Hotels
- Gorillas Lake Kivu Hotel is a great three-star hotel with a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool located between the center of the city and the beachfront. Every room is equipped with a private bathroom with a shower, satellite TV, and an extensive seating area. Aside from that, it also offers a restaurant and a bar on the premises and room service.
- KIGUFI HILL, Agape Resort & Kivu Edge is yet another beautiful hotel in Gisenyi that’s relatively inexpensive but has a particularly rich offer. Every family room in the hotel has a balcony and excellent views of Lake Kivu, free Wi-Fi and free parking throughout the premises, and a nice bar for a late-night drink.
Gisenyi Luxury Hotels
- Lake Kivu Serena Hotel is a gorgeous four-star hotel and one of the most luxurious and upscale accommodations in the lake city of Gisenyi. Located on the beachfront with a designated private beach area, the hotel also has a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises, as well as a spa and wellness center for relaxation.
- Hakuna Matata Lodge is another beautiful and luxurious five-star hotel located on the beachfront of the city. Located in an authentic building with private parking and a private beach, it’s a perfect choice for visitors who are looking for a calm vacation. There are two restaurants on the premises, a bar, and a very good breakfast in the morning.
3. Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda has five of the eight active volcanoes in Rwanda. It’s located near the northern border of Rwanda with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s around two hours by car from the capital, Kigali.
The park covers a territory of around 60 square miles of dense rainforests, and it’s adjacent to the Virunga National Park in DRC and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Aside from the volcanoes, it also boasts a considerable yet endangered population of both mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Simply put, Volcanoes National Park is the prime destination for gorilla trekking and wildlife observation in Rwanda.
The hike almost exclusively begins at the headquarters of the park, and then, it goes upwards through the bamboo-laden paths toward the mountains. The only permissible number of people in the group is eight.
Once you reach a family of gorillas, you’ll have a couple of hours to observe them and take pictures. The same holds for the golden monkey tours.
Along the way, the tour guide will give you the interesting and quite long history of this unique and quite old camp. If, on the other hand, you prefer hiking before gorilla trekking, there are two options for you: the day hike or the overnight hike.
The first one takes you to Mount Bisoke, one of the volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains.
The second one goes to Mount Karisimbi, the second highest volcano in the park — just keep in mind that the second option is considerably harder and is not recommended for amateurs.
Volcanoes National Park Budget Hotels
- La Voisina Hotel is a very cheap two-star hotel located around 25 miles from the Volcanoes National Park. The hotel has a beautiful garden, private parking, and free Wi-Fi. Every room has a private bathroom, a flat-screen TV, and a desk. There’s also a restaurant on the premises.
- MUHABURA VOLCANO INN is a typical two-star hotel perfectly suitable for travelers who want to visit the Volcanoes National Park but want to save as much as they can on accommodation. Aside from the free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the free parking, the hotel also boasts a restaurant and a bar.
Volcanoes National Park Mid-Range Hotels
- Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel is a great three-star hotel located in Ruhengeri and a perfect option for those visitors who prefer to stay in shape while they’re traveling around the world. Namely, the hotel has both a swimming pool and a fitness center where you can work out.
- Virunga Hotel is another beautiful three-star hotel particularly suitable for a couple on a romantic trip through Rwanda. It has an indoor swimming pool where you can swim and relax after a hard day of strolling, a bar and a restaurant where you can wine and dine, and nicely furnished rooms where you can sleep.
Volcanoes National Park Luxury Hotels
- Fatima Hotel is a gorgeous four-star hotel in Ruhengeri, around 25 miles from the Volcanoes National Park. It’s definitely one of the best accommodation options in the area, boasting no less than two swimming pools, plenty of luxuriously furnished rooms, a spa and wellness center, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises.
- Virunga Inn Resort & Spa is an even more luxurious (and more expensive) hotel located in Kinigi, very close to the Volcanoes National Park. Every room in the hotel has a gorgeous view of the mountains. Virunga offers free airport shuttles, bike and car rentals, a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar. It’s particularly suitable for couples.
4. Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park has had its ups and downs during its 100-year-old history. Established in 1934 by the Belgians, who then ruled Rwanda, the park was slowly becoming famous as the home of a myriad of animals, such as African wild dogs, lions, and rhinoceros.
During the year, the number of animals fell for numerous reasons: negligence, poaching, wars, etc. But in the last few decades, everything changed, and Akagera National Park is slowly becoming one of the top safari destinations in this part of Africa.
The numbers aren’t lying: only 8,000 people visited the park in 2010. Eight years later, in 2018, that number rose to 44,000. In other words, the park is becoming more self-sufficient with every passing year, and the number of tourists is continually rising.
Also, countries all around the world are working on boasting the animal population in Akagera: South Africa donated seven lions, and three zoos from three different countries in Europe gave up their eastern black rhinoceros.
Thanks to their effort and the efforts of the Rwandese, today you can see the so-called Big Five in Akagera National Park — the lion, the elephant, the leopard, the rhinoceros, and the African Buffalo are all here, living their second life.
They make — coupled with the striking savannahs and water areas — Akagera National Park the best place for a safari experience in Rwanda.
But savannahs aren’t the only interesting thing in this large national park. Namely, almost the whole east part of Akagera, right next to the border with Tanzania, is covered by Lake Ihema, considered the largest lake exclusively located in Rwanda.
The flora and fauna of this region is equally rich, as the savannah is home to crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and more than 500 species of birds.
Akagera National Park Budget Hotels
- Akagera Neighbors is a very cheap but quite decent two-star accommodation located in Kabarondo, extremely close to the Akagera National Park. The hotel offers a beautiful garden, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises, as well as room service and sitting areas in every room.
- IREBERO DREAM HOME is a very cheap and not very luxurious accommodation in Kayonza, one of the closest cities to Akagera National Park. You’ll be mostly staying in this place for the location, but it still has a couple of decent amenities, such as clean rooms, free Wi-Fi and parking, and a bar on the premises.
Akagera National Park Mid-Range Hotels
- Rutete Eco Lodge is a sustainable accommodation close to the Akagera National Park. It offers a fabulous view of the mountains from every room in the accommodation, a patio with a garden, a restaurant and bar on the premises, and a perfect chance to have a romantic weekend with your loved one.
- Umuko lodge is a beautiful mid-range accommodation located a little further off from the park, in the city called Rwamagana. But, the distance pays off since the accommodation offers an outdoor swimming pool, a great restaurant and a great bar on the premises, and rooms furnished with all the amenities, including a balcony with a mountain view.
Akagera National Park Luxury Hotels
- AKAGERA SAFARI CAMP is probably one of the few choices if you want to stay as close to Akagera National Park as you can. The accommodation is a little bit on the expensive side, but it offers a perfect location, a swimming pool, a bar, and a very professional room service.
- UMVA Muhazi is a gorgeous accommodation located inside the and a perfect (and almost only) option for those visitors who prefer to stay inside the park. Again, we are talking about expensive accommodation, which, aside from the great location, also offers a spa and wellness center, a restaurant, and a private beach area.
Why You Should Visit Rwanda in 2023
There are only a few better countries to go to if you love nature and animals than Rwanda, the troubled jewel of central East Africa. After the catastrophic genocide in the 1990s, this country full of forests, mountains, and hills is slowly becoming an important and attractive tourist destination.
According to some accounts, the tourism sector’s earnings are projected to grow by approximately 25% every year.
As you probably know already, the modern Rwandan state that now stands underwent a very violent and catastrophic event — the political and humanitarian crisis of the 1990s that culminated with the Rwandan genocide.
But as the years go by, Rwanda is getting more developed and more stable. Still, the major cultural and historical institutions in the country — the ones that you’ll surely visit — are connected to this barbaric event.
As you turn your head from the violent history of the country to the mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers of Rwanda, the country shines through positive splendor. Rwanda is landlocked, bordering Tanzania on its east side, a country considered a prime location for safari tourism.
The eastern parts of Rwanda are continuous with Tanzania and provide almost equal opportunities for big game watching, including the famous Big Five.
But that’s not all. There’s a major national park, a huge forest, or an even bigger lake on every side of Rwanda. If you simply love hiking, fishing, swimming, or forests and savannas in general, this is the place for you.
The final thing you should know about Rwanda is the fact that the country is generally safe nowadays. There are petty crimes, pick-pocketing, and theft due to the generally poor standards of living, but the levels of violence and serious criminal activity are quite low.
So, Where Should You Stay in Rwanda?
Rwanda doesn’t end with the natural beauty of Akagera National Park. There are plenty of other lovely and interesting places in this unique country, but we have to end somewhere.
Now, before we put the final dot, let’s do a quick recap of the four best places in Rwanda:
|🏆 Best for First Timers||Kigali|
|⛱️ Best for Beaches||Gisenyi|
|🦍 Most Popular for Gorillas||Volcanoes National Park|
|🦁 Best for Safari||Akagera National Park|
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Rwanda has to offer. Happy travels!