If you’ve enjoyed spending time in Africa’s tourist hotspots like Tanzania and Kenya, take a look at their neighbor, Uganda, and explore the beauty it has to offer.
Boasting plenty of lakes, the stunning Nile basin, and numerous natural parks, Uganda is mostly famous for its endangered yet encouragingly high number of mountain gorillas, the trademark animal of the country.
If this introduction sounds appealing, check out our guide and find out everything about where to stay in Uganda.
The 3 Best Places to Stay in Uganda
Simply put, Uganda has some of the best national parks in all of Africa and a capital that’s one of the rising stars in East Africa’s economy and culture. Luckily for you, Uganda is not an extremely large country, and you can travel from Kampala to almost every national park in the country in a few hours.
In that way, you can combine the best of both worlds: get to know more about the culture and history of Uganda in the capital and go on an incredible safari or a mysterious gorilla trekking through the savannas and forests of the jewel of East Africa.
- Kampala: The capital and largest city of Uganda is definitely the best option if you’re looking for some great restaurants and accommodation options and to learn more about the culture and the history of this interesting country.
- Murchison Falls National Park: Located around 175 miles from Kampala, the largest and most visited National Park in the country is probably the best choice for a first-time visitor to Uganda.
- Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: These two national parks located in the southwest part of the country are close to each other and definitely your best choice for either a safari adventure or one-of-a-kind gorilla trekking.
The Best Areas & Hotels in Uganda
Uganda is an already proven and reliable destination for visitors from all around the world, with a lot of great qualities and a developed tourist program. It’s packed with hotels and apartments scattered along every major landmark and national park.
The largest variety of accommodations and the best and most luxurious hotels in the country are located in the capital, Kampala. As one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, it’s full of great hotels of all types, including high-end luxurious five-star hotels.
Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are surrounded by average and small-sized villages and cities that offer a decent number of hotels, resorts, and apartments.
Every national park in Uganda has a long tradition of receiving tourists, which means they are well-equipped for all kinds of visitors. But, if you’re looking for a luxurious hotel, you had better stay in the capital.
Kampala, much like Rome, the capital of Italy, is built on seven hills. Basically, the whole city is scattered along rolling hills, some of them towering really high above the city. The capital of Uganda, much like every African state, is the largest city in the country and its administrative, political, and cultural center.
Its population numbers 1.1 million, and it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the whole of Africa.
The best thing you could do in Kampala is to stroll along its busy streets and visit its numerous landmarks, museums, and buildings. Probably the most suitable and reliable option is joining the already famous one of Kampala’s free walking tours.
Led by a local — who is usually very friendly and helpful — you’ll be guided through the city’s highlights without getting lost or wasting any precious time.
Usually, the tour will start with Makerere University, the oldest university in Africa. It started as a technical school in 1922, and by 1970, it became an independent and fully developed university. Today, it provides education for more than 40,000 students not only from Uganda but also from all of East Africa.
After going through the Katanga Slums, East African Craft Market, and other crowded places, which you shouldn’t visit on your own (mostly because you’ll get lost), the guide will probably take you to the most important cultural and historical establishments and monuments in the city.
You shouldn’t miss the World War Memorial, Independence Monument, and the Sir Edward Muteesa Monument, among other things.
But there’s one other building that made Kampala known throughout the world, namely the Uganda National Mosque, better known as the Gaddafi National Mosque.
Built as a gift from Muammar Gaddafi to the Muslim population of Uganda, it’s mostly famous for its height: the minaret (the mosque’s tower) is more like a skyscraper than a traditional tower. You’ll have to climb no less than 304 stairs to reach the top.
Things to Do
- Everybody knows that Kampala has some of the largest and the best open markets in the whole of Africa. We already mentioned the East African Craft Market, which is probably one of its kind, but we also recommend visiting Wandegeya Market for its youthful vibe and the Nakasero food and spice Market, especially if you’re a foodie.
- The Gaddafi National Mosque is, without a doubt, the most important religious building in the city and the first building on your list if you’re interested in architecture. But don’t forget to check out the holy places of the other religious denominations. Rubaga Cathedral, for example, was constructed on one of the seven hills of Kampala and is dedicated to St. Mary. Finally, Baha’i Temple is also well worth your attention.
- Kasubi Tombs is probably the most important historical landmark in the city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, it’s the burial place of the Buganda kings and the other royal members of the Buganda nobility, the former rulers of the territory of Uganda. Aside from its historical importance, it’s one of the most authentic examples of traditional African architecture.
- Finally, don’t forget to visit some of Kampala’s most important cultural and artistic establishments. Start with the Uganda National Cultural Centre (also known as National Theatre), where you can listen to music and watch a play or a movie. Uganda Museum, on the other hand, established in 1908, is the oldest museum in East Africa and well worth your time. Finally, check out the interesting Social Innovation Museum.
Where to Eat
- Asian Fusion is definitely one of the most interesting and unique restaurants in Kampala. A Chinese and Indian fusion (and a 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection), it combines the best of both traditions, offering a quite unexpected but very versatile choice of dishes.
- The Lawns is the best place in Kampala if you’re in the mood for some high-quality steak. The restaurant is quite famous and boasts a 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection. Aside from the high-quality meat, it also offers a relaxed atmosphere and an excellent view.
- Cafe Javas is the perfect choice if you’re not sure what you’re planning to have for lunch or dinner. You feel like having a burger? Perhaps you want something vegetarian or even vegan? Whatever you choose, this place will surely meet your needs — without breaking the bank.
Kampala Budget Hotels
- Ubuntu Palace Hotel is a very cheap but quite great two-star hotel with a lot of services and amenities usually found in much more expensive accommodations. It has a spa and wellness center, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises, as well as a great room service and free airport shuttle.
- M Three Stella Hotel is another, even cheaper, two-star hotel located in Kampala. It’s a perfect choice for visitors to the capital of Uganda who’d prefer to spend most of their days outside. The hotel does have a nice bar on the premises, though.
Kampala Mid-Range Hotels
- Villa Kololo is a great three-star hotel located around five minutes by car from the city center of Kampala. This boutique hotel offers individually and stylishly decorated rooms, a Mediterranean restaurant on the premises, free Wi-Fi, free parking, and even a nice bar.
- Forest Cottages is a gorgeous three-star hotel located a little further from the center of Kampala. But, to compensate for its location, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant and bar on the premises, a rather decent fitness room, and even a tasty breakfast in the morning.
Kampala Luxury Hotels
- Kampala Serena Hotel is a five-star hotel and one of the most luxurious accommodations in Kampala. This huge hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool, no less than seven restaurants, a spa and wellness center, and rooms equipped with flat-screen TV and balconies.
- Sheraton Kampala Hotel is a five-star luxurious hotel part of the famous and respected Sheraton chain of hotels. Located in the heart of the capital of Uganda, it has classically decorated rooms with all the amenities, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a fitness center on the premises.
2. Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest, the most popular, and the most visited of the ten national parks in Uganda. Located in the northwest of the country, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it covers a huge territory of around 1,500 square miles.
It was established in 1952 by the British Administrators then ruling over Uganda. Masindi is the largest town nearby, located around 45 miles from Murchison Falls National Park. But you can also visit the park from Kampala, which is about 175 miles away from Murchison.
The most popular highlights in the park are the Murchison Falls, also known as the Kabalega Falls. The name was unofficially changed during the rule of Idi Amin in 1970, but the old name was brought back after the dictator fell from power.
The falls are part of the so-called White Nile, located on the apex of the famous Victoria Lake. There are many legends about this unusually beautiful place, including the story that a Roman legion sent by Nero “discovered” the falls of 61 AD.
But, after you’ve hiked to the top of Murchison Falls, there are plenty of other things you can do and places you can visit. As we mentioned earlier, the park is gigantic and has a wide range of flora and fauna on its territory.
It’s home, for example, to the four of the Big Five, and there are plenty of safari tours that’ll bring you close to Africa’s most famous. There’s the beautiful Nile, too, with its vibrant, life-giving quality and its numerous tenants, including crocodiles and rare birds.
Although driving from Kampala to Murchison Falls National Park is an option, there are plenty of hotels in the area around the park or even inside its territory. Most of them are not very luxurious, though, so if you’re looking for something more upscale, you better turn to the capital.
Things to Do
- The most popular activity in Murchison Falls National Park is the game drives. They are done in regular safari vehicles and are classified into three groups: morning, afternoon, and night drives. The morning and night drives are usually the most rewarding since most of the animals hide from the afternoon sun. Expect to meet elephants, waterbucks, lions, leopards, warthogs, and much, much more.
- The second — or for some, even the first — most popular activity in the park is boat drives along the White Nile. There are many different tours, either concentrating on the Murchison Falls or around the Nile. Much like in the safari tours, the natural beauty is unforgettable, and so are the varieties of animals. The birdlife is pretty rich, and there are plenty of buffalos, crocodiles, and hippos.
- Budongo Forest, which is, by some accounts, next to the park and, by others, inside the park, is the premier location for chimpanzee trekking. The trekking is actually a very organized hike to the chimpanzee’s family, usually in small groups of up to six people. After you reach the monkey families, you get from 30 minutes to four hours to interact with them.
- Murchison Falls National Park has more than 450 different types and species of birds, and it’s one of the best locations in Africa for birdwatching. The birds, as expected, are scattered in all parts of the park: the forests, the savannahs, and the riverlands. Some of the most important species present in the park include the giant fisher and the many different types of storks and cranes.
Where to Eat
- Pross’ Residence Restaurant is a traditional African restaurant and barbeque located in Masandi, a small town near Murchison Falls National Park. It’s a perfect choice if you’re looking for a rich and large portion of meat. But, aside from that, it offers a wide range of drinks, decent coffee, and even some nice breakfast options.
- Sambiya River Lodge Restaurant, located in a beautiful hotel (Sambiya River Lodge) in Murchison Falls National Park, is probably your best option for a great lunch or dinner inside the park. Boasting a great atmosphere and beautiful interior, it offers an authentic and traditional glimpse into some of Uganda’s most beloved dishes.
Murchison Falls National Park Budget Hotels
- Red Chilli Rest Camp is probably the cheapest accommodation inside the Murchison Falls National Park. Particularly suitable for visitors who want to save some money on their trip to Uganda, it still has a restaurant and a bar on the premises and a beautiful garden.
- Hoima Buffalo Hotel & Business Hub LTD is quite an affordable but decent two-star hotel located very close to the Murchison Falls National Park. Surprisingly enough, the hotel has a swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar, and a great fitness center. Finally, there’s also breakfast available in the morning.
Murchison Falls National Park Mid-Range Hotels
- Murchison Giraffe Camp is a great mid-range hotel located inside the Murchison Falls National Park. The accommodation has a great location, a lovely garden, a shared lounge area, rooms equipped with all the amenities, a fireplace in front of the units, and a great bar to have a relaxing drink.
- Murchison Falls Bamboo Village is another gorgeous and travel-sustainable accommodation located inside the Murchison Falls National Park. It offers practically everything, from an outdoor swimming pool and a beautiful garden to a great restaurant that offers meat and vegetarian options.
Murchison Falls National Park Luxury Hotels
- Sambiya River Lodge is probably the most luxurious and expensive accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park. There’s a sitting area and a private bathroom with a shower in every room. The hotel also has an outdoor swimming pool, free parking, and free Wi-Fi throughout the premises.
- Twiga Safari Lodge is another upscale and expensive accommodation inside the park. Particularly suitable for couples on a romantic trip or a weekend, it has a lovely outdoor swimming pool, rooms equipped with all the amenities, a restaurant and a bar on the premises, and an excellent river view.
3. Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Uganda. Located around 250 miles to the southwest of Kampala, they’re, much like Murchison Falls National Park Budget, another two premier destinations for safari or strolling through thick jungles and wide savannahs.
Mostly because of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, it’s the most popular destination in the country for gorilla trekking.
Located in the southwestern part of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park was established in 1952 by bringing together the Lake Edward and Lake George Game Reserve. At that time, it bore the name Kaziranga National Park.
But after Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Africa and Uganda, it was renamed after the long-lived queen. It adjoins a couple of other national parks in the wider region, including the Virunga National Park in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The park is well known for its rich and varied wildlife, including elephants, hippopotamuses, lions, hyenas, leopards, chimpanzees, and crocodiles. Put in simple numbers, it has around 95 mammal species and more than 600 bird species scattered around its large territory.
Combined with the adjacent Virunga National Park, they’re slowly becoming a major African lion stronghold.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, on the other hand, is located a little bit further to the south. Located inside the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the area is well known for its biodiversity and incredible beauty.
Although small in comparison to the other parks in Uganda (covering an area of only around 125 square miles), it boasts more than 120 types of mammals, 350 birds, 310 butterflies, and even around 30 species of geckos, chameleons, and frogs.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is accessible only by foot and consists mostly of lowland forest and montane terrain. The number one attraction in the park is definitely the primates — there are about 400 Bwindi gorillas, almost half of the species’ population in the whole world.
Things to Do
- It’s a well-known fact that Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best game destinations in all of Uganda. The first thing you should do is to go on a game tour along the Kasenyi Plains. Located in the northern parts of the park, the area is famous for its abundance of all kinds of animals, including lions, hyenas, jackals, and animals. The best place to stop is the Bunyampaka Lake.
- Ishasha inside the Queen Elizabeth National Park is particularly famous for one unexpected thing. Namely, lions in this part of the park — located in its utmost south — are known as the only exponents of their species who climb trees. Scientists from all around the world are thinking hard to solve this mystery, but nobody denies that it’s pretty fun to see a lion napping between the branches of a tree.
- Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is definitely becoming the number one activity in the whole of Uganda. It’s a real adventure that takes you through the incredible beauty of an impenetrable forest (named like that for a reason) near the extremely rare Bwindi gorillas. Don’t worry: at all parts of the hike, you’ll be guided by experienced trackers and rangers who know their way both through the forests and with the gorillas.
- Not everything around Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about nature and animals. The second one is the home to the Batwa, people that still live around these majestic forests. Today, they offer a quite unique cultural experience, demonstrating their interesting and authentic way of living, cooking, crafting, and cohabitating with the natural surroundings.
Where to Eat
- Jambo! Cafe is a decent European cafe and restaurant located in Kasese, the closest town to Queen Elizabeth National Park. A perfectly suitable place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, its menu mostly consists of either pizza or sweet dishes. The restaurant also has a variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
- Rwenzori International Hotel Restaurant is probably the most suitable restaurant for a fine lunch or dinner in the area around Queen Elizabeth National Park. The restaurant has everything, including great meat, fish, and fresh vegetables. The staff in the restaurant is particularly friendly.
- White House is a traditional African restaurant located in Kasese. The prices in the restaurant are pretty average, and the food is nice, especially the curry with rice. But the fish and the meat are also highly recommended. The sides usually consist of what’s available at the restaurant.
Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Budget Hotels
- Kabatoro Guest House is a very cheap but relatively decent accommodation near Queen Elizabeth National Park, located in Kabatoro, Kasese. Surprisingly, there’s a restaurant and bar on the premises of the hotel, a balcony in every room, breakfast in the morning, and even a free airport shuttle.
- Kasenyi Lake Retreat & Campsite is a cheap but good enough three-star hotel located in Kasese. Particularly suitable for adult couples on an adventure through the wilderness of Uganda, it provides a free airport shuttle, free parking and Wi-Fi, and non-smoking rooms, some of them boasting a sitting area.
Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Mid-Range Hotels
- Sandton Hotel Kasese is a three-star hotel set in Kasese, relatively close to the entrance to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It has free Wi-Fi and free parking and rooms equipped with all the amenities, including private bathrooms, TVs, and kettles. There’s a restaurant and a bar on the premises of the hotel and even facilities for disabled guests.
- Queen Elizabeth Safari Lodge is another three-star accommodation particularly suitable for visitors who are going on a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Every room in the hotel is spacious and boasts a private bathroom, a sitting area, and a TV. The restaurant on the premises is more than decent, and the breakfast is delicious.
Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Luxury Hotels
- Lamar Hotel and Spa is a four-star hotel located in Kasese, a little more than 15 miles from Queen Elizabeth National Park. It offers classically furnished rooms with all the amenities, including a private bathroom and flat-screen TV. Aside from that, there’s a restaurant and a bar on the premises.
- The park view lodge Queen Elizabeth N P is another expensive and luxurious hotel in Kichwamba, very near Queen Elizabeth National Park. The most valuable capital of the accommodation is its location and the surrounding nature, but it also has a nice bar on the premises, airport shuttle services, and room service.
So, Where Should You Stay in Uganda?
|🍽️ Best for Restaurants
|🏆 Best for First Timers
|Murchison Falls National Park
|🐘 Best for Safari Adventure
|Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The story of Uganda’s culture and natural beauty is multifaceted — there are plenty of other national parks, cities, and villages that are worth your time and attention. But we have to end somewhere, and these three places are truly exemplary.
So, with so much to see and do and several amazing places to stay, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Uganda today. Happy travels!