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Five of the Best Bars in Kenya

When you think about Kenya as a travel destination what first comes to mind is beautiful wildlife and endless savannah. Kenya safari package holidays are certainly some of the best in the world. Things have been changing for the better on other fronts too.

A growing middle class and robust expat population has seen a rapid increase in bars. New spots join the established ones to provide a rich variety of places visitors can sip imported wines, cocktails and local beers.

From the outskirts of the capital Nairobi to the sandy beaches of the coast, some of the watering holes are part of a hotel while others are independent. The vibe ranges from seaside cool to urban hip all complementing Kenya’s reputation as a top-notch safari destination. Read on for a glimpse of some of Kenya’s best bars.

Forty Thieves (Diani)

A couple of dozen kilometers south of Mombasa along Diani Beach is the legendary Forty Thieves. A landmark of the coastal entertainment scene since the 1970s, it is a hangout popular with locals and foreigners alike.

If there’s any place you should have a cold Tusker (the most popular Kenyan beer), this is it. The terrace is where the action’s at during the day. After sunset, activity moves to the dance floor where live bands and international DJs keep the party going deep into the night.

Ice-cold suds rule but try out the ‘tiki’ cocktails. Forty Thieves hosts several special events each year including a beach touch rugby tournament and waterfront music festival.

The Alchemist (Nairobi)

Located in the Westlands district of the city, The Alchemist blends drinks, food, music, art and fashion in a lively outdoor setting. It feels more like an open-air festival than a conventional nightclub.

Opened at the start of 2016 by a Californian expat, The Alchemist has made a name for itself in a fairly short period. There’s a special event virtually every month; from farmers’ markets and art shows to sports viewing and DJ parties.

You haven’t really experienced this bar until you order a Campari Negroni from the bartender.

 Zebar (Nanyuki)

In operation for more than half a century, Zebar is part of the classy Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club. It has played host to a long list of celebrities and leaders.

That it sits astride the equator only adds to the allure; down a cocktail with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the south. Mount Kenya, Africa’s second tallest mountain, is visible from the terrace on most days.

The bar’s signature drink is the Safari Cocktail, an ice-cold blend of mint, pineapple and vodka.

The Champagne Bar (Nairobi)

As the name suggests, it’s a perpetual celebration of the bubbly drink at this posh bar. Located on the seventh floor at the luxurious Sankara hotel in Westlands, The Champagne Bar has a calming, intimate ambience with its cozy sofas around low tables in addition to a couple of stools at the hand carved wood bar.

Order a bottle of Taittinger or Krug. Alternatively, you could experiment with the resident mixologist’s latest cocktail. There’s an interesting daily Champagne Ritual at dusk.

The Champagne Bar closes at 1 a.m. which some might feel is too early. Fortunately, you have the option to go to the Sankara hotel’s rooftop Sarabi Pool bar which stays open a little longer.

Peponi Hotel Bar (Lamu Island)

Another of Kenya’s golden oldies, the Peponi Hotel bar has served drinks and stories for more than 50 years. It’s been a popular rendezvous for safari buffs and deep-sea fishermen.

Spend an afternoon on one of the terrace’s lounge chairs as you watch dhows drift past or read a novel. Alternatively, get an unforgettable Old Pal cocktail and walk barefoot on the fine powder sands of Shela Beach.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

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  1. My favorite year after year is the Norfolk Hotel.

    • Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to make some additions to the list :)

  2. All these Kenya bars look great Meg but 40 Thieves has the best name and view. I’d never think of this place sporting some mean drinking holes. Gotta thank a growing expat population for that methinks.

    • I agree! Do you have any plans for Kenya in the near future?

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