Mombasa Budget Travel

Mombasa - exotic beaches and friendly people

The vibrant port city of Mombasa is Kenya's second largest, after its capital city, Nairobi.

Mombasa hosts a lively cultural mix, creating a dynamic city which is typically African, yet infused with outside influences, ranging from European to Indian and Arabic. This coastal city is home to a population of more than one million people and is a major tourism hub. 

Mombasa is the capital of the Mombasa District of Kenya, serving as a regional centre of finance and culture.

Where is Mombasa located?

Mombasa lies on the east coast of Kenya in the southeast of the country, near the Tanzanian border.

Located in the Coast Province, Mombasa has a unique geography with the bulk of the city situated on an island within a recessed bay. The Mombasa island is cut off from the Kenyan mainland by two creeks, Port Reitz and Tudor Creek. It is connected to the mainland of Kenya by the Nyali Bridge in the north, the Likoni Ferry to the south and by the Makupa Causeway in the west.

Mombasa Highlights

  • White sand beaches and coral reefs ideal for scuba diving
  • Cultural attractions, such as Fort Jesus Museum near the Old Town
  • Gede Ruins, Hindu temples, Mamba Village, Old Town and Jumba la Mtwana village
  • Mombasa Marine National Park, home to diverse marine life, and Haller Park
  • Lively nightlife, rich history, musical hub and friendly people 
  • Cultural diversity, architectural variety and numerous entertainment options

More things to do in Mombasa on Tripadvisor.

Quick Facts about Mombasa 

  • East Africa's largest coastal port serving Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and others
  • Music is a major feature of Mombasa's colourful cultural life
  • Home to mainly Mijikenda and Swahili people
  • Named after the Arabic Manbasa, the former sultan of Mvita, once a capital here

When to visit Mombasa

Mombasa has a warm, tropical climate, and seasonal rainfall. The rainy season is at its peak in April and May, with January and February being the lowest rainfall months.

The Mombasa coastal area enjoys warm temperatures reaching about 32°C (89°F), ideal for beach holidays almost throughout the year.

HIstory and Culture of Mombasa

Mambasa has hosted numerous immigrants, skilled workers and traders over the centuries, mostly hailing from Iran, the Middle East, Somalia, and the sub-continent of India.

Mombasa's cuisine, architecture and cultures still show traces of the diverse historical influences the city has seen, from Portuguese and Arabic to British and Indian. Traders have been coming to the port city since as far back as the 12th century, with Mombasa being under Arabic-Swahili, then Portuguese and finally British rule during the16th century. 

Fort Jesus, one of the most popular attractions in Mombasa, is the 400 year old historical ruin of a Portugese fort. The winding lanes, old buildings and bustling markets of the Old Town, also reflect the myriad of influences this city is built on.

Taarab music, originally from Zanzibar Islands, has a strong presence in Mombasa, as do other musical styles native to Mombasa, including easy-listening Bango, fast-tempo Chakacha and traditional Mwanzele, among others. Mombasa features numerous clubs, bars and entertainments spots, making it a lively centre of Kenyan nightlife.

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