Entebbe is a more relaxed alternative to its gritty and chaotic sister city, Kampala. Its located just an hour’s drive around the peninsula and makes for a much gentler intro to Uganda. The environment is easy on the eyes with lots of parks and old colonial gardens all backed by the white sand shores of Lake Victoria that make for some charming Instagram posts. Entebbe is also home to Uganda’s only international airport, so anyone flying in, but heading to Kampala, still passes through. Besides hosting the international airport, Entebbe has a large expat and foreign populations, as the United Nations uses the city as a staging ground for central African peacekeeping missions.
Orientation & Attractions
The city is laid out around the shores of Lake Victoria, where you’ll find a few good beaches (although they are all part of the lakeside resorts), the most popular of which is at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel. Note that you cannot swim in the water in Lake Victoria due to the risk of bilharziasis, but most of the hotels have swimming pools.
One of the most interesting trips around Entebbe is a visit to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Day trips to the island are really popular and you will see plenty of chimps on the forest walk. Overnight stays on the island can also be arranged.
Also in town are the Entebbe Botanic Gardens, which date back to 1898 and include pockets of thick rainforest, plenty of monkeys and awesome bird watching – there are some 115 species of birds living here!
Entebbe has a decent range of budget and mid-range options, as well as some excellent boutique guesthouses (which is where the city really excels from a lodging perspective). Boma is one such choice, and considered one of Uganda’s top luxury guesthouses with quaint rooms. It has free mountain bikes for guests and a swimming pool set in a flower-filled garden. The on-site restaurant also gets excellent reviews. Another boutique hotel of note is Karibu Guesthouse, which has stylish rooms and a beautiful garden.
For modern luxury you’ll need to book into the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel on the shores of Lake Victoria. It is the city’s only top-end hotel property and has amenities for business as well as leisure travelers. There are a few restaurants, a swimming pool and access to the lake via a pretty white sand beach.
Those who want easy access to the airport can lay their head at Laico Lake Victoria Entebbe Hotel, which hosts everyone from government officials to airline cabin crew and NGO representatives. The hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, in expansive surroundings; there’s a stylish restaurant serving international fare, a large pool (plus a smaller one for children), a poolside bar and lots of lawn space. There’s also a shuttle bus to and from the airport that runs throughout the day according to demand. It’s those such details that make the Lake Victoria a reasonable stopover option.
Protea hotels also has a branch in Entebbe. The newest hotel on the Entebbe block, the Protea Entebbe is already getting excellent reviews. And deservedly so; it’s certainly the sleekest, most polished place to stay in the vicinity of the airport. The soundproofed rooms are spread out over two floors, and most offer views of Lake Victoria. The large restaurant offers an excellent breakfast buffet, and a similar deal for lunch, and staff are warm and welcoming — the service here is very good indeed.
Entebbe has a decent variety of restaurants serving cuisine from across the globe. Check out Anna’s Corner at breakfast. It’s known for brewing the best coffee in town. At lunch and dinner try the wood-fired pizzas and don’t skip dessert here – proceeds from the homemade cakes go to a local orphanage.
Near the airport, Faze 3 is an excellent choice for sundowners before dinner – it has a big deck overlooking the lake. It also does a mix of Indian and western dishes that are considered some of the best in Entebbe.
Right by the lake, Goretties Pizza has slow service but does good pizzas in al fresco environs. The Gately Inn is another good outdoor eating choice — it does a mix of pita wraps, mezzes and salads, as well as more traditional meaty pub fare.
How to Get There & Get Around
Entebbe International Airport (EBB) is Uganda’s only international airport and serves both Entebbe and Kampala. These days, many international airlines fly directly to Entebbe, while others fly to regional hubs such as Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, from which you can catch a connecting flight.
The most popular way to get around Entebbe is via boda-boda, which is a motorcycle taxi. Since these can also be a dangerous form of transportation and not practical for thoseg with lugage, it’s best to hire taxis from a reputable source like your hotel, or ask specifically for a “special hire,” which is a much safer taxi — and uses a regular car, not a motorbike.
If you’re heading to the city by public transport from other parts of the region, you’ll usually have to pass through Kampala, where the major bus companies stop. From Kampala you can then catch a small minibus to Entebbe. These run about every 30 minutes to one hour.
Location: Entebbe is located on the shore of Lake Victoria, 42km (26mi) from Kampala city center.
Visas: Nationals of most countries require a visa to enter Uganda. The exceptions are Angola, Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Rwanda, Burundi, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Tonga, Vanuatu,and Cyprus. Consult your local Ugandan embassy or consulate to see if you need to get one in advance, or if you can acquire one upon arrival.
Vaccinations: Proof of yellow fever vaccine is required for entry.
Languages: English is the official language in Uganda.
Weather: Entebbe’s weather changes very little throughout the year as the city is in a tropical rainforest environment with no distinct dry season. There is also little change between day and night temperatures – year-round lows are around 65°F, while highs average about 81°F.
- Entebbe General Hospital, Kampala Road
- Emergency: 999
- Police/Ambulance/Fire: 999 or 0414 342 222
Money and banking: Uganda is still a cash-based society and the use of credit cards is still limited outside the tourist-class hotels and restaurants. You’ll find plenty of banks and ATMs around Entebbe to withdraw money, however.
Tipping and local customs: It is normal to tip around 10% for services in Entebbe.
Safety: Petty theft is a reality in Entebbe and you should travel with as little cash as possible, and pay special attention in crowded places. Another safety issue is riding on the popular “boda-boda” motorcycle taxis, as traffic is crazy and crashes occur regularly.