We have to start any advice about using the roads in Kenya with the caveat that of all the major global tourist destinations which publish such figures, Kenya has the worst safety record. Statistically, you’ll always be safer in a larger bus. If you are going to hire a car in Kenya, it’s generally more common to hire a car with a driver.
Nairobi might not have any sort of government managed public service bus system, but the city is sufficiently switched on to have apps available which combine all the routes together, and for the independently minded traveller, Nairobi is very navigable by bus, although most visitors will probably still stick to taxis.
Railways in Kenya are few and far between, but again, a few options are available for the rail buff. These include taking the train all the way to Mombasa, a journey which has been rated by many commentators as one of the best in Africa.
One of the most iconic images of Nairobi is that of wildlife, including giraffes wandering around freely with the concrete towers of the city behind. This is in the Nairobi National Park, which is naturally an easy enough excursion from anywhere in the city.
See also our car hire advice for Kilimanjaro, which includes some overlap into southern Kenya.
Yet no visit to Kenya is really complete without heading deep into one or more of the country’s other national parks. This is where you are certainly going to need a vehicle of some kind. Whether you take an organised tour, or whether you charter a driver to take you around, this is still going to work out as the equivalent of hiring a car in any other city. So with all the caveats above, our recommendation becomes a yes.
So, should I hire a car in Nairobi? You may not wish to go for a self-drive option, but getting out of the city in some kind of rental car is still going to be the best way to see the country.