Should you rent a car in Nairobi?

Should you rent a car in Nairobi Kenya > Nairobi

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 Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

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.

Why should you rent a car in Nairobi?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Nairobi?

Nairobi Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 231 - of which 204 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • For anything safari related, you will need a set of wheels of some kind.
  • Public transport is not reliable outside Nairobi.
  • Limited rail services – although the train to Mombasa is very highly rated.

Why not? Visiting Nairobi without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Nairobi public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


  • Excellent bus network within Nairobi.
  • Nairobi National Park is very accessible – within view of the city.
  • Train journey to Mombasa is an unforgettable experience – rated as amongst the best in Africa.
  • Safari trips can generally be done using an organised tour – no hire car needed.

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.


Car rental in - Nairobi Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Nairobi?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Nairobi?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Nairobi?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Nairobi if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Nairobi if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Nairobi if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Would you hire a car in Nairobi?

Have you driven in Nairobi? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Nairobi?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
Posted on Categories Kenya

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