“Ok, one more day…” I was thinking to myself after my second day in Khartoum. However, somehow I ended up spending an entire week in Sudan’s capital city! Khartoum is run-down and ugly, but I still liked it. I liked the proximity of the Nile, the variety of food and the laid-back city vibe. Some days, I would go out for sightseeing or wander through the city or Tuti island, but other days I simply spent relaxing at one of the cafe’s or in the hostel garden. After all, I deserved a bit of rest after traveling through Sudan’s hot desert! In this mini guide, you can find my tips on things to do in Khartoum. Enjoy your time!
What to do in Khartoum?
One day in Khartoum – Things to do
What to do in Khartoum? Well, start your day with a cup of chai and a fresh falafel sandwich at one of the many street stalls and make your way to the interesting National Museum of Sudan. From here, you can cross the bridge to the green Tuti island and wander through its village. Walk all the way to the northwest bank and take the ferry towards the city again (near Nilein Mosque). From here you take a bus or riksja to the Omdurman souk. If it’s Friday, move on to the Hamed-al Nil tomb. Make sure to be there 30-60 minutes before sunset, to witness the mesmerizing, unforgettable Sufi dancing and chanting. Head back towards the city and eat some delicious Yemeni food in the Khartoum 2/3 district. If you still have energy left, go for drinks and live music to the Jazz cafe.
P.s. If you’re looking for a great massage, there is a woman-only massage shop ‘Thai Relax’ near Ozone.
Other things to do in Khartoum
If you’re not tired of your sightseeing day yet: there is much more to do in Khartoum! If you have time left, I would also advice to visit the Ethnology Museum (free entrance) and the Palace Museum (only open on Wednesday and Friday-Sunday). You could also visit the confluence of the Nile, but when I was there (January), there was not much difference in color to see. Also, don’t forget to visit the famous Nile Street. If you have another Friday in Khartoum, I would strongly recommend to see the Nuba wrestling. Unfortunately, I did not have time, but I heard it’s worth it. You could also attend a play at the National Theatre.
Time in Khartoum?
Khartoum time is (GMT+2). It’s in the same timezone as Egypt, but Ethiopia is in a different time zone.
Is Khartoum safe?
Many people ask whether Khartoum is safe. Khartoum is probably one of the safest African capital cities. It’s friendly and laid-back. Crimes against foreigners are rare. You can easily go out at night by yourself. There are few suburbs you should avoid, but in and around the city centre, you’re perfectly fine.
There are a few neighborhoods with a poor socio-economic status and many immigrants, in which (apparently) you should be more careful. If you want to stay on the safe side, I suggest you stay in the city centre (the embassy area, Riyadh etc.)
Always check the latest the latest travel advice from your government and ask locals. There are numerous Facebook groups on backpacking and overlanding in Africa with many travelers passing through Khartoum.
If you’re interested to read more about Khartoum’s background and past, I found this interesting Guardian article (2004).
Where to shop in Khartoum
Khartoum is no shopping paradise. Omdurman souk is the most famous market, but it can be quite difficult to find what you need, because it’s so big! If you would like to buy ‘western style clothing’, you could try Afra Mall or Al-Waha mall. These malls also house big supermarkets with imported goods (toiletries and food), but it’s all very expensive. Afra Mall is also a good place to exchange money on the black market (update 2019: the black market rate is the same as the official rate). In the basement, there is a shop which gives a good, honest rate.
Where to eat in Khartoum?
One of my favorite things to do in Khartoum was going out for diner. There are so many good options in the capital city!
- Try Yemeni (two good restaurants in Khartoum 2 near Ozone), Syrian (two cafe’s in Khartoum 2 with Syrian snacks and a restaurant in Riyadh) and Indian food in one of the many excellent restaurants
- Universal cafe (haven’t been there myself) for good, but expensive Italian food in a nice garden
- Have a lunch at the Ethiopian embassy
- Go to Nile Street to play pool or drink a juice on the Nile boats
- There is also an amazing ‘secret’ Malaysian restaurant which is basically in someones living room. You could ask someone at the Malaysian embassy where to find it. It’s near the Mamoon Behairi street and Street 60.
- For those who have traveled to Egypt: there is a GAD with cheap Egyptian style food.
- Ozone cafe. This fancy, western style cafe is located in the middle of roundabout! It has a beautiful, shaded garden to relax. Try their delicious sandwiches.
- The food in the Corinthia hotel (the famous Egg) is also supposed to be good
What’s up with the Khartoum nightlife?
Khartoum nightlife is interesting to explore. You could go to the Jazz Cafe for some cool live music! I also heard Papa Costa is fun for music and dancing. There are concerts in Khartoum (for example at The Green Yard). Look out for posters in the city to find out what’s on! Like everywhere in Sudan, there is no alcohol available.
How to get around in Khartoum?
‘Uber-like taxi’s’: Consider to download the Sudanese version of ‘Uber’: Tirhal or Mishwar. Tirhal has an English option.
Taxi’s: You have standard yellow metered taxi’s or you can take one of the small 6-seater minivan’s (amjads). Make sure to discuss the prices beforehand. You may need to haggle. It’s easy if you know the districts. For example, my hostel was in Khartoum 2, so I would tell the taxi driver ‘Khartoum-itnien’. You could also ask someone in your hotel or hostel to write down directions in Arabic.
Minibuses or big buses: Very cheap. If you’re not sure, ask a local which bus to take.
Riksja or tuktuks: Only available for short rides. They are not allowed in Downtown or to cross the bridge. You should also bargain
When bargaining, keep in mind the Sudanese pounds drops in value every day. So, don’t bargain too hard…
Hotels in Khartoum
- Khartoum Youth Hostel next to the Netherlands embassy. The hostel itself is quite rundown, but clean. The manager is friendly and speaks English. The big pro of this hostel is the beautiful garden (perfect for relax days) and the location. It was also a good place to meet other travelers. It has some nice cafes nearby for food. A bed in the female dormitory of the Khartoum Youth Hostel is only 70 SDG (2.7 USD). Camping in the garden is also possible. Unfortunately, they did not allow solo females to camp.
- KH2 hotel, Khartoum. This hotel is in the same street as the youth hostel and located in an office building on one of the upper floors. The rooms are clean with hot water and a.c. The manager speaks excellent English. Great value for money. 250 SDG (9,6 USD) You could hang out at the Youth Hostel garden.
- The German Guesthouse in Khartoum is famous and the owner is apparently very knowledgeable and helpful. They also can arrange tours. Rooms are around 100 USD’s. It’s popular with overlanders.
- The Blue Nile Sailing club in Khartoum offers camping places. However, from what I heard, you’re often the only guest.
- The family-run Acropole Hotel in Khartoum is popular with NGO’s and tourists. The hotel can also help with a Letter of Invitation if you stay a couple of nights. Rooms are 100+ USD’s.
- Khartoum’s most luxurious hotel is the iconic Corinthia hotel (Gadaffi’s egg) overlooking the Nile.
- Couch surfing is another good option.
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Most people tend to linger in Khartoum. Have you been? Any other tips on what to do in Khartoum?
Let me know if you have questions about travel in Khartoum!