Remera’s got a lot going for it. Greeting you when you arrive from the airport with cheap guests houses and plenty of variety in eating and drinking establishments. The home of Amahoro Stadium and Kigali’s ‘Red Light District’ is full of brochettes, beer, sports, and local entertainment.
Remera and Kisimenti are a sort of node between a lot of neighbourhoods and you can easily get to Kimironko, Nyarutarama, Kabeza, and Kicukiro and it also serves as the gateway to the Eastern Province. This area is great for public transportation with bus routes aplenty and loads of motos and taxis zipping around at all times, day or night.
You can find all the banks you could ever hope to need in Kisimenti, which I’ve sort of just rolled into this article instead of treating it as its own neighbourhood. I mean, it’s really just a roundabout basically so I have decreed that it shall be part of Remera – for the purposes of this website, at least.
Accommodation in Remera
Though Remera has a lively central area with lots of banks, money changers, bars, and small supermarkets, it’s not really an area popular with foreigners in Kigali. Houses are affordable here and they almost always have an awesome view due to being built on the slopes going down from the main roads. There are many good deals to be had, but they tend to be a lot older and smaller than houses found in nearby Nyarutarama.
Less than five minutes drive from the airport, Remera is packed with numerous guests houses and a few hotels. The guesthouses here tend to be basic and very cheap and many are set in among the craziness of Remera’s local bar scene, so beware of the noise. Grand Legacy, Mirror Hotel, and Civitas Hotel all seem to be good mid-range options. Sportsview Hotel has recently closed down, taking with it their popular swimming pool.
- Chez Lando – This is one of Kigali’s oldest hotels and they’ve done some remodeling over the past few years, improving upon their already beautiful grounds and upgrading the rooms. Chez Lando is right in the mix of one of the busiest parts of Kigali, but it’s set back from the main road a bit and retains a really calm atmosphere. It’s a mid-range place but you can count on a nice stay here.
Restaurants & Cafes in Remera
So many to choose from, so little time! Besides having a pretty good selection of good restaurants, this area is packed with small local bars, so if you’re looking for a decent and inexpensive lunch buffet, Remera is a great bet.
- Afia Organics – This is a great little spot that’s focused on creative and tasty vegetarian and vegan food. They’re one of the few places in town that use tofu and if you’re looking for a healthy meal out, this is the place to come. I’m a big fan of their pancakes.
- Asian Kitchen – Thai food took a long time to make it to Kigali and when it did, it was a with few dubious curries here and there. Asian Kitchen really changed that and their Thai food is really good. I especially loved the Thai potato salad but it seems like they don’t have it anymore which is terribly sad.
- Camellia – This is a chain that’s similar to Bourbon but with lower prices. They’ve even got the exact same ‘Funky Money Kawacinno’ that Bourbon invented. But if you can look past the outright cloning of the menu, it’s a good cafe with a large selection of food, smoothies, juices, and more at good prices.
- Canaberra – Located right next to Camellia, this cafe has a sort of cozy, cave-life feel about it. You walk down a long hall into a sort of dark interior which somehow works. They have a gigantic menu of all of the usual Rwandan cafe things and the prices are good.
- Chez Lando – You’ll find Chez Lando down towards the Kisimenti roundabout where it’s been for years. It’s one of Kigali’s oldest hotels and they also have a bar and restaurant with good food, especially grilled things.
- Java House – A Kenyan chain that made a big splash here in Rwanda when it opened in Kigali Heights in Kacyiru. They’ve also got this much smaller branch in Remera but with all of the same wonders on the menu. It’s expensive but the food is good and the milkshakes are some of the best I’ve ever had – anywhere.
- Rosty Club – This is probably more of a late night place, but they also have a large and affordable lunch buffet which makes it popular during the day, as well.
- Sol e Luna – It’s probably a stretch to say Sol e Luna is in Remera, but it’s close enough to count. They’re an Italian place that’s been a staple in Kigali for many years. They have a wide variety of pizzas and a really good Italian lunch buffet. They host a popular quiz night on Mondays starting at roughly 7:30pm. It’s a great way to meet people while enjoying good food and if your team wins, they cover your bill. Runners-up get drinks on the house.
- Stamina Chapter 2 – I’ve never been but a friend vouches for their nyama choma and says it’s some of the best in the city. It’s also meant to be quite lively and turns into a party place on the weekends.
- Syria Renah – A relative newcomer to Kigali, Syria Renah is a… Syrian place! Based on what I’ve eaten here, it seems like Syrian food is quite similar to other Middle Eastern fare. You’ll find all of the usual dips like hummus, babaganoush, and so on. The atmosphere is very laid back and it’s more of a local bar setting than a restaurant. But it’s fun and the food is very affordable, especially if you go as a group and share.
- Lao Tangren – Lao Tangren is one of Kigali’s older restaurants and many people choose this place as the best Chinese in the city. They have an extensive menu of classic Chinese dishes and a large garden if you’d prefer to sit outside. It’s best to go with a group and order family-style.
Nightlife in Remera
Remera has a surprising variety of nightlife and entertainment venues for sports enthusiasts, dancers and drinkers alike. It’s always abuzz with activity and if you end up here on a night out, it’s probably going to be a doozy.
- Bel Air – Located on the back road heading out of Remera towards RDB, this brochettes place gets lively at night and is meant to have a beautiful view and nice cocktails.
- Fuchsia – One of Remera’s more popular places, it’s a large club with a lounge space inside along with a BBQ area that serves food until late. They have a regular rotation of DJs.
- Picadilly – A bar that’s been described to me as ‘nice, for Remera’. It’s a fun place that’s also known for it’s tasty chicken.
- ‘Red Light District’ – Opposite Amahoro Stadium’s main gate, the street is lined with bars overflowing with loud music, beer, and people sitting around plastic tables close to the road. It’s a great spot to mingle and people watch.
- Rosty Club – Mainly Thursday through Sunday, Rosty thumps loud music (a mix of R&B, dancehall, African pop, Reggae, Rwandan hits and American rap) until dawn. For reasons unknown, they keep the dinner tables and chairs scattered around the dance floor, but that doesn’t stop anyone.
- Zebra Bar – The name of this place has changed many times over the years. I don’t remember what it was called when I first went as part of a blurry matatu pub crawl evening in 2010, but I remember it was fun.
Shopping in Remera
You can easily find any grocery shopping basics in Remera, but it’s difficult to find anything too exciting. There are lots of small shops and Ndoli’s Joint is a well-stocked, medium-sized supermarket in Kisimenti. You’ll find Sawi Citi a bit further down the road towards RDB and that’ll be your best bet for imports. Rafta Mart and Carrefour are two small supermarkets located on the street behind Ndoli’s and there’s also a tiny fruit and veggie market on this road.
If the produce selection in the shops in Remera leaves something to be desired, you can hop on a bus or moto to Kimironko Market which is a mere 5 minutes away. It’s a huge market so might be overwhelming at first, but it’s a great place to buy fruit, veggies, dry goods and much more very cheaply.
For souvenirs, The Hope Shop is a beautifully curated shop with lots of lovely things. Plus they even sell J. Lynn’s baked goods now that they’ve closed their cafe. Impano Sports across from the stadium has cool sportswear that’s made in Rwanda. Even PK was rocking an Impaco outfit for Kwita Izina this year.
Recreation & Entertainment in Remera
Amahoro Stadium and the new Kigali Arena rule the entertainment roost out here in Remera. The stadium is home to football matches and the occasional concert and event on the stadium grounds. Lauren Hill played here way back in 2010 when I first arrived and they’ve attracted a few other people who I’m told are somewhat big names, but I have no idea what the kids are listening to these days so I’ve never heard of any of them. Kigali Arena seems to be taking the help for concerts and they’re also home to Rwanda’s professional basketball league.
You’ll find a gym inside Amahoro Stadium and I’ve been told that it’s possible to run around the inside of the stadium under the bleachers. Petite Stade is here where they have volleyball and other sporting events and there are tennis courts next to it that are open to everyone.
Sportsview Hotel closed which has left a void in Remera’s swimming world, but Grand Legacy Hotel is nearby on the road to Kicukiro with a decent sized pool.