Kampala Nightlife: 6 Must-Visit Nightclubs & Bars

Kampala Nightlife: 6 Must-Visit Nightclubs & Bars
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Kampala Nightlife

What is Kampala best known for? Its night clubs and bars, of course. Kampala nightlife is absolutely insane and captivating. When the sun sets in Kampala, the city of 4 million residents transforms into a beauty of lights, music, and energy. Tens of thousands of Kampala’s youthful teenagers, adults and expats pour into the streets, and boda-bodas begin their night shift, ferrying night revellers from club to club, usually 2 to 3 persons on one bike! 

Kampala nightlife
Sunset in Kampala is the beginning of another crazy night

For many Ugandan ex-pats, Kampala’s nightlife holds a special place in their hearts. Whether you’re planning a trip back home or simply reminiscing, here’s a guide to the city’s hottest nightclubs. And our nightlife is lit, no kidding. Ugandans love parties and they party hard. 

1. Club Illusion 

This is a favourite for its sophisticated ambience, clientele and breathtaking city views. Oh, and did I mention how Club Illusion’s state-of-the-art sound system and LED screens set the stage for an electrifying night? That’s right! Here’s more –  they also have themed nights and guest DJs. Now this is a place where you can dance till dawn. 

Kampala Nightlife

Location: Club Illusion is located inside Acacia Mall, 2nd Floor. Acacia Mall is located on 14-18 Cooper Rd, Kampala. Cafe Javas Kisementi, another popular hang out joint, is just opposite the mall on Kira Road.

About Kisementi: Kisementi is an upscale suburb located in Kololo. If you are visiting Kampala I would recommend staying in this area. It is safe, the nightlife is insane, it has lotsa cafes, bars, eateries, and massage parlours and it is close to many government offices; you can easily connect to the city by boda-boda – it costs about UGX5, 000 one way, from Kisementi to Kampala Road (if you know how to haggle). The suburb has a 4.2 Google rating!

2. Guvnor Uganda 

Kampala Nightlife

If you prefer a mature crowd, then Guvnor (Ange Noir) is your go-to spot.  Back in the mid and late 90s Angenoir had two lounges under the same roof: the ground floor was for the general public while level one (then called Guvnor) was for the city’s richer clientele.

For decades, Ange Noir was the number one night club in Uganda, attracting top DJs such as the late and crazy Alex Ndawula of Capital FM, Rasta Rob and Ragga Dee. Most campus students frequented Angenoir!

The club has a blend of contemporary hits and some wonderful throwback tunes, from Afrobeats to dancehall. The sound systems are simply top-notch.

Across the road from Angenoir was and possibly still is, Club-Silk, where high school teenagers used to frequent to dance to hip-hop and RnB.

It is unfortunate that high profile clubs such as Guvnor and Club Silk lack social media presence.

Location: Guvnor is located in Kampala’s industrial area, 6th Street, about 2 km from Kampala city centre.

3. Ninety9 By The Embers

Kampala Nightlife

Source: facebook.

The Embers is a rooftop bar that offers a more laid-back vibe and is located at the heart of Kampala. This is a great spot to enjoy some great music with a cocktail. What better way to spend an evening while listening to live bands gracing the stage?

Head over to The Embers and enjoy not just the music, but also the stunning cityscape. Personally, I enjoyed the breathtaking views. It is kinda therapeutic. 

There’s a downside -if you seek a live and enthusiastic audience, Ninety9 will disappoint. It’s ideal for meeting up with friends and romantic dates. It is a classy place, with great views, a well-stocked bar and great customer service. 

Source: Facebook

Location: 1 Water Lane Naguru, Kampala, Uganda

About Naguru: Naguru is a middle class suburb in Kampala, just a few kilometres from the city centre, opposite Nakawa.

4. Bubbles O’Learys 

Source: Facebook

Are you craving a taste of Ireland in Kampala? Well, Bubbles O’Learys is the spot, having opened doors in 1999. The pub itself, or at least a significant portion of its interior, was imported from Ireland.

The Bubble’s O’Learys is also known as the most popular pub and nightclub in Kampala. You see, this pub offers more than just an excellent food menu. They also offer a spacious outdoor yard which is equipped with a pool table, an outdoor bar, ample seating and a perfect ambience.

However, about 10 years ago, there were concerns that Bubbles O’Learys was racist; those complaints seem to have subsided and the club receives good reviews. Thank God, for we don’t want that in our beautiful Uganda.

Location: Bubbles O’Learys is located in upscale Kololo at 19 John Babiha (Acacia) Ave, Kampala, Uganda

About Kololo: Kololo is the heart of government power. Lush with multi-million dollar colonial houses with huge gardens, it is where the powerful and rich live.

5. Nexus Lounge Kampala

Source: Google images

Nexus is one very sophisticated lounge that offers a relaxed clubbing experience. With a great selection of drinks, a spacious dance floor, and regular DJ sets, you’re guaranteed a fun time.  Expect a stylish crowd and get ready to enjoy good music and food and meet an enthusiastic crowd. 

Location: Nexus lounge is located in Najjera, Kampala, a bit of a distance from the centre.

About Najjera: Najjera is located about 12 km from Kampala, in Kira. This pub is best suited for locals who know the place well.

6. Thrones Lounge Bar & Restaurant

Open 24/7, Thrones Lounge Bar & Restaurant is the place to be for late-night revelry. This famous hangout spot boasts a lively atmosphere with a mix of local and international DJs. It also has a wide selection of drinks and food, and plenty of space to dance. So do check out whenever you’re here. 

Location: Thrones Lounged is located in the middle class suburb of Bugolobi, on Bandali Rise

About Bugolobi: Bugolobi is located about 5 to 6 km from Kampala. Makerere University Business School is located in Nakawa not far away from the Thrones Lounge. Although a suburban area, Bugolobi has seen the establishment of many new businesses including shopping malls in the past two decades.

Kampala nightlife safety and security tips

Kampala is a city that never sleeps. But is it safe to move at night? Yes, but take precautions, just like you would in London, New York or Sydney.

I will write another article to give detailed security tips but here are a few for now.

  • Only party in safe suburbs. For example, you are most likely to be safe at Club Illusion in Kisementi than Club White Nile in Katwe.
  • Dont use boda-boda (this is like like asking a child not to eat lollipops lol). Mzungus love boda-bodas. One, they are quick and won’t be stuck in traffic. Second, they are cheap. Third, they are always available during the day or night or public holidays. But they are risky.
  • Go out with local friends you met at your workplace or neighbourhood. As a foreigner, this is your best protection.

I know, terrorists have tried to cause mayhem in Uganda and scare away tourists but that trick has not worked and Uganda’s tourist numbers have gone up post-COVID-19. Under the leadership of President Museveni, the government has set up a robust security apparatus to detect and pounce on trouble-makers.

During your night out, the Uganda police and the no-nonsense Red Beret (we used to call them Red Top) will be on the lookout, several in night patrol vehicles, others in plain-clothes and “drones”, trying to weed out trouble-makers and ensure your safety. A foreign friend recently asked why there are so many army men in Entebbe but that is not something you should worry about if you mind your own business – simply, they are there to ensure security and order.

Bottom Line 

Kampala’s nightlife is a vibrant mix of music, dance, and culture. There’s a spot for every mood and preference. So, grab your dancing shoes and immerse yourself in the electric energy of Kampala after dark. It’s an adventure that’ll have you coming back for more! 

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