Most cities with a rich, indigenous culture live simultaneously in several centuries and Kampala is no exception. The city is an exciting blend of old and new where African traditions meet Western sophistication. Shopping here is full of unexpected surprises; you’ll come upon markets which appear unchanged over a couple of centuries sitting cheek by jowl with sleek, tower blocks and shopping arcades offering haute couture and the latest in computer technology.
Kampala has the widest range of products in Uganda. If you’re looking for something specialized or in the luxury grade, it would be wise to pick it up here, as such goods are unlikely to be easily available elsewhere in the country.
Our Kampala Shopping Guide below tells you all about the shopping to be had in Kampala, as well as some recommended shopping places. There are also a range of good Kampala restaurants amongst the shopping areas which are ideal for a shopping break. You should also check out our Uganda Shopping Guide for more shopping ideas throughout the country.
Kampala Shopping Guide
For essentials like locally grown fresh produce, it’s better not to patronise the Western style outlets as their prices are considerably higher. The markets frequented by locals are a more sensible option.
Look out for the traditional drums crafted by royal drum makers – these make for excellent showpieces. Also watch out for indigenous products made from Uganda’s unique rust-red bark cloth, items made from the horn of Ankole cattle and hand-made paper products. Tea and coffee grown here are also ideal gifts.
Modern shopping complexes have been designed for affluent Ugandans and overseas visitors. These shopping complexes have the ambience of any Western shopping complex or mall. While you’ll be paying more than in other shops, many goods cost much less than they would in European cities. If you’re particularly interested in luxury brands from the US and Europe, head to Garden City and complete your shopping in one go.
The National Theatre Craft Market is a must visit to soak in the vitality and colour of the city. This is a relatively old hawkers market where you can happily browse away a few hours checking out goods made in Uganda and some from Kenya as well.
The sale proceeds of anything you pick up from the Buganda Road Women’s Craft Market will go towards supporting needy Ugandan women. Look out for colourful lengths of fabric and Ugandan shirts, called kitenge. It takes about an hour to go through all the stalls here. Nakasero Market on Market Street is in the heart of the city between Entebbe Road and Dustur Street. The colour, bustle and sounds can be overwhelming for a first time visitor. A huge variety of locally cultivated fresh fruits and vegetables is a treat for the eyes. An adjacent market sells spices, grains, legumes and handcrafted household items. There are a number of shops or dukas in the area where you can pick up a host of home products. The prices are sure to be jacked up for outsiders, so don’t be afraid to bargain.
If you need a couple of extra clothes, visit Owino Market. This market, with its hundreds of shops, is where the locals shop, both for new and second hand clothing.